Sales drive income. In a small business, it really is that simple.
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The most profitable small businesses are the ones that have adopted an intentional approach to sales and incorporated sound, sales fundamentals into the organization's sales and marketing strategies.
Many startup business owners fail to appreciate the reality that sales success is almost always built on a foundation of preparation and planning. Arming a team of sales reps with a product catalog and unleashing them on the public may have worked fifty years ago. But today's consumers and B2B buyers demand a higher level of sophistication than ever before – and you need to have your act together before you start pitching products.
If you lack a sales background, you may eventually want to invest in a sales consultant or other professional resource. Until then, you can get your business headed in the right direction by following a handful of small business selling basics.
- Know your products. You simply can't sell products you know nothing about. Yet everyday, thousands of companies conduct sales campaigns using sales teams that haven't been properly trained about their products. Make sure everyone who sells (including call center staff) knows your product inside and out before they interface with potential customers.
- Focus on benefits. Whether you know it or not, most customers don't care about product specs. They're more concerned about the features and benefits the product will provide. Use that information to develop sales strategies built around benefits, not specs.
- Identify unique selling points. What makes your product different than other products? If you can't answer that question, your sales strategy is doomed from the start. Though the identification of unique selling points begins with owners, it has to ultimately permeate the organization and become part of the company culture.
- Know the competition. Competitive research is essential in positioning your product for success in the marketplace. When sales teams understand the competition, they are more equipped to exploit their weaknesses and steal customers from competitors.
- Understand your value proposition. Does your product offer value, quality or service? You won't be able to provide all three, so you'll need to clarify what benefits you offer your customers before you start pounding the pavement.
- Develop an integrated sales strategy. The most effective sales strategies are fully integrated into an overall business strategy that addresses marketing, production, branding and other issues.