One of the biggest challenges for the small business owner is sales. Jane Binnion, Simply Business customer and author of the Heart of Sales, shares some tips and explains how nowadays the small business owner has some significant advantages over the big boys.
Why hating sales isn’t an option
So many small business owners say ‘I hate the whole sales thing’. They had a skill or an idea and launched their business, often thinking that if they set up an expensive website the enquiries would come rolling in.
That’s sadly not true and it leaves many small businesses feeling discouraged. Without sales skills you risk becoming another statistic on the failed businesses list.
I understand why people don’t like to sell: traditional sales is like game playing, and as we know, games require a winner and a loser!
Looking at sales in a different way
Seeing sales like this is outdated and inappropriate for today’s market. Sales has been seen as the ‘dirty side’ of business, but sales should never be dirty, especially in this age of social media where people are publicly sharing their experiences.
Very simply, sales should be all about how we can help people. There is someone out there right now looking for exactly what you offer. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to find you and to get what they need.
The good news is we’re now in an age where, with some good planning and preparation, the small business owner has some significant advantages over the big boys when it comes to sales.
How small business owners have the edge
Small businesses have a story
Small business owners often set up their business to make a difference, to bring a quality product or service to market. Increasingly customers want to know the backstory to a product and small business owners usually have a more interesting story to tell than a corporate.
Just think about fair trade products; they’ve experienced a massive increase in sales because they learnt to tell a story, which means we all understand that we are buying so much more than a banana.
Social media is a gift to the small business owner because you can tell your story and engage with people without a huge marketing budget.
Small businesses can build strong relationships
We all know that people prefer to do business with people they like. As small business owners, you have the opportunity to develop better relationships with your customers because your business is an individual or small team that sees the whole process through.
No one wants to become a faceless statistic after spending their hard earned money, but that is precisely how customers are left feeling when they deal with many large companies.
The relationships we build and how we leave our customers feeling can bring new and repeat custom.
What stops some small businesses from being successful in sales
So as a small business you could have a real edge over bigger companies when it comes to sales, but in my experience there are two major things that can stop small businesses taking advantage of this.
Your own experience as a customer
When we’ve had bad experiences of sales (and haven’t we all?) it can, rightly, make us want to avoid doing that to our customers.
However this can lead us to sabotage the sale by, for example, not ‘closing’: telling people to go away and think about it etc.
So the very first thing we have to do is prepare ourselves for sales by identifying what makes us uncomfortable and developing a strategy to deal with that.
Huge numbers of sales are lost simply by being disorganised; forgetting to follow up, losing the prospect’s details, or not researching the prospect before meeting them.
With so many free online tools now available, just by investing some time we can overcome this easily.
For example having a simple CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system in place can increase sales by 25 per cent or more.
About Jane Binnion
Jane Binnion is an ethical business trainer, based in Lancashire. She is the author of The Heart of Sales and founder of The Growing Club. The Heart of Sales is available as a Kindle Reader or in paper back from Amazon.