• Post category:Growth / Sales

In our last episode, we focused on how to choose your measuring stick for scale. Today, we’re going to break each of those down into a how-to guide starting with sales.

When should I be focused on sales?

  • You’re already profitable. You know your model works. Now it’s time to grow your footprint.

  • You are just getting started. When you first step out, you’ll learn as you go. You can’t learn from what you haven’t launched. Unless you are in an R&D-heavy landscape, you need to get out there and sell it before building it.

  • You haven’t hit your minimum sales to hit your profit and compensation numbers.

  • Your pipeline is dry, or you’re taking the scenic route to land business.

  • You are preparing for sale, investment, or franchise and want to show profitable year-over-year growth.

  • You are looking to step away, and need the profitable revenues to support you in an owner-only capacity vs. an owner-operator.

What are the ingredients of great sales?

  • Attract the right customers.   Great sales are not about attracting any customers; it’s about attracting people who have a problem your solution is uniquely suited to solve. You need to know what your customers are really like, where they hang out, what to say, and how to reach them.

  • Offer the right solution.   Solution = solving a problem. You need to offer a solution that solves their pain at the right price (for more tips on pricing – check out our video.

Watch More: How to set your pricing strategy

  • Close the deal.  You won’t get married if you never propose. How good is your business at getting down on one knee? Are you left cold at the alter more often than you care to admit? It’s time to work on your skills as a closer.

  • Engender loyalty.  It’s far less expensive to sell to existing customers than new ones. So delight your customers at every turn so you can retain and expand sales from within. Ask for recommendations and referrals, and create partnerships that defy the transactional connotation we sometimes have with sales. Strategic sales are about a relationship, not a transaction.

Where do I start?

If you’re looking to attract the right customers, figure out who they are first. It’s like doing a Where’s Waldo exercise with no idea that Waldo wears glasses and red and white stripes.

I’ve had quite a few people come to me thinking they needed to improve their use of social media. After talking – it’s clear they don’t know who they are targeting. Target first, know where they congregate or what mutual connections you have to them, then worry about social media. It’s just one channel – and there are a lot more channels than you think.

If you know who they are, but your offer and message falls flat, start with a Lean Business Model Canvas Ash Maurya covers in Running Lean. This one-pager will help you identify the connections between who you’re serving and how you’re serving them on one page so you can figure out if what you’re selling or how you’re messaging it is off.

If what you’re selling makes sense and it comes down to messaging, check out Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. He also has a one-page template you can use to build your narrative. (Sensing a theme yet?)

Read More: How to bridge your brand and marketing gaps to create credibility.

Now you have a solid message and solution. But you’re still struggling to close the deal. It’s time to start using sales stages to track each potential customer you interact with and where they are in the pipeline. With some simple automation, you can quickly identify (and prevent) inaction from keeping you from a deal.

But let’s say you are following up, and you have a case of being left at the altar. Simple practices in your sales cycle can often keep that from happening. Here are a few tips that have worked well for my clients:

  • Always schedule the next meeting and set the agenda before leaving the last meeting.

  • Listen first. Spend most of the time exploring people’s needs. Then connect what you offer to what they need. Don’t pull out a script. Everyone’s needs are a little different, and what you cover about your offer needs to be different too.

  • Ask.  If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.

  • Create an environment where it’s safe to say “no.”  One of my favorite Chris Voss quotes in his book “Never Split the Difference” is “‘No’ is the start of the negotiation, not the end of it.” The information people share when they are comfortable saying no helps you become a better business owner, understand your customers, and possibly get to a ‘yes’ later.

  • Follow-up.  Not aggressively, but with kind consistency. People will know they can rely on you — and are likely to extend that trust beyond the sales process.

If you have all of this figured out, it’s time to focus on working more with your existing customers. If you’re trying to decide where to start, start with a few numbers and a feedback loop. Learn to ask and find the trends with your customers. How could you help them solve their problems more than you are today? How can they help you grow your business? Here are a few numbers that might point you in the right direction:

  • Revenue by source (referrer)

  • Lifetime customer value

I’m rock solid – So what’s next?

If everything is firing on all cylinders AND you’re profitable and can handle the work, you’re ready to scale to the next level. Use the data you found to expand into paid advertising, inbound marketing automation, sales partnerships, and other techniques to help you get your sales and marketing engine firing on all cylinders!

Do you want help creating a custom (and practical) plan for your business to grow your sales? Schedule a virtual coffee with an ACThoughtful Advisor and we will help you brainstorm the best paths to scaling your sales!

Jenny Erickson grows micro-businesses by getting them from where they are to where they want to be through advice, coaching, and fractional-COO support. Which business are you?

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