Running a Company With No Sales
Is sales coaching necessary? After all, if a business has been on the road for a number of years, they must have worked out the basics of selling. Right? In the Four Bells experience, that is not always the case. In fact, we have stopped being surprised at how often company leadership is unfamiliar with the sales process, even when they have traded for decades.
Business coaching often needs to include a return to basics, and the most fundamental business basic of them all is sales. More particularly, the sales of your product. There can be a temptation to mistake branding and marketing activity as sales activity, and it is not uncommon for us to discover an enterprise has a strong online presence, and a brand well regarded by those with whom it interacts, but a poor sales record. And worse, no idea why the sales are poor. There are libraries of books on the subject of selling (we encourage you to use them). We are not going to try and replicate those. But outlined below are some of the truisms of sales work that we commonly need to include in our sales coaching and mentoring.
Marketing is not Selling. Telling the story about your company, its roots, its connections, its awards, prizes and wonderful employees is appropriate. But not when you are trying to sell your product. Don’t confuse the two.
People Buy from People. If you don’t have a sales person who has the ability to engage the buyer, find someone who does. Fast.
Always Learn. Be open to exploring sales methods and strategies that work for you and your customer. Be attuned to how people this year are buying. It will most likely be different to the way they were buying ten years ago. Take some sales coaching even if you are a born salesperson. Read books. Invest time in webinars. Be receptive to new ways of selling your product.
Know your Product. What is it exactly that you are trying to sell? Too many businesses think they are selling a product when in actual fact they are selling a benefit. Stop talking about how cool your gadget it and listen to what benefit it might deliver to your prospective buyer. What problem does it solve for your customers? If you are unable to articulate this in a concise way, and define it in fiscal terms you need to do more homework.
Know the Product Sales Cycle. Does this product require a long period of education? Does it require references? Is it a simple or complex sale? Services can be more difficult to sell than commodities, but not always. Are there seasons, or months of the year in which you sell more of one product than another? Do you know why?
Understand the Sales Process. Do you know how to generate leads? And having found leads, do you have a strategy for converting them to prospects, and prospects to actual sales. Do you know why your leads fail to materialise into sales? If not, find out now.
Don’t Oversell. Time is precious. Yours. And that of your customer. Learn to know when they are convinced of the merits of your products. If that happens in ten minutes don’t plague them for another thirty.
Know your Sales Tools. How do you track those leads? What records are kept of phone calls? How do you know when a lead has been overlooked? Or don’t you?
Protect the Value of Your Product. Don’t sell it short, either with discounts or in how you describe it. But do it credit too by knowing the margins you are using, and the true cost of goods. If you have a vague appreciation of the basic building blocks of your product, you can only have a vague appreciation of its true value.
Art Versus Science. Selling is art. But it’s also science. It’s up to you to work out the right mix. There is art in the conversation with your prospect. Your engagement needs to be warm, human, and genuine rather than formulaic and detached. That same conversation needs to be grounded in the science of selling – understanding the sales process, where this conversation exists on the road to closure, what needs have to be addressed, how you will deliver, and how you will support. Make it all art and you risk selling so softly nothing closes and everyone gets frustrated. Make it all science and you risk closing down a prospect quicker than you can say ‘Purchase Order’.