Selling isn’t always the most comfortable activity. You don’t want to feel like you’re bombarding clients with sales spam. But sales isn’t a dirty word. You just need to know these sales secrets for SMEs to do it right.
Sales is the one thing many small business owners struggle with.
It’s only natural. A lot of small business owners come from professional backgrounds that didn’t require sales. Your expertise lies in production. You may never have had to sell the services that you offer before you struck out on your own.
Here’s an example.
Imagine that you’re an electrician. You worked for a big company for several years to develop your skills.
That job didn’t involve you selling to customers. You just had to turn up and do the job.
When you strike out on your own, you’ve got to learn a whole new aspect of the business.
Here’s the problem.
Small business selling can feel a little uncomfortable when you come from this type of background. You don’t want to overdo things and anger your customers.
But you know that if you don’t master the craft, your business will fail.
Here, we’re going to show you why sales isn’t a dirty word. And after that, we’ll give you five sales secrets for SMEs that will get you on the right track.
Why Sales Isn’t a Dirty Word
You have an awesome service. Your customers love what you do and they’re giving you great feedback.
The problem is that you just don’t have enough of them.
Great service isn’t enough to create a sustainable business. You have to invest time and effort into selling if you’re going to grow.
But selling for SMEs doesn’t have to feel dirty. In fact, here are three reasons why sales isn’t a dirty word.
Reason #1 – Sales Shows Your Passion
The culture and attitude that you bring to your work is a selling point in its own right.
You have a passion for what you do. Your selling efforts are simply a way to show that passion to others.
It’s like world-renowned sales expert Zig Ziglar puts it:
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
Sales doesn’t feel dirty if you have a genuine love for what you do. That passion breeds belief in the benefits of your service.
Reason #2 – Sales Isn’t About Persuasion
Or at least, persuasion only plays a very small part in selling.
It’s that thought that you need to be pushy in your selling that can make the process feel so dirty.
Shiv Khera is a speaker and the author of You Can Sell: Results Are Rewarded, Efforts Aren’t. He says:
“Ninety percent of selling is conviction and 10 percent is persuasion.”
This points back to the passion point. Your conviction and belief in your product is your sales strategy. When you have conviction in the idea that your product can help others, you don’t feel like you’re pushing people towards a product.
Instead, you’re guiding them to a solution.
Reason #3 – Sales is Asking Questions
Here’s the key thing to remember when building your sales strategy.
People have problems and they’re looking to you to provide solutions. Selling isn’t trying to convince people to buy things that they don’t need.
It’s about helping them find the right solutions for their problems.things that they do need.
American author and corporate speaker Jack Canfield puts it best. He says:
“If you are not moving closer to what you want in sales (or in life), you probably aren’t doing enough asking.”
Selling means providing a solution. That means you’ve got to ask the questions of your clients.
And that’s why sales isn’t a dirty word. Sales is the art of starting a conversation and getting a potential customer to talk to you. After that, it’s a case of helping them to see that you provide the answer.
It all starts by asking about what they need.
Now that you know what sales really achieves, it’s time to master small business selling. Here are five sales secrets for SMEs that will help you to build a comprehensive strategy.
5 Sales Secrets
Sales Secret #1 – Employ the Right People
Selling starts with your team.
You have a vision and a culture that you want to spread throughout your business. Combined, this creates the belief system that powers your business.
That belief is what’s going to help you increase your sales. Customers in today’s market want to know that they’re buying from businesses that share their beliefs.
Just look at Apple as an example:
The typical Apple customer believes in innovation and developing an aura of “coolness”. They want products that place them at the cutting edge.
Apple’s entire business model revolves around sharing that belief system with their customers. They dedicate themselves to bringing innovative technology to their customers. That’s what leads to the strong brand loyalty that Apple enjoys.
The problem with belief as it relates to selling is that it needs to run through your entire company.
It’s one thing for you to believe in what you’re selling.
It’s quite another for your team to believe in it too.
A team that doesn’t share your vision isn’t going to help you to sell your service. They don’t believe in it, which means they come across as inauthentic. That means customers aren’t going to buy from them.
This is a problem that ActionCOACH client Hunter Fencing and Landscaping ran into:
Struggles with their team defined Hunter Fencing’s sales strategy.
This came to the fore whenever owners Nigel and Kath took a break. They’d have plenty of work before they left.
But when they came back, their team hadn’t managed to make any new sales.
Something had to change. That’s why they brought in ActionCOACH business coach Marcus Kroek.
Using ActionCOACH’s Four Hour Recruitment System, Marcus helped Nigel and Kath find the team that they needed. He also helped them to develop systems for training and investing into that team.
The result was the creation of a group of people that really believe in Hunter Fencing’s mission. The company has gone from making $320,000 per year to earning $1.5 million.
Sales starts with your people. You can’t succeed with small business selling if you have a team that doesn’t believe in your mission.
Look for people who embody the culture that you want to build in your business. That injection of belief and passion is a huge tool when it comes to selling.
Sales Secret #2 – Use Key Performance Indicators
You need to keep track of your sales efforts to determine if they’re effective.
That’s where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in.
Rick Appleby is an ActionCOACH who works in Wisconsin in the United States. He provides a great description of what a KPI is:
“KPIs are typically quantifiable measurements that reflect the Critical Success Factors of an organization. There are many different types of KPIs, and the selection of which KPIs are important is going to be driven by the type of business you are wanting to measure and manage.”
Your KPIs are the numbers behind your business. And it’s crucial that you track the right ones to improve your small business selling efforts.
And ActionCOACH client Junglefy prove how important they are to your sales efforts.
Jock and Hanna founded Junglefy with a strong belief in their vision of creating greener products.
That’s one part of their sales strategy sorted.
But they struggled to push their sales past the $3.5 million plateau that they found themselves at.
They brought ActionCOACH business mentor Andrew Laurie on board to find out what the problem was. He found that Junglefy had no KPIs in place to track their sales efforts.
Andrew worked with Jock and Hanna to create KPIs that suited the business.
This achieved remarkable results. Since they started working with Andrew, Jungley has more than doubled its revenue to $8.5 million.
Junglefy is a perfect demonstration of the idea that having a great product isn’t enough. They had an awesome product and still struggled to sell past a certain point.
The introduction of KPIs helped the business see what they did well and what they struggled with from a sales perspective.
KPIs help you to give more focus to your team. They tell your people exactly what you need them to achieve and provide motivation for your sales efforts.
Furthermore, you can use them to track your strategies so that you know where to invest your sales budget.
Sales Secret #3 – Be Excited About What You Sell
We’ve already touched on your passion as one of the reasons why sales isn’t a dirty word.
But it’s important that we emphasise just how important passion is as a sales tool. You have a deep love for your product or service. You genuinely believe that what you do helps other people.
You need to write that passion all over your sales efforts.
The world’s most successful people approach all of their projects with great passion. Take Richard Branson for instance. The multi-billionaire founder of Virgin once said:
“The best advice I could give anyone is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life.”
You can demonstrate your passion in so many ways when you’re selling. The way you listen to your clients and link their needs to your product is a sign of your passion.
Your body language and vocal tone also showcase your passion. You can give two people the same sales script to follow. The one who has the most success will invariably be the person who delivers the line with more enthusiasm and positivity.
Good follow-up after contacting a prospect is a sign of your passion. It shows that you care about the client and want to provide them with a solution. It also shows that your passion extends beyond your product and into creating relationships with your customers.
Love what you do. And most importantly, showcase that love in every conversation that you have with a potential client.
Sales Secret #4 – Create a Referral Program
Sales isn’t a dirty word when you’re not the one doing all of the selling.
If you can get your customers to advocate on your behalf, you’re going to boost your numbers. That’s where a referral program comes in.
This is a simple strategy. You provide a service to a client. The focus here is to ensure you go above and beyond what the client expects from you.
The client falls in love with that service, which provides you with an opportunity. By offering that client a small incentive, you can get them to refer you to their friends. For example, you may offer the client a gift voucher for every new client that they introduce to you.
Here’s why this works.
According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust referrals that come from people that they know. Trust is a key driver when it comes to sales. A referral program helps you to build a sales strategy based on the quality of your service.
And it works too.
The Wharton School of Business says that a referred customer is 25% more valuable to your business than a regular customer.
Of course, you have to deliver on the trust that your referrer creates. That’s exactly what ActionCOACH client Lifestyle by Design did.
The quality of the service was never a problem for Lifestyle by Design. Owners Brad and Nick had a stellar reputation when it came to their building work.
Yet they found themselves stuck at $1 million in turnover for two straight years. That simply wasn’t enough to generate the profit needed for the business to grow.
They brought ActionCOACH business mentor Brett Burden in to help.
Brett noticed that the company didn’t have a referral program so he helped them to develop one. Lifestyle by Design started offering $2,000 travel vouchers to previous clients as a thank-you for referring new clients.
The strategy paid enormous dividends. The company has now boosted its annual turnover to $6 million. They’ve also started gaining recognition for their quality. In 2018, they won the Best Overall Business award at The Business Excellence Forum and Awards event.
You know you have the quality.
Use a referral program to encourage your customers to advocate on your behalf. You’ll find that you end up selling more without having to go out and sell yourself.
Sales Secret #5 – Create Follow-Up Checklists for After Sales
Let’s say that you’ve already made a sale to a client. They’re delighted with your service and you’ve fulfilled one of their needs.
What do you do next?
Asking for a referral is a great first step. But you may find that your customer has other needs that your products could service.
This is where your after-sales strategy comes into play.
The key with after-sales is that you’re selling to someone who’s already bought from you. That takes the “dirty” feeling of selling away as you already have an established relationship.
It’s also an extremely effective tool, as Property Repair and Maintenance (PRM) discovered:
PRM is the result of the merger between two property maintenance and repair businesses in Perth. Owner Adrian Rains ran into several issues during the early days of running the company.
Chief among these was the fact that work was too sporadic and he didn’t have enough for his in-house team to do. That meant he spent money on wages without being able to generate enough profit to justify the expenditure.
He needed a new sales strategy. That’s why he came to ActionCOACH business coach Ian Lane.
Ian helped the company to implement a number of sales strategies. He focused on improving their digital channels and created email campaigns.
But he also looked at the jobs that the company already did. Ian recognised the potential to increase the average sale amount per job with a simple checklist. The PRM team ran through this checklist every time they completed a job so they could see what else they may be able to help with.
The technique worked. Since bringing Ian in, PRM has increased its annual turnover from $375,000 to $1.2 million.
There’s nothing wrong with offering a little extra to your original service. A follow-up checklist helps you identify customer needs that they may not realise they even have.
You can then increase your average sale to that customer via these additional services.
Your customers understand that you need to engage in sales activities to run a successful business.
The “dirty” part comes in how you go about selling. You don’t have to bombard people with cold calls and spammy literature.
Each of the above techniques helps you to sell using your passion, rather than using techniques that you find uncomfortable.
Referral programs turn your existing clients into advocates. Follow-up checklists help you sell more to happy clients.
Using KPIs helps you keep track of it all so you can get rid of the sales techniques that don’t work.
And finally, having the right people in place goes a long way to helping you sell via your culture. Passionate people encourage those same feelings in customers.
Perhaps you need a little help to develop your sales strategy?
That’s where an ActionCOACH business mentor comes in. Get in touch today to find out how coaching could improve your business.
Are you looking to increase your sales?