“And old Dave, he’d go up to his room, y’understand, put on his green velvet slippers — I’ll never forget — and pick up his phone and call the buyers, and without leaving his room, at the age of eighty-four, he made his living. And when I saw that, I realised that selling was the greatest career a man could want.” — Arthur Miller (1915–2005), Death of a Salesman, 1949.
Report by Phillip Chichoni
Selling is one essential skill that every entrepreneur needs, but it deludes many. If you cannot sell effectively, you will struggle not only to grow your business but also to attract capital, business partners, key staff and suppliers. This is especially so during the early phase of a business, when your capital is small and cash flow is tight.
In this environment where liquidity is tight, many potential entrepreneurs are failing to start-up because they cannot raise capital. Do you know that many successful entrepreneurs managed to finance their start-up by finding customers and getting them to pay in advance? Sport events do it. Music concerts do it.
There is no need to wait to smell the ink on your book, or to see the superb packaging on your DVD before you sell it. Pre-selling is a goldmine for the small or home-based business owner who is struggling to get somewhere. It also provides a good indication of whether customers want your product before you invest too much money and time producing it.
If you can sell, you will definitely succeed in any business venture. Better still, if you can sell more to each customer, the faster you will grow, while still building market share.
This is because, as you know, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, an existing customer is more valuable than a potential one. Here are some tips to help you jump your sales and accelerate your growth.
- l Develop your inner confidence. “Yes I can do it!” is the single most important belief that will lead you to success in selling and in business. Be enthusiastic about your product. Articulate the benefits it offers to customers. Develop self-confidence by reading books, such as Anthony Robins’ Total Confidence, talking to as many people as possible, attending networking events and practising selling all the time. Practice makes perfect.
- l Plan your sales. Begin with the end, which is your sales target in dollar amounts. Figure out the value of your average sale. Say you sell a service, such as personal training, to 20 customers and make US$1 000 in total sales. Your average sale then is US$50. To reach a target of US$2 000 you know you have to increase your customers to a 100. You might also want to calculate your average sales per week, per day or per marketing campaign. This will enable you to measure results and take action where needed. For example, you may notice that average sales on Mondays or in the first week of the month are low. A special promotion may boost sales in those periods. Similarly, if press adverts on Tuesdays bring in US$20, while on Thursdays they bring in US$300, you may want to adjust your advertisements placing accordingly. Plan to maximise results.
- l Bundle your offerings. Encourage customers to spend more by giving them package deals on multiple products or services. For example, in my consultancy business, I discovered that instead of offering just business planning or company registration as separate services, packaging them into a complete business start up kit, which would also include tax clearance and a whole set of basic business stationary, results in more revenue per customer.
- l Get current customers to get you more customers. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful and effective marketing tools. Satisfied customers may tell their friends about your products. Why not get them to actively do so? Offer them some form of reward or special recognition for referring new customers. This is a simple and inexpensive way of increasing your sales.
Start accelerating your growth now by implementing these simple sales tips. You can also learn much more by following those who have successfully grown their businesses.
At the BusinessLink Networking breakfast meeting on Wed-nesday April 24, author, motivational speaker and chief executive officer of Innov8 Inspiration Group, Milton Kamwendo will share tips on how to build a business that lasts, with an emphasis on how to take advantage of networking.
You will find full details at my website http://smebusinesslink.com. Don’t miss out and tell someone.
Until next week, best wishes in growing your business.
- l Phillip Chichoni is a business planning consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. website: http://smebusinesslink.com.