Small business owners are some of the hardest-working people in America, and there are so many inspiring stories of people who started a small business and made their dreams come true. But many small business owners are not natural sales people, and as a result, they tend to be vulnerable to a few key mistakes in the sales process. Even if you’re great at coming up with product ideas, managing people or setting a creative strategic vision for your company, your business will do better if you also think of yourself as “head salesperson” for your company.
Here are a few of the biggest sales mistakes that small business owners tend to make - and how to fix them!
1. Trying to do it all yourself.
Small business owners often struggle to delegate and let go of responsibilities at their business. Sales is a big job, and it's hard to do it all yourself. Don't be afraid to get help, whether it's using sales automation tools or lead generation software, taking sales training or getting a consultant to help with your marketing. Sales is the most important driver of your business’s success – so don’t leave it up to chance or assume that you need to have all the answers. Get help.
There is a great variety of easy-to-use online automation tools for sales, marketing and customer relationship management available today for even the smallest businesses. You can use cloud-based technology to stay organized, and keep focusing on building relationships with the right prospective customers.
And don’t be afraid to hire talented sales people once you think your revenue potential is ready – good sales people will be worth way more than their salary and will help your company grow faster than you ever could have done by yourself.
2. Not having a sales process.
It’s amazing to see how many small business owners leave sales up to chance – they get too comfortable relying on word of mouth and repeat business, and they never really develop a formal process to bring new customers on board. But making sales is too important to be left up to chance! Making sales doesn't just "happen," it takes focused, consistent, long-term effort.
Learn how to design a sales process that suits the needs of your customers – at each stage of the customer's journey from first becoming aware of their problem to choosing your solution to their problem.
Think about the reasons for why your customers buy from you, and then create a consistent, well-diagrammed, repeatable “sales funnel” to help your prospects work through the process of buying. Start with the customer’s initial research and go all the way through the process of asking questions, uncovering the customer’s key pain points (the problem areas that motivate customers to switch vendors or find a new solution), and following up with product demos or ROI presentations to show why your product or service is a good value, all the way to closing the deal.
3. Not thinking about or understanding ROI.
Many small business owners make the mistake of trying to compete on price – but especially in B2B sales, your buyers are often not as price-sensitive as you might expect. Most of the time, people don't buy based on price – what they pay – they buy based on ROI – what they get.
Figure out how to demonstrate the ROI of what you sell, and work this into your sales presentation. Ideally, your solution doesn't "cost" money at all for your customer –it actually saves money or makes money for them! Figure out how to demonstrate the ROI – the positive result and financial gain that your customers can expect to see by buying from you – and you can center your sales conversation around rewards instead of costs.
Many small business owners struggle with sales or feel like they’re not good at sales, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re passionate about your company, and you’re knowledgeable about your product, service and industry – which tend to be true of most small business owners – the next step is to create a disciplined, focused sales process that makes smart use of the latest sales and marketing tools while creating informative and constructive conversations with your prospective buyers. Just by making a few adjustments to the way you think about sales, bigger sales results will be within your reach!