Why everybody lives by selling something

All small business leaders know how important good selling is for business success.

At Barrett Consulting, we believe that everybody lives by selling something. This rule is often forgotten or neglected by small business owners and staff when they have so many conflicting responsibilities that they just get through the week and keep current clients and customers happy and satisfied.

It’s important to remember that whether we’re working for a private or public company, a ‘not for profit’ or a government institution, we all need to compete for revenue to fund our livelihoods.

You need to develop a ‘go-to market’ sales action plan that clarifies who you need to be in front of, how you need to get in front of them, and how often you need to do this to make it all worthwhile.

Prospecting is the first thing you will need to do to make a sale. Make sure you and your sales teams know how to make an effective prospecting call (although, really, as a small business, all members of your team should be developing and fostering their sales skills). Make sure your prospect on a daily basis.

It’s a sad truth that most people find prospecting difficult work and only 20 percent of salespeople are effective. It’s not that they lack knowledge, skill, ability, or talent but it can be daunting to many. The struggle derives from fear or ‘call reluctance’.

The good news is that, if this is you, you’re not alone. More good news is that there are ways and methods to combat this challenge. Remember, the more you practice, the better you become. As a business owner or leader, it’s important to understand that prospecting can be daunting for many and to actively encourage development in this area.

First, try a sales script. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of salespeople around the world use sales scripts. Here are the top five tips about using a sales script:

  1. Work out why exactly you are calling someone before you pick up the phone.
  2. Be human. Use simple language that the customer understands.
  3. When writing your script, keep your customer in mind. It’s not all about you, it’s about them. Communicate with potential leads by asking people about their priorities, problems and aims before discussing your own.
  4. Be brief. Don’t talk their ear off. Allow for questions.
  5. What do you want from the call? Make sure you aim to achieve a result, be it a meeting appointment, follow-up call, donation, purchase, etc.

The really good news is that prospecting fears can be unlearnt. Research indicates that productive sales teams are highly trained. Give your team access to prospecting skills training or invest in coaching. The results are worth it.

No business owner can expect great sales teams to happen on their own. Understandably, SMEs have little funds to invest in sales training. This cost needs to be weighed against how important sales results can be for your bottom line.

We have established some tips for SMEs to be clever about how they train their sales teams without the huge price tag.
Before you launch into anything, think about the level and standard you need to be operating at. Consider your own time and resources and how confident you are to deliver training in-house and what you need to access from a qualified trainer.

Map out a 12-month learning program with key outcomes so you can compare and check progress, skills, and knowledge development. The best value is gained from ‘mini’ sessions of 30 minutes to 1 hour run every fortnightly or each month with between one and four full-day sessions on key topics for more formal instruction.

Make your learning environment supportive and encouraging. Give your people access to reading material to assist further learning. Ask them for feedback and really listen to their views. SME’s don’t need to be left behind when it comes to having high-performing sales and customer service teams.

When you give people what they need, they start to get traction and grow. Do yourself a favor; remind everyone in your team that everybody lives by selling something, make sure you and your salespeople are well equipped, and watch your team and your bottom line grow.

Sue Barrett is an experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider and entrepreneur, and founder of Barrett Consulting.

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