When it comes to running a business, maintaining steady sales is key. But selling is harder than most people think, and sales often take longer than you expect. Here are some lessons from the trenches:
Know who you are talking to.
You can give a great sales presentation or demonstration, but if you aren’t in front of the decision-maker, you’re probably going to be making repeat appearances. Knowing whether your prospect is a gatekeeper (whose role is to weed out unwanted solicitors) or a decision-maker can save you time.
Maintain steady follow-up.
Always establish a day and time for your next contact with each prospect – and always follow through. Once you have figured out the typical sales cycle, make adjustments to the revenue and expenses in your business plan.
Calculate your prospect-to-sales ratio.
Figure out on average how many sales presentations/follow-ups it takes to get one sale (ask salespeople in your company/industry). Multiply your planned sales number by your ratio to get the total number of prospects that need to be in your pipeline.
It is OK for people to say no when you ask them to buy.
It’s part of the process and you need to move on. For example, if on average you can expect 19 people to say no for every 1 that says yes, you’ll know that once you make a sale, you’ll need approximately 20 more prospects to make the next sale.
Getting a new customer is time consuming and expensive.
Set up your business so that you have recurring sales from your customers OR increase the total purchase level for each customer by cross-selling other items. Cross selling and recurring business are necessary for ongoing profitability.
Keep your pipeline filled at all times.
Be consistent in prospecting. Make calls every day – regardless of what’s happening in your business.
Make it easy for others to buy from you.
Have a user-friendly website with information on what you sell and how they can purchase it. Get feedback from customers on their buying experience and look for ways to improve it.
The sale is only the beginning.
In order to get recurring business, you need to develop a relationship with your customer. Here are just some of the things you need to do:
- Make sure your customer is happy
- Always thank your customer
- Communicate with your customer regularly so your business stays top-of-mind
- Always ask for referrals from your customer