Sales are the name of the game if you run your own business. But being good at selling is rarely the reason that entrepreneurs get started in the first place - passion, expertise and the desire to be your own boss are usually the main drivers.
The truth is that selling is often one of the most difficult aspects of the job for small business owners. Having a sales strategy will help to focus your attention and ensure that you are making the most of every opportunity.
Improving your sales starts with having confidence in what you have to offer and understanding the needs of your customers. This applies whether you are selling products to a wide customer base or pitching to win just a few key contracts in your sector.
Having a plan is essential. You'll need to identify prospects, create a sales forecast, generate leads and convert those leads into sales. If you rely on a few key customers, it's worth brushing up on your presentation, pitching and negotiation skills. You'll also need to master the art of networking to make new connections.
If you are selling to a wider audience, you'll need to manage the process so that potential sales don't slip through the net. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be useful here to help you keep on top of the status of everyone you come into contact with. It will flag up prospects and help you manage existing customer relationships so that you are maximising their potential.
As your business grows, you may delegate the day-to-day job of selling to dedicated sales staff while you get on with driving the business forward. To get the best out of your sales team you'll need to set goals, communicate regularly, listen to their feedback, offer motivation and provide any necessary training and support.