Cash flow is essential for any small business owner. When your cash flow is deficient you either experience shortages in your ability to meet your existing obligations, or you don’t have enough excess to grow your business to the next level. Increasing sales is the obvious solution, but if it were that easy you’d already be doing it.
Do you treat sales as though sales is an isolated incident in your business? When your sales aren’t where you want them to be rarely is it just a sales issue. Your sales success depends on your ability to market yourself and your business, your ability to sell yourself and your solution(s), and your ability to earn loyal clients who do repeat business with you and refer you.
You need all 3 pieces working together and working for you if you want to increase sales and wave goodbye to your cash flow woes. There are 3 steps to doing this, and order is important. So let’s start with step 1.
It’s no secret you can’t sell when you don’t have willing people to sell to. You get those willing buyers through your marketing system. Your marketing system must consistently, predictably, and profitably produce new leads interested in you and your business.
Many small business owners confuse a marketing system with marketing activities. For example, networking is a marketing activity that may be part of your marketing system but by itself it isn’t a marketing system. Each activity in your marketing system must have a clear objective and specific results produced through the actions taken by your potential new clients.
While advertising agencies and individuals selling space ads would like you to think running branding ads is a good idea realize those ads will detract from your cash flow, and they won’t produce results in the form of leads. When you’re looking at any marketing activity that activity must produce results, and those results must pay for that marketing. If it doesn’t you need to stop it and reevaluate what’s wrong.
You may have a poor message. Your message may not include a clearly specified action. It might be in the wrong place. Any and all of these things can and should be fixed before you place the next message.
Get your marketing right and you’ll have highly qualified prospects contacting you wanting to know how you can help them. Get it wrong…and well you already know what you get; no leads, a phone that doesn’t ring, no one to sell to, and unrelenting stress wondering how you’re going to pay the bills this month.
Whether you personally are engaged in selling for your business or you have a sales force the first sale ever made is the potential new client buying the sales person. The easiest and most effective way to make that happen is to position yourself and your sales people as trusted advisers. The way you market your business either sets you up as the dreaded sales person, or the trusted adviser.
It’s hard to have an open and honest sales conversation when the person you’re speaking with views you as a sales person. They’ve been conditioned to protect themselves from sales people and they do that by not being open with you. You can’t help someone make a good buying decision when you don’t know the real story.
When you enter the relationship as the trusted adviser the people you meet with are ready and willing to be open and honest because they already know you have something they want. This allows you to guide them to a buying decision without pressuring them to do anything. Your behavior during the sales conversation reinforces and supports your position as the trusted adviser. When there’s a good match between what they need and what you offer they’ll ask you how to get started.
The final piece is raving fans. Simply asking for referrals is selfish and produces poor results. You have to earn referrals first. Then you have to provide ways for them to refer you that makes them come out the winner. You want to make sure you continue to build and strengthen your relationship with your clients from the first contact by consistently connecting with them and adding value in each connection.
Review all 3 steps and identify where the gaps may be between what you’re getting and what you want. Determine what you must do to close that gap. Then take action.
By Devin Mason