According to official statistics, the UK is one of the world’s top
five nations for producing new businesses, yet it doesn’t make the top ten when
it comes to keeping those businesses alive for five years.
Empirical research indicates that an ineffectual approach to sales is one key factor, particularly for the SMEs that employ around 60% of the UK’s private sector work, sales above all else are critical. Here are some pointers derived from market experience to help SME owners address this point.
1. Creating a Sales Led Environment.
For an SME very often the first sales person is likely to be the founder, whose belief in and passion for the company gives them a unique ability to win business. However, as the business grows, many struggle to transfer that sales ability to other key employees. It’s therefore critical to instil and maintain an effective sales process that doesn’t continually depend on the founder for its success.
2. Get Your First Sales Appointment Right.
You, as founder, are at the hub of your sales strategy, but too often even though sales activity is transferred to others, you, as founder, remain deeply involved in sales, particularly in closing deals, this deflects from your key focus which should be on leading the company’s growth. As owner you need to instil a coherent sale process understood by all.
3. Know Your Proposition.
Ensure that you have a clear plan for elements such as pricing, packaging and how your product or service is acquired by the consumer. Factors include how it integrates with, or complements, other aspects of the customer’s business, lifetime customer value, support requirements and future revenue options. You must consider these factors carefully to address and remove customer’s resistance to making that first investment in your product or service.
4. Understand Your Customers.
Feedback is the very foundation of growth. Gauge customers’ opinions of your offering, especially the reasons for any changes in sentiment. Know your customer churn rate and what’s behind it. Refine your product or service. Acquiring customers can be vastly more costly than retaining them.
5. Choose the Right Market.
This is a profound decision. Targeting the wrong country, industry or demographic, for example, will set you up to struggle. Mistakes can be as simple as picking the market the owner knows best and missing a much richer adjacent one.
6. Target the Right Firms.
There will be subsets of any market that are much more willing than others to buy your offering. Choosing the right ones will dramatically shorten your sale cycle.
7. Complete the Sale or Move On.
Know when to walk
away from a prospect if a sale is not progressing as needed. This will enable you to devote more valuable
time to those that are more likely to buy.
The results of a successful sales strategy should include selling to
more new customers, selling more to existing customers, decreasing the length
of the sales cycle, increasing the average order size and increasing your firm’s
capacity to process multiple sales.
12 July 2019