In this fourth of our weekly seven-part Business Mechanic series, business coach Jerome Jacobs looks at what kinds of things you can (and should) systematise.
A former mechanic, Jacobs has used a car analogy in his book, Business Mechanics, which is a nuts and bolts guide for small business owners.
Following articles will cover marketing, recruitment and the service crew.
SALES THE KEY
Fact: no business can survive without sales.
Yet so many business owners visibly shudder at the mere mention of the word 'sales'. So many business owners have mental pictures of pushy, sleazy sales people - the kind that will say just about anything to clinch a deal.
But how many sales people are actually like that? Think back to a time when you were a customer, and had a positive buying experience with a sales person. Chances are that the sales person was helpful, knowledgeable, and took an interest in your needs and concerns. And once they'd listened to you, they were able to recommend the product or service that best suited your needs, right?
So why create that unattractive mental picture of a sales person? It's time to get that out of your head, and replace it with the mental picture of a helpful, knowledgeable sales person. That positive mental image will serve you far better in your business.
A good sales person:
- Is knowledgeable
- Will listen to customers
- Acknowledges the customers
- Is customer-focused, and
- Leaves the customer feeling happy.
This approach to sales is known as consultative selling. In my view, it's the best (and only) way to sell. It is dignified, and - most importantly - it works! Half the time and energy of every great business should be invested in sales and marketing. This will give you a steady flow of quality leads, that are to be professionally and systematically followed-up.
The goal? To achieve conversion into a life-long business relationship with your customer.
CUT THE COST
Let's face it, lead generation (ie marketing) is a costly exercise. However, many companies who review their sales levels work at just increasing the number of leads. This is often the wrong way to go: you can get far more impressive results by improving the conversion rate (and usually that is quite inexpensive compared to the cost of generating leads.)
What kinds of things improve sales conversion rates? This varies from business to business. Here are some of the most popular tools.
- Client testimonials: these can be written, or videos, or both.
- Good quality marketing collateral (printed and online).
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or a similar document, which addresses any objections a prospect may have up front.
- Staff who are trained in sales and customer service skills.
- Ensuring that all sales staff have a sales kit containing sales aids, portfolios, etc.
- Making follow-up calls to prospects.
CHART YOUR SALES PROCESS
It's worth your time putting your sales process into a flowchart diagram. Why? It helps to make the sales process foolproof! Everyone in your team will be able to see what the steps are, and which sequence they need to be performed in. It's far more visual than words alone.
In order to create your own sales process flowchart, you need to:
1. Identify all the different steps in your existing sales process.
2. Identify the steps that you could include, but aren't currently implementing.
3. Put all of the above steps into a logical order.
Hint: using sticky Post-It notes can be a good way of working through this exercise.
Once you've got everything mapped out with your sticky notes; photograph them and then type up the flowchart on your computer.
Next week: MARKETING: Why an appropriate brand is important along with being clear on your target market.
- © Fairfax NZ News