Sales Skills for Small Business Owners

Selling is a very important aspect of any business and although many small business owners don’t like to consider themselves as ‘sales people’ per se in reality small business owners are actually key sales people who know their business and product or service offering better than anyone else in most instances. Let’s identify what some key sales skills are and discuss how they can be further developed.

In a nutshell the key ‘must have’ sales skills include:

  • Confidence
  • Relationship building skills
  • Listening
  • Persuasion
  • Product / service knowledge

Most of the skills listed above will be familiar to you, but I bet you are wondering, how can I apply this and learn to become a better sales person? The key is to identify any gaps you have in the skills outlined above and then develop your skills in these areas. It’s also important to understand what makes for a more natural sell which is centred around confidence. The truth is we all dislike the hard sell and pushy sales people so it’s about striking a balance, you want to be described as ‘confident’ and avoid being perceived as arrogant. So how does one achieve this?

Know your product or service

This is fundamental to your success. If you don’t know your product or service you won’t feel comfortable talking about it. If you need to develop your product knowledge, look for resources to help you do this, be it sales training, product or sales manuals, brochures and other materials, senior staff or technical staff with deep product or service knowledge.

Speak naturally

Speak naturally about what you do and the services you offer, a prospect that is interested in your offering is more likely to ask you questions and engage in a conversation with you about your offering. Sharing knowledge will help you build a relationship with a potential prospect.

Relationships develop leads better than any other form of lead generation. Word of mouth and relationships drive sales better than any other lead generation technique, even in today’s digital world! Think about your network and whether or not you are leveraging the opportunities that are being presented to you.

Believe in what you are selling

Passion and a genuine belief in your product or service will get more sales flowing.

Be clear, concise and articulate the benefits of your product or services to prospective customers or clients. Remember the golden rule. People are focused on what’s in it for them. Make sure you keep the customer and their needs at the centre of your conversation and explain how your product or service can benefit them.

Actively listen to your prospects / customers

Each one is different with unique requirements. Listen to any concerns or objections they have so that you can respond to these effectively. Be mindful not to interrupt when they are trying to express a concern.

Be patient

Be patient with your customers and be aware of body language and social cues. This applies to your own body language and tone of voice and that of your customers. It will help you to gauge interest/disinterest and read the situation, allowing you to know when it’s time to speak, seek clarification and when it’s necessary to listen or repeat what has been said to reinforce that you have been listening!

Sales is a complex subject area. I’d love to hear about any first hand sales experiences or tips you may have from your own sales history. What were some of the things that helped you close a sale? Is your network the main source of sales leads for your business? What are some of the areas within the sales process that you find difficult?

8 Golden Success Secrets for Small Businesses

Running a small business is as challenging as trekking to Mt. Everest without having oxygen cylinder, prior practice, and a valid map guide. The challenges are only because there are no authentic rules that can lead a small business towards success while other major obstacles comprise: low budget, limited manpower, and lack of efficient resources. But as a small business owner, you must delve into the passcodes that help you decode the secret patterns of operating a successful startup or small business. It not only helps you to sustain your current growth but also excel your business planning’s to achieve higher objectives. There are a few suggestions based on real-world experiences, which can assist you to hit the bull’s eye.

1- Utilize the power of social media:

Nowadays, the entire world revolves around social media and if you are able to use its full potential, it can immediately help you increase your sales and brand reputation with very minimum resource and effort. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, help you connect with a large scale of users, where you can directly interact with them, thereby allowing you to convert them into your potential clients. It forms a two-way channel that not only allows you to put your message across but also, listen to what your targeted audience want, which eventually goes a long way in improving and growing your business.

2- Research and analyze your competition:

A business turns to be successful only if it runs on some finely grinned facts and figures. And competition analysis is one of the most important elements of the process. Competition analysis tells you the strength you will require to establish your brand in the market as well as it helps to prepare your business planning adequately so that you could avoid the chances of business failure. An additional benefit of competition research is it allows for designing and developing more feasible and user-oriented products that eventually help you attain a competitive edge over the current market.

3- Work as per your plan but be flexible too:

Efficient planning is a roadmap that drives your business to the top in the long run with predefined routes. It is always advised to stick with our planning even if we face a few hurdles while running our business given that the strategies are designed after in-depth analysis. And day-to-day challenges should not incline you to alter with whatever you planned. The winners always back their business plannings regardless of the stiff challenges, but on the other side, a successful business requires the owner to be flexible enough to embrace new changes. Adapting the new ideas and concepts not only makes a business owner take smart decisions but also, keeps their core planning intact and fresh.

4- Use informative materials to build trust and loyalty:

The Internet is the best medium to reach out to the huge audience with less effort, but you should keep the fact in mind that there is already a heavy flow of advertisements and endorsements all over the web. So, what can be an efficient way to create our presence with a significant impact?

There are definitely some better ways to do it like using informative online materials such as well-written blogs, well-designed infographics, animated videos demonstrating some set of skills, and presentation sheets, etc. Following such practices will attract a huge mass to our platform to learn and engage with us, which gives a sense of trust and ultimately convert them into our long-term clients.

5- Hire your weaknesses:

A small business consists of a team of limited dedicated professionals, having different skill sets of all the corners to tackle most of the business requirements. Small businesses, sometimes, compromise in some crucial areas since they can’t hire specific individuals due to the lack of budget. To get your business positioned to the top, please don’t bear with your inefficient area. Rush into hiring experienced professional(s) so that all parts of your business fire with the same intensity.

6- Be ready for mergers and acquisitions:

Even after working with your full potential, you may not generate enough force to compete with the leading competitors. Other small businesses with the same concept may face the same situations. Just find them and join in the talks to check the possibilities of the merger to form a combined force, which can provide the required pace and power to achieve the common business goals. Mergers have a long, rich history of producing successful businesses, so don’t shy away with it. Similarly, business acquisitions are a noble idea to inject more strength to our business if budget allows us to do so.

7- Keep the quality service always on:

Quality service is the most important source that keeps your client for a longer period of time and it spreads huge positive feedbacks in the mass, driving in a large number of new clients. There have been more than just a few businesses reaching to the top just on the base of excellent service and even without spending a bomb on advertisements and business promotions. While there are other businesses which have failed miserably because of giving no importance to the quality of the services they provided. All in all, having the sound quality of the products/services is the key to succeeding in today’s cut throat competition.

8- Don’t give up:

Running a successful business is not a child’s play since it requires a lot of guts, courage, and risk-taking capabilities. It, sometimes, shakes your ambitions when going through some rough patches, and you need to have the burning desires within you to keep it alive. Keeping patience is also an important character that the small business owner must have, as the formation of a business and climb the ladder of success, demands to wait for long period of time. So, as a business owner, you need to instill never give up attitude to see your dreams come true!!

Summing it up, though the above-mentioned points are not entirely foolproof but yes, following these points will definitely help you to become a smart small business owner who can defy all the challenges and get on the top of the competition. Of Course, the chances of success or failure of your business completely depends on your planning and execution.

Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Business Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Many consumers have the wrong notion that small businesses don’t have a chance at surviving in the highly competitive business environment of the 21st century. They couldn’t be more wrong, and here are the reasons why. With technological advancements and social media tools that span the globe, there are now many strategies available to small businesses to help them achieve their business goals. One of the available strategies to them is social media marketing. In fact, small businesses can maximize the features of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media networking sites to successfully put their business endeavors in the limelight and within the reach of customers from around the world.

Any of these social media platforms have at least 50 million to 350 million users. Each day millions more become members and they come from everywhere on the planet. These platforms are essentially networking sites which make them ideal for small businesses to promote their wares. With social media small businesses can greatly impact the niche and the global market as well. At the same time they can generate potential leads.

Strategies for Social Media Marketing

1. Small businesses must strive for optimization. If the web content is not optimized then the business venture is not making the most of the available social media tools that their competitors as well as large businesses are successfully utilizing. Optimization helps avoid penalties from the major search engines. If optimization is used correctly, site rankings increase and the business venture gains immense rewards in terms of brand awareness.

To be competitive, small businesses have to learn about essential social media marketing strategies. Marketing tools change all the time and so it is also critical to keep abreast of technological innovations. Careful planning and foresight help a business in achieving its goals. It becomes easier for small businesses to expand if they have a significant online presence. There is no easier way to expand the client based of a fledgling enterprise than through social media marketing.

2. These days, the forming of business alliances may also be done on the Web. Expanding the social contacts of the enterprise can be done by cost-effective measures. One method is to build links with websites that are relevant to the business. These alliances, once formed, can boost the popularity and exposure of any new business. Besides, link building is a great way to promote services & products.

3. There are traditional methods of business advertising and there are also boosting the business profile on social networking platforms. To create a bigger impact on the market today, it is important to pay attention to the business profile that website visitors arrive at. If an “About Us” page contains a link with a significant impact then the company can expect a number of new leads. Visitor of the website also appreciate being presented with short, concise, and relevant information about the products & services being offered.

4. Dynamic and responsive websites have numerous advantages over traditional sites. Visitors are drawn to sites that are arresting, attention-grabbing, and interactive. When great content, layout and site SEO are all present and in the right mix, there may be no need to spend money on advertising strategies since the site itself attracts high volumes of traffic already. When the keywords are highly ranked, potential leads will keep coming in.

In Conclusion

There are many social media marketing campaigns available today and it is up to the management to choose which strategies to adopt. No matter how big or small a business venture is the management has to consider the potential advantages of engaging in social media marketing. These approaches can steer the whole company towards the right direction.

3 Key Reasons Why Your Small Business Blog Will Fail (And How To Make It Succeed Instead)

Whether you are blogging already to promote your small business or thinking of starting a blog, using a blog to promote your small business is not enough in itself.

You may be considering blogging, or have been an owner of a blog for some while now, believing that this blog will bring you more customers. That’s what you were led to believe by all the hype around blogging, and possibly by your tech people too, right?

If this is you then you are not alone. Many small business owners believe, either because of hype, or from seeing competitors take up blogging, that a blog is the key to attracting more customers. In times of recession and downturn any thing that can bring in money to your business is good right?

Wrong.

Starting a business blog can be the worst path you will take in your business. Why? Because many times over small business owners believe that their blog will promote their business.

If this is you, thinking this way will lead you to 3 key reasons why your blog will fail before it gets started.

Key Reason 1: Not understanding the fundamental principle of what blogging is really all about.

Many small business blogs bore people (especially potential customers) with dry sales-speak such as how competitive their prices are. They use their blog to sell first and foremost. This is a BIG mistake.

What To Do Instead:

Stay away from dry sales-speak. Instead entertain and support. Use your blog to offer information that improves, saves and supports potential customers in finding solutions to their wants.

Key Reason 2: Believing that the most important task of your blog is to promote your business first and last.

This mistake leads many small business owners scratching their heads, and disappointed that no one has arrived to spend money in their business. For example, a florist may think that their blog should promote what their florist’s business does – sell flowers in beautiful ways.

What To Do Instead:

Concentrate first and foremost on becoming an advisor. This means actively stepping out of the role of sales person, and stepping into the roles of counselor, expert and leader offering interesting, useful, helpful and entertaining information that improves, saves and supports potential customers.

People are attracted by people who give them short cuts to what they want most. Become that person and people will flock to you – and your business.

Key Reason 3: They pay a lot of money to have their blog designed for them and allow these designers to design a blog that they (the designers) think is “cool”.

Cool is fine – if it sells. Trouble is most of what passes for Cool for other people, usually does not fit your potential customers’ idea of cool. Sure they may think “Wow!” when they see your super-duper blog design (possibly) but will they be persuaded to buy from you because of it? 97% of the time the answer is “No.”

What To Do Instead:

First establish your target niche. Once you have established who you want as customers, you are ready to establish what goals your blog will achieve for you.

Only when you have establish these two fundamental facts are you ready (and able) to decide what kind of blog is best for your particular business to enable you to achieve your goals. It is then that you are in a position to discuss and decide the best design for your blog. Anything that detracts, or leads away, from achieving your goals must be rejected.

Nothing must get in the way of you giving your target niche of people what they want. Establish who your target niche is. If you are a florist remember your target niche is not “people who buy flowers”. Your target niche comes from those people. But you need to hone in on who, what, when, why, how and where among people who buy flowers are your target niche.

When you have established this by answering those six vital honing-in questions, you will be able to establish the target niche – and aim – of your blog. For example, you may have established that: out of people who buy flowers in your area, your target niche are women entrepreneurs between 30 and 40 years old, who want to have beautiful flowers, not only brighten their homes, but their work places too. But they don’t want to bother with arranging bouquets themselves. Oh yes, and they’re Fung Shui addicts too.

There’s your blog’s target niche and aim: Inspiring, saving and advising these women entrepreneurs on how to best use flowers in partnership with Fung Shui principles in order to enjoy increased flows of positive energy.

The Bottom Line:

Blogging can bring increased numbers of people to your business and increase your bottom line – if you understand how to avoid the 3 key reasons business blogs fail and instead make your blog successful.