I think one of the biggest eye openers you go through when you start a small business is the sheer range of things that you have to take care of. Besides creating your products or providing your services, you often have to have a hand in everything from customer relations to accounting to content creation!
And of course, you’ve got to be able to manage your sales, which can feel like herding cats, especially if you don’t have a good plan in place. While you might get lucky and have some periods of great sales, if you don’t have a solid sales management process in place, it’s more likely that you’ll end up going through the feast or famine cycle that hits so many small business owners.
This is obviously a topic that’s much too big to totally cover in a blog post, but the most important things to remember are:
Set clear goals.
This is such a basic idea, but when it comes down to implementation, a lot of people still gloss over it. If you don’t know what you’re hoping to get out of your sales process, there’s no way that you’ll get great results. You have to have something to aim at so you can know whether you’re making progress or not. So ask yourself, “What exactly do I want to accomplish in my sales this week? This month? This quarter? This year?”
Take the long view with your sales plan.
Bearing that in mind, ask yourself what you have coming up in the next quarter, six months, year? Will you be launching any new products or services, or will seasonal events affect your sales? What about marketing campaigns? You need to have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on with your business so you can get a sense of how you need to adjust your shorter term sales planning — otherwise it’s incredibly easy to start spinning your wheels.
Understand your pipeline.
Along with this, you need to have a crystal clear understanding of how customers come to you, how they progress through your sales pipeline, and what happens afterwards. Even more importantly, you need to get a sense of where people fall out of the sales pipeline, and where they’re most likely to convert from leads into high value customers. Once you know all of this, you can create a plan to focus on those activities and customers that will give you the best return on your time and money investment.
Make it a routine.
Selling needs to be a part of your daily business operations, not some separate task that you do sometimes. If you struggle with this, think about it this way: if you don’t sell now, you may well find that you don’t have any business in six months! To make sure that selling happens every day, you’ll need a combination of good planning and a great mindset — more on that here.
Remember, whether or not you have great sales results is largely in your control. So if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed up until now (and avoiding managing your sales because of it), really take some time out to get a sense of what’s happening now, where you want to go, and how you’re going to make it happen.
Until next time,