Would you like your sales to be more effective? If your answer is yes, the best solution probably is to increase proactivity in your sales process.
Sales process is the most usual bottle neck part in companies. That is the number one reason for the business to either succeed or die.
According to my own experience the best school for an entrepreneur before his entrepreneurial career is the school of sales. By this I mean a provision based, proactive sales work rather via face-to-face meetings. Thanks goodness all business requires also face-to-face meetings in addition to calling by phone, and in those meetings the interaction with the customer or a partner in cooperation is deeper.
I got this kind of experience first doing direct sales aged 19-23 and then investment business aged 24-26. Especially my years in direct sales had such a great influence on me, that I don’t think I ever could have build a business like this with my business partner without them. When this is combined with good and inspiring sales training and literature, I don’t think an entrepreneur could have any better start for commercializing his business after the business idea.
Several entrepreneur friends of mine are struggling with their sales.Mostly resources are rather put into developing trendy internet and blog marketing than picking up the phone and making sales. Don’t get me wrong, we also provide content actively on internet, blogs and on videos. It brings us a lot of sales too, and most importantly we get to spread good content for our customers via these channels. So it’s a way for us to practice our mission.
I think that if sales is left depending only on marketing, the business is kind of left in the hands of ’a greater power’. Of course, there are some products whose sales process is more marketing driven than sales driven. The more marketing driven products are usually those, where in the buying process the one-time purchase is smaller, for example a tootbrush, a hamburger meal or a ticket to a fair. But at any case, sales can ALWAYS be improved by personal contacts and meetings.
The more sales driven products are, on the other hand and roughly generalizing, the products where the one-time purchase is bigger, such as expertise services or domestic appliances. By experience, you will also find out the regularities in sales brought in by marketing and how sales increases by reputation. However, you should not settle for that.
In our organization, we count all income to depend only on the sales that we can accomplish with our own personal sales work that, on the other hand, depends on our experience and best estimations and goals. We think that all the deals that come in on top of this via marketing are just bonus. I would highly recommend others to also try this model, where marketing is mostly seen as a way to create a fruitful contact basis for sales. In most cases, marketing does not replace sales, but supports it.
If you find sales repellent and yourself often avoiding it (you know what I mean), the next most important step on your career is to study sales and go to sales trainings. You might think that someone else can take care of sales, but you are wrong. Usually, especially in the beginning of the company’s lifetime, the best seller is the entrepreneur him/herself. Also the best seller of an expertise service is the expert him/herself. The most valuable sales force of the company often drowns itself in administrational tasks that might as well be taken care of by someone else. Often these people also get stuck on research and development. In general, it would be good for Finnish start-up entrepreneurs to start meeting and contacting customers at a more early stage and remarkably more actively. Financing might suprisingly often be available also from cash flow financing instead of Tekes of investments.
When you get more familiar with sales, you will find out what a great thing it actually is. So first, learn to understand it: study and learn what sales actually is and what is its meaning in the context of the society. Actually this is so important, that I recommend you to stop all other set-ups and first get busy studying sales.
There is only one way to get rid of the stiffness for good, and that is getting on with it. Getting out of your comfort zone is good for you, the mission of your business will realize and as they say in ice-hockey, you will see numbers on the board.
The best tips and advice for my own sales work I have got, in addition to learning in practice, from a speaker who spoke also at Nordic Business Forum 2012 seminar, Mr. Brian Tracy. I highly recommend to check out a compilation video of his speech here »