Sales & Marketing: The Basics
As a business owner, sales & marketing are probably very familiar words to you, but what do they bring to business, & how & why are they connected?
As business functions, both sales & marketing impact lead generation & revenue. Put very simply, sales refers to turning prospects into customers. Marketing, therefore, is focused on finding those prospects, or leads: those who have a need for a company’s product or service.
Of course, effective sales & marketing is a complex task, & combined with the bad reputation that sales unfortunately has, we can be forgiven for wanting to avoid it. Most small business owners do not set up their business with the view to becoming a sales person. However, the need to wear the sales hat is an inevitable part of running your own business. “Sales” is often considered a “dirty” word, when the truth is that it shouldn’t be.
In this blog, I’m going to take away a little of the nervousness you might have around sales & marketing in your business, by breaking down these functions to understand exactly what they are & how they work in harmony for any business. By doing this, we can equip ourselves with the tools to approach them from a place of confidence.
As a Business Buzz Local Event Host, I work with business owners every day, & I am one myself. I understand the pressures & pitfalls, but sales fear doesn’t need to be one of them! If you’ve ever felt uneasy around sales, you’re not alone. This blog will help you shift your mindset, & see sales as an exciting opportunity.
Sales: Approach is Key
Every conversation should be a sales conversation. Sales is central to business. Whether we love it or loathe it, businesses simply wouldn’t exist without sales. For something so vital to businesses, sales often gets a bad reputation.
So why is this? People can be too “salesy” for a raft of reasons: sometimes it is down to nerves, or down to the pressure we place on ourselves for a “return on investment”, or not having a marketing & sales plan & not really understanding our audience & our customers, so we end up selling because that is all we can do out of desperation. But sales done well, doesn’t feel like ‘sales’. Instead, it feels like someone is listening to your needs & letting you know how their product or service meets it. However, most of us have been the victim of a ‘sales pitch’ where someone who hasn’t taken the time to get to know us or our needs, talks at us about a generic offering that doesn’t resonate with us. While sales can have a bad name, by approaching sales as a way of creating an opportunity, we can remove the fear of ‘selling’, & instead feel like we are connecting & informing rather than hassling people to buy. My top tips are:
• Use genuine stories to demonstrate your success, what you do & how you do it. People remember positive stories more than figures, facts or pitches.
• Believe fully in yourself, your brand, your product & your pricing. This confidence allows you to focus on creating an opportunity, rather than ‘selling’.
• Allow other people to understand you, the person behind your business & your values rather than how much you cost or how you do what you do. This is the best way to get your customers hooked.
• Keep your product or service accessible. Avoid industry jargon & keep your pricing simple with a tiered approach, say “bronze, silver & gold”. Pricing, although important, may not always be the ultimate driving factor in the purchasing process. Perceived value is important & as a small business owner it is easy to add value by being engaging, knowledgeable, approachable & having someone’s trust.
• Focus on your customer’s pinch-point in their business & how your product or service meets their needs in releasing any bottleneck. Align your business values & the potential outcomes to those of your customers.
• Have an adaptable solution for your prospective customers & ensure your offering is tailored to their needs. What value can you provide?
• Active Listening. Telling is most definitely not selling! Use leading questions with your prospective customers that allow you to gain an understanding of their challenges & then when you talk about your business, adapt what you say to resonate to their particular challenge. As we have two ears & one mouth, a general rule of thumb should be to listen twice as much as you talk, so it is important to focus on encouraging your prospective customer to do most of the talking.
• Follow up. Be credible! Did you promise your customer you’d get back to them with some specific details? Send them through as soon as you can, & even if you’re not sending extra information, a friendly follow up acknowledges the importance you place on your interactions with people.
Networking: Your Secret Weapon to Successful Sales & Marketing
As I have said before, people buy from people they know, like & trust. In which case, sales is not about selling, but more about building trusted relationships & sharing opportunities. This is where Business Buzz comes in. It provides the perfect networking platform for business owners to make connections, & build meaningful relationships that become the foundation to your success.
Networking speaks to both your sales & marketing strategy. It gives you the opportunity to tell people about yourself & your brand. By regularly attending networking, you become the trusted face of your sector for your locality, & the person people think of when they, or a connection, need your product or service. Raising your brand profile in this way, & speaking to the right people – is marketing gold.
When people are aware of your product or service, you have created an opportunity to have that sales conversation, which can add them to your pipeline. It converts them from a warm prospect to a hot prospect. The next time you see them networking helps to reinforce your relationship & allow you to continue to talk about how you can support them. Not everyone will buy on day one, so you have to nurture your relationships until such time as your ideal customer is ready to work with you. With this approach, marketing & sales work in harmony, a joint pairing to create opportunities.
Sales & Marketing: The Ultimate Power Couple
By aligning sales & marketing, you are directing your efforts at the same prospects, & creating the best opportunities for success. Together, sales & marketing allow you to target your ideal customer to create interest, generate revenue &…you guessed it: build relationships.
Marketing strategies & sales processes of course have their differences. They’re unique functions, but by focusing on their collaborative relationship, you can approach sales with confidence, rather than associating it with an aggressive deal closing experience.
So, let’s round up the key takeaways:
• Focus on creating an opportunity, & see sales as communicating & connecting.
• Have a marketing & sales plan. Know who your ideal customers are, so you can focus your efforts at them rather than through a scatter-gun approach. Be targeted!
• Show your potential customers how your product or service meets their unique needs – find a product for your customer rather than a customer for your product.
• Use networking as part of your sales & marketing strategy. Business Buzz is the perfect platform for you to make connections, & share your opportunity.
There are so many channels by which to connect with your prospects & customers. There is no single approach that works for everyone. However, for business owners, networking should be at the heart of your sales & marketing strategy. Networking offers a multi-faceted approach: raising brand awareness, encouraging face-to-face interactions, building trusted relationships & providing a platform to develop your own confidence. I believe in the power of networking, so much so that at the core of my business is being the Regional Lead for Business Buzz across the Midlands. The Buzz networking format is without a question of doubt, in my opinion, the best place for business people to mix, mingle, connect & succeed. Wherever you can, you should add a local Buzz event to your monthly marketing calendar & build it into your sales plan.
Let’s talk about how you can get involved with Business Buzz or become a visitor. There are more then 40 Business Buzz events happening each month, both face-to-face & virtually – get in touch with me today on firstname.lastname@example.org & I can help you find the perfect Buzz for you.