In your sales approach, you may have to wear many hats. when just one would be great.
No sales, no wages, no business
Price and complexity define strategic approaches for startups. This gravitates quickly toward either success or failure and the rate your business will move forward. Far too many people go into business and think that by some magic sales will automatically come to them.
Increase velocity – To reach customers and build volume rapidly hold your price point low and drive out complexity. To succeed your business must be capable of overachieving in a large market and have the systems and processes in place to facilitate organic growth.
Increase value – Establish a business model that adds value through product innovation and knowing the problems, frustrations, wants and needs of your target market segments To succeed your business must have the ability to perform and maintain high standards.
Increase profit – Find the balance between cost and operational efficiency and focus on the most profitable market segments. You should attract only the prospects you really want to work with, and then make it easy for them to find you. Provide them with good customer experiences without any comebacks.
Increase working capital – Ensure you have enough working capital to maintain the level of debtors and inventory required to properly service your customers as you grow. Running out of cash is like running out of petrol, your car won’t go anywhere, no matter how good it may be.
“A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one”. Mary Kay Ash
How does your business model deal with sales?
The choice is not always straightforward when you are entering or creating a new market because you must first find a balance between setting the business up properly or making profitable sales.
Price and complexity are natural adversaries. Higher complexity means higher costs. But just because your product is complex doesn’t mean your prospect is willing to pay more for it.
Getting the right alignment between price and complexity means ensuring the value customers place on your product always exceeds the price. Once you achieve the right balance for your market, your choice of a sales model usually becomes obvious. Fail to find it, and you end up in the startup graveyard.
Customer Self Service
The ideal model is complete customer self-service. Achieving significant revenue at a low price point requires you to drive complexity and cost out of the purchase to ensure a high volume. It requires your customers to be willing and able to service themselves.
They must be able to understand the value of your product, how to buy it and how to use it. They must also see little or no risk or frustrated in their effort to make a purchase.
As the price increases, customers become less willing to part with their cash without at least knowing there are actual trustworthy people behind the website and social media. They bring higher expectations for the business relationship and want the ability to speak to a human when problems arise.
The need for a more interpersonal business relationship and high-end marketing activities drives the sales. This is characterised by efficient, sales people and knowledgeable support operations. High-end marketing that facilitates brand awareness, education, building relationships, and trust is critical.
Getting started on your sales approach
Here are three important things you could get started on:
Ensure you have enough working capital. Keep your customer acquisition costs low, particularly for self-service business models where you need to carefully watch your profit margins. Keep your cash-traps under control (debtors and inventory) ( Before you look at growth, concentrate on things like your website, social media, mobility, content marketing and other low-cost inbound tactics. Often, the quality of your content marketing efforts is going to be the only thing that really differentiates you.
Keep things simple, organised and invest in automation. In order to keep your costs in check, keep your processes simple and organised. Work toward maintaining clean customer data, and invest in automation for products and services that require as small a support team as possible by the effective deployment of technology. These factors really have a big impact on your overall ability to deliver and provide quality to receive repeat business.
Before you hire anyone, ensure you’re targeting the right market segments. When your business reaches the point where sales start to happen consistently, be sure you are ready to handle them. Nothing will kill a business quicker than poor customer service and to lose your customers. Your strategies need to be focused and targeted at the right people, for the right market segments and ensuring they have a good customer experience.
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Over the years I think I have been involved in most sales approaches. Some good, some bad, some very ugly, but there is no one best sales approach.
Your personality and background will have a big bearing on the type of approach you take, but know what works for one business may not work for another. Being raised on a farm I became acutely aware of the importance of good customer service. I strongly believe customer service and the customer experience should be firmly built into any sales approach.
Even if you have a sales methodology that works well, it’s a good idea to try another approach now and then as the marketplace is changing and competitive forces are intensifying.
Trying new methods will stop you becoming complacent, and you may be surprised by how well a new sales approach works for you. The best approach will always involve flexibility and be aligned to your website, social media and content marketing.