Maureen quit employment to start a business after several years of preparation. She was confident that with the experience, contacts and network she had developed while working, success was a walkover.
However, 18 months into the business, she realized she was going nowhere. High startup cost and low sales had depleted all her capital.
She had not managed to get good sales people and nearly all her contacts vanished into thin air. Just a few wanted to do business with her new venture.
After spending sleepless nights and agonizing on what to do next, she resolved to downsize and do sales herself. To start with, she realized it is easy to get an office administrator than a good sales person.
Though she had never considered herself to be good in sales, she decided to give it a try. In any case, her survival seemed dependent on it.
Just three months in the field, things turned around and her business started on a meteoric rise.
In terms of business success, nothing contributes more than the owner’s ability to sell. However, selling is the Achilles’ heel of many business owners. Interestingly, most business owners do not consider themselves salespeople and do not even try to sell. They assume they are good in other things but not sales.
Yet ability to sell is what makes a successful entrepreneur. Contrary to popular misconception, sales is not a hard job. You just need to master a few basics.
First, understand your products and your customers’ needs. It is only after understanding customer needs that you can figure out how to solve them.
Secondly, sell yourself first. This is something that most entrepreneurs don’t know or appreciate when selling. The seller or the salesperson is as important, if not more, than the product in the buying process.
The customers ‘buy’ the seller first before they buy the product. In this case, not every person can sell. The seller must endear or ‘sell’ themselves to the buyer first before they can sell the product. As a business owner with the vision, passion, determination to success and product knowledge, you are in a better position to sell the product better than hired untrained folks chasing commission.
Thirdly, do your homework well to understand the person you are targeting before making a sales proposal. This saves you the cost of trying to sell to everyone. This is called prospecting. You need to isolate people who can benefit from your product and are able to buy at your price.
Finally, don’t seek money first. Seek to solve customers’ problems and everything else will be added unto you.
In modern times, the market needs problem solvers not sellers. People hate spending money and no one wants a salesperson to sell to them. They are always preoccupied with their problems and are ready to get rid of them at any cost.
If you position yourself as a problem solver, and you actually solve problems, you endear yourself to your customers.
This article was first published in The Business Daily on March 19, 2019.