sort out your sales

Many a small business owner has gone into business because they are great at whatever their profession is, but selling and implementing a small business strategy around that is a dark and scary art. So what are the common sales mistakes small business owner makes and what can you do about them?

  1. Have you ever been bored to death by a business owner trying to sell you their stuff? We have! Most business owners are so busy trying to push their products at you that they don’t realize they are also pushing the customer away. A sales situation has to be about the prospect – their needs and wants and not about you with your sales person hat on.
  2. In general, feature and benefit selling doesn’t work. If you don’t believe us then listen to psychologists, who will tell you that more people are motivated to do things to move away from pain then to move towards pleasure. You need to steer sales conversations around what problems your product or service solves.
  3. Remember, when you are trying to sell your stuff you are perceived as a sales person and we’re all brought up to know – SALES PEOPLE LIE! Anyone you are trying to sell to will immediately be wary, and not trust you. Understand this fact, build up your body language and communication skills and deal with it. The fact is, 99.9% of business owners recognize that a lie could ruin their reputation in the long run, but this does not make the problem go away.
  4. Many business owners try to be everything to everyone, “just because they might miss out on an opportunity”. Does the phrase “jack of all trades” ring a bell? Find a niche and play in the niche. You will be far more successful.
  5. Fear of selling stops many small business owners succeeding. They take rejection personally. You need to get over this. I hate telephone prospecting – you may laugh about what I’m about to say, but I get over this by putting on a pink wig and pretending I’m someone else. That way if someone does get rude (and honestly this is very rare) then my alter-ego can deal with it. I take the wig of and I can deal with the rest of the day without getting depressed, shouting at the cat and spending the rest of the afternoon surfing the web.
  6. Many business owners tell us they lose sales because they have a problem closing. Let me tell you the long distance runner does not lose the race in the last 100 yards. The problem has happened in the preparation or at the start of the sale, it’s just that it hasn’t been noticed until now.
  7. Finally, just because you’ve made a sale does not mean you’ve made a profit. How many times watched teams in “the Apprentice” sit in the board room and be surprised at the amount of money they’ve really made. You might sit of the sofa and laugh, but do you really know the true cost of every sale you make. Most business owners don’t. Check this you might be surprised.

Originally published for

New Year’s Resolution Time!

It’s that time of year when we come up with fantastic ideas and resolutions for the year ahead. Unfortunately, these ideas and resolutions, which seemed so fantastic in 2009, will have been forgotten very early on in 2010. The reason for this is that we tend to come up with woolly, general thoughts rather than a real plan for change.

How about making this year different? If you really want to change your business, your work/life balance, your effectiveness or any other aspect of your life, you have to think through what you want to achieve. What are your timescales? What are your specific goals? How will you measure change? What resources will you need? Who do you need to help you?

Once you have thought through all the aspects of your idea write them down so you have a point of reference – and then DO IT!

By taking the time to plan you will find it much more likely that you will keep your resolutions and move forward.

Don’t wish upon a star – reach for it!