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We’ve long understood the concept of ‘crossing the chasm’. The task of established start-ups who have found the repeatable business model, but can’t get to that next step – the step of scaling up.
Great products, cool brand, nice looking website. You’ve even got customers, an office, some staff, a pretty good social media presence and a relationship with a bank manager. But if you can’t sell – and here we don’t mean promotion, marketing or getting noticed – we mean selling – you will not be able to scale up and create a sustainable business venture.
So what’s it all about? And how do you integrate selling into your culture, your psyche, your every day thinking?
1. Understand what selling is. And what it is NOT.
As defined, ‘Selling is first and foremost a transaction between the seller and the prospective buyer or buyers (the target market) where money (or something considered to have monetary value) is exchanged for goods or services’.
So it’s basically a transactional activity. Boring right. And that’s the problem, for many entrepreneurs and start-up types, selling isn’t regarded as glamourous, nor is it regarded as creative or fun. But selling is essential for all business success.
If you don’t incorporate selling into your company culture, you won’t get very far.
2. Acknowledge your sales achievements to date
Ok, from day one, if you are struggling with the sales task, acknowledge the sales success you have had so far. Assess where you have had sales success with customers. Look at the sales you have achieved so far and work out how you got them. Step back from all the activities that are happening at the moment, all the things that have to be done, and work out what sales have occurred in the past 6-12 months and importantly how they happened. What did your business to do to get those orders? What action did your clients do?
3. Understand the difference between promotion and selling.
Promoting your product and your company are key to success. At all times, at every meeting and each email you send is an opportunity to leave some with a positive impression of your business.
Far too often the start-up entrepreneur will focus on all the vanity activities that seemingly get them market validation.
Park aside the progress you have made with gaining funding, increasing twitter followers or even winning awards. They will all count for little if you run out of cash. All the platitudes and thumbs up you get for producing a great product or your pitch, will not support a buoyant cashflow.
4. Analyse where your sales are coming from.
If you are working with an online business for example, try to sketch out where the sales are coming from, count up what have you spent on online adverts, work out which channel is efficient and which are not. And then, quickly decide on a patch of action that gets your positive results.
5. Selling is an ongoing, reiterative slog.
The problem is .. is that selling isn’t a one off activity. It’s also full of high levels of failure – failures that can hurt and can’t be fixed easily.
As one great start-up CEO we once worked with let us know ‘Try to sell to someone who is buying, it makes the task easier’.
The results from the selling task can be often seem random, hard to forecast and not as soft and fluffy as marketing. You have to be resilient, ready for the no, and ready to drop what looks like a great lead to move on to another potential client.
6. You have to become your own sales manager
The one great thing about having worked with high achiever sales managers is you learn to focus on what matters, and very quickly. Think about your sales targets and how you achieve them as you are working for a sales manager. A tough, no nonsense, ‘doesn’t give one flip’ about excuses or reasons why you didn’t succeed, type of manager. Get that voice in your head and every month, and at every decision point when you are selling or spending money on the sale process, have you very own little conversation. ‘Are you making the right sales calls?’ ‘Are you spending your time on the things that count?’ ‘Are they buying or are you doing all the talking?.
If you have no idea what a sales manager may ask for – which is likely, if you have never had a mainstream sales job – connect with someone who has that experience. If your business needs to get a sales focus, to achieve revenue targets get in touch with us today and we can work with you see how we can accelerate your business.
Looking for support to accelerate your startup, or need assistance in designing an accelerator? Then contact us and we’ll see how we can help.