The Simple Truth to Why You are Not Making Sales
After all kinds of chatter about what other people in her field are doing, ideas for other lines of business and new possible target markets she could focus on (all things being used to distract from the real issue):
Client: Kellee I just don’t know if I should do this business any more.
Me: Why do you say that?
Client: I have: defined the mission of the business; laid out guidelines and goals in my business canvas; identified my target markets and researched what they need and what they object to; built my service product and refined it with customer input; built a website, a sales handout, posted a blog regularly…but so far only one paying customer. Now what?
Me: But there is one thing you haven’t done…
Client: What’s that?
Client: <sigh> Selling is painful. Rejection. Work. Frustrating.
Me: I think there might be one thing more frustrating?
Me: No customers.
I have seen this, Now What scenario with well-funded tech startups, bootstrapped retail startups, small manufacturing businesses dealing with declining sales - all sorts, sizes and business climates. Is this you? Have you built it and no-one is buying?
Whether they don’t know how to sell because they are a new startup, or forgotten they have to keep selling regardless of how they have “always operated this way,” nine times out of ten the client simply isn’t selling.
So, Now What? How do you do it? Every industry, environment and set of goals shape a marketing and sales strategy differently, but here are the basics.
Identify your customer. Name them and describe them even down to the color of the socks they wear if you can. What do they value about your product? What should they value but don’t know about your product? What do they not like about your product (is that a misconception you can fix?)
Find your customer. Where do these people get their information? The web, social media, events, trade shows, meetings, seminars, radio, snail mail, advisors, referral partners, the Better Business Bureau? Are you present where they are?
Build awareness in your potential customer base. Do you have a website and a one-page print out which state what you do, the benefits to the customer and how to contact you? As a social good company, does your potential market base even know the social or environmental issue your business is trying to change exists? With a triple bottom line company often your potential clients need to be aware of your differentiators as a social good business and gain a little education on why their purchase with you is more valuable than conventional organizations selling something similar.
Engage your customer. Once they know you and the issue exist, how do you engage with them to tell them what you have to offer? Do you have a Sales Funnel? What’s your plan when they show an interest (or when they don’t)?
Retain your customer. It is much more costly to keep finding new customers than it is to retain existing ones. How will you keep your customers happy and wanting more? Have you thought of what series of items can be sold in a Sales Ladder?
This is the basic stuff sales and marketing plans are made of. Each one of these steps can be broken down into manageable micro-steps. The best strategic plans are made as minimal viable products following a Lean style. Do the least you have to do to complete a sales cycle, take it out into the market to test and learn. Come back in for minor iterative changes, or in some cases major pivots, before taking it back out again.
Either way, you are in front of potential customers, learning more about them, your offering, how to sell and selling. This is not an exercise in force, trickery or rejection. Selling should be an honest investigation of your product or service done in a conversation of active listening with your clients and potential clients.
In very few cases does the “you built it they will come” process work. 99% of the time you build minimally, test it on the market, tweak it, sell it and they, the customers, buy. Concepts, products or services can all be improved and sold be defining these steps.
Use a business canvas to clarify your thoughts on who your customer is and what you offer them.
Ask your favorite client to lunch and learn why they buy and what value adds or additions or changes they would like to see.
Want expert advice on building your strategy? I am only an email or phone call away. Subscribe below to the newsletter for an insiders view to strategic, triple bottom line business growth and development. I share the insights and secrets that helped me become a serial entrepreneur and I have no doubt they will help you grow your business and impact the world.
Now, no excuses! Get out there and get selling!