By Rieva Lesonsky
If you’ve ever had to present your case to a small business loan officer or an investor of seed capital, you know you’d better tell them what they want to hear. What they want to hear, of course, is how investing in your business is going to make them money—which means you need to show them you’ve got what it takes to grow sales.
To craft a successful sales strategy, you need great sales tools. Peter J. Fasulo, president of PJF Sales Training Inc., suggests five must-have sales tools for every small business:
1. A solid Web presence: In today’s world, if you don’t have a professional website and use SEO, you are placing yourself behind your competition. The old ways of getting your company “out there,” such as Yellow Pages ads, word-of-mouth, print advertising and radio ads, are not pulling—especially with younger customers—like they used to.
2. A “differentiating factor”: Make sure your company does something better than your direct competition. Every small business needs to have a feature or product that sets them apart from their competition. Whether it’s local customer support, enhanced features, or price, you must identify your key differentiator.
3. A sales strategy: Just hiring salespeople and expecting them to succeed is not enough. You must have a territory plan, a quota for the reps and a compensation plan that focuses the reps on exactly the behavior you want from them. Many companies actually design a “sales playbook” for the reps, says Fasulo, so that reps know exactly what is expected of them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. This playbook usually includes the number of dials per day, number of client appointments per week and other factors that will drive the sales team to success.
4. Sales management: Many small companies make the mistake of hiring a few sales reps and hoping they sell. Unfortunately, even when you hire sales professionals with a track record, this doesn’t always work without direct daily supervision, Fasulo says. Hiring three or four sales reps and having them report to the business owner (who is bogged down with many other responsibilities) usually fails. Hiring a good sales manager to meet weekly with all reps, hold one-on-ones with each sales rep, and attend sales appointments with the reps is a better way to go.
5. Sales training: Continued sales training is a must in today’s constantly changing landscape, warns Fasulo. Some firms put their sales reps through a week of training upon being hired and hope that this is enough. The truth is, it’s not! Top companies put their sales team through at least two weeks of training on products, pricing, technology, the competition and selling skills before letting them head out to their territory and seeing prospects and clients. In addition, these top organizations hold advanced training seminars on a quarterly basis to share best practices, what is and isn’t working for the reps and what the competition is doing.
Put these five tools into place in your small business, and watch your sales soar.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports