The shortest path to more sales is already sitting dormant in your business right now.
Typically when we think about growing our sales, we put on our marketing hats on and think of all those prospects out there who are currently not buying from us. We think about all the marketing channels, advertising, social media, flyers and mailers and phone calls. And while some of these may be relevant, they are rarely the shortest path.
You already have people buying from you, who trust you and are happy with your business. Or at least I hope you do. How can you leverage this further? Here are three keys ways:
- Referrals – before you spend any money on marketing for new customers, evaluate how well you are doing at servicing the heck out of your existing customers. If you are doing an outstanding job and they love you, you are well within your rights to ask for a referral. Make the ask appropriate for the relationship and make it easy for them to give. Be specific and grateful. If people ever feel pressured to give a referral, it will generally leave a bad taste. Be tactful and most important – make sure you are worthy!
- Testimonials – as per the above point, when your customers love your business, capture that in the form of a testimonial. Many testimonials provide marketing leverage and it also solidify for your customer, how they feel about your business. There is something about committing to a written statement that makes a feeling real. Following up with a referral request after a testimonial is given can work well.
- Add on sales – What else do they need? If you are in tune with your customers needs, odds are there are other things they need that you could be helping them with. This may be a natural extension of your existing offerings or it could be something outside your current scope of expertise. If you can offer the service directly, great. And if not then you can partner with someone who can. An example of this was a client of ours who did waterproofing. He’d had a couple of people ask him if he could recommend a window supplier. So he starting asking any customers who had old windows if they had thought about replacing them. If they said yes, he referred his ‘partner’ business to come and quote. Once the sales was made, our client received a commission on the sale.
Think about this … if you and your team made a habit of looking for these three opportunities in your existing customer base, what could be possible? I’m not saying you should never pay for advertising but I believe if you can’t get these three working for you first, there may be a problem in your business model.
Unlocking employee potential is easier than you might think.
When we run team alignment days to help clients with their business strategy, we coach the team through some principles that form the foundation for great teamwork. One particular exercise we run is a survival scenario, which has a byproduct of unlocking employee potential you may not even know about. We break the team into small groups of 3 or 4 and set the exercise up in a way that shows tangible improvements from working as a team vs working as individuals. Or at least that is the desired outcome. Occasionally it works out the opposite!
During the debrief of a recent team alignment day, I asked a particular group for their score. There are several scores that contribute to the overall outcome but one that is always interesting is how many people on your team had a better individual score vs team score. (i.e. who on your team would have been better on their own vs being with the team.) And as occasionally happens, one girl had an individual score that was significantly better than the team score.
I then asked the question, “why do you think your score was so much better?” Her response … “well a couple of years ago I actually did sail across the Atlantic and learned a lot about navigation, survival and sailing”. My next question … “did you happen to mention that to your team?” …. her response “No, I didn’t”
This happens in life and business all the time. We are often working with people who we know very little about. And if you think about all the experience, skills and knowledge that is probably lying there dormant … let’s tap into it.
Another case of unlocking employee potential appeared recently with one of our business coaching clients who has an employee that just finished an economics degree, majoring in accounting. As of right now, they are doing next to no analysis on their financials. Doing so will enable them to make much better decisions, so we’ve quickly moved her more into that role. Untapped resources.
The Potential for You
The lesson is – “who is on your team? and how well do you know them?” What skills, knowledge or natural interests do they have that you can tap into and leverage? The kicker is, people love utilizing their skills and contributing at the highest level. Particularly at what they are good at.
See what you can find out within your own team 🙂
When it comes to the word ‘sales’ everyone’s got their thoughts around it. Most commonly the initial thought reflex when someone here’s the word is a negative one. Most people have had that experience with the pushy sales person whether it was the classic used car scenario, or the door to door energy broker or even the fundraiser who’s working hard to hit target. And of course when we have a negative experience with anything, we tend to guide our behaviour to not be like that. So we tend to hear people say things like “I don’t have what it takes to be good at sales. I’m too nice” or “I just couldn’t sleep at night if I was in sales knowing I’ve manipulated someone”.
Any kind of thinking or believe that is along these lines, to put it bluntly, is misinformed. The truth is if you’ve ever worked to influence someone in anyway (ask someone out on a date, ask someone to be on your team, convince friends to go restaurant A vs B etc, bring a new idea into your workplace) you are in sales. Sales is the transference of an idea.
The trick is that bad sales is pushy transference of an idea and those who do it are simply untrained. End of story. Perhaps their ethics are questionable … maybe. I’m not saying those people aren’t out there but the vast majority of bad sales experiences simply come from a lack of training.
In this realisation there could be massive opportunity for you and your business. Here are a couple of things to think about
- What are your beliefs around sales (positive or negative) and how does that affect your performance and ability to grow your business?
- What are your teams beliefs around sales? Where could they be more assertive in spotting opportunities to help your customers?
- What would the affect be on your business if everyone on your team had a healthy and positive view of sales AND had the skills to spot and nurture opportunities?
Assuming there is some opportunity there for you and your team, here are five tips you can use to change the way you and your team think about sales
- Be a proactive helper – move from selling to helping. Think about it this way, what problem does your company solve? And if you were to come across a person or company with that problem, would you let them suffer or would you want to help? People who care about others always want to help. When you are feeling salesy it is most often because you are thinking about yourself and your commission, not how you can help someone. And remember, helping someone does not always mean you have to sell something. What do they truely need?
- Become great at asking questions – when you can ask thought provoking questions, it is easier to engage people and find out what they need. Asking great questions also communicates that you are interested in them and you care. Great questions get to the emotion behind the problem or need. When you can help people achieve the feeling they are after, you make their life better.
- Become an expert – to be able to help at the highest level, you need to be as good as you can be at what you do. When you are great at your craft, you have more ability to help others, ask better questions and you will naturally instil confidence in the person you are seeking to help. Deep knowledge builds confidence and confidence is crucial when it comes to influencing others.
- Have a network – your customers have more problems than you have the ability to solve. To improve the value you can bring to others, have people in your network that can solve some of the other common problems your customers have. This puts you in a different league to your competitors, and ensure you are truely focused on helping vs making a sale. When people know your true intention, they feel good about you. When people feel good about you, trust goes up. When trust and likability go up, you make sales. And even if that person doesn’t buy from you (because they don’t have a true need), they may refer someone who will.
- Play the long game – there are times when you should make a sale right here and now. There are other times when the timing is just not right. Have enough experience and objectivity to know the difference. The sales not made today can often become a much bigger sale down the track. My only caveat to this is don’t allow this to become an excuse for letting someone not make a decision when they really should. Influencing people in way that will benefit them can mean helping them to make a decision. Deference of decisions rarely helps.