It’s nearly been 365 days since I started as Incubator Manager at Napier University and I’ve loved every minute of it. I started my business in the Incubator at Craiglockhart 12 years ago while a student and took full advantage of all the support at Bright Red Triangle. Having exited my business and come back as a Business Advisor, it has fascinated me that regardless of the scale of your business the problems are the same. The number one question from almost every meeting…
How do I get sales?
Obviously without sales you have no business. Let’s not beat around the bush here! There are a lot of people that talk about an idea for months… years even, and do nothing. We all have that friend.
In today’s social media world, it is very fashionable to be an entrepreneur, but when do you actually become one? Maybe that’s a blog for another day, but here is my take. You have to make a SALE to be an entrepreneur.
So when I get asked how to get sales, I flip it around, and say… “don’t sell!”
Think about that for a second…
People hate to be sold to. I hate to be sold to. I do however like building relationships and listening to problems and challenges around me. Maybe that is where the answer lies. Be curious.
Sell by being curious. It works, I promise.
If you are about to launch into a pitch with your next potential customer, stop yourself, and ask a question instead. It’s important to listen and help open up the person you are talking to by asking open ended questions. What does that mean? Any question they can reply with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to is not the right type of question to ask.
Examples of some good conversational questions:
→ What problem are we trying to solve?
→ What is happening in your business?
→ Why are we here?
Nine times out of ten the pitch you were about to launch into is going to be miles away from what the customer wants and needs.
Your job is to discover the problem. It’s all about collecting the information. Make sure you are always trying to get to the bigger problem. It’s like peeling back the layers. Clients won’t always open up about this on the first meeting. By solving the bigger problem for the client you are creating more value and with more value means you can charge more.
Don’t feel you have to use what you have learnt straight away and then launch into the pitch in the first meeting. Build the relationship. Thank them for their time but you MUST send an email that day. Recapping what was discussed, highlighting your discovery and organising another meeting or just ask them a few more specific questions. This is letting them know you understand the problems and that you are an efficient and reliable person.
A quick word of warning. You can ask too many questions. Read the situation.
Now when you have the problem identified it’s time to pitch (even though I’m not a fan of the word pitch). It’s not even really a pitch. You have managed to do so much discovery work by this stage that it’s a tailored conversation. But don’t forget you are always checking in with the client by being curious. Keeping your pitch specific to the problem.
Also remember that not everyone is ready when you are ready to sell to them. Often when going through the discovery phase it becomes clear. This isn’t time wasted! In fact, taking a step back and being honest with the client will build trust. Pop a follow up in the diary and build the relationship into the future – you never know when they might phone you or even better refer you!
This is a brief overview of a big topic. I hope it helps you start thinking about sales in a different way. Please feel free to come and have a chat with me or email me any questions or success stories.