Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 9/22/14 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.
Let's face it: It doesn't matter if you have 100 or 10,000 social media followers (or email subscribers), if you aren't making sales, then you don't have a business.
If your sales are taking a dive, it’s time to get serious about how to improve your numbers.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about why your sales suck and how to improve them.
Earlier this week, I was speaking with a colleague of mine and he told me that he left the corporate world to start his own marketing company about eight months ago, but hasn't drummed up a whole lot of business.
When I asked him about his sales calls, he said he rarely has them and hates doing sales calls when he actually does have them.
That blew my mind.
Because, seeing as I'm in the service world (marketing & advertising,) making sales doesn't happen without sales calls.
Sure, it can be awkward at first without experience, but as a business owner in the service world, the cold-hard truth is that you must possess some level of sales skill to actually make money and scale your business.
Here's a step-by-step system to help you improve sales quickly – whether you’re a one man show or you have a team.
Before you have a “system,” you obviously need to be able to get leads, so I'd recommend you read this guide by Marketo to get leads.
Once you have a few leads, what do you do next?
If you don't have a sales process to funnel your leads through, then your sales are going to dwindle and you'll miss countless opportunities.
For example, if Jane Doe requests a free consultation with you and it's the weekend, it's easy to tuck her email away for Monday, then forget about her.
Or let's say you give the consultation, send a proposal and now you're in the “client evaluation” stage.
How long do you give it before you follow up?
These are all pieces to your sales process. By having a system in place, you'll feel more confident (covering this later), and you won't have to think twice about where they are in your process and what to do next.
Here's what Flight Media's generic sales funnel looks like:
That's the exact system our team uses for every lead.
When the lead requests a consultation, we evaluate the information they requested to determine the credibility of the lead.
Then via email, phone call, and video chat, we will schedule a time to talk for Discovery, go through an Exploratory (follow up if you do not hear from them in a week), run-through the proposal, and send the invoice to get the project started once the contract/proposal is signed.
Below is a screenshot of our CRM, where we track the opportunities in the sales stage. (I filtered the view, so that is why there are no deals in the pipeline.)
Caption: Recommended Tool: Hubspot
Still wondering why your sales suck?
Have you ever heard the saying, "People only buy from someone they know, like and trust?"
This statement couldn't be more true.
Think about it.
How many times have you bought something from a telemarketer or a spam sales email?
If you're like me – you never have.
With that said, I make it my #1 goal to make the person on the other end of the line fall in love with me from the first call. (Through humor, wit, knowledge, experience, etc.)
John Maxwell said it best, "People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision." If you can sell someone on YOU, then you can sell them on anything.
This is a double-edged sword that can win or lose the sale.
If someone is looking to hire your company for it's expertise, there can't be any guesswork.
No more "I'll have to get back to you on that." If you aren't confident in your business, services and pricing, it'll drastically lower your closing rate.
Alongside being a confident expert about your business, it's also important to be a teacher.
If you send a huge (great) proposal and they have questions about different sections of it, know the processes entailed in each part well enough to explain.
(I actually experienced this today on a sales call, when a potential client asked about subdomains, landing pages and email follow-ups. I had to explain what each one was, why we do it and the process we have for each – which sold a high-dollar monthly retainer.)
Now that you know why your sales suck, you can start improving them.
These are the three strategies that I’ve implemented into my daily routine. And like anything, it takes a lot of practice, boatloads of perseverance and a ton of coffee.
But, if you can improve your sales skills, you'll have a much greater chance of making it a reality.