- Understanding sales.
There are many different ways to sell a product or service, so developing an effective sales strategy that identifies key prospects is vital …You need to be creative when figuring out how to reach customers in your target market, and you need to solve the prospecting riddle early on in the game.
Position your product or service: The big advantage you can have over your competition, especially when starting out in business, is that you know what you are up against and can take action to position your product or service more favorably in terms of features, advantages, and benefits.
Hire ethical salespeople: Your salesperson’s primary responsibility is to convince prospects that what you offer is a better deal than what your competitors can offer. He or she needs to do this in an honest and ethical manner...Most potential customers will take a dim view of your company if your salespeople openly criticize the competition. This strategy of integrity first will put your salespeople into a stronger position when dealing with prospects.
Treat your sales team well: To protect your own people from being lured away, ensure your sales team is happy, well paid, well trained, respected, and made to feel they are part of the bigger picture and the future of the company.
- Hire the right people.
I always worked on the general basis of hiring for attitude, training for skill. This may not be an original thought, but hey, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Over the years I have developed several interview techniques, including testing, that help me identify the good from the not so good and the indifferent. Being selective is one of the keys to good hiring. There is a cost to educating and training a new hire, not to mention a transition period where the person is not performing to full capacity. This is especially true of salespeople. I’ve always believed in building a quality workforce through skillful and careful hiring and through superior training.
- Lead and follow.
Effective leadership comes down to four steps an owner, CEO, or senior manager needs to nail:
- Create the vision.
- Sell the vision.
- Execute the vision.
- Monitor the results.
Do you consider yourself a good leader? Good leaders have a vision for their company and the ability to share that vision with everyone involved in their business. Ensure you are clear about your goals and objectives because it is up to you to take responsibility and lead by example. Leadership takes many forms, but in essence you have to take a step back and put the needs of your company, your customers, your shareholders and investors, and your employees first.
- No-nonsense negotiating.
I always attempted to create win-win situations when doing any deal, but especially in major negotiations. The key to good negotiating is to do your homework and know, before you start talking, what the other person is likely to consider a good price. You also have to know what price you feel represents a good deal for your company. There have been complete books written about the art of negotiating, but when you strip away the smoke and mirrors, it’s simply about finding that sweet spot where both parties feel they can sleep content. Anything else is fool’s gold.
- Build a positive public image.
When you think of any company, even one you don’t necessarily know well, you will instantly have an opinion, or perhaps a feeling about the brand, be it good or bad. Think of Starbucks, or the Nike swoosh; think of Microsoft and Apple; think of Walmart. As you read those names you will instantly have a gut feeling about each company. They have a profile, an image, that in your mind is either negative or positive. Unlike the companies mentioned above, your company may be new, but it’s important to build its image from day one.
Never underestimate the power of your public profile to influence everything in your company: employee morale, motivation, retention, recruitment, customer satisfaction, sales, media attention, investor interest, and more. Your public image is based on everything you say and do and on your overall corporate culture and philosophy.
Adapted with permission from Built Not Born, copyright Tom Golisano.