How Your Business Can Win More Sales — Positioning + Partnering + Prospects = Progress
Your business needs new customers. You need more revenues. You really do.
Perhaps you have a new business and you need to win a customer base and grow your revenues from scratch? Perhaps you’ve been established for years but right now your business isn’t growing like it should or used to?
Perhaps you think you need a new hot-shot salesperson. If you could just find that right salesperson with the magic contact book your business will be growing like crazy. You think?
Perhaps you’ve hired a salesperson or two (or three) in the past. They came in all keen but yet a year later you still aren’t growing. You fired that salesperson. They were no good. If you could just find the right salesperson with the magic contact book next time your business will start growing again. You think?
Stop. Wait a minute.
It’s probably not the salesperson that’s the problem.
Over my career I’ve won millions of £’s in sales revenues and won thousands of new customers but especially in more recent years hardly any of that success was achieved by what most non sales background business owners or directors think of as sales.
Apart from in a few distinct types of business the sale itself is almost always already made before the salesperson is involved. A good salesperson should really be the fine print negotiator or on going sales / customer commercial relationship manager and the trusted first face of human contact with your business. They are your partner in the business representing you, your services or products and your reputation. Think of them like The Hand of The King (Or Queen) in Game of Thrones or your Foreign Secretary (but perhaps not quite like Boris Johnson)
I started off as a salesperson and people still try and hire me to be one. I don’t do sales any more though as really I am an expert at business development. And that is what you actually need if you want to grow your business.
Business development isn’t sales. Sales (and your business living or dying) are a byproduct of good business development.
So what is good business development then and how can you get some?
You can’t buy it as such. You have to do it. Your business has to become attractive to the right customers for you. Who are you right customers? Well they are the ones that will quickly pay you the most money for your products or services with the minimum of fuss.
You know you have those customers that always want more or suck your support capacity dry? Well you will never eliminate those entirely but they aren’t the best customers for you. Those customers that are are the best for you are those that are thrilled and grateful to you for fixing their problem or giving them that thing that helps them succeed in their business. They pay you on time and actually thank you.
This is how you attract and win those customers and grow your business.
Business Development (in my opinion) is a process with four pillars. I don’t claim to have invented any of this. I probably read bit’s of it in books. I may have even pinched the name or structure. If you wrote it then sorry but I don’t remember. All I know for certain is that this is what I do every time and every time it succeeds. It works in almost every business but it does take some critical dispassionate thinking about and implementing. Oh and some trust. Trust me on this.
I’ve handily named all four pillars with words beginning with the letter P and my surname is Palmer so these should hopefully be easy to remember. The four pillars of business development are.
This is positioning your business to be absolutely relevant and essential to your ideal customers and communicating this to them clearly.
This isn’t branding as in “what colour should our logo be?” This is about identifying who will be (or is) your best, ideal customer and then making sure that everything that they can see about you and what you sell dovetails neatly into their problem or need. Real and perceived.
Look at your own website now. Does it clearly articulate what you supply in a way that your ideal customer can read it and say “These are the guys for us! They have what we need” Call them right now!”
This isn’t as easy as it sounds as most businesses mostly talk about what they do. It’s all me, me me. Try and think as your ideal customer and rewrite it to fit their needs. This is harder than it sounds but is the most crucial step. Everything flows from here and this must be right!
This process may lead you to take a cold hard look at what you sell and may need you to readjust that. That’s a good thing and part of the process although honesty about your relevance can be painful. Oh and it’s your social media as well. Yes, that’s Twitter too. You need to take those twits seriously. And yes, also everyone’s Linkedin pages. I could write pages on this but it might be easier for you to give me a call and I’ll look at your website and tell you how I think you are doing?
Establish partner relationships with customers and organisations who can benefit from your services and also benefit from your success.
Partnering should make a massive difference to your business. You can accelerate your time to market. You can improve whatever it is you are selling. You can iron out all sorts of snags in presentation or delivery that you didn’t know you had. You can win friends and influence people. You could even get married. I maybe went too far with that you as you might already be married (everyone should get married once or twice) but I just can’t stress how big a deal partnering should be to your business.
There are a few different types of partners you should have. Customer partners and collaborative partners are just two. Customer partners typically get discounts or even free whatever it is you do in return for feedback, testing, testimonials, being that jump off customer into that whale of an organisation or industry segment or some such. It’s an art rather than a science and if you get it right you it can accelerate your business growth into a whole new level of clever.
Generating a sustainable pipeline of ideal customers for your services.
Prospects, leads and future potential customers are your lifeblood. They are future cash and we all know that Cash Is King. You know it and I know it yet I’ve lost count of the businesses I’ve come across that don’t really know how that pipeline looks, or are doing the same things they were doing five or ten years ago to feed it but can’t understand why the flow has slowed. Or even my absolute pet peeve have a false pipeline because salespeople or usually actually the management like to see it full so it’s full of any Tom Dick and Harry that happened to say hello at a trade show once. Full pipeline or CRM but no or slow sales? They aren’t real prospects. Sorry. Clean it out.
Prospects don’t make themselves. There are usually no magic bullets for this one especially if you are web sales only business. If though you are a services company of some sort then there is a system. It goes like this. See ‘Positioning above’ then ‘Partnering’ When those are right then start working on Prospects. This is roll our sleeves up territory. Talk to everyone you know. Get everyone you know to talk to everyone they know. Use Linkedin. Network. Social media everything. Give value away. Become thought leaders (see Positioning again) We have never been so networked. Use it. Zero in like a laser on that ideal customer profile we talked about earlier. Find more people like them.
Think of it like the Jungle Book song only from their point of view “Wanna be Like You Hoo Hoo. Try and listen to that without smiling. Betcha can’t. And remember Prospect generation “takes brains not brawn”.
I could write much more practical detail on this but again it might be easier if you called me and I can see if I can help? I’ll probably want to talk about Positioning and Partnering first though.
Progress is your success. It’s new customers, cash and your ‘happy face’. It’s something to be planned for and measured as it happens. It also needs to be made sustainable (see Prospects above) . It might need resources allocated to ensure it happens. It might need a mindset or culture change to go along with it.
Progress needs to be thought about realistically though and there need to be milestones set and targets stated. Progress isn’t a wish. It’s a planned byproduct or a result of the work so far.
The whole company should be aware of these targets. Especially about new customers. Everybody needs to appreciate the value of new customers. I’ve advised and worked in companies where certain departments would groan if a new customer needed to be on boarded. What? I know. Be honest though and look around. Everyone from reception to near shore technical support should be jumping up and down thrilled when you make Progress. Got that Pilgrims?
Positioning — Partnering — Prospects — Progress
Four little words.
So that’s it for now. Why did I write this? To help a little I hope? To engender critical thought. So many business are just not growing like they should. I believe that every business should be revisiting these four pillars of business development every quarter. I also feel that sales people mostly unfairly get a poor deal. They are often not paid properly and seen as a commodity. They are often cited as the reason a business isn’t growing like it should (read that as how everyone else who isn’t sales feels that the business should be growing) If you work on these pillars your business will grow faster, your sales function and people will work and you will generate more cash. Simples.
I’m Tristan Palmer. I grow businesses by generating revenue and winning new customers. The above is how I do that. This post took me around twenty minutes to write but the approach has taken me about twenty years to learn.
I’m doing this for a couple of businesses right now and I’m happy to hear from others. I can help you grow your business. I enjoy doing what I do because I like seeing things grow and prosper. That and cold hard cash is good reward which keeps my garden center spending addiction on course. It’s been one week since I last bought plants.
Please drop me a line and do like this if you did. Clicky clicky.