Many businesses fail because the owners do not know how to sell or have not developed a cost-effective and efficient sales plan.
An important ingredient of the successful business is good sales skills. Without it, many sales are lost, sales that may mean the difference between success and failure.
Selling is a very important aspect of any business and although many business owners don’t like to consider themselves as ‘sales people’ per se, but in reality business owners are actually key sales people who know their business and product or service offering better than anyone else in most instances.
As a business owner you do not have to be a super salesman, but you should have basic understanding of what systems should be in place to sell your products.
After developing a product that people want, you have to get it to them in a way that is convenient. This is called “Route to market”.
Based on the type of products you sell, you will use a specific route to market or a combination of different ways of getting your products to your customers.
Selling of products can be; online, retail, wholesale, door to door, through lead generation and appointments, flea markets, trade shows etc. A business can sell their products using one or all of these methods, there is no limit.
The importance of knowing your target market (customer) is so that you can better understand how and where they shop. For example; if you are selling flavoured water in a fancy bottle for Rwf4000 you know that only high income consumers will drink your water. You then have to identify where these consumers shop and ensure your products are placed in those stores.
Selling is about trust as much as it is about a product or service. When appointing sales staff you need to look at potential sales people and ask yourself if you would buy something from them. Are they presentable and confident? Will they be able to be the “face” of your business and get customers to trust them?
Your sales staff can make or break your business. I have seen companies spend fortunes developing products that will take years to recover the development cost employ the worst possible sales people to “save” money. Twenty per cent of your sales staff will generally bring in 80 per cent of your sales, so at least make sure you employ the best 20 per cent.
It is impossible to manage what you cannot measure, so ensure your business is geared to produsing sale reports that help you make informed business decitions. You must know which products, customers and sales staff are growing or declining. It allows you to react quickly.
You need a sales plane that should cover; how many products you must sell to make a profit; who are your customers; where are your customer; what is your route to market; who will sell your product; what do you need to sell and distribute your products; etc.
Zig Ziglarsaid - “Timid Salesmen Have Skinny Kids.”
The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.