Sales Skills for Small Business Owners

Selling is a very important aspect of any business and although many small business owners don’t like to consider themselves as ‘sales people’ per se in reality small business owners are actually key sales people who know their business and product or service offering better than anyone else in most instances. Let’s identify what some key sales skills are and discuss how they can be further developed.

In a nutshell the key ‘must have’ sales skills include:

  • Confidence
  • Relationship building skills
  • Listening
  • Persuasion
  • Product / service knowledge

Most of the skills listed above will be familiar to you, but I bet you are wondering, how can I apply this and learn to become a better sales person? The key is to identify any gaps you have in the skills outlined above and then develop your skills in these areas. It’s also important to understand what makes for a more natural sell which is centred around confidence. The truth is we all dislike the hard sell and pushy sales people so it’s about striking a balance, you want to be described as ‘confident’ and avoid being perceived as arrogant. So how does one achieve this?

Know your product or service

This is fundamental to your success. If you don’t know your product or service you won’t feel comfortable talking about it. If you need to develop your product knowledge, look for resources to help you do this, be it sales training, product or sales manuals, brochures and other materials, senior staff or technical staff with deep product or service knowledge.

Speak naturally

Speak naturally about what you do and the services you offer, a prospect that is interested in your offering is more likely to ask you questions and engage in a conversation with you about your offering. Sharing knowledge will help you build a relationship with a potential prospect.

Relationships develop leads better than any other form of lead generation. Word of mouth and relationships drive sales better than any other lead generation technique, even in today’s digital world! Think about your network and whether or not you are leveraging the opportunities that are being presented to you.

Believe in what you are selling

Passion and a genuine belief in your product or service will get more sales flowing.

Be clear, concise and articulate the benefits of your product or services to prospective customers or clients. Remember the golden rule. People are focused on what’s in it for them. Make sure you keep the customer and their needs at the centre of your conversation and explain how your product or service can benefit them.

Actively listen to your prospects / customers

Each one is different with unique requirements. Listen to any concerns or objections they have so that you can respond to these effectively. Be mindful not to interrupt when they are trying to express a concern.

Be patient

Be patient with your customers and be aware of body language and social cues. This applies to your own body language and tone of voice and that of your customers. It will help you to gauge interest/disinterest and read the situation, allowing you to know when it’s time to speak, seek clarification and when it’s necessary to listen or repeat what has been said to reinforce that you have been listening!

Sales is a complex subject area. I’d love to hear about any first hand sales experiences or tips you may have from your own sales history. What were some of the things that helped you close a sale? Is your network the main source of sales leads for your business? What are some of the areas within the sales process that you find difficult?

Product Creation – Why Product Creation is a Must For Your Online Business

With the tremendous growth of the Internet and the marketplace it has spawned an increasing number of small businesses are finding great success through its encouragement of rapid fire marketing and sales. The high speed lifestyle has fostered a customer base with a desire for everything in their lives to be equally fast. This is why product creation has become big business in recent years and it’s why you need to know how it works.

What is Product Creation?

At the very start of the development process is the creation of a product. Generally speaking, new products are created to address a need that is not currently being met, or to address it in a faster or more effective way. Thousands of new products hit the market each month – are any of them yours?

Why Do I Need It?

Product creation places the creator in a unique category of people and companies that are seen as innovators and as experts in their particular field. With that sort of attention and notoriety many individuals through the years have become small businesses, and small businesses have grown into major players in the marketplace. Why do you need product creation? In a word – growth.

The potential of product creation is virtually endless. As long as consumers are hungry for newer, faster and better ways to accomplish something there is a need to create new products to meet those needs. People all over the world are taking advantage of this huge opening in the consumer market and with some careful planning and a great idea you can be one of them.

Product Innovation and Its Process

Innovation is a wide-ranging concept with key emphasis on modernization. As per Inventta.net, innovation is the utilization of latest ideas. It translates into success for companies in terms of raised revenues and tapping new markets and lastly raised profit ratios.

Innovation is further broken down into several categories. For example, process/ product innovations are known as technological innovations. Further innovations are related to new business models, new markets, new processes, and latest organizational methods.

At times, people mix innovation with innovation processes since constant development is a vital ingredient in both. For an innovation to be implemented, certain factors are affected such as:

  • The pricing of the product
  • The market share of the product
  • The company’s revenue

Constant development and improvements alter present market returns, but don’t work in the long term. However, they keep the products competitive in comparison to their rivals.

Types of Innovation

There are several kinds of innovations. Some certain kinds of innovation are mentioned below:

1. Product innovation

The product undergoes certain changes in its overall outlook and extent of its use. For instance, automatic car transmissions are a step up to manual transmission cars

2. Process innovation

It is related to the changes needed in the products/ service sector. It may not have an effect on the product itself but it may affect the manufacturing process. The key aim is to drive down the costs and step up the productivity. For instance, applying six sigma quality measure to an existing plant

Structuring Product Innovation Process

In case of industrial companies, a new product design isn’t an isolated process. Product design is part of a bigger process known as product development. Product development involves developing a new product whilst outlining the plans for production, distribution, and mass selling.

Therefore, business development is the bigger portion of business. Product development in essence is a component of product innovation process. Product innovation takes in consideration all the processes required for adoption before launching a new product in the market. Hence, innovation entails development and distribution of a product by the company.

Relationship of Product Innovation with Process

Innovation is much needed for retaining the competitive edge and survival of a company. Companies need to adapt to the dynamic business environments today. It ends up in multiple innovative products, processes, and services designed by the companies. For most companies, their engine of growth is new products added in their portfolio. The competitive position of a company is seen by its willingness and ability to adapt and include new products in its portfolio.

Companies need to have fast cycles launching and developing new products for ramping up their full-scale production, highly necessary for capitalizing on market share. Since the product cycles are getting shorter with the passage of time, the factor of commercial production increases even more in order to capitalize on the market and gain return on investment. Innovations are the fulcrum of business strategy in industrial operations.

For most companies, product innovation systems as well as process innovation are imperative. There is an intricate relationship between products developed and processes implemented, especially in the bio-chemical industry.

Formulating innovation strategies management takes in consideration the product-process relationships. Altering the product development system has considerable effect on the company’s manufacturing process. Implementing changes in the existing product require weighing in the pros and cons, and also by considering the unique needs of each industry it is implemented in.

Improve Your Small Business Marketing to Increase Your Profits

Marketing Tips to Help Drive Profits and Stay Competitive

Although we call them “small” businesses, running a small business is no small task. Compared to larger corporations, small business have a much smaller margin for error when it comes to marketing initiatives – when a marketing campaign fails, larger corporations shake their heads, make adjustments, and move on but for small businesses, a big failure could mean the end of the company. Here are some great marketing tips to help your marketing efforts stay effective and your business stay competitive.

Better Use of Data

Data about your target audience is invaluable to small businesses. This kind of information allows business owners and marketers to identify the types of people who are most likely to do business with them and purchase their products and/or services. Knowing your target audience can also help you to better tailor and focus your marketing messages to those types of consumers. If it is in the budget, hiring a professional data team can really help a small business make the most out of this information.

Use Email More Effectively

Email can be a powerful tool when it comes to communicating with your current customers. Emails are a great opportunity to connect with customers and provide them information on upgrades, cross-selling opportunities, and additional sales or deals your business may be offering. Using email is a great, non-evasive way to stay connected to those consumers who already know your business and your brand. You can even take email marketing a step further by breaking down your contact list into groups by segments such as purchase history, age group, geographical area, and other important data points.

Use Shareable Content to Expand Your Reach

Consumers love to share, and social media has made it easier than ever for consumers to share things they like or dislike online. Known as “content marketing,” creating online content that is informative and meaningful to your target audience is a great way to reach more consumers and raise more recognition around your business and your brand. This information is most effective when posted on your company’s website but can also be shared on sites like YouTube and Facebook for easier access.

Consider Paid Search to Increase Visibility

Driving traffic to your website is always an important part of marketing your business. One way to do this is to use a paid search to ensure your business’ website will appear when consumers search the types of products or services you offer. For example, should a consumer search “pet groomers in Harrisburg, PA” and you own a pet grooming business in or around that area, your business’s website will appear at the very top of the search results. The closer your businesses website link appears to the top of the search results, the more likely it is that consumers will follow that link to your site.

Use Your Resources

Aside from in-house marketing, there are a number of resources available to help small businesses. For example, the United States Small Business Administration can offer business owners loans, counseling sessions, contracts, and other forms of assistance to help cultivate and grow their business. Consider other resources as well including Google Tools for website assistance and online marketing, Kabbage for small business loans, and Free Stock Images for high quality images for your marketing materials.

How to Use Twitter for Your Small Business Marketing

Twitter Tips for Small Businesses

With the popularity of social media on the rise, it is no surprise that more and more small businesses are using social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to connect with their customers and expand their business. While it is common for most small business owners to have a Facebook page that they use effectively, not all of them have a Twitter account, let alone knowing how to use it to its full potential. Here are some tips to help business owners make the most out of Twitter marketing.

Post Tweets on a Regular Basis

Twitter is a unique social media platform in that the content that users find is constantly changing. Celebrities, companies, institutions, and individuals are sending out Tweets every day, providing new and interesting information and insights. As a small business owner, it is important to be consistent when it comes to Tweeting information out to your followers – ideally, business owners should post no less than three to four times a week, making it an end goal to be able to post once or twice daily.

Create Your Own Tweets

Business owners often have a difficult time determining what they should include in their Tweets. A good rule of thumb they can follow when creating content is the “60-20-20” rule. Using these guidelines, 60 percent of the information you share should be beneficial or interesting to the reader and is usually comprised of sharing industry professional’s Tweets or linking to interesting articles or posts on the internet. The first 20 percent of the rule should be dedicated to content that the business owner generates themselves (such as interactions with other people and possibly even some personal tweets) while the remaining 20 percent should consist of calls to action for sales.

Retweet Information from Others

There is nothing wrong with Retweeting interesting information or insights that the business owner finds on their Twitter feed. The most effective Retweets often come from professionals in the business’s industry or even compliments from current customers that are posted online. When deciding whether or not to Retweet something, always consider this question – “Will the consumers who follow me find this information helpful? Interesting? Valuable?” If the answer to any of these is “yes”, retweet away!

Build a Group of the Right Followers

One of the most important parts of having an effective Twitter account for a small business it making sure it have the right group of followers and having the ability to continue to attract the right prospects. A great way to increase a business’s following of target market consumers is to follow other Twitter users that have the same followers in common. This should include industry professionals, community leaders, trade publications, professional organizations, current clients as well as prospective clients.

Utilize Hashtags

Hashtags are something that everyone sees on their social media pages but many may not know what they actually do or what they mean. Hashtags are an easy way for Twitter and now Facebook users to follow what is trending on their social media websites. For example, if the business is located in Boston, MA, it may be beneficial for the business owner to use #Boston in a Tweet – this way, when someone searches “Boston” on Twitter, the business’s Tweet will appear in the list of relevant search items.

Business Marketing And Lead Management

Effective ways of business marketing

Build an elevator pitch

• You should always be marketing for your business or do business marketing irrespective of the place due to which you require a pitch which is convincing. You pitch should be good as to attract somebody’s attention. It is normally seen that you just require about a minute to sell your product or service to anyone. However this may not sound great to you but it would benefit you by creating opportunities in business.

Leverage your community

• You need not think big as far as your marketing efforts are concerned. You can even print bookmarks and leave them at the library. Get to know your customer well as this would help you in building a strategy to promote your business which is your ultimate goal.

Collaboration

• Try to get along a non-competitive business in your area and try to promote it. You can use many useful things like fliers, coupons or social media. By the help of collaboration you can increase your customer base.

Network

• Get to know as many people as you can as this would increase your network. Although networking requires time and the results take time but it perhaps the best asset you can have for your business.

Speak in public

• You should be capable enough to give a speech in public as this would result in the promotion of your business. The people would also have a good word of mouth about your business if they are convinced with your speech.

Ask for referrals

• Do not be shy and take referrals as they help you expand your business.In case if you are not asking for referrals then you are making a big mistake.

Maintain relationships

• It is always better to retain an old customer than to get a new one as it saves money which is true for business marketing as well as equally true for internet marketing and inbound marketing. This is the reason why a good relationship wit your customer is very important. You can introduce an email campaign which would be very effective and try to make all your communications helpful and full of information.

Offer coupons

• Coupons play a very important role in attracting new customers for business marketing. Coupons help in generating return visits as it is very commonly seen that a customer with a discount coupon normally comes to shop again.

Try to give free trail or sample

• If somebody happens to like your product or services there are chances that they will purchase more in future. Just for the betterment of your business try to give a sample or free trial.

Lead management

The main purpose of lead management is to manage every lead in to a prospect lead. Initially in lead management an enquiry is recorded which could be of an individual or company. Moreover there are different statuses which are assigned to every lead like resources successfully allocated, pending information or negotiations are on and many more depending on lead to lead. All the relevant details and information are saved within the lead management system.

Advertising Small Business Products and Services Through Local Web Sites

One of the most cost effective ways to advertise small business products and services is to advertise through local websites. The most important thing is to get a clear picture of what the product is, and the kind of customers the business plans to attract. This can really help in narrowing down the type of websites on which the ad is to be posted, which in return ensures that you achieve your objective incurring the least cost. in such a way on the internet can be one of the most easiest and effective ways for any company to get details about their products and services across to a possibly large customer base.

Advertising a small business product or service is no walk in the park. Care should be exercised because resources are limited and experience would probably be less as the business is small. Marketing should be carefully planned involving a series of steps that should be followed in order to make sure that it is effective. Make sure you operate within a budget. Experimenting with expensive methods of online promotion could be detrimental to your small business at this stage.

One important thing is a “payment plan”. This plan can be the basic backbone on which the entire campaign is built around. One popular way in which this can be done is “multilevel marketing”. This not only allows a range of distribution methods to be used but also helps in the sale of the product by giving commissions to those to sign up for the product. This and many more methods can help to advertise your business effectively.

There are many other ways of effective online advertising. Of these, one way is called the Pay per Click mode. In this kind of marketing, advertisements displaying information about the product are placed on web pages of local websites. This helps to display the information easily with no hassle. The advantage is that the company only pays every time the advertisement is clicked. This could be an ideal method to advertise the products and services of small businesses because this makes sure that only a potential customer will charge the company for the advertisement. However, for this method to be effective, you need to ensure that advertisements are placed in extremely appropriate and related websites only, otherwise your advertisement will not get any clicks.

Another effective way is mass email distribution. The email will comprise of a direct link to the local website that contains your advertisement. This should be carefully done as the email should not be distributed to too many people, which could lead to spamming. In such a case the email would be automatically deleted without being read.