Neil Lewis - Innovative Entrepreneur

Solving problems by growing profitable businesses @neil_lewis

Entrepreneurs: don’t fall for the super-salesman myth

All entrepreneurs are looking for more sales. That makes perfect sense, because how can a business grow without additional revenue?

Also, many entrepreneurs, especially those with a software, engineering or technical background fall for the myth of ‘I just need a great salesperson, and then my business will grow’.

However, needing to make sales is not the same as finding a great salesperson, and too many entrepreneurs fail to realise the difference with serious consequences for their businesses.

Let me explain…

What are sales?

They are, in truth, the result getting the whole marketing and sales effort just right.

Of course, the sales person needs to close the deal at the end, but the deal is only closed AT THE END.

So what needs to happen BEFORE your top notch sales person can deliver?

Firstly, you need a product. That is, you need a clearly defined product, with clear and understood benefits (understood by the customer that is, not you the inventor or manufacturer).

The product needs to packaged – that is put in an attractive box (that also fits on supermarket shelves, or is light so that it can easily be posted), or, if a service, the packaging should clearly define what the customer does (and does not) receive.

Typically, the product needs a name and identity – which fits with what’s being sold and appeals to your target audience.

Hence, you can’t design the packaging until you know which audience you are approaching.

For instance, your audience might be x-factor watching teenagers, it might be sofa-surfing young mums, it might be government departments or consumers in discount supermarkets. Equally, you might be appealing to the tech savvy consumers or farmers or owners of small businesses.

In some cases, your product might appeal to more than one market, and hence, you’ll package your product DIFFERENTLY for each key market group.

Next up, before your super-salesperson can deliver orders, you need to decide a pricing structure.

Pricing is an art and science all of itself. But in essence, the recent web model has been towards freemium or at least, Ryanair style ‘super low price with lots of add on costs’.

And, out of all this, product, packaging and price – and the need to think about your audience, you’ll also be working on two more things…

… brand and channel.

At this stage, your brand is how your product looks and feels; so, is it a young/ youth brand, or a business to business brand, does it feel strong and stable or fun and fluffy etc…

Of course, you now need to think about your marketing channel. That is, how will you sell? Will you sell online via e-commerce, directly or through third party websites (or affiliate lead generation)? Will you sell through face to face sales and distribution? Will you place your product in stores? Perhaps you’ll use direct or email marketing, or even telesales?

Now, we are nearly ready for the super-salesman – but not quite.

Have you thought about social media? Video, photos, and mobile marketing? How does that fit into your marketing mix?

Are you aware that some of these channels may work for your product or service and some won’t and that you won’t know until you try?

Hence, your next step is to test or trial run a few marketing campaigns.

Then, using the results of those campaigns, come back to your original brand, packaging, pricing and channels and tweak, change and adjust.

Now, during the test phase you may wish to enlist the services of a super-salesperson, but only on a trial basis.

Why trial? Well, simply, until you begin to market you can not know for certain how the market will respond and how you will need to adjust your price and product positioning in order appeal to your consumers.

Okay, I just want more sales

So, how do I get more sales?

The answer is not to simply hire a super salesperson (or at least very rarely is) the answer is to start marketing and see sales as part of that marketing process.

And of course, marketing requires two very important things

1. A lot of testing, and
2. A wide variety of marketing and sales skills (which will undoubtedly change as you test and discover somethings work and others don’t)

So, now you have you it, the solution is, sadly, not a simple one dimensional, ‘find a great salesman, make lots of sales’ solution. Instead, it is the ability to manage a wide range of marketing and sales skills and talents and to test and blend those until you get the right recipie – which is profitable sales.

Hence, there are a few rules for entrepreneurs:

1. Marketing and sales always costs more than you expect.

2. You need to be able to test and test and test again until you get the right marketing and sales mix.

3. You need to engage your marketing and sales talent on a flexible freelance (or agency) basis – because you really don’t know how long or even ‘how’ you are going to want to use those services and skills.

4. You need to build your pool of freelance marketing, sales, IT, PR, design, writing and digital talent before you begin any marketing.

Join us in building your freelance marketing, sales, digital, design, PR and IT pool ready to grow your products and services
Manchester 16th February, 2011

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Written by Editor on January 24, 2011 and filed in Entrepreneurs, Freelancers, Innovative Entrepreneur, Opinion , , ,

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