Sales are the lifeblood of any enterprise and that’s nowhere more true than with small businesses. When every month is potentially a race against time in terms of paying suppliers, making payroll, and keeping growth on an upward trajectory, the importance of sales comes into very sharp relief indeed.
As a small business owner, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of ending up devoting the vast majority of your time to sales simply to keep the show on the road. There’ll be times where this is simply unavoidable of course, but long-term it’s a recipe for burnout, stagnation, and eventual failure.
In order to successfully grow your business over the long haul, you simply have to step away from the daily grind of sales and turn it into a defined process that can be offloaded to other people and automated as much as possible.
This is a process that will inevitably take time, but that upfront investment is more than worth it. Let’s look at three basic ways of starting to make it happen.
- Define Your Sales Pipeline
No matter how ad hoc your current sales approach is, there is some kind of implicit pipeline or series of stages lurking there waiting to be explicitly defined. There are any number of ways of doing this, and the exact sequence will vary from business to business, but generally speaking you want to identify distinct stages through from initial contact, assessment, response, objection handling and eventual success or failure.
Even if this sounds like overkill in the context of a small business, it’s essential you start adding the discipline of a defined sales pipeline to your process. It instantly brings structure and clarity to what can otherwise be an amorphous, hope-driven part of your business.
- Start Automating And Documenting
Once you have your sales pipeline divided into distinct stages (no matter how wooly they may be at the outset), you have areas that can be analysed, documented and potentially automated. This can be as simple as creating standard templates for emails and phone calls at the beginning, and move all the way up to complex, software-assisted, workflows that largely run themselves over time.
The point throughout is that you are removing friction from the decision making process and enforcing as much standardisation as is useful in the context of your business. These two factors combined will help you approach more people, more effectively and drive greater sales as a result.
- Start Handing Off Sales As A Task
Due to its enormous importance, small business owners are often reluctant to hand off any part of the sales process to staff for fear of losing out on potential revenue. Once you’ve had some sort of initial crack at steps one and two, you’re actually in a position to test potential salespeople with confidence in a defined setting that you can dial up and down at will.
As you gradually improve and tweak your overall sales processes, the discipline you’ve introduced into the process will allow you to scale out a sales team and fundamentally transform the amount of new business you’re able to attract.
Turning sales into a process is a nettle that must be grasped sooner or later by any business that wants to thrive over the long term. Our simple three-step process above will give you an effective way of both freeing up your own time and adding significant and stable increases to the bottom line. Get started today!