Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Urban Times November 2013.
Selling What You Make – Manufacturing is an important aspect of any economic model but unless you can sell what you make, most of the effort is wasted. Lack of sales is what drives many businesses into the arms of the receiver or too file for chapter 11.
Selling is a skill which can be learnt and is part of the marketing function. I break it down into two distinct areas. Marketing is what delivers leads to your door. Selling is converting those leads into money.
Money that pays the wages of all the people employed in the factory as well as the sales and marketing department itself.
So what makes a good salesperson? Well in my opinion it is two words inextricably linked. Empathy & Honesty. Snake tonged salespeople rarely last or achieve high status. Few become the sought after sales directors of tomorrow. To achieve longevity in any profession, honesty is essential.
Likewise empathy. It is essential to empathise with your customer so that you are able to tailor your product or service to their requirements and make that all important sale that helps keep the wheels of industry turning.
A good salesperson listens intently before speaking. It is always advisable to find out what is on your prospective customers mind before telling him, or her, what’s on yours.
Marketing too is essential. Without leads the salesperson has no one to sell too. Watch out for opportunities such as Halloween or Christmas. Is there anything synergetic with your product in the media?
As an example if I were Rolls Royce and about to launch, or facelift, a new model I would consider doing it on Halloween. The Rolls Royce Ghost is famous worldwide so the synergy becomes immediately obvious. Imagine the press for something like Rolls Royce launch new Ghost this Halloween! Timing is key.
Perhaps you can think of something like that which will work for you, if not in the national press, maybe regional, or even locally? Creating good copy based around events can increase your businesses exposure exponentially.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
As another example, imagine that you are an egg producer wanting to create new markets for your eggs. Perhaps you might consider petrol stations or fuel stops a good place to sell too and increase sales.
Remember they will only buy from you if they can sell what you provide; therefore helping their retail effort also helps your wholesale business. How about an advert outside the petrol station saying ”Want Shell? We sell by the dozen and even include the yolk!” Perhaps a large banner with a chicken laying eggs would attract attention and more people would drive into that petrol station. Whilst there they would buy petrol/diesel and perhaps some will buy your eggs.
You will have achieved some major knock on opportunities for your egg business which might not immediately be apparent. Firstly, by persuading the petrol station to allow you to put your cartoon banner up you will have achieved a high traffic location for your adverts which should include your web address and phone number. Secondly, you will have increased petrol sales for your customer so made him or her more likely to help you in any way he or she can. Thirdly, you will have increased your sale of eggs.
How do I know all this? Because that is exactly what I did when I was in the egg production business a few years back. My point here is that you must be mindful that sales are the lifeblood of any business, with them you have prosperity, and without them you have receivership.
Keep your mind open to opportunities to increase sales. Get your factory working flat out every day by focusing your sales effort. As I said marketing and sales are both the same and different. Marketing delivers leads, sales delivers the money without which sustaining any business is impossible.
Without sales you have no business
It doesn’t really matter what your business is, without sales you have no business, it’s that simple. It always makes me cringe when I hear delivery drivers or factory workers moan about their sales colleagues being over aggressive with them because they want to know when their customer can expect delivery. Without those vital sales there is nothing to deliver and no jobs to go too.
Companies are like mini Governments; neither have any money without someone first buying something. When the shops are busy the factories are busy, it really is that simple. What all countries need, is to refocus on selling abroad, and in as many territories as possible, so that when one market is quite there are sales happening somewhere else. We live in a global environment so adopting a Mexican Wave principal is common sense.
Try not to get too tied in with one customer. Spreading your sales across multiple customers is spreading your risk. Risk of a single default ruining your business decreases with numbers.
Original article for the Urban Times November 2013.