Several years ago, my wife and partner, Sharon, and I, launched our first serious business.
I call it our first serious business, because prior to that we tried importing beauty supplies from China and running a beauty salon from our garage.
The beauty business proved untenable, but we never gave up.
Some years later, we were back in business!
This time it was an international travel and lifestyle magazine.
We knew less about publishing than we did about the beauty business, but so what?
We would figure it out on the fly.
And we did.
We recruited a team of graphic designers, writers, typesetters, and promoters.
Within a short window of time, we began pumping out issues.
We were invited on free tours by foreign ministries representing some of the destinations we covered.
We landed in newspapers, on TV, picked up major distribution in the US and overseas.
We even landed an interview with Condé Nast Magazine on Madison Avenue in New York City.
All of that from two people who had no idea what they were doing.
We were so elated at all the open doors, the look and feel of the magazine, and the positive feedback, that we overlooked a major detail…
The magazine had everything it needed to thrive, except sales.
We had gone into the project with an expectation that the magazine would sell itself.
It was visually beautiful.
We had excellent distribution.
We had a dedicated team.
We just hadn’t sold any subscriptions or advertisements. 😯
When the realization hit us, we got busy and eventually closed some advertising deals. But it was too late.
Our advertisers required longer payment terms than we could survive.
That landed us out of options and out of business.
The moral of the story?
Well, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out.
Every business requires a sales engine.
Just like your automobile, without a sales engine, your business is permanently stalled.
You can roll a car downhill and attempt to start it that way, but I don’t recommend it.
And what happens when there is no hill to provide needed momentum?
And that’s where your business will be until you prioritize sales.
Getting back to Sherlock Holmes, this sounds elementary, doesn’t it?
Like, duh… of course a business needs sales to survive.
Yet so many of us struggle in this area.
I can’t say why that is, but I suspect some of the reasons are
🎯Style. We don’t want to appear pushy or “salesy.” So, we find ways to avoid selling, or place it last on our lists.
🎯Skill. Because of our personal aversion to selling, we never developed any skills in that area.
🎯Systems. Entrepreneurs are creative and we’re good at building things on the fly. There’s a temptation to do everything that way. But operating by the seat of your pants has its limits. Consistent sales require requires an operating system.
🎯Scale. There is no value ladder. Even if the customer purchases, there’s nowhere to go once that initial sale is made.
🎯Scope. Entrepreneurs are all over the place. We haven’t narrowed our scope by either prioritizing sales or delegating this function to someone competent.
So, what do you do if you’re committing one of these mistakes and your revenues reflect as much?
Try these five R-words to get your sales engine running hot!
Reframe. Like most things, selling (or lack thereof) is a mindset. You must begin to see the sales process as your ally. When you reframe it as such, you can train yourself to enjoy the sales process.
You will experience it as an exchange of value, where you get to help real people solve real problems.
Selling your services is a blessing!
Reprioritize. You have many areas of responsibility. If sales aren’t occurring, or in sufficient quantities, it’s probably not a core focus.
Sales may be buried beneath client duties, staffing, technology, marketing, and a hundred other distractions.
Block a significant chunk on your calendar to work exclusively on sales. What’s scheduled is what’s done. You won’t just back into sales. You must be intentional about it.
Reduce Complexity. Make the sales process as easy for you and your prospect as possible. Especially at the start of your business.
It may be as uncomplicated as attending networking functions, making relationships, and then following up daily by telephone, emails, and messaging.
Don’t muddy the process with multi-layered funnels and shoptalk you don’t understand.
Keep it simple.
‘Rithmetic. (Yeah, that’s not a word). But you know what I mean. Do the math. You need a certain number of prospects to create a list of qualified leads.
And a percentage of those leads must filter down to sales.
What are those numbers?
You must know your ‘rithmetic for your business to work.
Reinforcement. Delegate the sales job to someone competent or hire a coach. A coach will help you to set financial goals that must be reviewed daily and weekly.
With accountability, you will no longer overlook this part of your business.
Each day you will have to answer questions like,
“Did I make my sales goals?”
“If not, why not?”
And “What am I going to do about it?”
In time, you will come to love this process. The best part is you will stop selling yourself short.
PS. Let me know if I can help you with any of your goals. Click the links below to check out some of the ways we can work together.
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