Lessons from SMB Sales 101
Chances are if you’re a small business, you’re really good at what you do, but what you do doesn’t necessarily include the traits of skilled salespeople. That’s ok, you just need a few basics that will help you successfully close more leads.
Make a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
A USP describes the product or service that your business offers and no one else does. If you’re a shoe salesman for example, there are many other small businesses like yours, but maybe you have the largest selection, or maybe you have the most ethically-produced shoes. Look at your business and then look at your competition in order to determine what is unique about what you bring to the table. Then turn that observation into a one-sentence USP and shout it to the world! Your USP is synonymous to your business slogan, so it’s ok to include it on your social media pages, your website and even your business sign if you have a physical store presence. You could even print your USP on your business cards.
Have and Update Your Business Cards
Having business cards is a useful tactic, even in today’s digital economy. Business cards should include your basic business information including company name, logo, address, telephone number, website, email and even your USP. Business cards should be easy to read, so don’t make your font too small or overly stylized. Similarly, it’s important to keep the design of your business card up to date as it’s a reflection of your current business. A business card design that was good ten years ago could likely be updated with a more modern look and feel. Finally, use a printer that you trust! After all the thought and design you’ve put into your business cards, you don’t want it all to go to waste because you wanted to save money on the printer. Alignment and colour goes a long way.
Have a Digital Presence
The good ol’ days of having only a listing in the phone book are gone, even for the Yellow Pages who have transformed their business into offering local marketing services online. The Local Search Association funded a study by Burke that found that 87% of people who look for local business services turn to an internet search engine to do so. What was even more surprising was that 75% of searches for local services turned into in-store visits within 24 hours! Having a digital presence online is critical if you want to attract the customers who are looking for you, based on their behaviour. Whether it’s a Google My Business page, a Promote listing, a social media page or a company website, you have to make sure your business can be found online.
Network with Other Local Business Owners
Being a part of your local business community can go a long way in terms of getting more sales and leads. From referrals to formal partnerships, your local business leaders are a source of credibility and customers. Neighbouring businesses or complementary businesses nearby may really like you, your product or your service and be quick to refer their customers to you in the right context. For example, maybe you make table linens and other home decor items and you make friends with the local cake maker, who could refer customers looking to cater a themed party or a wedding. Or even more common, you’re a contractor and you make friends with an electrician who you can refer leads to you after making holes in their client’s walls! These types of referral scenarios are common amongst small business owners and communities, but they can even be more formal. In many cases businesses will give a commission or referral fee back to another business for sending them the lead. Real estate agents often create a network of partnerships and referrals to work through the sale of a house, recommending their preferred notary partners, home inspection partners, mortgage advisory partners and even contractors. The point is that you can become part of these referral networks formally or even informally through some word-of-mouth marketing, just by doing some local networking with your fellow business owners.
Advertise, The Smart Way
While there are so many different ways to market and advertise, not all techniques will work for every business. Business owners have to be smart to determine what marketing strategy or advertising channel will bring in the most business for them – and there is no one size fits all approach here. Surprisingly many studies have cited that small business owners don’t know if their marketing works because they don’t measure it. With these factors in mind, it can be challenging for small businesses to advertise in the smartest way possible. Ask yourself: how would I look for my business? Ask a friend or even a stranger and do some research if you can. Research which channels make the most sense for your industry. For example, if you have beautiful products that photograph well, you may consider doing Instagram ads. Other businesses similar to yours may have had success in one marketing channel or another in the past that you can learn from.
If you have a website, start your journey towards smart advertising by installing Google Analytics.* This free tool provided by Google can be added to your website with minimal effort and will tell you exactly where your website traffic comes from. When you know where website visitors come from after you’ve had time to collect some data on the platform, you can start to make smart marketing decisions like what is the best channel for you to advertise on. For example, if you realize that a lot of your website traffic is coming from social media, you may want to consider doing Facebook ads. Logic and data will go a long way when it comes to successful advertising.
Customers Always Come First
Before you think of yourself as a business owner, think of yourself as a customer, a client and a consumer. You expect the highest quality customer care and service at the business’ and brands you buy from. Why would you give any less to your own customers? Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is a great way to understand their pain points and give a better customer experience. Test your own website and fill out your own forms. Look for your own business online. Ask a friend to call you randomly and pretend to be a customer and then get them to give you feedback about their experience. Seeing your own business from another’s perspective is a valuable exercise for any business owner. Remember to always be professional, knowledgeable, polite and open to giving and getting feedback. With customer care also comes customer loyalty, so make sure to reward the customers that return to your business. You could even ask them for feedback or a review about your business in exchange for a reward, like 10% off their next purchase. Everyone likes coupons, or even a good contest!