5 Tips for Small Business Sales Success

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted April 26, 2013

Are you constantly falling short of your sales goals?

Assuming that you set your expectations realistically and gauged the market correctly, the trouble may not be your product or service, but rather in how you're approaching your sales opportunities.

Joe Fuster, senior vice president of global sales for SAP Cloud, has 25 years of experience in the software industry. He spent the last 15 specializing in marketing sales and service. Prior to working for business software giant SAP, he helped put startups such as Software Artistry -- since snapped up by IBM -- on the map. He even enjoyed a stint at the current darling of the software industry, Salesforce.com.

In an era of mega-corporations, it may seem like the odds are stacked against small business sales teams, however Fuster says that there are advantages. Over the years he's noticed that -- for startups or small organizations -- it's "very easy to focus on the customer."

Why? "Candidly, because there weren't a lot of them," adds Fuster. But few businesses prosper with just a handful of customers. Typically, the only way to grow your business is to attract more sales.

How you do accomplish that, deliver excellent sales experiences for your business and its customers and, at the same time, find new customers? Fuster fills us in.

The Path to Small Business Sales Success

1. Share best practices across the sales force

Picture the perfect sale, advises Fuster.  Ask yourself and your team, "If we had an ideal sales scenario, what would happen?" What steps would you take?

Write down those five to ten steps and "create the collateral for each step." During the process, keep your eyes on the finish line. Always ask, "What is the outcome supposed to look like?" This shifts perspectives and helps sales teams avoid getting hung up on the particulars of the process. It also allows the goal -- a successful sale and an excellent customer experience – to inform the process.

During training, remind account executives to "concentrate on the outcome" and not just the steps along the way. Don't worry, they'll present themselves. Drill it into their heads, it's worth it.

Finally, Fuster urges small business owners to "take advantage of how nimble you are." Your job is to help solve a problem for a customer in the form of a product or service. Use your lean-and-nimble business processes to help everyone involved reach a good outcome.

2. Farm additional deals from existing customers

Congratulations, you landed your first sale with a new customer. Now what? Don't wait around for repeat business. "Think about how a salesperson adds value," says Fuster. Effective ones "act as a general contractor."

If you're going through an extensive remodel, "you really [a contractor] to give you an update -- you're expecting that complete picture," says Fuster. Your customers expect the same, so take a proactive, "holistic point of view."

Instead of waiting for the next bulk order of a widget, see if any of your products or services can help solve a problem for your customers. Chances are, "people solved this problem before. "Solve it again, and drum up new business from old accounts.



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