Because Small Business is Big Business

Posts by Jill Slupe

Sales Myths – Don’t Fall For

sales mythsWe live in a world full of myths: False information that many believe to be true. In the business world, and sales specifically, there are many common sales myths. I have outlined three and explain why they are incorrect.

Sales Myths #1: Only A Smooth Talker Can Be Successful In Sales

Being successful in sales involves so much more than just spitting a good game. An exceptional salesperson is knowledgeable, a good listener, focuses on building a relationship with the client and delivers superior results. You don’t have to be a fast talker to be a good salesperson.

Sales Myths #2: You Must Always Be Focused On Closing

Closing the sale is very important. It’s what gets you the deal and brings in your revenue. However, you shouldn’t focus on closing at all times of the sale. At the beginning, it’s about building the relationship: Listening to your potential client to see what he or she wants and figuring out how you can deliver that. Later on is when you can concentrate on closing. Don’t be so focused on closing the sale that you forget to first build the relationship.

Sales Myths #3: Sales Is All About the Numbers

Sales is not just a numbers game. There’s more to this business than making a certain amount of phone calls, following up on a specific amount of leads or going to a set number of meetings. Although an incredibly important aspect of selling, there’s more to sales than number. Selling is also about people. Relationship building is incredibly important in sales, and something salespeople should focus on. For example, instead of making ten cold calls, it is more important to complete five and actually connect and begin a relationship with those potential customers. Quality over quantity because it’s not all about the numbers.

So there you have it, three common misconceptions in the world of sales. You don’t have to be a fast talker to succeed in this business and it’s not all about closing or the numbers. In addition, take a look at this video by sales guru, Jordan Belfort, to hear about a common sales myth dealing with referrals.

Check out the book A Guide to Sales Strategy

 

Social Media Tips To Boost Sales

We live in an age of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are some of the many sites businesses use to promote their products and services. We’ve outlined three tips to boost sales and make the most of your social media sites to promote your business.

Social Media Tips To Boost Sales

80/20 Rule

We love this rule. Eighty percent of your content should be educational, informative and fun, whereas only twenty percent should be advertisements. You don’t want to bog down your audience by continuously endorsing your company’s products and services. This will only lead to them un-friending, un-following or un-linking your company page. Use your social media sites as a way to gain credibility with your viewers, not to continuously advertise.

Vary Your Content

To continuously engage your audience, mix it up! Post pictures, quotes, articles, updates on the business, advertisements, etc. Be creative. Have fun! There are plenty of ways to vary your content while still getting your message across.

Don’t Over or Under Post

There is a fine line between under and over posting: between your audience looking forward to your posts or ignoring them. It can be difficult to find that balance. When posed with the question, “how much should a business post”, we decided to do a little research. A 2011 study found that on Facebook, posting once a week was too low, yet posting more than twice a day was found to be annoying. The perfect amount was between five to ten posts per week. With Twitter, the magic number was three times a day and LinkedIn, it was twenty posts per month. Now, these numbers vary depending on your business, but we believe they are a good estimate on how often your company should post content.

Sharing more information than advertisements, varying your content and finding a balance in the frequency of posting. These three tips will help you better utilize your social media sites, gain a larger audience and increase your sales. In addition, make sure to check out this video on some surprising facts about social media.

Want more great sales tips check out the books Rule of Thumb: A Guide to Sales Strategies or attend one of our Small Business Workshops.

 

A History of Sales

We sell things everyday: a new idea to our boss, a pitch to our significant other to try the new restaurant down the street, or maybe you’re a parent trying to convince your child to eat peas or go to bed at a reasonable time. Perhaps, your profession is in sales. You may be like our company, Verde Martin, selling a service. Or, you work at a corporation like Target or 3M. Maybe, you own your own small business: a café or an appliance shop. On the other end of the spectrum, we buy things everyday: a cup of coffee in the morning, a stylish new pair of shoes, a dream car after we’ve received a big raise. Whatever the case, we are all in the business of sales. Sales affect us everyday. However, where did sales originate? Who was the first salesperson? Today, most people know very little about the history of sales. I decided that I wanted to change this. So, I started researching and found some interesting information on the history of sales.

Selling In Its Earliest Forms

As long as there have been things to sell, there has been a salesperson. People have been selling items in exchange for currency since 200 B.C. when the Roman Empire first introduced currency to the world [1]. Selling is an ancient practice, as humans have had a need to exchange goods for hundreds of years. Names of early salespeople include hawkers, peddlers, traders, carpetbaggers, itinerant merchants and caravans [2]. During the prehistoric era, selling was largely determined by geography. The early salesperson faced harsh climates, conditions and danger to travel routes and sell items. Bartering: the exchange of goods for other goods or services, without using money, was the main form of selling during this time. Selling was prevalent in early civilizations like Egypt, Syria, Babylonia, India, Greece, and Turkey. Common items such as tools, kitchenware and clothing were sold everyday [2]. Furthermore, selling connected distant lands to one another. The Greek caravan trade linked Greece to Asia, with both areas prospering. Early sellers would use markets as well as travel to religious festivals and armies to sell their goods and services. The beginning of worldwide economic expansion began around the 10th century, with more and more opportunities for selling arising. In 1568, the first retail shop was established when the Royal Exchange Shopping Gallery was introduced in the United Kingdom

America

In America, the Yankee Peddlers was the first direct seller. They carried goods in trunks and sold items such as pins, needles, hooks, scissors, combs, small hardware and perfume. Low-status salespeople walked, whereas those of higher status rode in carriages or on horseback [2]. Selling spread in America, with the aid of immigrants, new roads and the use of waterways.

Advances in Technology

Before the Industrial Revolution, it was very common for one person or family to handle production, selling and marketing. Blacksmiths, farmers and textile workers usually only produced enough for a local geography [3]. However, the Industrial revolution, beginning in 1760 and ending in 1840, changed this. The transition from production by hand to power-driven machines, chemical manufacturing, improved iron and steam production and automated processes drastically increased the output of goods. This led to the hiring of salespeople, whose job was to find more customers to sell the increased amount of goods to. However, these salespeople were allowed to give little feedback to the business, were strictly commission based and therefore often had minimal loyalty to their company or the customer they were selling to [4].

Modern Corporate Selling

Modern corporate selling began after World War II. Since then, there have been many trends and advances that have impacted selling. Beginning in 1950, psychology and attention to the customer became more prevalent in sales. Before, the customer was not a particular focus in the selling process. As long as the right quotas were being met, customers were not strongly considered. This began to change in the 1950′s. Door to door selling remained prevalent but in recent years has seen a sharp decline. Similarly, telemarketing which was introduced in the 1970′s has also decreased. Previously, salespeople were looked down upon and sales were often considered a meager profession. However, with increased competition among firms, the importance of well-trained and educated salespeople has become more and more apparent. Now, more than ever, managers are investing in salespeople to help improve their company [5].

The history of sales is an interesting topic. Spanning hundreds of years, it is one of the oldest professions in the world. I hope you enjoyed learning more about the profession; how it began and how it has transformed over the years.

  1. A History of Sales: How It All Began and Where It Is Today by ProMarketing Leads
  2. History of Direct Selling by Direct Selling Association
  3. An Early History of Selling by Kraig Kleenan
  4. A Brief History of the Sales Environment by Micah Strader and Allen Wysocki
  5. The Evolution of Selling by RSVPselling 
 

How To Network Effectively

Last week, I discussed the power of your personal network. We talked about why networking is so important: How it gives your company more exposure, introduces you to the right people, accelerates sales and helps you reach your goals. However, I did not discuss HOW to network effectively. So, as a follow-up to last week’s blog, I brainstormed six tips to ensure successful networking.

  1. Establish Your Goal

What would you like to accomplish in your networking endeavors? Would you like to increase your number of customers, learn about a new job opportunity, or becoming close to leaders in your industry? Before going out and networking, know your objective. That way, you’ll establish a more precise networking strategy. Keep your goal in mind when considering who to reach out to and what networking events to attend.

  1. Be Prepared

Practice, practice, practice. Knowing the message you want to convey to those you are talking to is vital. Furthermore, bring business cards, resumes or at the very least your phone so that you can store contact information for later use.

  1. Be Visible

You can’t network if you’re not visible. Go to as many networking events and community functions as possible, join a variety of clubs and groups, and reach out to co-workers and business contacts. The more visible you are, the more opportunities you’ll have to network.

  1. Network Online

Networking not only takes place in person but also online. In an increasingly digital world, it is important to master the in’s and out’s of online networking. You can network through LinkedIn, Facebook or even Twitter. This NFIB Article outlines three social media tools that can help you network successfully.

  1. Foster Strong Relationships

It is important to be known as a trustworthy and reliable contact. Therefore, work on cultivating meaningful relationships. The saying, “quality over quantity” comes into play in this tip. You can’t expect your contact to use your business, refer you to someone, or perform a favor if you do not have a strong relationship first.

  1. Maintain Those Relationships

What’s the point of establishing relationships if you are not going to maintain them? Whether you send a quick email, make a phone call or reach out on social media, the smallest gesture can help you sustain relationships.

Networking is one of the most powerful skills you can learn. I rely on networking everyday. It’s one of the main ways we meet new people, learn about emerging products and services in our industry and increase our client base. These six techniques will help you both improve and increase your networking. In addition, take a look at this video, which outlines more tips on how to network effectively.

If you would like to increase your networking in the Omaha community, check out SalesTalk, a business networking and learning event that meets on the third Thursday of each month from 5-6pm and is hosted by various business sponsors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSiInRKN3ps

 

The Power of Your Personal Network

I use networking everyday to improve my business. There are endless opportunities for networking: from business luncheons, to calling a reference for a sales lead, to Verde Martin’s monthly SalesTalk event. When harnessed, it is amazing how powerful your personal network is and what it can do to help you improve sales. I talked to Ben Stevinson, a local Omaha photographer, to hear how he implements networking to expand his business.

Ben’s love for photography began at a young age. A self-taught photographer, he recalls finding his Dad’s old film camera lying around the house. He began playing with how to develop film and so began his career. Soon, any money Ben made went towards buying camera gear and setting up his business. Fast-forward seven years; now Ben is an established photographer. He does senior photos, engagement and wedding shoots, business headshots and his favorite; friendship photo shoots.

Ben has a special mission in his work. When talking to Verde Martin he said, “My photography is all about capturing human emotion. I think that we as a society have managed to warp perceptions of beauty. It bothers me when I see magazine or TV ads of “perfect” girls. I think that I can make someone look as beautiful as that without doing any manipulation or retouching. Everyone is beautiful in their own right and that deserves to be shown.”

At this point, you’re probably wondering what Ben’s story has to do with Verde Martin and accelerating sales. Well, Ben and our company have something very important in common: networking. Ben describes networking as the core of his business and something he uses everyday. He says, “Word-of-mouth and trying to network is how I get customers. I really don’t have that many people contacting me. I have to go out and network to get clients.”

Networking is important to Ben Stevinson Photography because it goes back to selling yourself and your product. Ben states, “I’m a photographer, but I have to sell my photography services. Networking is vital for getting to know people who can be your clients or find you more clients.”

Networking opens endless opportunities for any business. Knowing the right people will help you gain exposure, meet new clients and accelerate sales. In fact, it was through networking that Ben and I met. If not for networking, this blog would never have materialized. So next time you’re brainstorming ways to improve your company and sales, I challenge you to start with utilizing your personal network.

For more information on Ben Stevinson Photography:

www.benstevinson.com

facebook.com/benstevinsonphoto

Twitter: @benstevinson