Sales: are we giving it the attention it deserves?

I read a lot of small business blogs. That means I read a lot about marketing, especially marketing online.

But it’s unusual to find much written about sales or selling. Don’t get me wrong, marketing is important – sales is part of the marketing process after all – but I’m surprised how little attention is given to sales compared to how much I read on marketing.

Last week I picked up a copy of Sales On A Beermat from my local library. (Yep, despite being a Kindle fan, I do still read paper books and visit libraries. Mostly for toddler story time, though!)

The Beermat books were written a few years back now, about ‘beermat enterprises’ – that’s the kind of business that starts out with a few mates having a great business idea in a pub.

According to the Beermat business model, three things must be defined straight away:

  • The elevator pitch – what you intend to do, for whom and why they should buy it.
  • The mentor – a senior person to give advice and open doors.
  • Your first customer – start-ups should have a customer in mind from day one, and be actually speaking to this person.

The business then needs a team with specialists in these areas:

  • Sales
  • Finance
  • Innovation
  • Delivery

As most of us mums with business are ‘solopreneurs’, we don’t usually have a team.  But even if you do all these roles yourself, it does show the areas where we need to focus your attention. However, I’d strongly recommend anyone that wants a business to succeed to consider reading up on the subject at a minimum or getting some expert help from a  professional sales training provider.

So sales is there, but why is there no mention of marketing?

Authors Mike Southon and Chris West explain:

Note we say ‘sales’, not marketing. The strategic ‘who are we selling to?’ aspects of marketing should be understood at the start and encapsulated in the elevator pitch. Once that has been sorted, the start-up needs relationships and actual customers and these are best created and sustained by good salespeople. Marketers who have a sales instinct are, of course, ideal for this job, but they should call it sales and do it with pride.

So are we just not ‘doing sales’? Are we promoting our products and hoping that the  sales part will sort-of-happen at the end of it all? Looking on the positive side, maybe we are ‘doing sales’ but calling it ‘marketing’ instead. If that’s true, wouldn’t we make more sales if we, as the authors say, “call it sales and do it with pride?”

Many of us have a problem with the the concept of sales – it feels pushy, like we’re trying to convince people to buy stuff they don’t need. Maybe we’re letting that squeamishness, fear or whatever it may be get in our way? Perhaps if we face up to it we’ll make more sales and therefore more profit?

What’s your opinion? Please do leave me a comment (better still, leave me a comment AND tweet this!)

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Comments

  1. GREAT blog post! I totally agree- I think many businesses are set up by smart people who arent sales people (and unwilling to be sales people) and this does present a risk. My business is only successful because I am willing to get on the phone and call people and sell my business to them. I can sell it because I believe in it. I could hire people to do the same thing, BUT not when a brand is not known or trusted- it just doesnt work the same magic. I have been running for almost 2 years and only now when I am the biggest website in Brisbane have i been willing to hire some sales people. Up until now I have done it all myself. I honestly believe this to be the key to my success. Getting on the phone. Asking the Question. Being willing to take the rejection, the acceptance.. just being willing to do it. I came with sales skills, but sales can be learnt- it really can. When you read the biographies and autobiographies of many great businesses – you will find that most of them are also either brilliant natural sales people or people who learnt how to sell.. they did this by trying. (4 ingredients is good example- I believe Rachel Birmingham made many attempts to pitch the idea before it came about)- You need to have your pitch down pat- understand what problem you are solving- how you can make lives better- believe it- sell it- succeed :)- LOVE this blog post- sales and marketing are too easily plopped in the same pile- about time the 2 were defined.
    ps- you are NEVER pushy if there is a benefit to your product- you are never pushy if it solves a problem- believe in your product- I emailed one of my sponsor advertisers at 2am in the morning- I closed the sale the next day- 2 years later they are still my biggest supporter and still pay to advertise with me! –happy to help people with sales/mentoring- you can find me at Brisbane Kids

    • Thanks Ngaire, a really valuable comment from you as always.It’s good to hear the perspective of someone who is doing sales and proud of it. And obviously getting the results, too. Your point about it not being pushy if you’re solving a problem is one I remind myself of all the time. If you’re solving a genuine problem people should be happy to pay you.

  2. Great post. It really speaks volumes to me. “Are we promoting our products and hoping that the sales part will sort-of-happen at the end of it all?” This pretty much sums up what we’ve been doing. Actually going out and being a ‘sales’ person has never been the main agenda and I believe this is an integral issue within the business. I see marketing as promoting and sales as actually going forth and asking people to buy. Two separate tasks and we’re only doing one aspect. Time to take in this post and get into action.

    • Jodi, I really appreciate your honesty there. I suspect sales has never been the main agenda for most us, especially as so many of us come from helping, supporting, caring, teaching and personal development backgrounds. Good luck with taking that action and you’d be welcome to come back a share what happens!

  3. Great post – thanks for submitting it for the carnival which is now live 🙂 Please come and have a look at the other great posts.

  4. Thanks for this post Helen. I find that moment when you are at the point of the ‘sale’ can be really weird- you find yourself almost holding your breath – I know we are supposed to stay objective and not be attached to whether the propsect says yes or no but still requires pants of steel to ensure you don’t start faffing and dropping prices or putting in bonuses. Like anything it’s practice practice.

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