Dear Small Business Advisor:
I have an opportunity to start my own small business. However, not having any sales experience, I’m not exactly sure where to start. What would you suggest?
Whether you’re selling a service or a product in the business environment, it is crucial to have a well-defined objective, measurable, quantifiable and repeatable sales process.
The sole purpose of your sales process is to fill your sales pipeline with profitable customer opportunities.
The first step in the sales process is to have a clearly defined profile of your ideal prospect opportunity. And then have a questioning process to gather data from your prospect. Finally, the data is measured against your model of your ideal prospect opportunity
You will determine whether you have a cold, warm or hot prospect based on the amount of data you accumulate.
For example, a surgeon has a very clear model of the ideal patient and the symptoms they experience. Then, based on the information gathered through conversations and testing, the surgeon would be able to determine what course of action to take.
Sales expert Al Turrisi, president of Turrisi & Associates and founder of How to Be a Black Belt at Sales and Strategic Networking Academy (Long Valley) suggests the following:
1-Your first step in constructing your ideal prospect opportunity is to decide what geographic area you will prospect in. The idea is to have the greatest potential prospect in the smallest area possible.
Why? So you can spend more time with prospects and less time traveling.
2- Create a list of potential suspects within the geographic area. A suspect is defined as an entity you suspect could use your offering.
Why? You want to have a match between your solutions and the problems or issues of your target.
3- Decide the size of your target. Size can be measured in dollars, employee size, or both.
Why? You want to maximize the return on your investment of time and resources. And justify your investment with closed profitable sales.
4- Determine who the decision maker is who would be aware of the problems you could fix and be able to engage you as a provider of solutions.
Why? You do not want to waste time calling on an individual with no responsibility or authority to make a final decision.
As a result, having your sales pipeline filled with unqualified suspects elongates the time it takes to close a sale.
About the Author:
Bruce Freeman launched and successfully ran his own high-tech public relations company, Proline Communications, after leaving a management position at a major technology publication firm. For 20 years, he served as Professor of Marketing at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University. He is co-author of the start-up guide, “Birthing the Elephant” (Penguin Random House).
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