Big companies with big budgets have obvious advantages over small businesses.
Their brands are well-known. They can afford sales training, sales-support staff and customer-relationship management software. Etc…etc…etc…
On the other hand, effective branding, superior sales techniques and customer service will work to your advantage.
So don’t let their advantages dissuade you from doing the necessary footwork for success.
Here are the basics to put into practice:
1. Know your strengths and capitalize on them.
Assess your strengths and develop short value propositions for each of your products and services.
Differentiate your business in quality, convenience, and service.
Don’t forget to highlight the quality of your people in your marketing.
2. Know your weaknesses and capitalize on them.
Your weaknesses can actually be a competitive advantage.
For instance, smallness is a quality. It means you’re more mobile, and it takes less time for you to provide solutions – there are no out-of-town committees making decisions.
And you provide more cost-effective value.
3. Make cold calls.
For higher sales, there are good reasons to revert back to the lost art of cold-calling.
4. When you have bad-hair days, remember two concepts.
Sales is an inside job. “Act as if…” and “fake it till you make it.” Even if you are apprehensive in sales but if you do your best to speak to prospects with conviction, they will feel your passion.
Enthusiasm and passion are hard for your prospects to ignore.
5. Know when to cut your losses.
That’s an adage from Economics 101. If you’re making sales calls on prospects but you sense you’re getting nowhere, cut your “losses” and focus on your other prospects. Know when you should walk away from new business.
On the other hand for great prospects, there’s another adage – “The longer they keep you waiting, the more they want you.”
As a business-performance consultant, I can’t count the number of times prospects kept me waiting in their lobbies, only to win their business.
For instance, I first learned the lesson from this adage when I got an appointment with a promising referral for a prospect who owned No. 1 in market share in his niche. But I was mystified when the prospect kept me waiting in his lobby for 55 minutes. “Good grief,” I thought. Worse, when he called me into his office, he abruptly said he wanted to cancel the meeting because he had already decided to hire my firm. But to insure we’d start on a good long-term foundation with my firm’s ground rules, I insisted he listen to my presentation to get an agreement on my approach in my serving his company. The result? His company spent $20,000+ each month with me for many years.
On the other hand, I’ve had many likeable vendors call on me, but they give up too soon before I’m ready to buy or they’re inconsistent in their sales calls. Then, they’ve wondered why I bought from their competitors.
Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty.
-George S. Patton
6. Understand that you are the company.
First impressions are critical. Be mindful – of your appearance, enthusiasm, empathy, talent and commitment – to provide solutions. Size doesn’t matter but image and professionalism count.
7. Remember your time, service and products are valuable.
Providing added value can be helpful. But don’t let customers take advantage of you. When you’re asked to do something for free, look for opportunities to capitalize on the request.
Get something in return. Make certain such customers reciprocate.
8. Make certain you cater to appreciative clientele.
Make certain you get a thank you from clients after you deliver strong results. If they don’t show gratitude, train them to say thank you. “Huh?” you’re thinking.
Ask for a thank you in a subtle way (“So you like our product?” Or, “You like the way we handled the problem?”)
If your clients don’t say thank you, you have a problem and you better look for prospects to replace them.
9. Know which customers are profitable.
Be congenial. But don’t break your back for a customer who expects you to repeatedly bend over backwards. You need to know what factors drive your profit.
10. Make certain each employee understand sales and customer service.
It’s important that your employees understand your vision. Get your employees to provide you with profitable ideas. In fact, you’ll see profits grow if you partner with your employees.
11. Make the right investments for selling and serving your customers.
That means cost-effective technology, and customer service and sales training for your employees. Keep learning. Learn how other small businesses capitalize on cyber strategies.
From the Coach’s Corner, for consulting and professional service firms, here are resource links:
Consultants / Service Firms: Why Hourly Billing Isn’t Best — Businesspeople want strong results that include: Efficiency, information, innovation, objectivity, and productivity. This means projects are completed on schedule, within budget, and with measurable results. That’s why clients pay you.
Your Dream is to be a Consultant? Here’s How to Develop Your Vision Plan. — So you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug. You have nothing against your boss, but it’s time for you to run the show. What? The budget’s tight? You know you need a business plan but you don’t know how to write it, and you don’t have a budget to hire someone? Indeed, to do it right, an action business plan with all the crunched numbers is tedious and expensive.
Thought Leadership — Why Companies Hire Management Consultants — Companies want knowledge. A good idea can be worth $1 million and more. That’s why companies hire thought leaders. It’s also why you see many consultants position themselves as thought leaders and give away free information in how-to articles or studies, which lead to books, seminars and being quoted in the media.
Performance Gap Solutions for Consultants in Income and Image — How’s business? Is it time for a little biz coaching? If there’s a disparity between your income goals and your current financial situation, it would appear that you have a performance-gap issue. That’s right. It’s time evaluate your processes. Recheck everything. In most cases, a performance gap issue arises from three factors
“Remember, you only have to succeed the last time.”