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By Gregg Schwartz

They’re hard-working and creative, but small business owners are not natural sales people. As a result, they tend to be vulnerable to a few key mistakes in the sales process. Your business will do better if you think of yourself as “head salesperson” for your company.  That will put you in a good position to avoid three critical mistakes.

1. Trying to do it all yourself.  Small business owners often struggle to delegate responsibilities. Sales is a big job; it’s hard to do it all yourself. Don’t be afraid to get help, whether it’s using sales automation tools or lead generation software, taking sales training or getting a consultant to help with your marketing. Sales is the most important driver of your business’s success. Don’t leave it up to chance or assume that you already have all the answers. Get help.  A wide variety of easy-to-use online automation tools for sales, marketing and customer relationship management is available for even the smallest businesses. You can use cloud-based technology to stay organized, and keep focusing on building relationships with the right prospective customers.  And don’t be afraid to hire talented sales people once you think your revenue potential is there. Good sales people will be worth way more than their salary and will help your company grow faster than you could have done alone.

2. Not having a sales process.  It’s amazing how many small business owners leave sales up to chance. They get so comfortable relying on word of mouth and repeat business that they never develop a formal process for bringing in new customers. Growing sales is too important to be left to chance. New sales don’t just “happen” without focused, consistent, long-term effort.  Learn how to design a sales process that suits the needs of your customers at each stage of their journey from awareness of their problem to choosing your solution to it.  Think about the reasons why your customers need you, then create a consistent, well-diagrammed, repeatable “sales funnel” to help your prospects work through the buying process. Start with the customer’s initial research and go through the process of asking questions, uncovering the customer’s key pain points (the problem areas that motivate customers to switch vendors or find a new solution), and follow up with product demos or ROI presentations to show your product or service as the best value. Then close the deal.

3. Ignoring or misunderstanding ROI.  Many small business owners make the mistake of trying to compete on price, but many buyers (particularly in business-to-business sales) are not as price-sensitive as one might expect. Most of the time, people don’t buy on price (what they pay) but on ROI (what they get, or return on investment).  Figure out how to demonstrate the ROI of what you sell. Work it into your sales presentation. Ideally, your solution doesn’t cost your customers money–it saves or makes money for them. If you can demonstrate the positive result and financial gain that your customers can expect when they buy from you, you can center your sales conversation around rewards instead of costs.

Many small business owners struggle with sales or feel they’re not good at sales, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re passionate about your company and knowledgeable about your product, service and industry (and most small business owners are), the next step is to create a disciplined, focused sales process that uses the latest sales and marketing tools to create informative and constructive conversations with your prospective buyers. Make a few adjustments to the way you think about sales, and stronger sales results will be within your reach!

Gregg Schwartz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing in Connecticut, provided us with these great comments.

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