Most new businesses – especially those started by consultants, coaches and other expert professionals – worry about how to sell. They think that their lack of sales skills is their biggest challenge and their biggest problem.
Quite a few new business people take some training on sales skills early in the life of their businesses and hope that this will solve their problem.
This is fine up to a point.
New businesses often have something else they need to think about before they come to consider how to sell.
It’s an issue that is often ignored because it can be a difficult one to deal with. However, it’s an issue that will affect your business’s chances of survival and it has nothing to do with sales skills.
Selling tangible products and services is a bonus
Some new businesses find it easier to make an impact quickly than others.
When I work with new businesses I can be fairly certain that certain types of business are going to make progress sooner than others.
These are the people who have tangible products and services to sell and who can explain the value of what they deliver.
Web designers have a head start. Even though they are selling services people know the outcome they will receive: a web site. People know what websites are. They know what they want to buy. What’s more, businesses need websites. Even the smallest of businesses needs a website, so there is a ready and waiting customer base and a need out there in the marketplace for web designers.
Book-keepers and people who keep small businesses’ accounts in order have a head start, too. People need to keep track of their spending. They need to raise invoices, pay bills, create profit and loss accounts, cash flow forecasts and the like. As soon as they start trading the bills come in and the invoices must go out. This is the sort of work that many business people do very badly if they do it themselves, so they are likely to look for someone to help with these tasks sooner rather than later.
Once again there is a ready and waiting customer base and a need in the marketplace.
|That’s because people with a clearly defined service to sell have an advantage in their early days in business.|
If you’re selling photocopiers or office supplies, that’s good, too. You will be shipping tangible products when you make a sale. What’s more people can either see a picture of your product or they already use something similar so they know what they’re buying. They don’t need you to explain it to them.
Work out what you sell
If you’re a consultant or a coach you’re in a different situation. The first thing you have to work out, when you start your business, is what you’re actually selling.
Working out what you sell can be a big challenge. Coaches and consultants often try to avoid thinking deeply about this issue by deciding to sell their time. Alternatively they hide behind statements about what they do: life coaching, image consultancy, time management training.
Yet, businesses and individuals don’t buy time or processes. They buy outcomes.
Therefore, it’s a big mistake to place the emphasis on inputs (time) or processes (consultancy).
How to avoid this mistake and save your business
The solution is very straightforward.
Spend time working out what you’re selling. Think carefully, too, about the value you deliver to your customers.
- Sell outcomes.
- Sell value.
- Sell benefits.
- Sell improvement.
The next time you’re asked about what you sell, don’t talk about the hours you will input to the development process. Focus on the end results, the value and the outcomes you will deliver. Don’t worry about how you’re going to sell your product or service before you’ve worked out what, exactly, you’re offering to your marketplace and the need your offer addresses.
You’ll make more sales and your business will be more likely to survive, profit and grow if you think about these issues before you start to think about your sales skills.
You’ll also avoid one of the most common mistakes that new businesses make: focusing on the wrong things.
Do you agree?
- Do you know what you sell?
- Can you explain the value of what you sell to your customers?
Let me know in the comments.
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