What business are you in?
Actually, I already know. And in just a minute, I’ll reveal my secret on how I know – along with 3 simple steps you can follow that will help you improve your business profitability.
But to begin, let me explain two things:
First, is that small business success is not a card game. There is no trick. You must do the right things consistently all the time to guarantee your survival, success and profitability. Decades and centuries of time-tested entrepreneurial history and background proves this.
Second, above all the many hats a small business owner must wear in order to launch, grow and climb into the clouds of profitability, there is absolutely one area of focus that matters the most. In just a moment I will divulge to you what that is and give you three specific action items you can implement to optimize your marketing and profitability results.
Let me explain by adding a little context.
I have been a small business marketing / management consultant for many years and have consulted with literally hundreds of companies in all types of industries, from start-up to sizeable, operating locally, nationally and internationally. These client companies operate in both the service and product distribution sectors and represent a broad range of diversity in experience, education, management, and leadership skills.
Whenever I begin a new consulting relationship, I always ask a few pointed questions to quickly dig into the heart of what the health and success opportunities are of the business at hand. You see what I’ve discovered over the years of looking on the insides of all kinds of businesses, is that there is a common thread of success among the very profitable companies and their owners.
Conversely, there is also a common thread of failure in the companies that are struggling and who are living in the land of mediocrity.
The fact is, that businesses that succeed have figured out and mastered this number one skill set necessary to flourish while failing or faltering businesses have not completely grasped just how important this essential responsibility is.
What’s unfortunate is that many times small business owners wait until their business is sputtering and running out of gas before they reach out for help which often times is already too late. Depending upon the client and their character to focus on, develop and follow this number one skill set will depend upon whether they open the door to their future survival and success.
Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. So after a brief question and analysis of their business, I ask one very pointed question:
What business are you in?
Predictably they will tell me that they are an Internet Marketer, Accountant, Dry Cleaner, Mortgage Broker, Real Estate Agent, Medical Supplies, Insurance Agent etc.
At that point, I make very direct eye-to-eye contact. I disagree with them and instead express to them that they are in the “Sales Business” first and foremost. Always and forever.
You see what I have found over and over again with small business owners is that they are usually very expert at being an expert in their specific type of business. But what they’ve never mastered is the single most critical skill that will keep their business alive and give it the greatest chance for growth, profitability and success.
That skill set is to study, practice and execute effective sales skills. The bottom line is that no matter how great you are at operating your business, it will never succeed without the right type of customers constantly being introduced into your buying stream.
That means prospecting and selling… Continually.
All the time.
Dedicating a portion of your time to sales whether it is online, offline or a combination of both.
Now this seems hugely fundamental doesn’t it? Yes, it does. But let me ask you a question and be honest with yourself… do you really do it?
Selling – do you put enough of your time and effort into:
- Thinking through a well thought out sales plan on how to find your ideal customer target/s?
- Designing the sales scripts and collateral marketing materials full of features, benefits and competitive advantages that will persuade a target to be a prospect, and a prospect to be a customer or client?
- Practicing (yes, I said practising) your sales speak at such a level that you increase your conversion percentage?
- And finally, do you spend a significant amount of your time prospecting and closing sales as a matter of the highest priority to have more than enough profitable customers?
You need to understand that the Small Business Administration will tell you from historical research that the number one reason for such incredibly high small business failure statistics, is because of under capitalization, or not having enough money to last long enough for the business to take hold and carve out its place in the competitive market.
And they would be right. But from my experience, the real world honest brutal glaring truth is a lack of skill and emphasis by the owner on prospecting for and closing new customer sales. This is the one single thing that any business needs most.
There are many reasons why this lack of emphasis happens but often it has to do with being afraid or hesitant. Afraid to be rejected, to have someone say they don’t like your product or service, or your pricing etc. Or, it may be you’re too busy being busy to zero-in on the first most basic duty of any successful entrepreneur.
But the basic truth of small business marketing is that you must see yourself as a “Sales Business” first and foremost above all else and act like it or see yourself struggle and likely march to the front line of becoming a business failure statistic.
So now let me repeat with emphasis the answer to my original question of what business you are in. YOU ARE IN THE SALES BUSINESS first and foremost and without enough sales you will go out of business.
This… is the single most important skill you must engage in daily if you want to make your small business more profitable.
3 simple steps that will give you greater sales focus and actionable results:
1) Set goals, key action steps, activities and milestones:
Each small business owner should have a specific monthly sales goal written down together with an action plan on how to achieve those goals. It works best when you break them down into weekly and even daily tasks. This makes it easier to measure and manage your results at key milestone intervals and helps you be more accountable. Nothing will happen if you don’t hold yourself accountable.
2) Role play practice:
Do you really want to practice your sales skills on your ideal customer prospects? Well you do get better when you are live and in action with real potential customers but my experience is that you will achieve your best results if you practice role-play ahead of time. This allows you the opportunity to work the bugs out and understand how to overcome objections. Better to make mistakes in a practice environment than with a great potential customer.
3) Milestone Progress Evaluations:
Periodically at pre-determined intervals take time to stop, process your progress and evaluate your successes and setbacks. Then make adjustments, improvements and recalculate your goals as appropriate. Also, use this time to energize your enthusiasm for the importance of sales as the vehicle that fuels your success and profitability.
As a final note, remember there are a number of marketing strategies you can use to introduce new customers into your buying stream. I encourage you to test all of them that make sense to you and your type of business and find and implement the most effective that works for you. My favourites are low or no cost strategies. But that’s a different article.
By Kevin M. Clark . Kevin M. Clark is a past Entrepreneur Of The Year Award Winner and is the author of “Kevin M. Clark’s Guide to Marketing Your Business Online. Go to http://MarketingHotWire.com and claim your Free copy of this highly acclaimed new book and unleash some of Kevin’s most powerful marketing strategies. But hurry, this offer is available for a limited time.