Of all the functions that businesses carry out selling is the most important. Without it, nothing is coming through the door. No business, no money, nothing. And yet, for something so important it goes ignored or perhaps abhorred by many people and businesses. And of course, not everybody is employed as a salesperson in a business, so asking people who are not paid to sell to in fact do the selling seems like a bit much. But all things considered, everyone benefits from sales. Let’s look at why everyone in your business should be selling and how to go about this.
Selling has many different definitions but let’s just use motivating a buy decision. That’s all it is. Being such an important function of a business it is strange that the connection between sales and other functions isn’t made by many in business. The first connection is obviously to marketing yet it is discouraging how many times we see marketing efforts that do not aid in the selling process. Omitting vital information like how to order or at least get in touch is commonplace in marketing for many small businesses. Customer service is another area where the ability to sell is looked down upon yet this is perhaps where it’s needed most. Pleasantry and smiling at customers are all well and good but pretty much useless if they cannot motivate a buy decision. For those who have a website was the website designed with selling in mind? Or is it more of an information portal? Having your products doesn’t equal the website being a selling website? When you design your products how much selling thinking goes into it? Selling is not just an important function, it is integral to every function in the business.
Ultimately a business comes down to providing products, in the form of goods or services, to customers for a profit. If we approach our system of processes in the business with sales thinking in mind we see the perspective of the all-important customer and design our processes around them. By increasing the convenience to the customer and reducing friction in the process of serving the customer we make the buy decision easier. All other things being equal an easier buying process equals buying more or more often.
The selling organisation
The selling organisation is designed to sell at all times from all facets. Sounds absurd if your idea of sales is a person talking your ear off to get you to buy something. Take the time to look at South African eCommerce titan Takealot. There are other examples but I believe Takealot shows a great balanced approach to the selling organisation. In a previous article about the company, we noted how offering cash on delivery really opened things up for them in South Africa. That’s a selling organisation in action. I’m also reminded of trips to the banks of yesteryear where the security guard, who is employed by another company altogether, would assist customers with the charm of a host.
It doesn’t require a 5-day training seminar for all your employees to create a selling organisation. And you’re probably thinking about things like your website design being outsourced and how you will overcome that obstacle. Training is a part of it, of course. You do not have to invest in taking the cleaners through a full sales course. It’s a lot simpler than that. How well do they know the products you sell? Seriously, think about it. About half of selling is product knowledge. So perhaps you should look at acquainting your staff with the products the business sells. If for no other reason so that they know what they are a part of. All this is achievable with the help of a sales plan.
The sales plan is a document that lays down the plan for the coordination of products and sales channels. A comprehensive sales plan will look at the sales process for each channel and each product. It builds on top of the sales funnel or pipeline concept and rationalises selling across the channels. Have you ever tried to buy a product online from a local supplier and found it better to just go to the brick and mortar store and buy the product? Sales plans are meant to counter this by reducing the aforementioned friction in sales. A sales plan is not a marketing plan but it can help spot loopholes in your marketing plan. A quick example is advertising without price or payment method information. You may receive a lot of enquiries but many of them will be for the omitted information. So if you are paying someone to handle enquiries you are paying to attend to the trivial. If you were to include this information in the advertising you would know that any enquiries you receive are beyond asking for the price and perhaps further down the pipeline. Which is what you want.
What you want as a result of this is an organisation that is always selling. A business that is always ready to help a prospect make the buy decision. Marketing materials, websites and social media posts that affect the bottom line. After all, you’re paying for all of these things. They may as well bring in money.