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Steps to Survival - Step Three: Pump Up Your Sales Efforts

By Dr Paul E Adams |

Today our topic is selling. If you have worked to cut expenses, and become a miser with your cash, great! Now you need a strategy to boost sales. I don't know if you are selling a service or a product, if your business makes or distributes goods, or if you are a retailer or a dot com. I don't know how you sell your wares. Is it mail order, over the Internet, your own sales people, or agents? Regardless of your business particulars and how you manage to peddle your goods, here are some common strategies that apply to all types of businesses that can help promote your dream.

First, I ask you to ask yourself; are you sales-minded? Your view of selling and sales people can affect your attitude about your marketing and sales promotion efforts. If you have any fears or phobias about promotion-get over it. And if you have a hang-up over "pushing" your offerings onto others, it is a childhood guilt complex that does not belong in your "entrepreneur's personality." Force yourself to master the basic success tenet of presenting your product or service without hesitating to ask for the order. Most successful sales, marketing, and promotional activities, are based on the premise of "asking for the order." Remember, nothing happens (in any business) until someone sells something.

Promotion is not always obvious- so don't hide your business. Potential customers must know you exist. You should have an understanding of who your customers are, where your customers are, and how many can you sell to. I like what A.P. Giannini, founder, Bank of America said "How can people know what a bank will do for them unless they are told."

A sales and promotion strategy is as important as a financial strategy is to your success. It requires a credible message repeated many times.

Don't assume a single ad, a single article, your business card, a small sign, or a listing in the yellow pages will do it for you. It won't. Nearly everyone on this planet knows Coca Cola, yet the company spends millions each year on advertising and promotion. Why? To protect their market. They know that customers forget, that competitors tantalize customers, and that customers like to buy what they know.

There are many market studies that tell us consumers don't like change. There is evidence that buyers are more reluctant to change than they are willing to admit to. If this is so, how do new products and brands succeed? By enough sales and promotional activity to take the edge off the newness. It is a paradox; we want new products and services, but we want someone else to try them first.

Just as your company's physical appearance is a statement about how you manage your business, your sales and promotional messages also create the image of your company.

Employees with attitude problems send strong negative messages to your customers. Customers do not like to do business with employees who are not courteous, knowledgeable, and helpful. Incompetent, or rude employees can cause you to lose customers, even your business. Your employees are part of your sales activity. It is not only your sales people who have contact with the public- eventually, every employee will in some manner.

If your business is in a community of modest size, your actions may be under a microscope. The community must view your business as a benefit- not a problem.

Happy customers are great goodwill ambassadors. Their endorsements are invaluable and creditable. As difficult as it may be to please everyone, try to avoid creating dissatisfied customers. Ill will is not helpful to your success. While good news travels slowly, customer complaints travel at great speed.

Create the image that you care about your customers; that you appreciate their business, and that you value them as customers. Remember, the idea of TQM or Total Quality Management, is about caring; caring about your customer by caring about the quality of your product or service. If you want to stay in business, make "caring" a priority image.

The ideal image is a combination of positive images. Cultivate an image of "staying power." Not that of a fly-by-night operator entering the market with a flashy splash, only to shortly disappear, leaving unpaid bills. If customers and creditors "think" you won't be around in a short while; they may be right. Your customers and creditors must be comfortable with you. They must believe in your success- your staying power.

If sales and promotional activity are not "your bag" try focusing on this list. It will help you to become positive about promoting your business.

  1. How do you expect to do any business if no one knows you are in business?
  2. Calling attention to your business is promoting the awareness of your business.
  3. A public relations and promotion strategy is as important as a financial strategy.
  4. Your communication messages create the image of your company.
  5. Employees are part of your image.
  6. Make sure your community sees your business as a benefit not a problem.
  7. Happy customers are valuable to your image.
  8. The right image is staying power, caring and honesty.

Of these nine points, take a moment and ask yourself "Am I missing any?"

Step Two: Be a Miser! Hoard every Dollar!

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