Posted: Wed 13th Feb 2019
Today we launch The Sales Series, fortnightly advice on the public blog and the member only content areas of Enterprise Nation to help you boost your sales skills. To kick off, Enterprise Nation members share experiences and tips on confidence when selling.
Not everyone is a natural salesperson. In fact, it's pretty rare. Business owners often have to develop their approach to sales and work on building their confidence and we need to talk about the process more.
Enterprise Nation members and businss owners at a recent Enterprise Nation meet-up in Bristol shared the challenges they faced building confidence and fears around closing sales.
"I find it quite difficult to sell," Lilyiris founder Samantha Nelmes told us after the discussion. "I can tell you all about what we do until the cows come home but the minute I should ask for the business I freeze."
Do you fear trying to close a sale? We spoke to people with varying degrees of confidence about what they've done to build up their confidence.
Knowing your industry and customer
It's important to take confidence from the fact that you're an expert in your industry. Business owners understand their customers and the problem they are solving.
Targeting a specific niche helps too, according to Nelmes. Lilyiris offers bookkeeping services to small businesses. There are lots of allowance and taxes which apply to certain industries. Talking to people in a specific area such as construction makes it easier to tailor messaging and demonstrate expertise.
Katrina McWhinnie is a lawyer who supports small businesses with their plans for Brexit through The McWhinnie Consultancy. She advises taking the time to learn about particular clients.
"Doing my research on the client and understanding their current successes and challenges has helped with opening the conversation before leading into why a client would need my services," she said.
Hair and makeup artist Lisa-Maria Thomas stresses the need to back-up your sales pitch with a thorough understanding of your business.
"Know what services you are offering. Know your price points. Discuss what they will receive and give the price. Know your worth and stick to it," she advised.
The biggest fear is often the unknown and sales is no different. Targeting a niche helps tailor what you talk about during your sales pitch. Making sure you know your offering inside out and realising how much expertise you have will all help you build confidence.
A free course to improve your sales skills
Enterprise Nation members can access a range of online course to boost their skills and knowledge on a range of issues including sales skills.
The value of networking and processes
It's reassuring to know what information people need at different stages of the sales process and what the next steps are. Developing a process makes sure you know what you need to cover.
"Setting up a great process will help," Thomas advised. "If you are frightened about asking people for money set an up an accounts email address and imagine its a department of your business.
"If you are not sure how sales and accounts teams would act look at companies you like and ask them to help you. Successful entrepreneur love to chat about their businesses."
Networking is powerful because it lets you talk directly to customers. Contacting potential customers by phone or email can feel impersonal and cold calling is daunting.
"Personal connections work. People buy people, it's the know, like and trust factor," Nelmes said.
"My advice would be to know exactly who you are selling to, build a visible presence where your clients are and then hang out there. Whether that is networking, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or something else. Know where there are and talk to them."
Tapping into a network of fellow-minded entrepreneurs can be really helpful too. Hearing other business owners talk about the challenges they face is reassuring.
"My advice would be to reach out to others in a similar set up as yourself," McWhinnie said. "Starting out is tough. There are days when you think 'is this all worth it?' but they are certainly counteracted with the fantastic opportunities. Enterprise Nation is able to offer all of this support. I just wish I had done it sooner."
Thomas echoed this sentiment, advising other entrepreneurs to join at least two network groups and seek out collaboration. "It will help your business, give you energy and you may even fall in love with your business again," she added.
It's important to remember you're not alone when starting a business. That other business owners struggle with sales.
"We all feel this way. Look for a mentor and training. It will help you. Be careful of feeling scared. It can be a nightmare for me, which is weird because I'm confident.
"What I can say is 'go for it'. If you have a passion it will never feel like work. Life is too short, isn't it better we do it rather than not?," Lisa-Maria Thomas summarised.