Good horsemanship is built on solid basics…so is good business!
There are key “tools” that you’ll need to improve your sales skills. Just like taking care of your horse, there are different tools used for different purposes. Used improperly or in the wrong sequence, well….the outcome is likely to be less than satisfactory.
You may notice that this can be where the lines blur sometimes between marketing and sales. But if you think of it as marketing as your image and your message, and sales as the relationship, and that these two elements must dovetail for full function, then you’ll have a better grasp on the equation.
Let’s step back for a minute and look at the sales process. In previous posts we’ve looked at this from the customer’s point of view, which is critical to improving sales. Now we’ll intertwine actions from the seller’s point of view. I’ll also relate these back to the sales funnel, which can be accessed here: http://www.blueribbonconsulting.com/index.php/blog/entry/sales-funnel-thinking-for-marketing-your-horse-business. The sales tools will be highlighted in green in each step.
1) Find prospects. (Sales funnel stage: Awareness) Sometimes finding prospects relies on recognizing what I call “sales moments.” I’ll give you an example. You have a booth at a trade show and you are also presenting a workshop. You set your booth up and have a sign-up list for your newsletter there. You go to give present your workshop which is at the far end of the trade show location. Did you take a sign-up list with you so listeners could sign up there as well? You may reason that if someone is interested they will come to your booth and talk more and then sign up. But what if they don’t. What if they’ve been there all day and are too tired. Or what if they head in your direction and don’t make it because they get side tracked by all the other interesting demonstrations, workshops and booths along the way? You may also figure that they have a way to reach you after the expo because they picked up your flyer at your workshop. Well, you’ve been to trade shows before. What happens with all those brochures you pick up? You put them in the bag and when you get home you don’t look at them again for at least 6 months, if at all, and you can’t remember why you picked half of them up.
You can see that this illustration does not involve any aggressive sales tactics, it merely is based on making it easy for the prospect to take action NOW! And if provides YOU with a means to follow up with them after the trade show, rather than waiting and hoping that they will follow up with you.
Another means of recognizing a sales moment is by handing out business cards. Do you have business cards? More importantly, do you carry them with you so you can hand them out? And do you have a call to action on your business card: information about how to sign up for your email list or a special introductory offer? Business cards should be handed out every time you have a chance to do so – at the grocery store, at the feed store, at the school that your kids go to.
Developing a 30 second elevator pitch goes hand-in-hand with having a business card. Do this ahead of time and work on both of these until they convey just what you want them to. What goes in an elevator pitch? Imagine someone has asked you, “What do you do?” Do you stammer and stutter? Or do you ramble on and on trying to pack all the details in? A well-crafted elevator pitch will convey who you are and what you do in a way that is easy to understand by someone who knows nothing about what you do. It is meant to be a way to get a conversation started, not to close a sale. Your elevator pitch should include:
• Briefly and concisely describe what you sell, and remember this is not the time to get into the weeds
• Identify who your market is, or who you sell to. Mentioning the industry, size of the industry, and respective size of your target market gives a solid overview.
• Next, get into a little about yourself and your team.
• Finally, a mention of the competition and how you are unique in comparison brings your elevator pitch to a close.
The best way to work on your elevator pitch is to write it down, rewrite it, use others as a sounding board, and then edit it again. Then practice, practice, practice. And practice out loud, not just in your head. At first you may feel a little awkward when you start to use your elevator pitch, but with time it will become second nature.
The Sales Tool Kit will continue in the next post. In the meantime, don’t be put off by thinking that you haven’t done these things yet – you can start today! And take one tool at a time – you don’t need to conquer them all simultaneously. Over time you’ll notice that you have adopted the new tools and they are starting to make a difference in the number of customers you acquire and your ability to keep them as active and return customers more often.