[tweetmeme]The lifeblood of a business is sales. Proven sales and marketing techniques are as valid today for the small business owner as they were before the social media revolution. They will attract customers and fill your piggy bank. I learned this the hard way.
I reluctantly became an outside salesperson some 30 years ago during the recession in the early 80’s. I was out of work, almost broke, new house and daughter, stay at home wife, etc. My resumes went unanswered. Eventually I secured a starting sales position with a top publicly held company. I went through a professional in-home sales training course, highlighted by a trip to New York City.
Instructors told attendees to ensure that both husband and wife were present and sitting around a comfortable table in their home. We would then make a carefully orchestrated presentation. They also emphasized handling every known objection. This would lead to a one-time sales close. Balderdash!
I already knew that selling is not a one-way street. One of the best ways to establish two-way communications with customers and potential clients is by asking open-ended questions that don’t allow a mere yes or no response. Let your prospect or customer do most of the talking. Listen, observe and learn. They will tell you what they are interested in.
In that entry-level sales job, I dealt with educated people in a higher income bracket. They could easily see through the high-pressure smoke screen. I analyzed the situation and applied the above methods. I asked questions and met with one or both spouses where they wished, applied low pressure consultative sales tactics, came back a second time, etc. In short, I did whatever I needed to make them feel comfortable with the product and this most often led to a sale. I diverged from the normal routine and had a successful sales career spanning almost three decades.
Nowadays, you can begin the conversation with prospects on the web by starting a blog, an e-mail campaign, newsletter service, series of videos or other suitable vehicles to communicate your company’s news and information. Become known as an expert in your field, the go-to person. In all these communications, request and promptly reply to feedback.
Combine these with innovative marketing techniques that separate you from your competition. Run contests or offer prizes. When I owned a retail store, we promoted a student discount for customers who achieved a specific grade point average during a grading period. This generated free publicity from all the high schools in our area!
As I wrote in my blog earlier this year “Superior Customer Service,” reducing customer stress as well as promoting customer service will succeed over cutting price and high-pressure tactics every day of the week.
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Michael Yublosky, MBA, is a successful self taught do-it-yourself Web master and E-Marketer. He combines 30+ years of professional consultative sales experience with sales and marketing management, training, coaching/mentoring. Michael shares his knowledge with similarly minded small business owners and managers as well as self-employed entrepreneurs through classes and seminars. His free tips and down loadable PDF files can be viewed at DIY Web E-Marketing.