The Sales Challenge Faced by SME’s
Many SME business owners enjoy and want to focus on the day to day delivery of the products or services they provide. So, they do not undertake business development (or sales) on a consistent basis and it is often deferred – other priorities often get in the way. Alternatively, the business owners are not sales and marketing experts, so it is undertaken on a trial and error or ad hoc basis This means that they struggle to keep a constant supply of regular orders and get stuck in a feast and famine cycle.
What is required, is for the lead generation and sales activities to be undertaken consistently and continuously and handled as an ongoing process and project. This approach delivers known and predictable sales orders – resulting in top line growth that most business owners strive for.
So, a few quick questions that you should consider:
- Do you have a current documented sales and marketing plan?
- Do you have a solid process in your business that turns strangers into paying clients on demand?
- What is your cost of order acquisition or cost of sales and marketing?
- What is your sales conversion rate?
- Do you close business using a face to face consultations? If so,how many sales consultations with prospective clients have you had in the last 5 days?
Defining and Implementing a Sales and Lead Generation Strategy
It all starts with defining and documenting a clear strategy to grow your business.
- Value Proposition – Ensure that you have a clear value proposition your customers will understand and pay good money for (not a solution looking for a problem).
- Message– Define a strong and compelling message expressing your value proposition in terms of real benefits to your customers.
- Target– Clearly understand your market(s) (sector, size, geography etc..) and then define and focus what your ideal (core) customers look like (everyone is not a target). The objective being to target people who have a need for your products and services and get them to buy from you nowas opposed to delaying or going elsewhere.
- Lead Generation– Poor sales is often due to not generating enough leads, so you end up chasing everything. Build and implement a comprehensive lead generation plan, that generates regular and reliable leads.
This is sometimes better known as Marketing. But the sole purpose for any company undertaking the marketing function should be to generate sales leads for the sales team to go out and close.
Today too many SME’s solely focus on generating new business through networking and/or referrals. This is just one method of generating leads. It is necessary to put a more comprehensive and targeted range of lead generation programmes in place to ensure that you are generating enough opportunities.
Lead generation falls into 2 programme areas:
- ‘Outbound’is when you proactively reach out to the market to generate leads. This could be by putting in place telemarketing or email marketing campaigns to promote your business and generate sales leads.
- ‘Inbound’is when you put something out into your market space (like an advert or blog) and prospects then contact you. Typically, this is about building your presence on social media and placing content out there to raise your company’s profile. The objective being to present your company as a thought leader in your industry, the sole focus being for potential customers to reach out to you.
By taking the time to define, and importantly document, your sales and lead generation strategy, you will then be in a better position to go and put it into practice. Remember to continuously monitor your sales progress, refine and fine tune your programmes and the wider sales process, as you get a better understanding of what is working well for your business.
The Ministry of Innovation helps organisations achieve rapid, profitable and sustainable growth through the provision of outsourced sales and marketing services to ambitious SME’s. It has a solid track record of growing long established or relatively new businesses.
For more information please see www.ministryofinnovation.co.uk/outsourced-sales-and-marketing/ .