Sales can be the bane of a small business owner's existence. Limited budgets and limited time sometimes put a constraint on profits. So how can you sell more effectively? I caught up with marketing expert John Jantsch, author of the new book Duct Tape Selling - Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar to get some answers:
CR: I am the daughter of an electrician, so I know how useful duct tape can be, but I never think of it in the context of sales. How does "Duct Tape" play a role in sales?
JJ: Well, duct tape itself doesn't apply like it might have to your father, but the concept of the value of duct tape certainly does. Now that buyers have access to almost perfect information there's no need to even engage a sales person unless she can provide something useful. For many people duct tape is one of the most "useful" tools around and sales people who take this view will be welcomed to the table.
CR: A lot of small business owners get confused between sales and marketing. What's the difference between them and what kind of attention should be paid to each?
JJ: In the most traditional sense, marketing created and owned the message with the market as a whole, and sales created and owned the relationship with the market on a one to one basis. The key to making these two functions work today is to understand that each must play a coordinated role in guiding every prospect on a highly personalized journey.
CR: What's changed most about sales over the last few years?
JJ: The thing that has changed most about selling over the last few years is buying. Prospective buyers no longer need a sales person to provide information, they can get that from a host of potentially more balanced sources. Today, they need sales people who can diagnose problems they don't even know exist, provide insights on markets and trends and make the process of buying a remarkable experience.
CR: You advocate for choosing your ideal customers. However, small business owners often want to take any business they can get just to pay the bills. How can they be more choosy?
JJ: Loyal customers are created by choosing the right customers. The only way you can do that is to fully understand who that is and, for some a much easier task, who that is not. By studying both the makeup and behavior of your most profitable clients and those that also refer business you will probably get a pretty clear picture of the type of client that is ideal for your business. When you take any business you can you get clients you can't actually serve well and instead of just paying the bills you end up creating detractors instead of loyal customers.
CR: Small business owners often have limited budgets for sales and marketing. What are your tips for them to do more with less?
JJ: The advice I give to small business owners, marketing department heads and independent sales people alike when it comes to making something out of nothing is to build a strategic partner network. When you assess all of the needs of your existing customers and look to build a "best of class" team that can serve those needs you have the seed of one of the most powerful marketing platforms possible.
For more information on Duct Tape Selling, follow John Jantsch on Twitter @DuctTape and download a free chapter of Duct Tape Selling - Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar here: http://ducttapeselling.com/.