More Selling Gets More Sales

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    The same issue came up with
    three different small business clients last month - and much to my surprise and
    theirs, the solution for all three of them was the same.

    Each business owner came in
    to discuss the size, shape and condition of their business during this 'Great
    Recession' that is affecting nearly everyone, seeking advice or suggestions on
    the number one question I get asked as small business consultant. They want some help on how to grow their

    What they really mean is how
    can they grow their sales from where it is today. In one case, their sales of industrial
    products were up about 20% from last year but the husband and wife team wanted
    their four year old business to grow a lot more to provide opportunities for
    their ten employees. Another business
    owner who sells a package of B2B products and services has seen his business
    grow rapidly this year, partly due to his ability to take advantage of the
    problems his competitors have been facing but he was finding that he was
    working too many hours, letting key administrative tasks fall through the
    cracks and was concerned about his ability to maintain this pace for much

    The third owner, who runs a
    service business, was really struggling because like many of the more than one
    hundred clients I have already advised this year, his business during the past
    ten years had relied almost exclusively on word of mouth, referrals and the
    growing economy to drive enough clients to him to enjoy running a nearly two
    million dollar profitable business.
    Today, with sales just barely above the one million dollar mark and
    losses mounting, he and his partners needed to do something differently and do
    it quickly.

    The solution was obvious but
    not necessarily apparent - at least not to them. It was my recommendation that they needed to
    do more selling, which translated into the need for more people spending more
    hours selling their products and services to past, current and potential new
    customers. After analyzing what they
    used to do and what they are doing now to generate sales, it became apparent to
    me that they had invested in enough people, processes, systems and materials to
    create and deliver their products and services when ordered.

    What they had not done was
    invest in enough people, processes, relationships, referrals and effort in
    their selling process. Not enough calls
    and contacts were being made, whether by phone, email or in person, to potential
    buyers. In all three cases, the owner
    was responsible for fifty to eighty percent of sales! And since they also had a business to run,
    from overseeing the shipment of products or performing the services they
    provide; managing their finances;
    supervising their employees; creating and implementing whatever marketing they
    were doing including maintaining their websites to publishing their email
    newsletters, the selling process was something they got around to when they had
    the time.

    The selling process, whether
    the selling cycle is minutes or months, requires a full range of professional,
    consistent, persistent and intelligent efforts by dedicated selling
    people. In all three cases, my
    recommendation was to rush out now, when more good people are unemployed and
    eager to be hired than in years and to hire one or more qualified selling
    people for their business for inside telemarketing sales to outside territory
    sales people. Hire them now, even if you
    can only offer them minimum wage plus a hearty commission, and then train them
    in your products and services and terms of sale and then supervise their
    efforts. Help them, support them,
    encourage them, but first, hire them.

    In my experience, it takes
    selling people to create sales in good times and bad. These three wonderful business owners had
    forgotten this simple truth. But with a
    bit of effort in seeking out and hiring good people, sales can and will grow
    long into the future. As I used to tell
    my head of sales, "now go sell something"!

    All the best wishes for a
    prosperous year.

    Ben Tenn of Tenn Consulting provides
    small business management consulting and coaching with an emphasis on marketing
    and sales.

    Tenn, after earning an MBA
    from UCLA, has enjoyed 35 successful years of business experience as a corporate
    executive and small business owner including 11 years at The Walt Disney Co.,
    14 years as a business consultant and as an Instructor at UCLA Extension. For more information, call 818 993 8222 or