The Reluctant Salesperson

In this less than ideal economy, construction business owners are more than ever having to multitask and wear a variety of hats. Many of you have been thrust into the position of being the primary salesperson to maintain business growth. This fact can be particularly daunting for those who don't come from sales backgrounds and especially for some who thought they'd never have to be proactive about selling.

The reality is that you must be enthusiastic about sales, and if you're an owner, this should be your number one priority. Business is probably not knocking at your door these days, and for many, remaining in business is contingent on you being an effective and compelling salesperson.

This isn't all bad news. There is still plenty of business out there, and with the right mind set, even the most reluctant of owners can overcome their hesitancies and can become incredibly successful salespeople. It requires the right mind set and the mastery of some basic tips, but this can be achieved and with incredible results.

At the end of the day, shouldn't a company's owner be its number one advocate and best salesperson? Use this downturn in the economy to hone your salesmanship and when the economy makes a turn for the better (and it will), you'll be that much more effective of as a leader in the eyes of your employees.

Top Tips for Sales Success

Evaluate Your Value Proposition
Have you asked yourself recently why anyone should do business with your company rather than with the competitors? This should be an ongoing question to ask. Be honest and focus on what separates you from the others. If it's not much, make some changes. If you have some big differentiators, they should be at the forefront of any sales pitch that you deliver.

Make Sales a Priority
Selling should always be your first item on your daily agenda. Take the time to network, meet with clients, and contact prospects. Consider these everyday tasks, not things that are placed on the backburner after you handle office-related matters. Remember, administrative duties and internal meetings don't pay the bills.

Keep Contacts on Your Radar Screen
More than ever, you need to keep contacts on your radar screen. They're just too scarce and too valuable to let them slip away. What's the best way to stay up to date with prospects? Develop a touchpoint management strategy. This can entail any combination of communication or interaction with customers and prospects during the sales cycle - everything from ads and websites to face-to-face sales.

Successful touchpoint management is extremely important because it affects how the outside world perceives your company. The goal must always be to stay high touch, while remaining low
pressure to add value with every connection. Ultimately, a well-thought out touchpoint management strategy will guide prospects through the sales cycle to grow business.

Of course, you don't need to give every prospect the same volume of touches. This should be based on their specific sales-worthiness. While this doesn't mean that you forget about those who are not as likely to buy from you, you always need to prioritize based upon specific criteria such as percentage likelihood that a prospect will close, and the time frame within which they will close.

There are a number of very useful touchpoint management programs available that can help tremendously. They're well worth the investment and can minimize the time you spend trying to remember who you need to contact and when.

Get Knowledgeable About the Art of Sales
Yes, sales is an art, but that doesn't mean that you can't learn the techniques. There is an unlimited amount of training, resources, and support available for anyone who wants to improve their selling skills. Everything from books and CDs to blogs and of course, live trainers, they're worth their weight in gold if you take the time to learn a new skill or technique that will win you a sale.

Know Your Target Market
If you don't understand your target market, no amount of new selling techniques will be successful. Look closely at your current customers. Do you want more of the same? Or, do you need to go after new markets. Explore new opportunities and be creative here. You might find a whole new source of customers that you never expected.

Get Close with Business Influencers
The more you get to know the movers and shakers in your community - be it local or global, the more likely you'll be the first to learn about new sales opportunities. Networking with business influencers and end decision makers is a very smart investment of your time.

Develop a Marketing and PR Plan
Sales do not exist in a vacuum. Without communicating your company message, who will know that you're out there? A slowing economy is exactly when you need to be beefing up your marketing and public relations strategies and programs to support your sales initiatives. Like the old adage goes - it takes money to make money. Well, a little investment in spreading the word about what you can offer is certainly a good use of your funds.

Sales is a Process
Finally, sales should always be considered a stream of activity, instead of a solo event. A steady flow of developing leads, making sales, and many in the middle of the sales process should be happening at any particular time. There should never be a series of starts and stops.

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