All’s Fair in Sales & Marketing
Apr 20, 1997 12:00 PM,
The S&VC staff
Many small-business owners are a little uncomfortable with sales and marketing. Frightened, even. Designing a system is a quiet, peaceful activity, but selling the system, beating the competition, strutting your company’s stuff? That’s naked aggression, and the competitiveness of it can be daunting.After all, the technical aspects of designing a system and installing it come easily to the technically inclined. Sales and marketing is so daunting because it requires the use of the other side of your brain, a side many technical people aren’t really comfortable using. It takes people skills – being able to read body language, gauge reactions, parry low-ball proposals, bluff a little. It takes the chutzpah to get out from behind a safe desk job and into the thick of the battle to win clients. It’s the difference between a general safe in his own territory and a foot soldier on the front line.
But for most small-business owners, the front line is also the bottom line. In a small company, the owner is the number one salesperson, and polishing your technical skills without brushing up on your sales and marketing skills can doom your company to fighting a losing battle against tougher competition. Even owners of larger companies might find themselves losing the sales battle because they have lost track of basic sales skills or have neglected to hire people who possess those skills.
The fact is, these skills are learned, just like your technical skills. If you can learn those, you can learn these. Because that’s the key word – learn. Salesmen aren’t born, they’re made. The most talented salesperson will fail without studying how to sell, and the most people-unfriendly techno-nerd can become, well, proficient with practice.
So this issue is devoted to taking some of the pain and fear out of sales and marketing. We’ve put together a blitz of strategies, from going after the bid to negotiating the sale to dealing with angry customers and do-nothing suppliers. We’ll show how your compensation plan can stifle sales and kill your company. We’ll point out how something as simple as following up can win over prospective clients and keep you on the good side of current clients. And we’ll offer a quiz that can point out your weak spots (or your employees’) so you can aim at your sales-training target more accurately.
Sometimes the difference between a winning strategy and a losing game is just a little confidence, and nothing builds confidence faster than knowing your business. We hope this special sales and marketing focus gives you the confidence to charge ahead in your sales and marketing campaign.