If you’re running a business, then you always have something to sell. If you’re a retail business, then it’s your raison d’etre, and revenue from the general public is your lifeblood. If you’re in the b2b sphere, with consulting packages or IT solutions, you have a more targeted job, selling to the businesses that need what you have to offer. Even outside the sphere of revenue, sales remain primal: looking for investment is a sales job, selling the potential of your business to investors, whether they’re banks or individual angels looking to give you a boost. Building your brand is another exercise in sales, uniting the hundred different factors that contribute to your brand’s perception into selling a particular story about your business to consumers.
Learning how to sell well needs to be a priority for any entrepreneur – it’s not a skill every first-time founder has. Most people start their own businesses because of a passion for the industry, a strong belief that they’ve seen an angle that’s not being exploited by the big players, and a desire for independence. Those are fine qualities, and they’ll likely lead to a fine business, but you need to be able to sell the idea of that business to get funding and revenue. You need to learn how to be a good salesman even if that’s not what you’re in business for, simply to ensure the survival of your new venture.
The best sales techniques are persuasive. You don’t just tell people you’re best (even if you are), you persuade them to think that. If you give people the ingredients they need to come to the conclusion that you are the right business to shop with, to fund and invest in, they’ll be much more committed to your brand.
It means being specific and personal – learning about the people you’re selling to. When you learn who’s out there in your market, you can make sure you’re sharing the most tempting facts about what you have to offer in the most persuasive possible way.
To do this, you need to do more than seeing your customers as one big block. The people who are going to buy your products fall into lots of different groups, and to persuade them effectively en masse, you need to apply audience segmentation. This is the principle of dividing your audience into different segments with different needs and interests so you can choose tactics to persuade and appeal each different segment according to its needs, rather than having to go with a catch-all approach that, by its nature is less persuasive to people.