When we talk about sales stigma, we are referring to the perception that selling is somehow sleazy, and those who sell are untrustworthy, overbearing, misleading and pushy individuals. For the majority of small business owners this is generally their perception, and is definitely NOT how they wish to be perceived by their marketplace.
Here is the thing, sales stigma is not exclusive to the small business owner, in fact it has been around forever and a day, it is everywhere, you only have to google sales stigma and you will see many articles going back 10 years and more addressing this issue. Sales stigma in direct selling, the stigma of commission selling, stigma in pharmaceutical sales, and so on. Sales stigma is firmly entrenched in big business across all sectors from finance through to science and technology.
The reason of course is unprofessional, and unethical selling, which the what and why for is a blog series all of its own!
For a very long time now there has been great efforts to position sales as a quality profession to pursue. From recognised qualifications to be gained, through to professional associations such as Association of Professional Sales and the Institute of Sales Management whose members agree to an ethical code of conduct. Including trying to create a culture of continuous professional development.
So how does this help the small business owner? Well it doesn’t specifically other than help to see the bigger picture. I do believe however that there is a bit of a sales evolution going on and has been for a quite sometime now, and that it is this evolution that the small business owner can both benefit, and drive. Small businesses especially micro businesses and sole traders, tend to be the ones who make the product or deliver the service personally, we are much closer to our customer base, have strong relationships with them, and we really care, we tend to see what we do more as a service to our customers, we are driven by a desire to help, guide and or teach. This is our WHY, and for me, somebody who has been in sales pretty much all her life, (30 + years and counting!) this is what selling is really all about.
I also know that as buyers we are much more knowledgeable, and technology has provided us with the tools we need to be able to research products and suppliers. It is us as the buyer who drives the sales cycle in the 21st century.
I know it isn’t always as easy or straight forward as just telling you to ‘just do it’, go on crack on and get selling. I know that you all without exception understand that the ability to sell your product or service is the one defining factor that dictates whether your business succeeds or not.
I also know if you are struggling with negative beliefs that are affecting your ability to sell what you make or do, it is something that I can help you resolve quickly and painlessly.
Meanwhile here are four things for you to do that will get you selling:
- Do you know who your market is? Their buying process, criteria, how they make their buying decisions? Find out then align your sales cycle with their buying cycle.
- Know the need you fulfil, and make sure you do fulfil it!
- Keep talking to your customers, long after they have purchased something from you.
- The one action you should do that would differentiate you from others is follow up. Yes follow up those leads, because that is what the vast majority don’t do!!