Avoid the 5 “Sales Readiness” Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make … And Don’t Even Know It

Guest Post

saleswoman-redlipstickMany small business owners struggle with generating more leads or learning to improve the sales processes in their business, or even to hire and train the right sales people. However, before the conversation for how to improve a sales process can even make a difference, many business owners need to learn how avoid the trouble that stops so many people – they are not sales ready – and they don’t even know it.

The Five Pillars of Sales Readiness

For most business owners, the concept of being sales ready is a little foreign to them. They probably haven’t even thought about it, like it’s been invisible to them. There are five tests any business must be able to pass before they can consider their product offering to be “sales ready”.

First Pillar of Sales Readiness: Articulate the Value

A business must be able to demonstrate evidence that people want the product they are selling. In other words, they can articulate the value they provide from the CUSTOMER’s point of view and they have some kind of proof that what they offer is good for the marketplace.

They are able to answer these kinds of questions:

  • What problem does my product or service solve?
  • How do I know this is a problem? (What is your evidence?)
  • What were my customers doing about the problem before they bought my product or service? (You may have to ask them!)
  • What got their attention? (How do you know that?)
  • What results did they get from working with me? (From the CUSTOMER perspective, please!)

Second Pillar of Sales Readiness: Target Customer

For a business to sell services and maintain profit margins, they must know exactly who their “sweet spot” customer is. This is defined as the customer who is easiest to attain and provides the greatest margin of profit.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I know who my product or service is right for? (CAUTION: Investigate your answer to make sure data supports it. More often than not, your assumptions are wrong!)
  • Who uses my products right now?
  • What do my most profitable and well-served customers have in common?
    • Are they in a particular industry?
    • Do they have a particular title?
    • Do they fit into a particular income range?
    • Do they tend to be men or women or is your customer gender-neutral?
    • Are there companies a particular size?
    • What other criteria define your most profitable and well-served customer?

If a business can successfully answer those questions, they can confidently say that they have met the requirements of the Second Pillar of Sales Readiness.

Third Pillar of Sales Readiness: Ready to Take an Order

Surprisingly enough, even though a business wants to make more sales, they may not even be ready to take an order! Here are some things to ask yourself to make sure you have these items ready!

  • Do I have a menu of options for people to purchase from me with prices associated?
  • Do I have standard proposals for my customers that they can say “yes” or “no” to?
  • Does it require an order form or a contract to purchase from me?
  • Do I have people to review your contracts?
  • Do I need Statement of Work templates?
  • How do people pay me?
  • How do customers submit an order?

Too often, I hear of business owners who want to bring on customers, but when someone is ready to learn more or to say “yes”, they don’t have the proper processes in place!

Fourth Pillar of Sales Readiness: Ready to Service an Order

Too many sales all at once can be just as deadly as too little sales for a small business. Your reputation and profit margins are on the line! You can destroy both if you are not able to adequately answer these questions:

  • Do you know how long it takes to onboard a customer? (Or, do you know how long it takes for your customer to receive your product or service and start using it fully?)
  • Do you have the capacity to bring a new customer on? Do you have properly trained staff or complete systems to reliably deliver the service you are performing?
  • How long do customers stay with you and require your support? Are you fully staffed to provide that support?

Fifth Pillar of Sales Readiness: Who Are You Going to Call?

This is the place I see most businesses get tripped up. They have a great product, an ideal target customer, they’re ready to take an service an order, but now what? Who are they going to call?

Find a way to get these questions answered and you will be ready to start selling:

  • Do you have full contact information for people who are likely to need your service?
  • Will they recognize your name, your company’s name, or the product you offer within 5 seconds of your initial contact?
  • How do you know these people are the right ones to be calling on? (What is your evidence?)

To be “sales ready”, you must have a good solid lead list. I recommend that you have 10 times as many warm leads as you need to close for quota.

This is how you can best ensure you will meet your numbers and your goals. Anything else and you will probably find yourself scrambling for sales! If you don’t have one already from networking or inbound lead activity, you might consider buying a list from a trusted source. I always recommend  www.ExchangeLeads.io. But, there are many other sources for good lists to get you started.

the-irreverent-sales-girlDianna Geairn, Founder of The Irreverent Sales Girl is a well-known expert on the subject of sales readiness and teaches entrepreneurs the most damaging mistakes in this area so every small business ownercan understand how to get their businesses ready to be successful in selling. Her new book “The Sales Readiness Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make . . . and Don’t Even Know It!” is available on Amazon.  http://amzn.to/2fTFmj8.

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