Inside Small Business: Why sales focus should be the first priority for start-ups

Start-ups can be a tough gig. Aside from having a passion or skill that you can monetise, there is so much more to be considered when actually turning your hobby or skill into a business.

[ As seen in Inside Small Business ]

Two of the main reasons why start-ups fail are lack of business experience and lack of sales. Aside from “money makes the world go round”, money keeps your doors open as a business. How do you make money? Make sales.

Too often, start-up operators don’t have skills in sales. It’s not enough to have a brilliant or unique product or service if you don’t know how to sell it for the value you are placing upon it.

Here are three tips for how to make sales a focus as a start-up business:

1. Articulate your point of different

Can you answer this question succinctly, “What problem do you solve?”

Unless your business is based upon a ground-breaking concept, you are likely operating in a competitive space. Sure, you are better/cheaper/more convenient than others but if you aren’t clear on why you are different, you’ll struggle to communicate that when challenged by your customer and they won’t buy from you.

In order to make sales, you need to know what problem you solve. 

2. Know your customer

If you don’t know what is important to your customer, you will struggle to make sales.

It’s not enough to be able to rattle off all the amazing features and benefits of your product or service if you can’t apply them to what your customer wants to hear.

In order to make sales, you need to speak the language of your customer.

3. If you don’t ask, you don’t get

Plot twist: many customers are unlikely to hand over their money simply because you think your product is incredible. I see business owners all the time take the customer right through their product and finish with “if you have any questions, please ask”.

Here’s the sporting equivalent of not asking for the order: You’re playing soccer and you have finally gotten the ball up to your team’s goal. The opposition goalie is out of sight…. And you decide to abandon the ball and just walk away.

People are fearful of coming across as pushy. However, being pushy and asking for the order are not even on the same spectrum when it comes to making sales.

Here are some subtle phrases to try next time you think someone is keen to give your product a go:

  • It seems as though this ticks your boxes for what you’re after. Do you want to give it a go?
  • Would you like to proceed?
  • Are you happy enough to make a purchase?

In order to make sales, you need to ask for the order.

If you commence your start-up with “sales best practice” from the beginning, not only will your doors be open for longer as you’ll be making money, but you’ll certainly make your competitors sit up and pay attention too!

Julia Ewert, The Negotiator,