Perfecting Your Small Business Sales: Hiring Salespeople, Writing Sales Copy, and Building a Business You Can Sell
This week on #Smallbizchat LIVE, our show featured three guests: How to Hire Your First Salesperson with Suzanne Paling, @suzannepaling, How to Write Copy That Sells with SaDon Long, @LongSaDon, and How to Build a Business You Can Sell with Ash Shukla, @Ashshuklabiz.
I pulled three of the best questions from each of them to share with you. Every third Wednesday of the month, Smallbizchat LIVE is broadcast on my SmallBizLady Facebook Page, YouTube channel and on Twitter @SmallBizLady.
Suzanne Paling is a recognized leader in sales management who has over 25 years of experience in sales management consulting and coaching. She has helped more than 55 companies improve their sales performance and processes. Clients include product and service firms in the manufacturing, software, publishing, distribution, medical, and construction industries. Docurated selected Suzanne’s blog as one of their “Top 50 Sales Management Blogs.” She writes for Entrepreneur.com and American Business Magazine, publishes a monthly newsletter and was profiled in The New York Times Small Business column. Suzanne is the author of two award-winning books The Accidental Sales Manager, (Entrepreneur Press) and The Sales Leader’s Problem Solver (Career Press). Learn more here: firstname.lastname@example.org
SmallBizLady: When hiring a sales representative what’s the first thing a small business owner should do?
Suzanne Paling: Write a comprehensive, specific and clear job description. Don’t search your files for an older version, make a few quick changes, and use that. Think about where your business is today, right now, and craft a new job description. This exercise informs the rest of the interview process.
SmallBizLady: What else should be on the hiring manager’s to-do list?
- Determine minimum performance standards for the position.
How many conversations with decision makers / product demos / proposals do they need to have / send per week to achieve quota? Begin with a reasonable number for each when the rep starts then gradually increase the standards each month until they are at the level of a tenured salesperson at your company.
- Complete the compensation plan before you begin the interview process.
When candidates ask about comp, and the plan isn’t finished, it makes a company leader look disorganized and unsure of themselves. In-demand top reps may choose another employer. Hiring managers worry that a finalized plan means you can’t negotiate with a perspective candidate if need be. That’s not true. Leave some room for compromise.
- Select and use a pre-employment sales assessment.
Forget “going with your gut.” Though they may be articulate and charming, learn early on whether or not candidates are suited for the position of sales. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they have the skills to succeed in this very demanding position? Assessments give you an invaluable unbiased opinion.
SmallBizLady: What are your recommendations for the interviewing process?
Suzanne Paling: Before jumping in and contacting candidates, decide what the interview process will look like, making sure to treat each candidate the same.
- Phone Interview
- Pre-Employment Assessment
- First In-person Interview
- Second In-person Interview
- Reference Checks
When candidates go through a pre-determined process, they see an organized company. Their interest level increases.
SaDon Long is a Bestselling Author and Founder of SaDon Long Solutions. He Specializes In Developing Sales Campaigns and Copy For Small Businesses. He helps entrepreneurs develop effective strategies to choose the right ads, relationships, and promotions to compete online. www.SaDonLong.com
SmallBizLady: What’s the #1 thing small business is doing wrong with sales copy?
SaDon Long: There are billions of potential customers, but they’re not all your customer. Your #1 job is to take something already made and improve it for a specific group of people. iPhone wasn’t the first phone, but it is 1000% times better for people on the go.
SmallBizLady: What can business owners do to get more customers attention?
SaDon Long: Do the research. Know the trends in your market. Why are they important? What does that mean for your customers? Your clients don’t know the trends; they are busy people and need valuable information that helps them reach their goals.
SmallBizLady: Where should business owners start making changes to improve sales?
- Make it simple, and specific. Example: Joes Bakery—We make cakes from scratch just like grandma did.
- Get testimonials that show transformations. Your best marketing is people who have already used your service. Unhappy to happy. Looking to found. Broke to rich.
- Offer them something they can use. If they can’t use it why would they opt-in or buy something that doesn’t solve a problem?
Ash Shukla moved to the US from India in 1989, with just $20 in his pocket and not a word of English and today he’s become a 7-figure business success story. He is an Amazon best-selling author with his book “Sell Like Crazy.” He is a nationally recognized speaker who built a successful financial services business, which he recently sold. Today Ash is passionate about helping small business owners build successful businesses they can sell and realize their dreams. For more information visit https://www.ashshukla.com/
SmallBizLady: You had a hard time early on in your career as a business owner in the financial services industry. How did you build a successful business?
Ash Shukla: Getting started in the financial industry was an accident. I failed my insurance exam 7 times before passing it the 8th time. I took the investment advisory exam several times as well. I was not bad at first; I was pathetic. I would go on appointment after appointment and I could not close any deal. I would go home empty handed for years. I even had to blackmail my dad through my mom to buy services from me. To turn this trend around I did 3 things.
- Committed to getting better every day.
- Dedicated myself to self-help materials at the age of 21. I turned my car into a university.
- I made a rule that failure is not an option.
SmallBizLady: What are the three top business issues for small business owners?
- 90% of the problems business owners have are mental. Their mental belief has not been stretched enough, they have been surrounded by naysayers, and as a result, they just struggle with the belief that they can do it. To counter that they should learn to find small wins and keep making those wins bigger and bigger as they go along. This will help them increase their confidence and improve their competence along the way.
- Most business owners are trying to get to the money so that they can build a life. So they try to listen to this idea and that idea, but they never get into the action stage to identify what is good for them and what is not. This creates an interesting dilemma: they want to build a life of their dreams but they can’t. They want to live the life of the wealthy. They even daydream about it but because they are in the thinking stage and not the doing stage. They can’t grow because they are infected by a disease called intellect. This intellect disease eventually takes over and creates overwhelm. So to solve this, all the business owner would have to do is make a big list of all the ideas they have about XYZ and just start acting on one and begin measuring their success like a big corporation or a successful person.
SmallBizLady: When considering a coaching program what should a business owner look for?
Ash Shukla: You want to see that there’s a specific approach.
- Do they look at your business strategically?
- Can they help you make money fast so that the investment you’re making is not money out the door?
- Do they help clients holistically, meaning mentally, financially, physically, spiritually, & with your family time?
- Do they have a track record of helping business owners build a business they can sell?
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