Welcome back to the weekly sales round up, where Avidian collects the best in sales information, inspiration and conversation from around the Web. This week’s roundup focuses on how small businesses can succeed in the modern sales environment. Technology has given smaller firms a much more level playing field with the “big boys,” provided they are able to plan your strategy and make it work. Learn about how to introduce products to the Chinese marketplace, structure your sales approaches for maximum impact, and more.
Want to Know How Your Business is Actually Doing? Ask Your Customers (New York Times)
While the title does suggest a simple conclusion, this piece discusses how to get useful information from your customers in an effective manner, with a focus on obtaining feedback through a customer contact board, as well as some practical advice on which customers to seek out. Your “problem customer” can be your best friend when you need to know what goes wrong, and making use of software to help small businesses manage customer relationships can help collect customer comments, as well.
How Small U.S. Businesses Can Court Customers in China (Bloomberg Businessweek)
The Chinese market is a major opportunity, and can provide new sales advantages… if you take the right steps. This article discusses common fears, quirks and habits that can get between Western businesses and Chinese customers. Getting started can take time, patience and some assistance in creating Chinese-language marketing materials; however, the results of selling to this market can build to a major new profit center.
Loyalty programs are a common way to encourage repeat business. This article, however, presents challenges to the thought process behind the idea, asking whether you are bribing customers or genuinely building value. Ideally, you will want to build relationships based on service and understanding of customers’ needs rather than pure discount. Try as a way to help your staff build up repeat business.
What Are You Really Selling? (Business2Community)
This article discusses a theory about sales that may be counter-intuitive: you aren’t selling your product, you’re selling a solution to a customer’s problem or an outcome which they find desirable. That problem’s details vary, as does the desired outcome, but a small business is particularly well situated to find a specific outcome, quickly, and structure their entire business model to addressing that need.
Jim Keenan writes provocatively on the tendency to let sales contacts, especially email contacts, slip into a repetitive boilerplate, saying the same thing over and over. Even the best CRM software can’t win you a great conversion rate if your messages aren’t hooking customers, and this article outlines methods, based on cutting-edge neurological research, to encourage clients to engage.
5 Lessons From Sales for Entrepreneurial Success (Entrepreneur)
Selling and entrepreneurial behavior have a lot in common, and this article discusses how the talents of a sales pro and a stellar entrepreneur can overlap. It also looks at how to develop those skills in yourself, whether you’re entering sales from entrepreneurship, the other way around, or looking for inspirational cross-training for your sales team.
Does Your New Sales Team Really Understand Their Objectives? (Business2Community)
Moving from sales into sales management is a major shift for a professional. This article discusses the problems and challenges that arise, and how you can deal with common issues ranging from finding your own replacement, to shifting the mental gears that guide your thinking on how to structure objectives, to successfully guiding your team without micromanaging or under-managing.
This transcript of a commencement address, given by fashion designer Tory Burch to Babson College’s graduating class, discusses the hard work that underlies apparently easy success. She put in thousands of hours of work to prepare for her own “overnight” success, and she asserts there is no substitute for being willing to put in that effort – or for maintaining your vision.