You need two things for a successful business.
- You need a great product.
- You need a customer.
When the above two come together, you have a business. The fancy term for this is product market fit. Once you have established this, you are in the money, or at least well on your way there.
The problem is that most businesses never establish this fit because they only focus on one side of the equation: product. I have lost count of how often I walk into a meeting where the business owner says: “We have this great product, but no one is buying.….”
A true business not only makes stuff, but also sells it. Of course it is the selling part that many struggle with. Interestingly, most businesses spend 80% of their energy on the “making” part and only 20% on the selling part. I suggest you bring that ratio closer to 50-50. Spend 50% of your time and money on “making”, and the other 50% on “selling”. The essence? You need to spend a significant amount of effort “selling” what you make.
But what is “selling”? Every business owner can tell you what it takes to “make” what they do, but few can tell you what it involves to get it into the hands of customers.
At its most basic, the sales process involves picking up the phone and calling someone. Or placing an ad in the local newspaper. Or talking to a buddy over a round of golf. But it has moved on from this. Just like there is innovation in how things are made, there are also new approaches to how things are sold.
Modern sales techniques have moved on from the travelling salesman opening a suitcase and pestering you with a new soap, until you buy two for the price of one. We now live in an era where the Internet has introduced huge innovation in how one can – and should – be selling what you make.
Let’s be clear, you still need the travelling salesman approach – nothing like personal contact. You should still get out of your office and talk to customers! But now you need to back this up with a high quality digital footprint! You want to raise awareness that you exist before you invest in one on one contact. The two combined makes for a far more efficient process The proverbial salesman should ideally only visit customers that have already indicated their interest, through following your business on social media, downloading a brochure or signing up for a newsletter. Or of course, sending you a direct email inquiry.
Think about it: the internet has made it easier than ever before to connect. Are you using it to connect to your customers? Are you using it to support your sales process? It all starts with spending as much time on selling your product, as you spend on making it!