Small businesses stay small because business owners behave like small business owners. They believe that they lack the gravitas, the reputation, the education, the stature or the cahunas to sell into the richest companies or most lucrative prospects who are currently buying from your bigger, more established more credible competition.
So problem number 1 is BELIEF. Do you believe you have the right to play at the top table? Do you believe you have the right to make calls to prospects? Do you believe your call is important? Important enough for them to take it, welcome it and invite you in? Do you believe you can ask for help? Do you believe you can charge premium for your services? And do you believe that the man with the money makes the rules?
If your beliefs don’t support your behaviour, is it any wonder you are failing to engage often enough with the right kind of decision makers on a consistent enough basis? Are you surprised that if you are doubtful about your right to play let alone get paid what you are worth is it any wonder that people give you short shrift. Tell me this. When was the last time you handed over your hard earned money or someone else’s money when the salesperson on the phone or in front of you sounded needy, desperate or skint? So why do you think your prospects would even give you the light of day?
Problem number 2 is Behaviour. What behaviours do you practice on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to prospect for new business? Are you getting stuck into being the technician and delivering everything yourself? Are you forgetting to prospect because you’re busy delivering? Are you finding ways to avoid prospecting? And then complaining you have a weak or inconsistent pipeline? Are you having to steal form Peter to pay Paul? Do you pay yourself a regular monthly amount and have enough to make sure you aren;t going from feast to famine 2 or 3 times a year? Are you suffering form too much month left at the end of the money?
Chances are you aren’t doing the behaviours that are critical for your success on a habitual basis. You are a slave to your habits so you may as well make them good ones. What are the habits successful people in your business do regularly that help them become successful? How do they find leads? Referrals? How often do they communicate with current and former clients? How often do they ask for referrals? How do they ask for referrals? When do they ask for referrals? How do they thank the referrer? What do they do to ensure they are reciprocating the favour?
Problem Number 3 is Attitude. Always hire for attitude, the ability to adapt and learn on the hoof, and habits. Are you a wandering generality or a meaningful specific? Do you really want to improve? Do you really want to keep going through the tough times? Do you even know “WHY?” you are doing this difficult job of running and growing a business? Do you know what your purpose is? Is it just money because that is a terrible motivator in the real world? Extrinsic rewards are short-lived in their effect and since money is a means to making choices to further our happiness and wellbeing. What is intrinsically important enough to you to keep going when the sky is at it’s darkest, you feel lost, lonely, vulnerable and exposed?
Are you of a fixed or growth mindset? Are you all you can be or is there more of you inside waiting to come out? Running a small business needs you to have this resilience, this ability to see beyond the short term pain of now for the upside of tomorrow. If you haven’t got it, best get a job before you lose your shirt.
Do you seek first to understand then to be understood? Do you seek to be interested or interesting first? Are you focused on your numbers or your prospect’s numbers? Are you focused on closing or leaving with a win-win or no deal decision? Are you closing instead of finding their reasons to buy so they surrender the order? Are you justifying and defending or letting them handle their own objections? Are you waiting to do a good job before asking for referrals or asking for referrals at the point of your first sale and regularly thereafter? Are you paying attention to what might cause you to lose a client or are you focused on delivering your service and not paying attention to your relationship? Are you really listening to your prospects or are you just waiting for a silence you can fill with more stuff about you and your company or products?
Ask for help. It’s dumb not to.
There is no shame in not knowing nor in asking questions. Nor is there shame in accepting help once you have asked for it. It isn’t a personality defect or a sign of weakness. In fact, vulnerability is a huge strength. Roman legionaries would remove their armour and “make themselves woundable” (which is the origin of vulnerable) to show their strength and courage.
Do they required behaviour consistently – a little and often over time – to keep your sales pipeline filled up all the time.
Stop undermining yourself with terrible self-talk and find reasons why your market needs your help.
Communicate about them, their world, their problems not about you, your company and why you think they need your help. Ask. And shut up and listen. They will tell you how to sell to them.
Marcus Cauchi helps small business owners who are sick and tired of not having enough qualified prospects to meet, meet them regularly and consistnetly. Some are meeting plenty of people but not closing. A few are meeting and closing business but having to discount and then over-service it to keep it. If you’re sick and tired of being tired and living through feast and famine, call him on 07515 937221 or follow his gnarly and awkward questions on Twitter as The_Inquisitor.
NB Marcus will be delivering our seminar on 25th June on the art of selling, titled: The Buyer and Seller Dance.