Sidelined during an internet search (who isn’t?), I came across a US based forum conversation discussing the reasons why well funded business start-ups fail. Reasons included: partners falling out and quitting, recruitment difficulties and marketing disagreements. However, a major cause of failure was not knowing how to sell. Good products were developed without knowing who would buy them or who in the business would try and sell them.
On another occasion, I watched an internet broadcast from a US university which showed a visiting entrepreneur speaking to an audience of students as potential entrepreneurs. He warned them that they needed more than funding, an innovative product and a high Google ranking. They needed to put their product in a box and go out and sell it to real people – there was no other way.
What have I learned from my own selling experiences?
1 It takes a long time. Whatever period you have put in your business plan to achieve a certain level of sales, double it. It always takes longer than you think.
Start by relationship building. This can range from the cheapest method of talking to interested people about what you do right up to the most expensive advertising campaign. Marketing builds up your reputation first and then selling gets the money in. There is some wisdom in the business advice, I think from Google, that if you get the followers first, it is a lot easier to “monetize” them later.
2 Give something away free. It has to be appropriate to your target niche and affordable for you. For me this is giving free informal talks, information and, when possible, free samples
3 Try different prices, formats or special offers for your products or services. I have found that changing the presentation can produce extra sales.
Selling is not an exact science; what works for one product could fail with another. But what you have to do is sell all the time. No business has so much work that it can afford to stop selling.