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Tips on Selling, Business

A guide to keeping sales and marketing simple

When considering sales and marketing, businesses can unlock signi cant bene ts and increase sales by concentrating on the basics. THOMAS YOUNG reports.

The most successful sales and marketing approaches are based on common-sense and there is genius in their subtle simplicity.

These approaches may first appear obvious and easy to implement, as if they are simply common knowledge; however, common sense is not always so common.

Here is a collection of marketing and sales principles considered basic but often ignored by businesses.

Let the market lead

It is very common for entrepreneurs or established businesses to approach their markets with an idea, product or service they believe will be successful.

They may have conducted extensive market research, consulted with focus groups and sampled sections of the public to amass data that appears to give them the green light, only to find that their idea, service or product fails to take flight.

Market research is a measuring stick, not the final outcome. As companies develop new ideas, they must make these ideas flexible to market changes by following the leads of their target markets.

How often do companies attempt to push a product onto their customers for little success?

Give away some secrets

Competitive advantage is a critical component of marketing and sales success. Yet, many companies keep their competitive advantage a secret.

They do this out of the fear that competitors will steal these ideas and take away their market share.

In fact, the opposite is true. A clearly stated competitive advantage increases market share and drives more customers to a business.

Operational secrets are one thing but the benefits that separate one business from its competitors must be shared with customers if they are to understand them.

For example, if one were looking for an office cleaner, wouldn’t it be nice to know what makes one cleaning company better than another?

Now, the cleaning company owner might be thinking, “If we give away the secrets that make us a great cleaning company, our competition will steal those secrets and put us out of business.”

On the contrary, if customers don’t know the features and benefits of the business, they’re unlikely to choose it.

Closer to home, if a store excels at jewellery repairs and remodelling then it should boast about this service. Tell customers why the business is so good at repairs.

The rewards a business gains from sharing its competitive advantage overwhelms any minor gains that might flow to competitors.

Love those customers

It is so hard to acquire, foster and retain loyal customers in today’s competitive markets that businesses should never take them for granted.

A clearly stated competitive advantage increases market share and drives more customers to a business... If customers don’t know the features and bene ts of the business, they’re unlikely to choose it.”

Treat every customer like gold and remove any obstacle that might deter a consumer from doing business with the store.

I have known business owners who do not even want to place their phone numbers on their websites because they don’t feel they have time to answer calls.

This is an example of a hurdle that customers have to jump in order to contact those businesses.

Why would a business make it difficult for a potential customer to make contact?

Don’t let operational issues make it hard for customers to shop.

Have a passion for customers and make an extra effort to understand how they think and why they buy.

It's about people

The people who implement a business’ marketing plans are the real key to that business’ success.

These people must develop the skills needed to understand customers and keep the company moving in the direction of meeting target- market needs.

Teamwork is critical to the success of any marketing plan as everyone in the business usually sees themselves as marketing professionals.

This includes not only making things easier for the customer but also making operations easier for the company.

Marketing takes time

Never give up. Marketing takes time and managers who are committed to the project will succeed as long as they give customers what they want. Remember the infamous line, “If you build it, they will come.”

Now make some modifications: “If you build it, they will come... but only if you tell them where to go and ensure you can service them.”

Be confident. Ask for help when necessary and keep focus on meeting the needs of prospects and customers.

In this way, businesses that can implement common-sense sales and marketing that are not so common will soon be on the road to higher levels of success.

Thomas Young

Contributor • Intuitive Websites

Thomas Young is CEO of Intuitive Websites. He has more than 25 years’ marketing and sales experience. Learn more:

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