A Day In The Life Of A Start Up – Small Business Growing Pains and the “S” word
It’s been almost 2 years since I brought my small business baby to life. The concept was simple; provide support services to small businesses to help them succeed. The marketing strategy was not so simple & required a complete re-branding after our first year, to share our message with a more contemporary style and vision.
The first year of sales seemed to come easily & the business vision seemed like a sure bet. I was working alone and really developing the business concept & processes without a sales strategy or goals in place. I began by networking with my corporate contacts which resulted in substantial client accounts for Talent Acquisition. Walking & talking in my neighborhood brought additional clients in non-profit for marketing & project management. The work was challenging, fulfilling and exciting, but more importantly, it showed me that the business concept of helping other small businesses by offering a suite of services could be successful. I was optimistic that with over 820,000 small businesses in New Jersey alone, Swivel Works would have plenty of clients. I day dreamed that the word would get out and new customers would be knocking down our door! I never realized how challenging B2B sales could really be.
The new business plan for Swivel Works included a vision of long term & quick growth. And so now here we are. SALES, SALES, SALES, & figuring out how to build a strong client base with ongoing business growth. There is a big difference between sitting back & waiting for clients to come to you and really TRYING TO BUILD SALES VOLUME. Ahhh….it’s a yukky word “SALES." It’s a scary word, especially for creatives. How the hell do you grow your client base and sales volume? Is it cold calling, marketing and paid ads on social media? Or is it direct mail & publicity? Or is it really a combination of ALL OF THE ABOVE?
As a former executive in the Retail Industry, I understand selling directly to consumers. Making a connection with clients that wander in your department, understanding their body language, the emotional needs of a customer & overcoming their objections seem simple now.
B2B sales is a whole different beast and connecting with potential clients that have never met you or haven't even heard of your business is extremely challenging. Now we need to learn how to develop new clients and refine our marketing. We need to educate potential clients about our services and authentically share the benefits of Swivel Works. How does a new business put a plan in place to determine and accomplish their sales goals? We are determined to find the answer. Our sales strategy is a work in progress but here is the action plan we put in place to BUILD OUR SALES VOLUME.
We begin with a cold call email campaign. You may call this spam. But we do our research first. We stop in the store front, look at websites & social media platforms. Our sales team look for prospective clients that really need help (even if they didn't realize it) and we work diligently to let them know about our personalized services for small business. We want our clients to understand that we are invested in their success, we believe in their business and we are visionary partners that are there to help them overcome challenges.
We researched email campaigns and found Hubspot has an extensive directory for email and seasonal cold calling campaigns. We experimented with their suggestions and personalized our campaign. To my delight we tried a revised version of their last-ditch effort emails to see if we could get a response and believe it or not – we got the account. But the reality is, it took us over 15 points of contact and months of follow up, but we got the account!
Here is our success sales strategy campaign.
- Step One: 5 Contacts by email, telephone or direct mail each day for each team member
- Step Two: 7 day follow up email with a personal touch. The email includes comments on their website, social media, blog, photos or event.
- Step Three: Telephone Call which usually results in a voicemail. Script & Pitch ready to go!
- Step Four: Direct Mail Campaign - Service Overview
- Step Five: Repeat
The"S" word is not what I consider the FUN part of our business, but it is vital to the longevity of our business and most likely yours too. We work with a variety of business models. Many of them wait for their clients to find them. We don't believe in waiting for our next client and suggest you don't either. There is a process to SALES MARKETING and includes these steps:
- Do you know who your ideal client is and what platforms are they reading, looking at and searching?
- Have you Identified the problem you can solve for them?
- Have you done your research and prepared for each client? Do you know why they need your service?
- Know the value of your service or product and include it in your pitch.
- Practice the conversation so you are not fumbling through your call.
- Are you prepared to overcome their objections?
- Have the confidence to ask for their business.
- Follow up with your potential client’s multiple times.
- Thank them for their time. Each and every time.
- Don’t give up! Did you know it takes 18 calls just to reach your potential client?