David vs. Goliath
Know Your Buyers
Salespeople often spend more time on sales calls than they do figuring out who's buying and why. "Somehow we never take the time to do planning," says Ellen Bristol, founder of Bristol Strategy Group in Miami. Understanding your customers and your own business is the key to successful sales, Bristol says.
Look at the sales you made. What do they have in common? How can you identify other similar customers?
Ask the client what he or she needs. Rather than telling clients what you have to offer, ask what they are looking for to make their businesses work better.
Play to your strengths. "Buyers are more sophisticated. They don't just want a cheap price."
"Small businesses have to portray themselves as boutiques," says Julie Wilson-Watson, president of Clear Results Marketing in Miramar. That typically means limiting your products or services only to what you do really well.
Wilson-Watson's suggestions for small-business selling:
Make it personal. Get to know your potential customer face to face. So much work is conducted by e-mail these days that a visit will help you stay better connected.
Start out small. Try to persuade a new client to give you a small project -- and then do it flawlessly.
Make it pay. "Budget is scrutinized much more. It really has to turn the register," she says. Gone are the days of upgrading just to have the latest wares or hosting events solely to boost image.
Show your appreciation. Send a personal note or small gift to your sales contact as a thank you for meeting. But keep that gesture in perspective. "You can't just win the business by sending lemon cakes," says Wilson-Watson.
Sales jobs employed 1,047,764 Floridians in 2002, and that number is growing 1.78% annually. In 2010, a projected 1,197,238 people will work in sales, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
Florida's labor officials estimate that there are 49,384 annual sales job openings each year, 38% because of new jobs and 62% because of job turnover.