The failure rate of small businesses is widely publicized. What is not discussed, however, is one of the leading causes of that small business failure rate, which is also one of the biggest fears of most professionals—sales.
Right behind such common fears as speaking on stage, running out of money, or unemployment, lies one of the most common and unaddressed fears in business—the fear of asking for the sale.
What is even more interesting is that this fear is mostly danced around and skirted by the industry. For some reason, this is a taboo subject and is viewed as so difficult to teach or convince people they need to master that it’s largely ignored. Why?
Well, if you’ve ever suffered from insomnia or enjoyed a late night “Star Wars” movie binge fest, you’ve surely seen late night infomercials in their full grandeur. Or perhaps it’s the local used-car salesman commercials with the salesman dressed up like a clown (another big fear) yelling crazy antics at you, jumping out of the side of the TV, ever louder as if the louder he screamed the more you’d buy.
Maybe for you, it is simply recalling the last time you purchased a car and cringing as you remember the three-hour long ordeal as some middle-aged, overweight crusty finance manager tried you convince you for 90 minutes straight just how important that aftermarket warranty for your used car was. Yikes!
The economic impact of fear of selling
We have all had miserable sales experiences as consumers and those experiences have tainted our entire impression of the sales process. So much so, that today, only five out of 10 employer-based businesses (those businesses that employ at least one or more employees) survive five years or more. That is an amazing 50 percent failure rate.
Let’s consider some other stats:
- Approximately 75 percent of all U.S. businesses are non-employer businesses (meaning they don’t employ a single employee)
- Approximately 80 percent of non-employer businesses reported less than $50,000 in revenue (2011 stats, slightly old, but still relevant)
Now, consider the failure rate of small businesses, the fact that 75 percent of which are one-man (or woman) shops, and the fact that 80 percent of them make less than $50,000 in revenue. You can easily see where sales, and the general fear of selling, is having a huge impact in our society.
Can it be different?
What if sales was fun? What if sales felt easy? What if you could sell more without hard selling? Do you think that could have an impact on your bottom line? Of course it could, and we are going to discuss exactly that in just a minute. But first, one more point to consider.
Why do think that marketing automation software and technology, in general, is so popular? One big reason, again—fear. Because so much of society is afraid of sales, any tool or technology that can convince us it can do the sales for us, on auto-pilot, without us having to don a clown suit—well, it’s going to sell like gangbusters. And that’s exactly why marketing automation, and the promise it offers, is so immensely popular.
New concept: Subtle sales
A better alternative, however, is to redefine the sales process to be one that you actually enjoy and leverage marketing automation and technology to help you. Rather than trying to conquer your fear of sales or go through exhaustive sales training, it is easier if we merely shift the process to something that feels different but accomplishes the same objective—closing more sales. I call this approach subtle sales.
The concept of subtle selling is based first and foremost on service. Most small business owners I have worked with are very good at the service aspect of their business. They know that if they don’t provide rock solid service they won’t stay on the right side of that 50 percent failure rate statistic.
So, if we start with service as our primary objective, and are sincere about it, we can use our marketing automation to drive meaningful and timely interactions with our customers all of which are primarily geared towards service, yet can naturally lead to sales.
Here are a few suggestions of how you can do this:
Create a notification when a new customer or subscriber signs up with your company. I prefer a text message so I can just tap on the phone number to call the client.
Create a notification when a customer cancels your membership.
Create a notification when a prospect or customer views a quote for service that you have sent out.
Using Web Page Automation, create a notification when a prospect or customer views your high ticket service or coaching sales page or application page.
Send out a hand written thank you card when a customer purchases one of your products and include a “bonus” call with you on an insert.
When a customer has crossed over a certain spend threshold and spent significant money with you—perhaps purchasing your coaching program—create a personalized one- or two-minute welcome video and invite them to an extra “bonus” webinar.
When a customer that has spent above a certain threshold with you unsubscribes, trigger a notification to reach out to them and give them a call.
Now for each of these scenarios, the scripting or tactic would be a little different, but all of them are designed to offer specific, timely opportunities to interact with your client in a natural way that leads to both service and sales conversations. Subtle selling is about leading with service first, but also about finding the right time to have conversations and using marketing automation to create those conversations automatically.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners that don’t like sales absolutely know the value of providing quality service to their clients. So this approach allows you to generate more sales opportunities and conversations that lead to sales, while really focusing on customer service. Since the primary objective is not some cold sales call, but rather is a pertinent conversation to a specific issue, this can be a much more subtle way of generating more sales conversations and producing far better results for those averse to sales.
Increase sales? Drop cold calls for conversations on specific issues.
The single best way to drive up the success rate of small businesses is to focus on sales and marketing. Yet most entrepreneurs are much more focused on product creation and creative aspects of their company. It makes sense because those are the things they likely love doing.
For many, sales is seen as a necessary evil of staying in business. While I personally love sales and have simply redefined it in my own mind to represent the highest form of service, statistics don’t lie.
So, if you find yourself in this bucket of not feeling good about asking for the sale, or putting off vital sales calls, use the techniques above to create more opportunities to simply interact and serve your clients. When you do that, additional sales opportunities will be the natural byproduct.
Heck, you might even end up liking sales a lot more—it’s certainly much easier to like when you have more of them.
Troy Broussard is the Best Selling Author of “Infusionsoft Mastery” and the author of the upcoming book entitled “Subtle Selling,” as well as the founder of ISMastery.com, a training company; and MyFusion Helper, a leading SaaS app serving the Infusionsoft marketplace.