Making sales can be challenging. As a result, OurPass invited three sales professionals to talk about how small businesses can ensure sales success in these uncertain times.
Kindly introduce yourself
Jay: My name is Joy. I am an internet marketing and sales consultant. I have been doing this for more than four years now. I have taught entrepreneurs and also handled business groups for small and medium-scale enterprises, ranging from e-commerce to service-based businesses on the internet.
Joseph: My name is Joseph Don. I don’t have an elaborate title. I’m a guy who loves selling and I've been doing this for quite a while now. I started selling actively on the internet in 2016. I’m excited about this session and I hope to share helpful information.
Mosun: My name is Mosunmola Olukoga. I am a digital content strategist and storytelling trainer. I am also a trained teacher. I taught in the classroom for over 13 years, and when it was time for me to leave paid employment, it was only natural for me to switch to online teaching. And that’s what I do now. I teach business owners how to create captivating content online, and monetize it.
In your experience, what’s something people think they know about sales but often get wrong?
Jay: I think most people don’t know their customers well. Apart from basic customer information covering income level and demographics, there’s a lot left out such as factors that influence buying decisions. I think one way to go about understanding your audience is to do personal research. Another is to find an experienced person in that field and ask them questions. Then you should also look at things from the perspective of a customer and not just as a business owner, to help you better understand how they think.
Joseph: A lot of people have the misconception that because they have a great product, the product is going to sell itself. Then they come into the market and are 99.9% disappointed. It’s not just about having a great product, if you don’t know how to market and sell that product, you’re not going to make a profit. And the earlier people realize this, the better for them. You have to market your product. For people to experience your product, they have to have heard about it, and the way for that to happen is when you market the product.
Mosun: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen my clients make is that they take the “social” out of social media and they just want to make money from the media. These platforms were built on connections. Instagram was originally a photo-sharing app. Facebook was originally built for old school buddies to find themselves. But these platforms have now morphed into places where we want to do business and make money. So if you forget the number one rule of the game, you don’t make as much money as you should. And that’s why you find people posting their product pictures all day long and wondering why they are not making sales. Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to blow a 100k on your business. When they are scrolling, they land on these amazing product pictures and think, “I think I might need this.” But if you forget to key in the human factor, you leave a lot of money on the table. And so, when you sell, don’t forget that there are human beings behind these buying decisions and when you don’t factor that in, you lower the bar.
As a business owner, how do you balance thinking about money and people?
Mosun: I remind myself that it’s not just about the connections because the connection alone will not get me fed. I see being on Instagram as a business and not a hobby. So as much as I’m making connections, I remember the goal, which is to serve people and make money. So what I do is to make sure every piece of content going up, either on my feed or stories, has a point. On the days that it's about the connections for me, my content reflects that. On days when it's about sales or lead generation, the content reflects that.
Jay: Here’s my approach. I like to create business content from an educational approach. So I give out as much information as I can to help them make a buying decision. I put out content that would inform the value they would be getting from the product. That way, I’m focusing on the product, and not myself.
Joseph: Basically, sales is a game of numbers. You have to pay attention to the numbers. If the numbers aren’t right, then you're not doing business, you're doing charity. There are people of the opinion that you shouldn’t be too salesy or pushy, that you should just get people to like you and I think that’s the fundamental problem. People are so fixated on getting other people to know, like, and trust them, that they are afraid of actually selling stuff to those people. So I try to create a balance by building a connection with my content. I try as much as possible to automate my content and schedule them way ahead of time or create content in batches to be able to make sure that I'm getting the right kind of people that understand my message. I also press the sales pedal so hard because, at the end of the day, sales will not make themselves. The people will not just buy by themselves, you have to sell to them. So, as much as you're trying to build connections, you have to also keep it at the back of your mind that the reason for building this connection is to sell.
What do you think are the right and wrong ways to approach ads?
Mosun: I think you need to run ads for physical products, but for people that do information marketing, you can do without it a bit because you can use content to build authority to a certain level. I've been into information marketing for four years and I don’t run ads for myself. I tried it once but it didn’t work for me, so I stopped. But for my e-commerce business, I run ads.
I think the wrong approach is to just pack money and pump it into ads, that is wrong. I preach about marketing budgets. You have to be very practical, and you cannot run ads based on emotions or feelings. You can’t say, “Let me just try Mark Zuckerberg today and see what's going to happen”. You have to be calculative, and one of the first ways to lose money when running ads is to try and do it on your own. I recommend learning it, but you should also learn from a skilled and well-experienced person. In my case, I took the risk of doing it myself because I had a little bit of insight. So I think you should have an advertising budget for e-commerce and physical products businesses. If you’re into affiliate marketing and other information marketing, have an advertising budget too.
Mosun: I'm a firm believer in paid advertising. Whether you sell services or products, I'm a firm believer in running ads. The wrong approach would be thinking that paid ads are a magic wand and will automatically bring the money in. It doesn't work like that. Another wrong approach is that a lot of business owners don't take a good look at their pages. When you're running paid ads, you are funneling traffic to your page. But if you are not able to make that traffic convert into followers and buyers, it was a waste of money. The first thing you want to do is clean up your page. These are new people, they don't know you and so you have to make sure that when they land on your page, what they see is enough to make them stay, scroll around some more and buy. Your page is the real estate that tells them whether they want to stay and spend money, and so you have to do spring cleaning. Although I'm a firm believer in growing organically, it's just a very sound idea to run paid ads to bring new eyes and new money into your business.
Joseph: I'm a firm believer in paid ads, and one thing I believe you can do with paid ads is to test a product very fast. If your organic audience can afford to buy your products, then you may not bother running ads. But again, if your organic audience doesn’t have the buying power for your product, you should try to push your content out to another audience that can afford it. The whole idea of running ads is to show your product to a lot of people, and there's only a little you can do with organic promotion. The idea is to reach a lot of people that are willing and able to buy. Advertising is not an expense to me, I consider it an investment. Even if they don't buy now, they can come around later. I posted something on Twitter yesterday. A person joined my list in 2018 and only made a sale yesterday evening. So the money I spent back on ads wasn’t a waste because the person finally bought, even though it took them four years. Create the right kind of offers, use the right kind of products, and target the right kind of people.
We live in uncertain times and so many things are not 100% guaranteed. How can businesses periodically guarantee a certain level of sales?
Mosun: I think a lot of people are shy about selling. They don't want to seem too pushy. But they need to realize that they are not on social media for the cruise. As a business owner, please constantly put your offers in people's faces. I don't mean in an annoying way such that your content becomes so overwhelming. I mean in a non-intrusive way. If you don't put out offers, people don't know how to pay you.
My second point is about your content strategy. Nothing should go on your page that doesn't have a point. When it comes to product businesses, there's a fine line you have to walk between constantly posting your products and building connections. There are about 6 things that your content must do for you. First, it must give you visibility. There must be new eyes on your message as often as possible. Secondly, your content must give you engagement. Make some pieces of content that are specifically targeted at engagement. Thirdly, your content must generate leads for you. Not everybody who sees your content is ready to buy. So you need to have a list of people who are interested but aren’t ready to buy, and follow up with them. Fourthly, your content must help you build trust. When you run an online business, one of your highest currencies is trust. If you cannot establish that you are trustworthy, people will not dip their hands into their pockets to buy from you. Fifthly, your content must be targeted at establishing you as an authority. People need to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you are great at what you do and are the best fit for them. And finally, your content must help you build community. Every piece of content that you put out must have a goal. If it doesn't have a goal, don't put it out there.
Joseph: There are two things I think small businesses can factor in to guarantee sales. The first is activity and the second is improvement. With activity, you need to engage in sales-generating activities. Show up on social media, put out engaging content, make those sales calls, and follow up on sales calls. Follow-up is something a lot of businesses are slacking on. Only about 2% of your customers will buy from you at first contact, and that means that your core job is to follow up. People are busy, they forget things, they’re out there trying to make up their minds on lots of things, and if you don’t follow up to help them make up their minds, you lose sales. Some people are afraid that customers will reject them if they are being salesy and I wonder where that is coming from. Why are salespeople bothered about being salesy? Oh my God, just go ahead and sell. So, carry out sales-generating activities and then secondly, Improvements. For example, you make ten sales every week, and then you decide it's time to up your game. What do you do to improve?. To achieve that, you could decide to take training on how to close deals or on customer relations. You need to constantly think of how to improve your game.
Jay: Guaranteeing a particular number of sales every week isn’t always certain. In my experience, there are some weeks when you're going to sell more, and others when you’ll sell less. So you should understand the times. If you have noticed that this particular timeline favours your business, you should do more of whatever it is you're doing within the first and last week for the middle periods. Post more and run more ads within those periods. Understand that and take follow-up very seriously. Also, let your follow-up messages end with a question so they can respond to you. And then, as Joseph said, don't be afraid of being salesy. If you can do all of these things, understand the times, improve on your marketing and follow up, I'm sure that you can increase the number of sales that you're getting in a particular period. And then I think showing up more often than not will also help you. There are a lot of people on internet marketing spaces that are going to easily fill up your spot, so make sure that you're always posting, so that people will not forget you.
How do you follow up with people without becoming a pest?
Mosun: What I do is pace myself. You don’t want to desperately run after clients. It also depends on the situation or on how much interest a client may have shown. I also make sure to receive a time frame to talk to my customers again, so that they don’t find it intrusive when I come back to them. I do this again and again, but let go after the third time.
Joseph: The funnel with my Whatsapp Millionaire Secrets course is usually that a person sees my ads, goes through my webinar, and then makes a buying decision. My webinar collects these people’s contact details, and so I can call people who didn’t get the course and ask the reason they didn’t buy. They usually have lots of excuses ranging from money to interest. If it’s a money excuse, the mistake other businesses make is to say, “Okay, no problem. Just come back whenever you feel ready.” This is because they don't want to make the person feel pressured. But you should ask the person when they think they would be buoyant enough to get it and then follow up in the timeline they respond with. You need to lock in a follow-up time and follow up on that time. Sometimes, you have to follow up multiple times, and that’s why you need to get creative with following up. You can follow up with strings of emails, or by posting on your WhatsApp status to create top-of-mind awareness. You can also place phone calls. So it has to do with consistency, persistence, and creativity. There are ways to do it that would make you feel like a pest. But if you get creative at following up, then you wouldn’t feel like you're a pest because you're going to be following up through different angles every time. Creativity follows commitments.
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