Business is about making money, so making sales is the fundamental process for producing income. The success of every business is dependent on getting and retaining customers who provide the necessary revenue. Identifying the problems of potential customers, and providing product and services to fulfil those needs, in order to produce income, is the task of the commercial manager. Convincing a customer to accept the offer and commit themselves to purchase is the process of “Selling.”
Having a marketing strategy, a plan and a target for sales and income are just as important for small businesses as for large ones. However, success depends on the ability of a manager to “make it happen”, But what does “Making it happen”, in terms of producing income, actually require, especially for the smaller business? The answer in part depends on the size of the business and its resources.
The key to gaining sales is first to find and gain customers. Engaging enquires and converting them to sales may involve direct personal selling as well as non-personal selling through the internet, direct mails, and direct sale advertising, all of which require specialist management to be successful. Large companies have sufficient employees to whom such specialist tasks as sales, purchasing, finance, and manufacture can be delegated , but in small companies, those tasks may be managed by less than a handful of people, and possibly by only one.
In small and very small companies, the chief executive may have to do much of the work themselves, having very few specialists to whom they may delegate responsibility. Producing sales income in a small business requires the same skills as in the larger business, but on a different scale. In many ways the executive of a small business has to have more skills than their approximate counterpart in the large company, because to be successful, not only do they have to be jack of all trades, they also have to be competent at them, if not actually masters.
For the small business, selling is probably the most important activity, because it produces the necessary cash-flow, for the day to day running of a business which will not have the financial resources of its larger counterparts. It follows that if they want to be successful in producing income, those executives responsible for its production need to be competent in their selling ability. Successful selling requires training, so that the sales person knows how to present the opportunity to the potential customer and how to successfully close the sale. In small businesses especially, every sales opportunity counts and needs to be successfully exploited. “Making it happen” in small businesses, will depend on the individual abilities of perhaps a very small number of people actively involved in selling and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Small businesses need to keep a high profile in their market place in order to be seen to compete with the competition. Potential customers become receptive to product and service offers when familiar with a company’s name and reputation. In order to build a customer’s familiarity with the company name, small businesses need to be seen in the market place , through advertising, promotions, Public Relations, web-site and social media,
Although commercial managers of smaller businesses have more limited resources to generate sales, for long term sustainable income, they still need to ensure that they:
- Prepare a detailed budget.
- Prepare plans with clear objectives.
- Have contingency actions when objectives are missed.
- Use specialist advice as and when needed.
- Use performance indicators to monitor progress.
- Ensure that all customers are dealt with promptly and fairly to develop good relations and company image.
- Ensure good two way communications with customer.
- Fix and detail a budget for all publicity spending.
- Seek ways to maximize productivity and minimize cost.
- Be flexible to opportunities. Small businesses can react and change to meet market opportunities faster than larger organisations.
- Ensure that no customer provides a disproportionate volume and value of sales to the business. – There is always a danger when there is an over reliance on one or two customers to provide the bulk of orders and income.
- Remember that orders and volume are important, but the level of income is crucial to cash flow.
“Making it happen”, in large companies relies on the commercial manager’s management skills and leadership attributes to produce results from a team of employees. In small companies, “making it happen” often relies on perhaps one individual’s necessary motivation, self confidence, self reliance and above all, their selling ability to produce the necessary income.
© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 27Aug 23