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Overheard at a networking meeting, “I don’t know how to sell”………………….

This statement came from a newer member of our group. Over the years he created a job for himself instead of growing a sustainable business; he barely earns enough money to keep going. I am sure that there is a lot of stress in his life and I know that there is a worry about his need to sell his business and retire in the near future. The value of a business is based on its bottom line. This is the classic case of a business owner operating a business without structure and hoping that somehow from somewhere, customers will come and help him fulfill his dreams.

This scenario isn’t one of a new business start-up; this business has been in operation for more than a quarter century. Unfortunately this person isn’t alone. Many small business owners, if they can keep a business (a job they created for themselves that requires long hours, barely earning a survival income and loaded with stress) alive for many years, end up closing the business and live their retirement years in a survival mode.

I dislike the term “sell”; it brings to mind a negative connotation about trying to get a person to buy something that they don’t really need. If a person goes out with the idea of “selling” a product or service, there is an expectation of “closing a deal” or the entire call is a waste of time.

The “structure” I referred to in the first paragraph is the one that identifies a target market and defines the value that this firm provides. With proper preparation there are no “sales calls”, instead an opportunity is provided to an identified target market that will help them achieve their own goals. If the presentation is well prepared, then chances are good that there will be a meeting of the minds and a transaction will occur, maybe not on the first visit, but a relationship is established that will lead to future business.

It’s not negotiating skills, or sales techniques, or overcoming objectives or even the price. It’s all in the preparation of the presentation and understanding the needs that your service provides. Most people can tell if the presenter believes in the product or service and can see whether there is a true benefit for them.

Over the past four years this blog has offered many different presentation techniques and methods of selecting the right target market. I have written about methods for reaching your target markets; go back and prepare a presentation. That means memorizing it so that you can deliver it with conviction and enthusiasm. Practice with your mentor, give it to your business support group and make the necessary adjustments every time you make the presentation to a client.

Small business failure is often a choice, not a necessity.       Nick J. Petra CFP

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