It’s never been easy for small businesses. Lacking the resources of their larger competitors, many struggle to last more than a couple of years. Without the luxury of relying on venture capital and big investments, having an effective sales process is non-negotiable. But even with the smartest salespeople, how can you compete with larger sales teams with bigger budgets?
At Reply our goal is to help SMBs succeed at sales, and over the years we’ve identified the processes and strategies that help smaller sales teams take on their goliath-like competitors and succeed. Here are our top tips for smashing your sales:
Learn to send effective sales emails
The Fortune 500 excel at their face-to-face pitching. With their sharp suits and seemingly unlimited expense accounts, they spare no effort impressing their prospects. They hunt down their whale clients and put on a show that can’t fail to impress, splashing out on Michelin-starred restaurants and endless bottles of bubbly.
It’s simply impossible to compete with them.
So you play a different game.
Advancing technology at lower price-points has meant even the smallest companies can reach out to clients and customers all over the world. Emails, in particular, have been a great leveler; for the price of an internet connection, you can start emailing prospects quickly and easily. For a little more, you can invest in a proper email address that’ll make you look more professional.
It doesn’t matter if you’re emailing from a spacious corner office of a New York building or a cramped room in the middle of nowhere, all your prospect sees is your email. A well-crafted email from a small business can easily outperform their competitors.
However, that does mean putting some effort in and working out what an effective sales email looks like. Ultimately it comes down to understanding and implementing the following:
Attention-grabbing subject lines
Your email is likely competing with hundreds of other emails flooding your prospect’s inbox. Whether your email is opened or ignored depends largely on your subject line, so take the time to come up with something concise and interesting. However, I’d encourage you to aim for clarity rather than clever, ‘cute’ subject lines.
And I mean packed. Too many emails start with several paragraphs introducing themselves and their services. From the first sentence, it should be clear to the reader why they should carry on reading. What’s in it for them? Why should they care? Getting into the mindset of your prospect will help you avoid long waffling emails destined for deletion.
Clear call-to-action (CTA)
Every sales email you send should have a purpose; what do you want the prospect to do after reading your email? Whatever it is, don’t assume they’ll just guess without being told. Spell it out for them at the end of your email. What would be a good CTA? It’s unlikely they’ll buy from you or even sign up for a demo/sample off the back of just one email, but you can usually get a conversation started by asking a question (i.e. How are you currently dealing with [problem solved by your product/service]?).
Statistics have shown most salespeople give up trying to contact a prospect after a couple of attempts, but the majority of sales take place past this point. You can’t afford to just send one or two emails before moving on. Instead, if you haven’t had a response, be prepared to follow-up multiple times until you get that reply.
If you’re struggling to remember your follow-ups, this next tip will help…
Use sales automation solutions
While your business may not be able to afford a large sales team, you can drastically scale up your outreach sales by using an automation solution.
Some salespeople prefer to do everything manually, worried that relying on an app will result in your sales prospecting emails sounding impersonal and robotic. Done correctly though, automation software can take care of the boring, behind-the-scenes work.
Start by going through your sales funnel and identify any areas that are time-consuming but aren’t directly visible to the prospect. For example, you could use a tool like Reply to automate sending your follow-up emails, but still personally write those messages.
There are many areas where sales tools can automate the hard work for you, including:
If you’re still relying on Google to find your leads, it’s time to upgrade. There are several options, from comprehensive databases you can filter based on your specific requirements to tools that’ll scrape contact details from websites and social media.
Email finders and verification
It can take a lot of investigating to find the right email address by yourself. These tools do the hard work and find your prospect’s specific email address, rather than the generic info@ address everyone else is using. Then you can verify the address to make sure it’s definitely correct and in use, reducing bounced emails.
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to sales. Save yourself hours of research and find out everything you could want to know about your prospect instantly. Most of these tools will make this information available right in your inbox, so you can send a relevant and personalized email just for them.
Trying to arrange a good time with a prospect for a meeting is, hands down, one of the most frustrating, drawn-out processes I’ve ever been through. It inevitably involves way too many emails back and forth, trying to agree a time that suits everyone. Save yourself the hassle and regain your sanity by using one of the meeting scheduling apps.
And there’s plenty more. Be sure to check out the complete list of our favorite sales tools for more ideas and specific recommendations.
Make use of social selling
Like email, social selling has minimal costs but can have a massive impact. Research has shown that salespeople active on social media are more likely to outsell their unsocial competitors. However, to get the benefits you have to be smart.
For starters, you have to know what social selling actually means and, just as importantly, what it doesn’t mean.
Social selling is not spamming your timeline with soulless promotional messages.
Social selling is not messing around on Facebook all day.
Social selling is not sending connection requests to your prospects then hard selling them.
It’s important to remember that social selling is, first of all, social. There’s plenty of reasons someone might be on social media, but I guarantee it’s not because they want to be sold to. They’re not there to buy.
Think of it like the world’s biggest party. You don’t want to be the guy bouncing from guest to guest, talking about nothing but yourself. Instead, get stuck in and have a meaningful conversation.
Small businesses often have the advantage over their enterprise counterparts here, as they can be themselves without having to worry about lengthy social media policies and guidelines. Focus on being helpful, answering your prospects’ questions and providing value without constantly selling. Then, when your prospect is in the market and ready to buy, you’ll be at the top of their mind as someone who can be trusted.
Small businesses don’t have it easy but, thanks to the latest technology, their sales teams are now able to compete with far bigger companies. By sending effective emails, making use of automation software, and being active in social selling, your sales team can perform better than ever.