By Edward Ndegwa
The coronavirus pandemic came with an unprecedented financial impact on many small businesses. Therefore, it makes sense why ‘Make more money’ & ‘Grow my business’ are popping up as top resolutions in 2021 in conversations with business owners.
We’re all here trying to make up for last year’s losses.
The good news is that there is one resolution that you can achieve this year – Increase Your Sales. That is, if you put in the effort to learn what it takes. And yes, in case you were wondering, growing your business can be learned.
It took me 20 years of working as a serial entrepreneur to distill the concept of growing a business sustainably into clear, actionable steps that can be taught:
Just like how it’s necessary to have a strong foundation to keep a building standing, having the same for your business ensures that it’s able to withstand the tumultuous waves of changes in the economy, including a global pandemic.
You can do that by asking the right fundamental questions continuously while building your business. Questions that will save you years of loss as highlighted by an example of a business I built years ago.
It’s a business that I closed at year 13 of operations, even though in retrospect, I should have closed it in year 11. I was simply burning cash those last 2 years. If I had been equipped with the fundamental questions at the time, I would have known better.
Salespeople are not always popular, many find them pushy, and aggressive.
However, there is a new sales mindset that you could adopt that will help sales be more relationship-based rather than transactional.
The moment you work on this mindset shift, you’ll find yourself building your network naturally, which is also an important step mentioned below.
If you want to build your business, you will need to give up some control over the sales function, by bringing on board a sales team that is empowered to sell to clients.
I learned that the hard way – after years of canceling family events, in a bid to cater to a client – because my team was not yet trained to fill my shoes.
However, with a proper sales process in place, everybody in the team will be able to buy into your vision, grow the business’s sales in a sustainable and consistent manner.
As a follow-up to the point mentioned above, you would need to focus on managing the performance of your sales team to ensure that their presence contributes to the cash flow.
My idea is that each sales talent hired needs to start paying for themselves within 3 to 6 months depending on the product or service being sold. Otherwise, that indicates that a review may be necessary to see where the issue lies.
Even though my approach starts by focusing on the human part of selling, the use of technology is a key part of driving sustainable growth.
This is particularly true as a result of the pandemic, since customers are becoming more adapted to a digital high-tech world. It also means that a store’s location and the footfall density are no longer the legacy tenets of the retail industry.
Technology does not have to be very complicated. I recently had the opportunity to visit a shoe business that was an obscure 3 m by 3 m ‘box’ located on the 2nd Floor of a random building in Nairobi’s CBD.
Despite its anonymous location, it generates over Ksh 100,000 (USD$ 1,000) in sales per day on average. Their main tools of the trade?
In sports, many teams use a playbook to map out potential scenarios and strategies in order to avoid making common mistakes.
Likewise, having your sales process documented in a playbook propagates your best sales practices and scales up onboarding and training so everybody can perform at a high level.
You will need to build your professional network, as I iterate that you can’t do everything on your own when you truly want to scale your business.
You’ll need partners, suppliers, investors as well as talent, and the most reliable way to source for these would be through a professional network.
However, there is a misconception that networking is all about going to events, and giving out business cards, which might be an effective way to build your business card collection but is not really effective at building actual connections.
You’ll need to develop enough trust within your networks so you can get enough referrals for your idea to go viral, and you could only do that by building enough trust.
Last but not least, your mindset is key to unlocking your ability to sell. Unfortunately, there’s usually a negative and sometimes even defeatist perception when it comes to business.
However, to grow, you have to adopt a positive mindset focused on the concept of abundance: that there is more out there to support growth as long as you put your plan into action and put in the hours.
Are you ready to grow your business and succeed financially this year? Join Edward on Wednesday, 20th January 2021 at 3:00 pm (EAT) and Learn How to Increase your sales in 2021. Register Today!
Edward Ndegwa is the CEO of Smart Sales Kenya based in Kilimani. It is an organization that helps entrepreneurs increase their sales capacity through training, recruiting sales talent as well as putting in place a repeatable process that enables ventures to grow more consistently.
Edward is a sales and marketing leader with over 15 years experience managing marketing agencies across East Africa. He has developed and managed teams in 3 different businesses that crossed Ksh 100 million in revenue in 3 different sectors within their first 5 years. He is the Founder and Lead Facilitator of The Mastering Business Growth Program(MBG).