The time has come for you to part with your business. With your sights firmly set on the horizon, the business you started has run its course and the next venture is now on your mind.
There is more work to be done, however. Implementing an exit strategy takes time, but it’s the most important thing you can do. Your business needs to be a valuable asset that interests buyers, and the work you do now will prepare you for a successful sale.
Whether you need a complete revamp or just a few tweaks here and there, the sales department is where you start. We’ve laid out five areas in which you can make sales improvements, beginning with your understanding of the business.
1) Product Knowledge
There are numerous stages within the sales process that you should be thinking about, and product knowledge is arguably the most important. You ought to know your products inside out, understanding exactly what your services are comprised of and how they benefit your customers – remember, the benefits are far more important than the features.
How well you understand your products will translate brilliantly to your customer. Your confidence will seep through to customers on the other end of the phone, as well as investors sitting across from you and whoever is interested in your company. Once this product knowledge has spread throughout your workforce and your employees have been well-trained, you should see significant improvements in sales. Reinforcement is vital, as it is no use implementing these changes without ensuring their longevity.
2) Know Your Target Market
Once your products have become second nature, you can begin to hone in on your target market. It is little use having an extensive knowledge of what you’re offering without knowing who you are offering it to. Do your research into who will benefit from your products and services, and start from there. You can sort your audience into market segments, breaking things down by age, gender and occupation.
It’s also important to keep an eye on your competition – who is outselling you in the industry? What is it that your competitors are doing better, and how can you begin to challenge? These are the questions you should be asking before the sales process begins.
3) Needs Assessment
How do your services address people’s issues? What do they offer customers, in terms of solutions? This is called needs assessment, and it’s an integral part of the process. Gain some insight into the kind of issues that face your target market. With this knowledge, you can create or improve products that alleviate these pain points. With this in mind, you can begin applying the process in real-time. Your sales approach is the outcome of the above.
With the research in tow, you should see far better results in your sales department.
Finally, you should have a follow-up system in place to ensure that your customers are happy and well-positioned to continue using your service. Engage your customers by asking for feedback. Ask how you can improve on the service.
4) Find Your Niche
Many companies fall at an early hurdle by trying to cater to multiple markets at once. You need to define your service and products by doing the research to find gaps. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t have to be super specific and you certainly do not need to be a ‘trailblazer’, as such. It’s more about finding people’s problems, and taking steps to solve them.
To get a little more information, we got in touch with some self-made entrepreneurs for their personal business tips. There is plenty to be taken from their success stories, particularly if you’re working on a tight timeframe.
5) USPs, USPs, USPs
Following on from finding yourself a niche is defining your business’ USPs. Standing for ‘Unique Selling Point’ – or, Unique Selling Proposition – USPs are important because they are essentially the aspects of your business that set you apart from the rest.
In the early stages, they help you better understand the identity of your business. What area of your business would you consider the strongest? The most competitive? These are the areas you should be championing.
Reducing Dependency and Managing People
One of the key ways you can save money and boost profit is by making a few small changes to reduce your business’ dependency on certain customers, employees and suppliers. If, for example, a certain customer is responsible for a large chunk of your sales revenue, you become reliant on them. Were this customer to take their business elsewhere, your revenue would plummet.
This rings true for suppliers and employees, too. If you rely solely on one supplier and they go out of business, you may have to locate new suppliers for your whole product range. Is your star employee looking elsewhere? Retain key staff, and ensure their knowledge spreads through the team.
Your business’ new era needs to begin completely afresh, with clear processes in place.
Duane Jackson sold his first start-up KashFlow back in 2013, in a multi-million-pound deal. Since then, he has experienced success in various other business ventures and launched Supdate, a platform allowing start-ups to keep better contact with shareholders. According to Duane, there are some key things you should be doing to increase the value of your company and ensure future success for a new owner.
Boost your reputation and increase your value
The reputation and value of your business are linked. The more customers know about your products and services, the better positioned they are to take action. To get the low-down on how reputation and business value are linked, we spoke to PR Director Jo Swann at branding experts Chocolate PR.
All of this is essential if you are to raise your business’ profile and boost its value. To ensure that your reputation is optimised and has a clear corporate identity, Jo recommends that you use social media to its full potential…
With the above advice in tow, you can set your business up for a successful sale.