By Stanford Chabayanzara
THERE are always conversations around the importance of sales in organisations, yet statistics are depressing. The hard and bleak truth is that 96% of all businesses belly-up within 10 years, with 80% failing within the first two years. The 4% that make it are not necessarily profitable; they have survived. If this were not enough, 95% of companies will never reach US$1 million in annual sales. Out of these rare few, 95% will not ever make it to US$5 million. And of those, 98% will not get to US$10 million. Very few go beyond US$100 million.
Why is that only a few businesses grow and become profitable? What separate winners and losers is in the dedication and drive of the company’s leaders in sharpening and applying the skills that really matter – being able to produce revenue. In simple terms, being able to ring the cash register in large enough volumes with high enough margins to sustain and grow the business. Repeated, profitable sales are the lifeblood of your business, without it, your business will join the race to the bottom.
Let’s face it, most businesses are started by the ‘practitioner’ – for example a beauty therapist trying to turn her skill or experience into a business. Nowhere has this beauty therapist been given the tools and education to run a successful business. If she was lucky enough, there was one module of study that included something about running your own business. The problem of cause is, the course material was likely put together by someone who had never run or scaled a successful business. Yet this beauty therapist is meant to know how to run a business, how to acquire customers, and differentiate themselves from the hundreds of other beauty spas that all claim to do the same thing.
Where am I taking this? Glad you ask!
I want you to see it this way. The difference between a beauty therapist who starts a spa business and 20 years later realises she has created a job, not a business, and another who starts a spa business and in 10 years has 16 locations and then sells it for a multi-million-dollar pay day. The difference isn’t in what the spa offering; it’s in the marketing and selling of that services.
Sales are the ‘tip of the spear’, and everything else stems from this point. I hope am slowly convincing you that, as the business owner, selling should be your primary job. Imagine your business being flooded with profitable sales, there really is no problem you can’t solve with the right amount of money. No one you can’t hire. No system you can’t implement.
The first person to sell your product or service should be you—the founder—and your co-founders. Even if you hate sales and suck at it. Even if you don’t have any sales experience and know how. Selling is not an optional task for an entrepreneur – it’s essential. lf selling is essential, then learning how to sell (i.e., developing the knowledge and skills needed to sell) should be an obligation, not a choice.
You will build a US$10 million business if you have clarity on; where do you derive your business income from? What do you spend your time on? What tasks do you focus on? In short, what do you invest yourself in? The key is in investing in your company’s asset that provide a positive return – sales. Offload all the low yielding activities off your plate and invest your time in the activities that really move the money needle.
Being busy is not the same as being productive. Our lives are full of distractions, and it’s hard to stay focused when your world consists of hundreds of tiny tasks and millions of voices screaming for your attention. As a business owner looking to scale your business, your focus needs to move from doing the everyday work to producing revenue for your business and steering the ship.
Let’s look at Mark Ford for a minute, he is partner and chief growth strategist for Agora Inc, the direct response information marketing monstrous creature with revenues heading north of a billion dollars. Ford went from US$100,000 in debt to a net worth of US$240 million and says one of the biggest reasons why most businesses never lift off is because of an obsession with little chores. Little chores are things that keep you busy but don’t make you any meaningful money.
Don’t allow the little stuff to kill the big stuff. What I mean is that there are lots of small activities, like things in your business constantly screaming for attention, but these aren’t the tasks that produce revenue. If you are obsessed with “little chores”, your business will hit rock bottom with the following symptoms.
- you wonder where your next client is going to come from
- you overwhelmed and overworked with trivial activities
- you not focusing on high-yielding, revenue producing activities
- you trading time for money and not earning your true value
- you stuck in a state of feast or famine
- competitors with inferior products and services seeing more success than you and eating your lunch
Instead of working on important tasks, most business owners let the squeakiest wheel get the grease. They waste time on low-yielding tasks that earn them a minimum return, like constantly checking emails and activities they could delegate or outsource. Meanwhile, they forgo the highly leverage activities that produce the bulk of the revenue for their business.
You see, just like the beauty therapist we spoke of above, the money in business isn’t in your product or service, it’s in the selling of your product or service. No matter what industry you’re in, once you’ve got a few team members, and you’re looking to scale your business, you’re no longer a therapist. You’re a marketer.
The fate of your business lies not just in having the best product or service but in your ability to market your products or services. While this might be difficult for you to accept, it’s true.
Let me be clear here, am not saying you don’t need to create best product or service in your industry, I’m simply saying the money is not in that – because if you can’t effectively communicate that to your market, it doesn’t matter. The market doesn’t pay you to have the best products or service. It rewards you for solving problems. Am sure you know a transaction takes places where, in the mind of the consumer, the value of the solution you’re selling outweighs the price you’re asking. In other words, you’ll be compensated on the basis of how you market and build value around your solution to the pains and desires of your customers. The bigger the problem you solve, the more you will be compensated.
Immense yourself on intimately understanding your market and your prospects’ deepest desires, pains, fears, hopes, and dreams. You need to know them better than any of your competitors, and then craft marketing messages that effectively communicate how you can solve these problems.
It is the deeper understanding of your market and prospects that will allow you to design a sales offer so irresistible that only a lunatic will refuse to buy. The solution to your sales problem is not in advance technology, tools, and fancy sales funnel or advanced marketing automation, these are nice to have but they will not cover for a weak and frail offer.
Your business should be grounded in a lead and revenue-producing system where:
- Customers chase you, and not the other way around.
- Predictability and consistency generate new leads, clients, and revenue.
- You speak only to highly-qualified prospects you can actually help.
- You have an automated lead-generation system that delivers new customers on demand with minimal human effort.
- You focus only on the Highly Leveraged Activities that produce revenue.
In closing, let me be brutally clear and not mince my words about what I believe to be the single most important rule in business. It is this: As the owner, your number one responsibility is to sell. Selling is not something you do on the side. It’s not something you can outsource or completely delegate. It’s the single most important job of any business and consequently any founder or owner. It doesn’t matter whether you have a great product or service, your entire existence as an entrepreneur lives and dies by how effective your sales and marketing is at producing new revenue.
Don’t hope your business will turn out, instead design it and avoid surprises.
Go get them!
Stanford Chabayanzara is the founder of Melzara Education, Quayside Technical College and soon to be launched Melzara University. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org