How to Win Customers: Small Business Sales

Offering amazing products and services is obviously a great way to win customers. But equally as important as what you sell, however, is how you sell it.

A sales playbook documents your organization’s approach to sales. Developing a standard sales motion and sales playbook for your small business is about more than just strategy for winning customers, however. The playbook plays a vital and ongoing role for growth: from helping onboard new hires to giving owners a way to review company health and strategy.

Whether yours is a team of one or 20, this is how you use a sales playbook to organize your sales team.

What is a standard sales motion?

A sales motion is a process an organization follows to deliver products or services to customers. A standard sales motion, then, is a blueprint for how a particular company typically sells. Promotions, new product lines, and campaigns targeting new audiences may call for slightly - or entirely - new sales motions, but developing a standard motion sets a baseline for how your business approaches sales.

A typical sales motion for a B2B company could look like this:

Cold/Warm Call - Connect - Discovery - Demonstration - Proposal - Negotiation - Close - Contract.

Whereas a typical sales motion for a B2C company could look like:

Connect - Discount/Promotion - Purchase.

Some organizations will need more than one baseline sales motion. For example, companies who sell through multiple channels may need one motion for selling direct to consumers, one for reseller partners, another for selling through distributors, and so on. In this case, each channel would have its own standard motion.

What is a sales playbook?

A sales playbook is a collection of everything your sales reps need to win customers and close deals. The playbook should include documents guiding sales reps through each stage of the sales process, from cold call scripts, objection handling, procedures, and tips for closing.

Your sales playbook should be repeatable and scalable. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for reps to bring their individual strengths to bear on the playbook, or that you won’t have to tweak and revise your motion as your business matures. But as a basic rule, the sales playbook should outline an approach that works for new reps and veterans, again and again.

Even if you’re a company of one person handling marketing, sales, and support, developing a sales playbook will help you form and document your sales approach. As your company grows, the sales playbook will make onboarding new reps faster, and create a more efficient sales process for everyone.

What are cold call scripts and email templates?

Cold call scripts and email templates come in a wide variety of formats, some meant to be read almost word-for-word, and others resembling decision trees that guide your reps more with strategic cues than rote dialogue. Whatever form they take, these documents are key parts of your sales approach.

Three reasons why scripts and templates are a key component of any sales playbook:

  • They’re incredible time savers. Arming all of your sales reps with ready-to-go scripts means they don’t have to spend time coming up with their own. They can spend that time selling, instead.
  • They help with good first impressions. Cold calls are potential customers’ introductions to your company. Scripts and templates help ensure you’re always putting your best foot forward.
  • They make it easier to test new approaches. When everyone in your sales org works from the same scripts and templates, you can trial new language, promotions, and other techniques easily. Give the new copy to some, but not all, of your reps and you’ve got a ready-made A/B comparison test.

As your business grows, you’ll most likely wind up with a book of scripts and templates to fit different customer personas and sales plays.

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What is objection handling?

As the name suggests, objection handling is the fine art of keeping a deal moving forward when your prospect raises concerns. Objections can range from, “Too expensive,” or “Your competitor is offering this and that, what can you offer?” to, “You don’t understand my business, and your product can’t help me.” Objections aren’t necessarily deal killers, however. Remember, if a prospect didn’t have any concerns about buying what you’re selling, they would have bought it already.

Your job in objection handling is not to talk the prospect into something they ultimately don’t want to do. Rather, your role is to listen to the concerns and address them in a way that helps your prospect move past them and continue towards a deal. Of course some prospects just aren’t good fits. But often, a little strategy and persuasion can go a long way to getting a deal back on track.

Strategies and talking points for handling common objections should be a part of your sales strategy. Your reps should know to handle most objections on their own, and also who on their team to call in when a deal needs some extra support.

What are negotiation tactics?

You’ve sent the contract to the client. All they have to do is sign and send it back, and the deal is done. Then the phone rings, and it’s your client with, “Just a couple of questions before we do this.” Suddenly, it’s time to negotiate.

Negotiation is a part of selling. Sometimes it comes up at the last minute, other times early and often in the process. Negotiating the terms of a deal can require different strategies and techniques than the earlier parts of your sales motion, even though you’re negotiating with the same client you’ve been talking to for weeks or months.

What is closing a deal?

Closing is the final stage of getting a deal done. When you’re competing against other vendors for a customer’s business, closing is truly make-or-break time. Sometimes closing the deal takes facts, persuasion, and a little bit of visionary thinking on your part. Other times, it’s best to stay quiet and listen while your prospect talks themselves over the finish line.

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