Core Small Business Skills – Sales and Marketing Management

As a business owner and entrepreneur it is important to develop a set of key management skills upon which you can build your business. Even more so when you consider research into Australian small business failures, has identified that in 90% of cases, a lack of management skills has been a key reason for small business failure. Being able to effectively market and sell your products is one of the core skills required to operate your business effectively. We will take a look at the specific sales and marketing skills you need to master for profitable success.

Market Research

Strong sales and marketing skills are vital in the promotion of your small business and its products and services. You need to be able to undertake market research which will help you to identify where your markets are, the total market size and the size of each of its key segments. You should also be able to profile your customers, identify their needs, wants, behaviours and ambitions and parlay the information into powerful and effective marketing campaigns and sales techniques which will help to drive sales revenue.

You also need to develop the skills required to undertake primary research. Primary research is research that you undertake yourself. i.e. feedback, surveys, questionnaires, etc. You need to be able to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers ever-changing demands and the business environment in which you operate and to identify the threats and opportunities that may impact on your small business. Inability to adjust to changes in the market place was identified by market research as one of the key skills lacking in small business operators.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation is the practice of analysing your customers in your customer database and grouping them according to their gender, age, education, geography, income, life stage, behaviours and aspirations. Developing your customer segmentation analytical skills provides the foundation for better understanding your customers so that you can target each segment with specific campaigns designed specifically to speak to them, thereby increasing the response rate of your marketing campaigns. It can also help you identify where potential customers with similar profiles might be found.

Marketing Planning

Successful entrepreneurs and small business owners need strong marketing planning skills. You need to be able to take your marketing strategy and communicate it to all relevant stakeholders. Usually the vehicle that is used to formally communicate your marketing strategy is your marketing plan.

Marketing planning skills will help you create a clear, concise document which defines your strategic business intent and the marketing approach you have chosen as the most effective method of achieving your overall business goals.

Creating Value Propositions

Customers buy when the perceived value is greater than the price. Marketing involves the development and creation of innovative value propositions that puts your product or service offering ahead of those of your competitors. You need to learn to harness the primary research from your customers, competitors customers and potential customers to continually strive to improve your offering.

Effective Campaign Development

Developing effective marketing campaigns relies on having completed the market research, the customer profiling and segmentation, developing a marketing plan that aligns to the organisations’ strategic intent and developing innovative value propositions. Campaign development takes all that information and designs appropriate messages and determines communication delivery channels in order to directly appeal to your target segment.

Sales Techniques & Processes

It definitely pays to develop effective sales processes, including the preparation and planning of your sales approach. You need to master your sales pitch, learn how to handle objections and refine your closing techniques. As the small business owner you also need to be able to teach each of your employees how to sell effectively.

Customer Fulfilment

Delivering to your customer should be a well planned, well prepared and well executed process. After all, you are aiming to deliver the ultimate customer experience. Having the ability to define the process, so that it can be repeated time after time, with each and every customer, takes skill. Exceptional execution or customer execution. Exceptional execution will earn you happy customers. Happy customers tell their family and friends and also remain loyal. Customer execution results in no repeat sales and no referrals.

Developing sales and marketing management skills will help you achieve sales and marketing success and help you to drive increasing sales revenues in your small business. Keeping abreast of changes in the marketplace and in consumer demands and having the ability to respond to those changes will ensure your business grows, thrives and survives.