You are a small business. Sales are enough to keep you afloat, but you don’t have enough sales to justify hiring another overhead resource (and if you did, you would probably choose to hire an admin to get rid of all the bothersome paperwork you have to do every night). But you have looked hard at yourself and determined that you need help in either sales or marketing. Where, then, do you get that help?
I am a huge fan of learning all that you can. As a self-taught marketer, I can make the following suggestions:
1) Find out who is making waves in the field — who is speaking at professional conferences, writing articles, etc. — and learn from them. Follow their blog, read their books. Some of them will not resonate with you — wrong style, wrong techniques for your market — but you should find someone you like that you can learn from. This is relatively low cost (free if your local library carries the books).
2) Join a professional society, like the National Association of Sales Professionals or the American Marketing Association. This might cost you a couple hundred dollars (my last AMA renewal cost me $305), but it will ensure you hear about conferences and training in your area, including local member meetings and speakers.
3) Take advantage of training that fits in your budget. AMA offers bootcamps, which run only 1-2 days, but which give you all the basics in specific marketing areas. They sometimes also offer webinars for free.
4) Find a local SCORE chapter. SCORE (originally the Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a non-profit that offers free coaching to small businesses from retired executive volunteers. (https://www.score.org)
5) Check with your local chamber of commerce for available speakers in sales or marketing. The speakers will be local consultants in one of these fields looking to drum up business, but you should see what they have to offer, and perhaps develop relationships with them. You never know if they might be willing to offer you some free guidance.
There are, of course, more expensive options out there, including hiring a consultant to do work for you or attending one of the larger and longer training programs. Cost aside, I think these options serve you best when you know specifically where in your sales or marketing engine you need the help. That’s why, as you venture into your research, your goal should be to ensure you know the following:
- What is your sales or marketing style? Different approaches mean different processes.
- What is the sales or marketing process for your business? This should take into account what will engage your customers or potential customers.
- What are your specific marketing or sales goals? These should be directly related to your business goals and, as always, be SMART.
- How and how often are you going to measure your progress? Related to this, how often are you willing to make changes to your style or process to adjust for a shortfall?
With this information, you are well on your way to building, enhancing and managing both your sales and marketing engines. All you need now is something to sell …