This is the secret to starting quickly:
Sell something to someone.
That is all, thank you very much and goodnight.
*Alan & Simon retire*
Ok, there’s a little more to it but when you strip everything back this is the most important element of your business and it often gets lost in the thrill, excitement and seduction of logos, websites and business cards.
Most people who are starting a business put sales off to the end rather that starting with it. Why do they do this? Because sales scares them, because getting rejected scares them, because it is uncomfortable!
Most people don't make much progress when they start, they spend most of their time on making sure the logo is right, the business cards are designed and the website is perfect. If you are doing this then you are avoiding the most important part of starting a business which is sales.
We will have more on helping you get your first sale in upcoming articles but for now let's look at how you pitch your business when you are starting.
When I ask people about their business and they’re still talking after 10 minutes I start looking for the exits. Actually I switched off nine minutes and thirty seconds ago.
Most people miss the chance of sales, or introductions to potential customers because their pitch is either INCOHERENT or BORING. I want to help you structure your pitch clearly, level up on excitement (if you're not excited about business no-one else will be) and then add some pixie dust to make it really come alive!
Here’s why you need a clear, succinct pitch and exciting pitch:
This next section is CRITICAL to your success. It will help you to ENGAGE, EXCITE AND SELL your business to yourself, your friends and family and COMPLETE strangers:
WHAT you sell and WHO you sell it to.
Here’s what to do.
First you need to be clear about who you are selling to. Remember if you try and sell EVERYTHING to EVERYBODY you’ll end up selling NOTHING to NOBODY.
It costs thousands to reach ‘anybody’ with marketing messages! TV, billboards, sponsoring major events. However ,you can reach specific customers for free using incredible tools on social media, networking and other sales/marketing activities.
Remember from Step 2 (How to choose a business idea) we told you if you’re not getting the results you want it’s for three reason:
The first is FOCUS. What I’m about to give you is the next level of focus and it is CRITICAL to your success. If you don't have a focused sales message, if you don't have a focused target market, if you don't focus your activity you won't make progress.
You need to write two sentences: sentence one, you describe your product or service and sentence two, describe the TARGET customer – this is the customer who is MOST LIKELY to buy this from you.
Remember if you’re tempted to describe your customer as ‘anybody’ you’ll end up selling NOTHING to NOBODY. Here are some questions to help you define your TARGET customer – they might not all be relevant but choose the ones that help you and work to be as specific as possible.
1. What is their age range?
Be careful with this, the temptation is to be too broad.
Like John who was selling women’s clothing online said his target customer was women in the UK aged 18-45. Too broad!
Are you telling me an 18 year old would be as excited by the clothing (and model pictures) as a 45 year old? Of course not! (he figured out his target was actually 40-45 year old women)
2. Are you customers MOST LIKELY to be male or female?
3. Where do they live?
Be as specific as you can! What city? Which neighbourhood? We were helping one gentlemen launch a grounds maintenance business and he identified the 100 homes closest to his to be his target customers. He wanted to walk to work. Knowing that gives him a target and helps him to start selling immediately.
Remember it’s the customers who are most likely to buy. These are the ones we’re going to TARGET. If someone outside of your target group emails you and says they want to buy something, what do you say? YES!
4. What products, services, movies or music are they fans of?
If you can work out what they are into you can work out where they hang out and how to get to them!
5. Where do they work? What businesses are they from?
If you are selling business to business (B2B) then you need to identify what type of business is going to buy from you and who within that business you need to talk to.
We sell our product mainly to Housing Associations and the people we need to talk to within those businesses are Head of Housing, Head of Communities or Resident Engagement.
Knowing this makes it really easy for us to find people's details on their websites, LinkedIn and then contact them directly. The more specific we have got about who we are pitching to the easier it has got for us to win business.
The key is to get as focused as possible on who your dream customers are.
What are you selling and who are you selling it to?
This process forms the basis of your pitch and the more specific you are, the more successful you’ll be.
Here’s the version we had in the early days of the PopUp Business School:
We sell inspirational start-up training events to housing associations to help their residents make money doing what they love.
Jade from Leeds UK is a graphic designer. Her style is influenced by Cath Kidston so her version is:
She sells beautifully designed accessories to women over 35 who are fans of Cath Kidston products.
The more specific you are, the more successful you’ll be.
Check out our Daily PopUp on What makes a Successful Pitch.