Eight deadly sins


Harland Accountants managing director David Harland explains how NOT to grow sales and run a business

Ask a business owner what they do and there’s a good chance you’ll still be there two hours later. But ask them how they actually ‘sell’ their services and grow their business and you maybe left unconvinced. So recognise areas of under-performance and fix them now!

First mistake – no growth strategy

Without a business plan and strategy your business will drift. Doing the same stuff, brochure, networking, local ad, relying on ‘word-of-mouth’ might work in a limited way but to achieve effective growth, you need a 3, 5 and 10 year plan and monitor yourselves against it.

Agree a Strategy for Growth, including specific, quantifiable goals and then implement an action plan to hit your targets.

Second mistake – having no online strategy

Without an online marketing strategy you are missing out on potential customers searching online for your services. If your website doesn’t show up on the first page of a Google search they are likely to go elsewhere.

Third mistake – using admin staff for sales and marketing and expecting results

Your staff are under pressure to perform at something they have not been trained to do and the results will inevitably be disappointing for all, not to mention the financial implications.

Delegating sales and marketing tasks to a secretary, PA or administrator may seem like a good use of resources but rarely works.

Fourth mistake – not monitoring performance on sales and marketing activities

Do you know what’s working and what’s a waste of time and money? Simple question – often difficult to answer.

Fifth mistake – having no effective marketing collateral or agreed corporate message

To a potential client your business may just look the same as your competitors’, so how can you differentiate yourself? You think you have a better quality of service but until that is defined and communicated it’s meaningless. Sales material must contain a compelling USP (Unique Selling Point) that prospects would be mad to ignore, along with a clear ‘Call to Action’ to encourage a response, whether that’s by post, email, fax or post.

Sixth mistake – failing to ‘close’ when a lead has been gained

Many businesses are not aware of the signals clients give out when they are ready to ‘buy’ and ‘closing’ a deal can take place at any time – at an initial meeting, after a written quote, at a seminar or after they have been receiving your newsletter for six months.

Seventh mistake – having no sales and marketing training programme

Without training, client-facing staff are likely to miss new business opportunities which pop up from time to time. And worse, they probably don’t spot them in the first place!

Mistake 8 – lacking the vision to move forward

It’s important that businesses, particularly professional services look beyond their own limited range and begin to think of themselves as resource centres capable of providing value added services directly and indirectly to a greater range of businesses and existing clients.



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