Whether you operate a factory, wholesale outlet, retail store, service shop, or are a contractor, selling will be required for success. No matter how good your product is, no matter what consumers think of it, you must sell to survive.
Direct selling methods are through personal sales efforts, advertising and, for many businesses, display – including the packaging and styling of the product itself – in windows, in the establishment, or both. Establishing a good reputation with the general public through courtesy and special services is an indirect method of selling. While the latter should never be neglected, this brief discussion will be confined to direct selling methods.
To establish your business on a firm footing requires a great deal of aggressive personal selling. You may have established competition to overcome. Or, if your idea is new with little or no competition, you have the extra problem of convincing people of the value of the new idea. Personal selling work is almost always necessary to accomplish this. If you are not a good salesperson, seek an employee or associate who is.
A second way to build sales is by advertising. This may be done through newspapers, shopping papers, the yellow pages section of the telephone directory, and other published periodicals; radio and television; handbills, and direct mail. The media you select, as well as the message and style of presentation, will depend upon the particular customers you wish to reach. Plan and prepare advertising carefully, or it will be ineffective. Most media will be able to describe the characteristics of their audience (readers, listeners, etc.). Since your initial planning described the characteristics of your potential customers, you want to match these characteristics with the media audience. If you are selling expensive jewelry, don’t advertise in high school newspapers. If you repair bicycles, you probably should.
Advertising can be very expensive. It is wise to place a limit upon an amount to spend, then stay within that limit. To help you in determining how much to spend, study the operating ratios of similar businesses. Media advertising salespeople will help you plan and even prepare advertisements for you. Be sure to tell them your budget limitations.
A third method of stimulating sales is effective displays both in your place of business and outside it. If you have had no previous experience in display work, you will want to study the subject or turn the task over to someone else. Observe displays of other businesses and read books, trade magazines, and the literature supplied by equipment manufacturers. It may be wise to hire a display expert for your opening display and special events, or you may obtain the services of one on a part-time basis. Much depends on your type of business and what it requires.
The proper amount and types of selling effort to use vary from business to business and from owner to owner. Some businesses prosper with low-key sales efforts. Others, like the used-car lots, thrive on aggressive, hoop-la promotions. In any event, the importance of effective selling cannot be over-emphasized.
On the other hand, don’t lose sight of your major objective – to make a profit. Anyone can produce a large sales volume selling dollar bills for ninety cents. But that won’t last long. So keep control of your costs, and price your product carefully.