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Written by The Mezzanine Group
on June 21, 2010

Normally we write about marketing for B2B companies, particularly for small and mid-sized businesses. This blog, though, is about something very closely related to marketing in SMBs – how to make salespeople successful.

I had two conversations this week on the challenge of sales for small businesses, and heard about two very similar – and unsuccessful – situations where a company wasn’t getting the sales it had hoped from its salespeople. The first conversation was with a good friend who has a food products company. She has great products and in the last year the company has really started to hit its stride. One of the employees, who has been responsible for product demos, label design and numerous other activities, has also recently been tasked with selling the company’s products into new accounts. But the founder is finding that this individual keeps focusing on the non-selling tasks, and that sales aren’t happening.

The other conversation happened at a non-profit. Although it’s a non-profit, it still needs sales. And the organization is finding that its chief salesperson, who wears several other hats, isn’t getting the sales. Somehow the other tasks in his job description are managing to take up almost all of his week, leaving little time for sales.

These situations have a common root, and it’s one that many small businesses face.

The challenge is that small businesses like to have (and need) people to wear multiple hats. We need the office manager to also handle accounts payable and help out with project delivery when needed. We need the person who does marketing to also handle internal communications and staff functions. This is small business reality.

But when it comes to sales, it’s a killer. When a business (large or small) has an employee who is responsible for sales and well as for something else, anything else, I can almost guarantee you that they will do the ‘other’ stuff first and find ways for their whole week to get filled up with ‘other’ activities.

Sales is hard and it has a rhythm of its own. When a salesperson is dedicated to selling, they get into the rhythm of it and they have a hope of being successful at it. When a salesperson does other things – administration, graphic design, delivery, whatever – they won’t be able to get into the rhythm and they won’t sell.

So, small businesses – if you actually want someone in your company to sell for you, you have to give them nowhere to hide from selling. Make selling their sole task. They sell, or they go.

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