Adrian Miller, founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, is our featured guest blogger. She kicks off our series highlighting small business with strategic tips on how to level the playing field when competing against larger companies.
In many ways, small businesses have a distinct advantage over their larger competitors. By being small, they’re inherently more nimble and flexible. They can bob, weave and change as the market demands.
Oftentimes, the largest of companies cannot move quickly. They require many more steps just to adapt and meet what is happening in the marketplace. Small business owners can definitely use this differentiator to their advantage.
That being said, effective sales tactics for small businesses don’t differ that much from what is deployed in larger firms. However, the key to success is deploying them carefully and consistently. Small firms often don’t have the same “street cred” as large firms. The cliché of “no one ever got fired for hiring IBM” still holds true. Thus, to combat that mindset, small firms have to sell smarter and better than their big brothers.
How to do this? Here are a few rules that will increase your chances of making the sale when you’re up against larger competitors:
Do your homework
Large firms have access to voluminous amounts of information about their prospects and clients. Fortunately, the internet has now made much of this information accessible to small firms, too. Use your resources and study up on your prospects as much as you can before launching marketing and sales initiatives.
Consider sales training
Sales training isn’t just for multinational corporations, and it can be particularly beneficial when you have “non-traditional” sales reps. Larger firms often have in-house training and education departments. To compete with this, smaller firms can bring in outside consultants to provide these programs or even access tutorials online.
Leverage social media
It’s free, accessible to all and has truly leveled the playing field between businesses of all sizes. Many small companies are using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in amazing ways to ramp up their sales and are leaps and bounds ahead of larger companies in harnessing the social revolution.
Be accessible and timely
This should be a given, but it’s always worth repeating. Return calls, reply to emails and stay on top of the communications flow. There is nothing that erodes credibility more than being lax in responding to a prospect or customer.
Look and sound professional
Having a professional image is vital for competing against larger companies. When first impressions can make or break a potential sale, conveying professionalism requires a focus on how you look, as well as how you sound. A polished personal appearance and a smartly designed business card are extremely important elements to your visual identity. Equally as important is how your business “sounds” when a prospect calls. Using a professional greeting and having tools in place such as an auto-receptionist and music on hold can convey the professionalism required to compete against a company of any size.
Adrian Miller is the founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training and Adrian’s Network, a virtual business networking community that helps business professionals make contacts and connections. Follow her on Twitter: @AMST.