By Jeremiah Buabeng
My father was a plumber. His business didn’t do bad if you consider that he managed to build a three-bedroom house in his 30s. Twenty years ago, building a house in your 30s was quite a big deal. But I believe the business could have been big, much much bigger and lasted beyond him if he had applied business principles to it. But he didn’t. He was a good plumber. He was not a good businessman. His business had no Sales & Marketing strategy.
He was a fiery Pentecostal man and he would wake us up at dawn to pray for his business so he could get new contracts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there is a problem with prayer. Prayer is important. If you are going to succeed in life, you need a lot of prayer. But you can’t rely on prayer alone to grow your business. You need business principles, concepts, and strategies.
I believe that the most important function of a business is the ability to gain customers. The engine of your business is your marketing and sales strategy. It doesn’t matter how nice your office is. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your logo looks. Your business needs sales. It needs customers. You need to be able to draw people to buy from your business. The challenge for many start-up businesses is that they have no Marketing and Sales Strategy. They just sit and hope that they would get lucky and customers will come knocking on their door. That has no power to build a good business. Your business must have a Marketing strategy and a Sales strategy to attract customers to buy.
The Difference Between Marketing and Sales
Let’s assume that a young man of 28 years old is not married and needs a wife. He must do things that will make him attractive to a woman to want to accept his proposal. He should dress well, have a good haircut, smell good, maintain nice teeth and be gentle. That’s Marketing or branding. Marketing refers to the things you do to make your business attractive. They are the messages you put out there about your business to draw customers to you. It’s Pull! It is designed to pull people. It could be your website, artworks, fliers, posters, brochures or catalogue, social media pages, business cards, commercial videos, office space, T-shirts, events etc. Marketing and branding is a very important aspect of a business. The quality and creativity with which you do all these things matter. When people see a beautiful and well-designed website or brochure, it creates a perception in their minds about your business. The quality of your marketing collateral sends a message about what kind of business you have. Therefore, invest in it.
But that’s not enough. You also need to have a Sales strategy. Whilst marketing is pull, sales is push. With marketing and branding, you do beautiful and creative things to attract people to you. In Sales, you go to the people directly to get them to buy. So in my example of the young man who is looking for a girlfriend or wife, his appearance and personality may attract women to him. But if he really wants to get a woman, he must step out and go and talk to someone. He must approach a woman, get to know her, propose to her and close the deal. That’s sales.
Getting Your Sales Right
Sales simply means having a strategy for directly reaching your potential customer. It is going to your customers to get them to buy. Now this means different things to different kinds of businesses. If you run a shop for instance and people come into the shop, it may be your Marketing that has attracted them to the shop. Your Sales must make them buy your product. There are businesses whose sophisticated marketing attracts customers to them but their poor sales make them lose those customers. It is imperative that your salesperson becomes proactive about getting customers to buy. You can’t afford to have Salespeople who are laidback and do not make any attempt to get customers to buy.
If you have a shop, don’t just stand and watch people come and go without buying. Get them to buy. If they come to buy a shoe, get them to buy a skirt and a handbag. It’s called cross-selling; you sell Product A and you convince your Customer to buy Product B in addition. An entrepreneur should always try to cross-sell. You need to make more money, and you must be intentional and intense about it.
If you have a service business, a travel business or a construction company for instance, you must develop a strategy for getting clients. Prospect for customers. Look around you for where your customers are and go to them. You can find your customers in many ways:
- Your friends and contacts.
- Their friends and contacts.
- The companies and churches you see whilst you are going through town.
- Social media
- Google (online directories)
Whatever kind of business you run, you must develop a strategy for going out to get customers. It must become your obsession day and night. Don’t just sit and hope that someone will hear of you and call you. That’s depending on luck. You can’t do much with luck. You need a strategy. You can’t just depend on prayer for your business to grow. God gave us a brain that has billions of cells. He didn’t make that investment in us for us to rely on Him for everything we need. So be prepared to do as much work as possible to grow your business. Do your prayer and fasting, but do business also. Study and understand the principles of business and apply it to what you do.
Jeremiah Buabeng is an entrepreneur, consultant, trainer, professional speaker, and author. He has trained and/or addressed organizations including Databank, Olam Ghana, Accra City Hotel (Novotel), Vaniado, Letshego, Lesedi Foundation, Axis Suites, Oasis Montessori, Healthstar Group, Lekma Polyclinic, and many more. Jeremiah is a regular resource person at conferences, churches, universities, radio, and television programmes. He can be reached at email@example.com.