Small Business Sales Strategies

learn about sales trends, such as video calls, to create sales strategies for your small business

By Bruce Tannas

In the last few years, the COVID pandemic has disrupted traditional sales strategies. In person networking and business events have been limited. This has changed the way we network, prospect, and build business relationships with potential clients and business partners. In this article, we will look at some of the current trends in selling that can help you put together sales strategies for your small business.

Trying New Ways of Selling

In a recent interview with Craig Elias, a respected sales expert, Craig tells me that “…selling has never been easy and it’s getting harder.” So, during the pandemic “people have been leaning into email, so you need to find ways to break through the noise”

However, many businesspeople are recognizing that “…things are changing, and they need to do new things…and people are stepping out of their comfort zone” according to Craig Elias. The pandemic has forced businesspeople to pivot to find different ways to sell. Craig says, it is “important to try new things and see what works, and not to be afraid to make mistakes.” 

Using Online Events to Prospect

One-way businesspeople have had to adjust their sales strategies, to reflect the new realities, is to attend online events. There are many online event opportunities for networking including events put on by Chambers of Commerce, business associations, learning events, etc. While it might be harder to break through the noise and avoid the ‘30 second commercial’ style of online networking, its not impossible.

Craig Elias has discovered a powerful technique that seems to work. He recommends that you put a short blurb of what you’re doing or looking for in the chat along with a link to your LinkedIn profile. He also suggests looking for potential connections through the event and the breakout rooms and contact them via the event chat or LinkedIn to ask them to connect. If you’re using a LinkedIn connection request, make sure you include which event you met them at to help jog their memory of where they met you.

Hosting Online Events

Another way businesspeople are adjusting their sales strategies is by hosting events on topics that might interest their prospects. For b2b firms, that might be hosting a live webinar on something to do with their expertise (e.g., an accountant discussing how to plan your cash flow). While many “b2c firms are getting together to network at scale” according to Craig Elias. They are “helping other create communities of interest” around a topic and working together to prospect.

Phone Calls are Replaced by Video Calls

In the past, salespeople have outreached to potential customers by either phoning or visiting a potential client. This has been replaced by video calls. In a recent article, Hub Spot’s Sales Director Dan Tyre said  “I’m confident that video will stick…The underlying statistics are undeniable — salespeople who use video will connect at three times the rate of those who don’t, reducing the inefficiency of the outreach process as a whole.”

What seems to work is to ask for a short 15-minute video call to introduce yourself and to understand the potential client’s or potential contact’s needs. At the end of the call asking for what the next steps should be as a way to determine the next action(s) in the sales process.

Building and Keeping Business Relationships in New Ways

Fortunately, there is more ways we can connect and maintain business connections than ever before. In  the past, people exchanged business cards and those cards were held in a rolodex or CRM. That was fine if you had the time to enter the contact and keep track of it. But you might lose track of the contact if they change their contact info or changed jobs. Now with LinkedIn and other social networks you can keep up with business contacts over a much longer time allowing you to build richer relationships.

Also, with many people working from home, Craig Elias says that when you meet them “your now in people’s homes. So, every now and again someone’s wife, kid, dog or cat comes into the picture.” And then you can relate to that person on a more personal level. “In the past it was all a big façade…” with people showing up in a suit and in their office whether now they can be more “…authentic or genuine and from a relationship perspective that’s good.” It provides the opportunity to use “propinquity” (nearness such as age, likes and interests, cultural affinities, etc.) to help build the relationship as you can see people in their environment and relate to them on their level (e.g., Craig noticed my Scottish tartan coffee cup on our video call, so we chatted about my Scottish heritage during the interview).

Automating Selling Processes Using Business Tools and Templates

One key trend in sales is to use more tools to automate and track the progression of potential clients and customers. Craig Elias recommends that you get an application that allows you to track when/if someone opens an email. That way you are able to follow-up in a timely manner.

There are several tools available to help small business with their marketing and sales processes very simple to more complex. In a recent article, BDC gives a good list of these tools, of which a few of them have free versions.

In terms of identifying prospects, as mentioned in the article, using social media platforms such as LinkedIn are one way to prospect for sales prospects for outbound sales (see LinkedIn’s email sales templates). There are social media apps such as Hootsuite that can help automate the engagement on social. In addition to social media, don’t forget to use inbound marketing platforms such as such as Connect4Commerce’s b2b marketplace as they are a good way to find inbound prospects. To track your effectiveness with inbound marketing and sales you can use an application such as Hubspot to track inbound and outbound sales progression.

Finally, to connect with customers either one on one or through online events there is of course Zoom, but Google and Microsoft 365 also have good video hosting tools available as well.

While the COVID pandemic may have disrupted your traditional sales strategies it also represents an opportunity. According to Craig Elias “now is the time to try new things” and “if we get comfortable about trying new things now then I think we’re open to take much bigger risks later.” So don’t be afraid to tap into the current sales trends and adjust your small business sales strategies to reflect these new realities.

Connect4Commerce offers entrepreneurs and small business owners across the country a convenient and comprehensive place to connect, exchange goods and services, and advance their businesses. Be sure to check out further articles in our Small Business News blog for additional resources. Also, find learning & event opportunities for you employees on our site that can help you with providing ongoing training for your employees.

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