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The Idea, The Marketing & The Sales

Date - 10 May 2016/ Category - How To Sell
How to sell

Up and down the country, in magazines, on the TV and through the speeches that government ministers or self-help experts give us, we’re told that anyone can be an entrepreneur. Any idea with a little bit of hard work can succeed.

Wrong. Most ideas will fail, but well done for trying anyway; at least you were the person that had the guts to get in the arena; most people don’t make it out of bed.

Furthermore if you look at the wages paid to sales people, you’d be forgiven for thinking that sales is in fact the most important role in an organisation.

Wrong again. Sales is important, but a great sales person can be made to look awful with a poor source of leads.

Businesses all over the world revolve around their sales teams and they shouldn’t. Millions of hours are spent improving sales functions when they should be looking at their leads. Amazing leads will make the worst sales team look fantastic.

Basically ignore everything you’ve been told by the big wide world to date. It’s all written or spoken to create an industry dedicated to making money off ideas that were going to fail at the start. For every great idea, there’s 1000s of ideas that didn’t work that’s owner spent a few £1000 trying to get it off the ground. With that ratio it’s easy to see how some designers, logo creators and website builders get rich without ever making something for a business that’s got legs.

A few years ago the government used to subsidise this industry of hangers on, people that profited from other people’s short lived ideas. It was a healthy living for those that got good at it. Go along to your local chamber of commerce event, spot the budding entrepreneur, and promise to help them get funding if they put 50% of the cost in themselves. You could make £5000 without even trying.
Before you think I am being cynical, I’m not. I am the victim of bitter experience. I was one of those people at the commerce event. I got funding for an idea that wasn’t going to work.

What’s criminal about this wasn’t that there were digital agencies and designers willing to take my money, but that the government application process (which itself wasn’t short) didn’t weed out bad ideas. In fact I got assigned a government paid advisor to encourage me to spend more money.
It was like the government was complicit in stimulating an industry of failure paid for from subsidies and peoples lifetime savings!

Make no mistake if there is one thing you take away from these pages it’s that in order of importance your idea comes first, your marketing comes second and your sales third.

Anything else comes behind that. That means your accountant that’s paid a fortune is at the very least going to come 4th so stop worrying so much about what they have to say.

I’ll endeavour to explain my point of view. It’s one borne out of bitter experience. I spent years trying to get my sales and marketing to work but without a great idea they were never going to work. I realised this too late.

I’ve seen 1000’s of businesses in my lifetime, and now I grade them on the nature of their idea.
It doesn’t mean that the idea has to be unique, it just means that the idea itself has got legs. Does it have a market? My first business created niche furniture for homes, itself a good idea. But that’s not all it takes to make an idea great.

An idea is more than just a product, it’s the concept of how it’s going to work and I completely failed to understand the money needed to sustain the business from start up.

You see creating furniture (much like selling any physical product) requires money to make the product before you make it. To make my idea work, the products had to be mass produced in order to bring the price down. That meant paying huge sums up front and paying for ongoing storage.

Cost like that cripple businesses and no matter how good my leads were I was never able to get ahead of myself cash flow wise. Growth simply meant having to lay out even more money up front to keep stock levels high!

A better idea would have been to get paid upfront, and have a long waiting time so that I was cash positive but my client based expected a product the next day so this would never have worked.
An idea then isn’t just what you sell, it’s how you make it, how you sell it and how you fund it.

But great ideas won’t sell themselves. You might have found a niche, but you need access to all the people in that niche. It’s all very well saying you’re going to sell sand to the Arabs, but do you know any Arabs to sell to? It’s all very well having a hugely profitable idea, but if there isn’t a steady stream of people to sell to your options and scalability are going to be limited.

Leads then are important because without them, you have nothing to sell to. That’s why unlike the conventional belief that sales people are more important than marketing, your marketing team is actually critical.

Finally then comes your sales people. Having a great idea with great leads means you have lots of closing to do; but being honest the very best leads sell themselves so the best businesses don’t need a sales team!

When was the last time you spoke to amazon or facebook before signing up or buying something?
When you think about it, the idea, leads, sales concept is pretty obvious because if you try to work it backwards it won’t work.

You can’t sell without someone to sell to or an idea to sell. You can’t create a lead without something to sell either.

The world spends way too much time focusing on sales when their real problems lie in their idea. Get the idea right and the rest will follow. Most great ideas come with readymade leads – remember that, a lack of leads is usually an indicator of a bad idea.

Well, that’s unless you’re blackberry (before it got famous) and you’re clients don’t even know they need you, then you’ve got a much harder path to follow!

Chapter Summary:

• Great ideas are the most important thing you can have
• Great ideas aren’t just the product but the entire business model
• Marketing is more important than sales

Read our next blog post “Learn how your customers want to talk”.