Some authors do not sell to non-retail buyers because they are intimidated by corporate marketing professionals. If that is the case with you, start small. Begin your non-retail selling journey by calling on buyers in small companies.
These businesses represent approximately 80% of all companies in the U.S. and they have the same needs as their larger brethren. Your content helping them retain and motivate employees will be thankfully accepted (and purchased). They also need other benefits of employee engagement: increased profitability, greater customer satisfaction (and loyalty) and reduced absenteeism. And small businesses want to increase sales and find new customers. Start by showing them how your content can help solve their problems, then move up to larger companies as you experience success and gain confidence. Here are a few of the major advantages of starting small.
- Learn how to make an effective pitch. Making a successful sales presentation takes practice. You can try different presentation styles on potential buyers in small companies before you make a major presentation to a large corporate buyer.
- Make mistakes that do not impact large orders. Mistakes will happen and it’s better to make them when the consequences are not significant. Learn from your mistakes so they do not occur when facing a large corporate buyer.
- Experience common objections and different ways in which you can handle them. There are many reasons why buyers will not purchase your books, and there are equally numerous ways in which to respond to them. Practice handling objections when the pressure to do so is not as great as when trying to close a large sale.
- Discover how to read buying signals. There are four typical reactions prospective buyers will have to your presentation: indifference, skepticism, objection, and acceptance. As you learn to read the different body language of these responses you will become more successful in dealing with them.
- Meet with local prospects. You may have to travel a great distance to meet with a corporate buyer, thus increasing the time and expense of making the sale. You can probably find small businesses locally and call on them personally. For a list of these prospects go to www.manta.com.
- Uncover (then solve) problems. The essence of special sales is to solve a buyer's problem with your content. Learn and practice asking questions that will reveal the “pain points” and lead to a discussion on how your content can address them. An example is to ask, “If you were to hire a person today, what would you want him or her to accomplish in the first 90 days?”
- Reduce stress. While nobody likes to fail, it is better to lose an order that is not a major blow to your income. And since the pressure is off, you are more likely to experiment with different sales techniques.
- Meet directly with the decision maker. There is less red tape and fewer layers of management in the small-business, purchasing-decision process. When calling to make an appointment it is more likely that the decision maker in a small business will pick up the phone and talk with you. This can reduce the time it takes to make the sale since you are probably dealing with the decision maker and can often close the sale on the first call.
Selling your books to people in small businesses is a good way to learn the ropes of special sales. Once you gain skills, confidence and momentum you can move on the buyers in larger corporations. However, you may also find your niche in this enormous segment and continue selling to these buyers.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org), and the administrator of Book Selling University (www.booksellinguniversity.com) Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com.