Standing up front after talking about starting your own business, it starts with one of several questions.

  • “How do I build a sales funnel?
  • “I want to start a business, what should my name be?”
  • “I am working on my logo for my business, what do you think?”

These questions, and the hundreds of varieties just like them, are all getting ahead of the needs of most small businesses. A logo is important, but I have never hear an objection to a sales presentation based off of someone’s logo. Sales funnels are great, if you have customers.

The first thing you need to do in your business is to get a customer.

Make Sales Your Marketing Priority

We all feel a similar gut reaction when we think of sales. We think of high-pressure tactics convincing us that we are not happy enough, active enough, or just in general enough.

Your emotional reaction is to an idea of sales that is mostly false. A great sales system gives you the control and the options to decide to purchase the products and other things you want or need.

I have never met someone who felt nervous about ordering pizza from a delivery driver (a type of sales) or going to a restaurant with a server (another type of sales). If you go to a salon or barber, you don’t feel like it’s a high pressured sales environment. If you did, you would never go back.

There are a few industries who make sales icky for the rest of us, and my industry is one of them.

But, we sell different, working on relational terms rather than high-pressure manipulation. We work using systems to entice the right person to make the right decision at the right time. Real-time marketing creates the opportunity so that sales happens as a natural part of life.

Sales and Marketing at a Restaurant

This may feel like a digression, but bear with me a moment. It should not feel icky to ask someone to pay you for a product or service. If the environment is set, the ask becomes natural. Just as you finish up your meal and your server discreetly leaves a bill that sometimes doubles as a receipt. You either engage in more steps to the close (hand the server a card with the bill) or discreetly leave cash to cover the bill and the tip and take the bill as the receipt for your transaction.

Now, if I wanted one of my favorite greasy deep dish pizzas, I would look for the Hut logos and marketing materials, either online or in person. You might avoid them. But, the fact that I have built a relationship with Pizza Hut as both a customer and a one-time employee means that I am going to look for their marketing if I want to have their pizza.

On the other hand, if a friend of mine wanted to start a restaurant cooking and selling her Russian pierogis, what would her business look like? What is her brand?

I would argue that at this point in time, her brand doesn’t matter. Her children and friends know her and her cooking. All she’d have to do is tell us when and where we could get the food. And this is the point at which all small businesses need to start.

When and where?

High pressure sales is all about the almighty money. Real-time sales is all about creating the when and the where that brings people together into win-win scenarios.

But, if my friend were to say she was starting a Russian restaurant and I went over to her beautiful store with a great sign and discovered her friends and family were all eating for free, this would not be a restaurant. Feeding people can be a great hobby, an even greater ministry, but without payment it is not a business.

This is easy to see in a restaurant, but it can be difficult for different types of businesses, especially in the knowledge economy.

Want to be a consultant? Get someone to pay you, as a business, for that consulting.

Want to be a service business owner? Do work that people will pay you for.

Want to be a product business owner? Sell it to people. With crowdfunding sites you can actually sell a product before it is even created.

Logos matter. Content matters. Websites matter. Address and phone number absolutely matter.

But without sales all you have is fluff.