What is the secret to selling in this new reality entrepreneurs have to operate in? Tebogo Selebi, a senior associate partner at TMMBS, a professional services firm offering business development support to enterprises, has advice that all entrepreneurs would do well to heed.
In the months following the COVID-19 crisis in an effort to help out shell-shocked entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19, Selebi authored the book, Remodeling Your Business for Tough Times: A guide on how small business owners and entrepreneurs can build a ‘crisis proof’ business, a “back to basics” guide on how to build a ‘crisis proof’ business. An excerpt of Chapter 3 – ‘Sales Strategy (Digital Marketing & E-commerce’ is available here.
If you are not already selling online, it’s time to start, says Selebi.
“Product-based businesses must use this time to establish a strong ecommerce store and service-based businesses must now use this time to ensure that their websites have a functionality that allows online client sign ups,” he adds.
This interview forms part of SME South Africa’s ‘Business Unusual’ Series featuring respected and influential voices in the local entrepreneurship ecosystem to reflect on new ways of doing business.
ALSO IN THE SERIES
- (Funding) How COVID-19 Has Changed SA’s SME Funding Landscape (Luyanda Jafta – The People’s Fund)
- (Technology) COVID-19 and SA Entrepreneurs’ Use of Technology (Tshiwela Ncube – Vuuqa)
- (Opportunities) COVID-19: Opportunities and Threats (Musa Kalenga – Bridge Labs)
Selebi talks how entrepreneurs should collaborate to withstand current sales challenges and how to convert online connections and advertising into offline sales and conversions.
Q: What sales challenges does the Covid-19 crisis present for business owners?
A lot of businesses’ [sales have been affected] during the various levels of lockdown and other stringent regulations. For many businesses it meant that their sectors were either temporarily closed or customers couldn’t access their products and services.
Q: What are some key differences in how entrepreneurs should be approaching the sales process now compared to pre-Covid-19?
It goes without saying that [the way of doing] business has changed and that entrepreneurs must now find new and innovative ways to communicate their service offering, advertise and sell to their potential customers.
Q: Covid-19 has also impacted a lot business owners’ confidence and their ability to sell – how can business owners start to gain confidence once again?
A lot of entrepreneurs must come to terms with the fact that this is our new reality and that Covid-19 has affected most, if not all, of us so they shouldn’t see themselves in isolation, but as a small part of a bigger community.
This is the time for trial and error, test new strategies in the market, remodel your businesses, try and collaborate more.
Entrepreneurs should do whatever they can and whatever they think will help them survive and grow during this time; one thing they shouldn’t do though is STOP.
Q: What should business owners be focusing on right now?
This is business unusual; we are in a new environment and we need to prepare accordingly, after all, you can’t use an old map to go through a newly established destination.
Entrepreneurs should be focusing on seeking new opportunities for their businesses; solve clients’ current problems by creating new products and work on creating relevant services which they can provide during this time and in the future because after all, in times of chaos lies an opportunity.
Q: What support mechanism should entrepreneurs be making use of right now if they are struggling?
The Department of Small Business Development has since made available relief funds but a lot of entrepreneurs have struggled to access these funds due to non-compliance or depletion of the funds.
The Department of Employment and Labour has also made available the UIF-Covid-19 TERS national disaster system which offers relief only limited to paying part salaries for employees.
So once again, the answer lies with the business owner. I think many entrepreneurs need to work on collaborative efforts, embrace and adapt to digital and technological solutions as this will save you both money and time, and to also start selling online through social media and making provision for ecommerce/online client sign ups through their websites.
Q: What does the future of sales look like?
It is essentially to turn online connections and advertising into offline sales and conversions.
Entrepreneurs must capitalise on under priced and easily accessible advertising channels like advertising on social media. Almost everybody has one or more social media accounts and because of lockdown most people are frequently on their phones going through either YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and/ or LinkedIn, meaning your clients are more directly accessible than ever.
The eBook, ‘Remodeling Your Business for Tough Times: A guide on how small business owners and entrepreneurs can build a ‘crisis proof’ business’, is available for download on www.tmmbs.com.