selling

Once your marketing has generated those leads, you need to seal the deal, converting them into sales.  You also need to be clear on the sales routes and trading structures your business will use to make your stuff available, receive payment etc.  

Converting leads

 Most sales only occur after several interactions with a potential customer (research suggests on average 7 points of contact).  So, don't give up - you need a sales plan.  Think about different ways you can maintain contact with a customer, for example:

  • After you meet someone for the first time, follow up by inviting them to connect on appropriate social media

  • Invite them to join your email update/blog circulation list - and make sure what you send them is relevant

  • Follow up with a personal email, for example sharing an article you think they may like

  • Send a proposal, or ask more about their exact needs so you can send a proposal, or suggest to renew a previous order

  • Give them something for free, so they get a feel for the quality of your products or services, and you also generate good will. 

Think about downloading a customer relationship management software package (often very cheap, even free) to track your interactions with potential and existing customers, so you can follow up appropriately - but not oppressively.  (Also, be careful what personal customer information you obtain, store and use is compliant with data protection requirements.)

Where will you sell?

Depending on what you are selling, there are potentially many ways to sell your stuff. 

 

  • If you're selling a product, you will need to establish what part of the supply chain you will sell to: manufacturers or integrators, wholesalers or distributors, retailers or to end-users?

  • Will you sell your products at your factory or workshop, or at a retail shop or stall?  

  • If you're providing a service, where will you provide it? Do you have to attend at the customer's premises, or can you do it from your own office or workshop?

 

See Office & Staff for more on the practicalities.

  • Whatever you're selling, will you need to sell on the internet?  Will this be via your own website, or setting up your account, or shop, on an online marketplace such as eBay, Etsy, etc.? See Online for more information.

 

Trading Structure

Trading Structure

On a practical level, you will also need to decide what business entity you will use to enter into contracts with customers and partners, to pay and receive money, and so on.  Unless you plan to set up as a charitable, non-profit organisation, your main choices are:

  • Sole trader: for legal and tax purposes, you are your business.  There are no complicated set-up or reporting requirements, and you have full control over your business.  All profits are your personal profits, but all debts and liabilities are yours too.

  • Limited liability company, registered at Companies House with at least one shareholder and at least one director​.  This is a separate legal entity, and all profits, debts and liabilities are held by the company.  To benefit from the business profits, you would need to take a salary, or dividends on your shareholder.

  • Partnership arrangement with others.  Depending on what type of partnership you go for, this can look more like the sole trader route (simple partnership, no separate legal entity) or like the limited liability company route (limited liability partnership, a separate legal entity).

See The Money and Records, Tax & Reporting for more on tax and reporting issues, and Trading Structures for more information and how to choose the right one.

You will also need to choose a trading name: for more guidance on selecting a name, see Brand and Marketing and Trade Marks.

As seen in...

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