By Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director

It’s a common problem faced by many first-time entrepreneurs in Austin. They have a great vision for their company, a great product and perhaps even a great marketing strategy, but they just can’t seem to grow their sales as quickly as they would like. The solution is simple: more effective customer engagement.

The problem is that many first-time entrepreneurs are still not comfortable with the sales process. Either they believe that the product is so good that it will literally sell itself, or they are concerned about pushing too hard and too fast so they never really engage with the customer.

If that sounds like your entrepreneurial experience, then here are some tips for turning your startup into a sales machine.

Tip #1: Focus on the long-term relationship

It’s easy to focus on the short-term sale. After all, it’s those short-term sales that are going to put money in the bank and help your business grow. However, you also have to take a long-term view of customer relationships. And that’s especially true if you are selling relatively expensive or high-end products. You need to develop the relationship first, steadily building credibility with the client over time.

For example, say that you have just launched a small jewelry business. The first time a customer comes into the store, you may not make a big sale. But if you can educate the customer about the types of materials you use in your jewelry, or the types of artisans who are working on these pieces of jewelry, you will be preparing the customer for a much larger purchase later.

Tip #2: Listen to the customer

Most people, when they think about sales, think in terms of a rehearsesd “script” or “messages.” They think that there is some perfect sales script that will convert every time. That’s just not the case. You also need to listen to the customer. What problem are they trying to solve? What are they really looking for?

And this listening process includes more than just the words that customers use. Pay attention to their body language and all the things they are saying with their posture. And if you’re not sure what they really want, ask questions to get clarification. Often, people may tell you they want one thing, but really have something entirely different in mind.

Tip #3: Remember that price is just one factor in the sales decision

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