Sales and marketing is the lifeblood of any business. If no one knows about you and you're not making new business sales, you're finished.
For anyone lucky to have retained clients - what happens when they leave? Again, you're toast unless you have a pipeline.
So how can you establish a pipeline of sales leads? How can you get the word out of what you do? And how can you do all of this AND run a business? These are the tools and techniques I've been using over the past few years:
Curate other people's content to start with
This might sound crazy, but you don't always have to create and share original content. Communities aren't built on people pitching to each other all the time. If you're sharing the good stuff, you will become recognised for doing that.
Use a tool like Buffer to schedule content and create your own introduction. Why are you sharing this with your audience? Quantity is more important than quality - which can follow. Find something you find valuable and you think your audience will as well? Share it.
Later, when you have time, you can start contributing, but it's much better to get started now than wait for "when you have time."
Use your CRM to start "obsessing about the customer"
If you're not using a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) then what are you doing? You need to care deeply about your prospects and customers, so use it to note take, track progress and help you deliver a great customer experience.
I've been using Hubspot for a while now (The CRM part is free!). I send emails from it so I can track when they are opened. I use the tracking code in our website to better understand what pages they viewed before submitting an enquiry. I can also make meeting notes and send out meeting schedule links.
This isn't rocket science, but used correctly, can be a massive time saver to keep on top of your contacts and your deals.
If you're not gaining interest in what you do, change what you do
At a networking event I went to last year, Justin Roff-Marsh (the author of The Machine) shared how we helped companies improve their sales. He starts by not looking at their sales process, but at their value proposition. Is what they offer valuable to customers? How do they know that?
Why has Tesla grown so fast? According to Clean Technica, it's because Tesla built cars people wanted. They new that oil was not sustainable
This is where obsessing about your customer (that's from Jeff Bezos by the way) is so key. What problem do they have and how does your product or service help them? How is what you sell a must have rather than a could have?
This is where interviewing your current, past and possible future customers is so important. Put an Amazon Voucher in there too and get to know them: Their goals, motivations and what problems they have. Also ask how they solve this right now. Understanding their problems in their language can really help you design products and services they must have. Look into Simon Sinek's Golden Circle to help (people don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe.).
This is where vision, mission and values are incredibly important.
Seriously, try and automate everything. From customer acquisition, to marketing campaigns to moving information from one place to another. You absolutely should not be manually adding numbers to spreadsheets! Everything you should be doing needs to save time, not take time.
One example I use is in my audience building of LinkedIn. I use a tool called Prospectin.fr where you can export search lists from LinkedIn and create scenarios and saved messages to your connections. I use this to thank them for connecting and share something valuable (you learn what that is over time).
I'll try and update this over time, as often new tools come out and techniques (and audience behaviours) change. They key to all of this is to care. Don't spam. Don't convert on the first message. Build up a conversation. Also, expect a very small % to respond, so don't be disheartened.