A recent survey of small business owners revealed that a third saw sales and marketing as an area of weakness in their company. These skills are vital to success but many small firms do not have the budget to employ a dedicated marketing department.

Here are the core sales and marketing skills for small and medium sized business owners, as defined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Marketing Skills

1. Understanding the Marketing Function

You need to understand the fundamentals of marketing – what marketing is, what it does and how to use it to improve your profits. For more information about the marketing function and small business, you can visit the websites of the Chartered Institute of Marketing – Opens in a new window and the Institute of Direct Marketing – Opens in a new window.

2. Marketing Communications

All effective sales and marketing depends on communications tools and techniques. You need to understand what these are, how they work and how much they cost. The essential components are advertising, direct marketing, electronic media, public relations, sales promotion and personal selling. Download a free 10 minute guide to marketing communications from the CIM website – Opens in a new window.

3. Copy Writing

Good copy makes a big difference to the success of your sales and marketing efforts. Well-written e-shots, adverts and sales leaflets increase your sales, and reports and plans could help you raise funds. A great case study or customer testimonial on your website or printed sales material is worth thousands of pounds of creative design and print. For more information read our guide to 8 ways to brush up on your writing skills.

4. Digital Technology Awareness

Are you up to date with the explosive growth of digital marketing? Online marketing spend has now over-taken offline marketing so if you have not got to grips with this new channel, it really is time to learn more about it. Read our guides to growth through technology.

5. How to Measure and Evaluate your Activity

Effective marketing leads to continuous growth in earnings, but what is meant by effectiveness is relative to a business’ aims and objectives. There are a range of standard techniques you can refer to when measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) of your marketing spend. See our page on how to review and evaluate your current marketing spend.

6. Planning and Strategy

Without a plan, you cannot structure your approach to market. A marketing plan will help you decide your marketing mix – how and where you are going to sell your product or service, and how you are going to price it. A plan must incorporate time for you to research your market, decide which customers you are going to target, and ensure that your offering is something that customers will need and want. For a free CIM marketing plan tool visit the CIM website – Opens in a new window.

Sales Skills

These are the core skills required for effective selling.

Identifying opportunities to attract new customers.
Compiling a quality prospect list and monitoring form.
Creating your own “value proposition” to enable you to clearly communicate how you can add value to your customer’s business.
Getting your emails read and phone messages returned.
An understanding of the sales process: preparation, opening the meeting, leading the discussion, effective questioning, matching customer needs, closing and handling objections.
The ability to differentiate yourself from competition.

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