Take Flight: Sales Strategies for Small Business

Posted on June 2nd, 2023 to Uncategorized

The following post is based on a talk I recently gave in front of a live audience in New York. If you prefer to watch, just press play!

Many sales strategies for small business owners are for the birds.

But if it’s the right bird, it can be a good thing.

Let me explain with a short story.

As I stood at the window in my basement, I was captivated by the sight unfolding before me. 

As a self-proclaimed bird nerd, I was thrilled to see a nest filled with four fledgling Carolina Wrens.

Not a bird nerd like me?

A fledgling is a baby bird that has grown just enough wings to feel the instinctual pull to leave the nest. 

I watched as each one approached the corner of the beam, mustering the courage for that great leap. But despite a series of earnest flaps, they failed to take flight. 

Fledglings, you see, cannot fly yet. 

As I stood there watching, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to the journey of the small business owners.

Much like these fledglings, many have taken the daring leap from the corporate nest, hoping to develop the necessary skills to make their businesses take flight. 

But what they encounter in the wild are old-school and ineffective sales strategies that fail to reflect their personality or work.

If you can relate, you’re probably looking for a different way, too. 

In this post, I’m going to lean into my knowledge (and bird obsession) to illustrate how to sell with integrity, heart and success by drawing inspiration from three birds residing in my backyard.

Let’s take flight!

Sales Strategies of The Eurasian Starling

Let me introduce you to a bird that has gained quite the reputation—the Eurasian Starling. 

Starlings have some obnoxious tendencies, like swarming in large groups and making irritating, two-toned sounds (sort of like what a dial-up modem sounded like in the 1990s).

To add to their charm, their excrement is toxic to humans, and capable of corroding metal. Not exactly the kind of bird you’d want to encounter in your sales process, right?

But they are flying all around us, all the time.

A few years ago, I received a call from a salesperson, let’s call him Scott, who was eager to discuss his coaching program with me. 

From the moment the call began, I sensed something off about his approach. 

He mentioned my interest in both business coaching and health. I promptly clarified that my focus was solely on business coaching. Without much thought, I filled in health as the mandatory second option on his intake form.

But Scott had a plan. 

As the call started to go south, he seized the opportunity to ask about my weight and dress size.

He went on to suggest that I wasn’t committed to my business or my health, obviously convinced that the best way to close the sale was to be manipulative and cross professional boundaries.

What a Starling!

As I thought about the call, I realized that business owners may not be aware that there are better sales methods than these outdated approaches. 

As a result, they inadvertently adopt strategies that prioritize closing deals over building genuine relationships and understanding the unique needs of clients.

So, it becomes crucial for small business owners to identify a different approach—one that prioritizes authenticity, empathy, and a deep understanding of our clients’ needs.

In the next section, we’ll meet the polar opposite to the Starling but also ineffective.

The Whip-Poor-Will – Flying Under the Radar

Now, let’s shift our attention to a fascinating bird that takes a completely different approach in the world of sales—the Whip-Poor-Will. 

The Whip-Poor-Will is known for its nocturnal habits. It nests low on the forest floor and remains almost invisible, happily camouflaged from the rest of nature.

When the Whip-Poor-Will does take flight, it does so low and slow, flying under the radar.

In the realm of sales, many subject-matter experts adopt the  Whip-Poor-Will approach. 

They prefer to keep a low profile, avoiding drawing attention to themselves or their offerings. 

When engaging in sales conversations, they tend to stick to a predetermined script, and avoid discussions about money or the underlying challenges their clients face.

They sign off hoping the client will reach out to them afterward.

Here’s the problem with that approach: 

By avoiding discussing financial considerations or potential obstacles, this bird/small business owner misses the opportunity to truly understand the client’s unique situation and demonstrate their value. 

The client may be left feeling underwhelmed and uncertain, ultimately leading to a lack of engagement or follow-up.

While I never advocate for aggressive selling tactics or to overrun boundaries (I see you, Scott), solely relying on a Whip-Poor-Will-like approach in sales can hinder meaningful connections and limit the potential for success. 

Sales conversations must be collaborative, respectful, and proactive, uncovering pain points and challenges to position yourself as a valuable problem-solving partner — and you can’t do that if you prefer to blend into the wallpaper. 

In the next section, we’ll explore a bird that embodies boldness and strategic action—the Carolina Wren. 

Get ready to soar higher and make a lasting impact!

Sales Strategies of The Carolina Wren – Bold and Strategic

When it comes to embodying boldness and strategic action, the Carolina Wren takes center stage. 

With utter confidence, this bird emits a unique sound that birders recognize as the unmistakable call of a Carolina Wren.

In the world of sales, embracing the qualities of the Carolina Wren can yield remarkable results. 

Let me share the inspiring story of one of my clients who transformed from a Whip-Poor-Will to a Carolina Wren. 

Sarah, a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist, had flown out of a comfortable corporate nest and successfully embarked on small and medium-sized projects. 

However, Sarah had grander aspirations to make a global impact and expand her firm to drive real change in organizations worldwide.

Recognizing her potential, I saw in Sarah the makings of a Carolina Wren. 

Together, we worked on unleashing her boldness and strategic thinking.

As Sarah began to embrace her unique qualities, she created an opportunity to pitch her vision to a Fortune 500 company. 

The deal seemed promising until an unexpected conflict arose among two executive sponsors, jeopardizing the entire agreement.

Faced with this challenge, Sarah could have reverted to her Whip-Poor-Will-like tendencies, fading into the background and hoping the issue would resolve itself. 

However, she chose to channel her inner Carolina Wren. 

Sarah boldly called for a meeting with the conflicting executives, taking on the role of facilitator and mediator. 

Through her strategic approach, she skillfully navigated the tension and successfully brought the sponsors to an agreement. She saved the deal, and that client continues to be the most valuable partner to her business.

By embodying the qualities of the Carolina Wren, small business owners can break through barriers, overcome challenges, and achieve remarkable success. 

It requires a willingness to take calculated risks, engage in difficult conversations, and strategically navigate obstacles.

Sales Strategies: Which Bird Will You Become?

To my fellow small business owners, I encourage you to consider the type of sales bird you want to become.

Avoid the negative qualities of Scott the Starling and the limitations of the Whip-Poor-Will. 

Instead, dare to embody the boldness and strategic action of the Carolina Wren. 

Believe in your vision, understand your unique value proposition, and be willing to go above and beyond to serve your clients.

I know it’s not easy, which is why I’m here! 

If you have questions or want to fine-tune your sales process, join me every month for the Sales Roundtable. 

We tackle how to approach sales wisely, achieve your sales goals and make a lasting impact in the world. 

Sign up here and see your sales soar!

Copyright © 2024 Allison Davis

Privacy Policy