Small businesses may not have the budget and turnover of Apple, but there are still plenty of lessons to be taken onboard based on the tech giant's activities. While the company's designs, innovations and technology are usually the attributes praised the most, it is also at the forefront of sales.
Entrepreneur highlights the fact that while Apple is a consumer-facing company, there are plenty of sales lessons to be learned by B2B organizations. This is because B2B companies still need to deliver polished, complete and refined products and processes, just as B2C organizations do. Not only is this because both types of business sell products or services, it is, most importantly, because they both sell to people.
Learning from Apple, as one of the most successful B2C companies in the world, can help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) improve their sales approaches, processes and results. So what lessons should SMEs take from Apple's sales approach?
1. Create the best customer experience
Whether a customer is a business or an individual, their experience of your company needs to be positive. Apple puts its customers first, building the business around the experience on offer, not only in terms of the ease of use of its products, but also in how they are sold.
Real Business explains that the simplicity of Apple products creates a "friendly" approach as they are easy for customers to use. Products and services are designed with the customer fully in mind, constantly asking how things can be improved to aid the consumer.
This holistic approach ensures the company asks how products and sales processes can be made better for the customer, which is an approach that can set SMEs apart from competitors and create better relationships with their customers.
2. Control the sales message
The message sent to customers is a vital part of sales, as it defines how a company or individual will see the products and services on offer. As a result, your overarching message should be cohesive, informative but also simple, something that Apple does particularly well.
While Kuza Biashara highlights the importance of a company's message when it comes to innovation and products, it is also a great example of why it pays to align your sales and marketing efforts. Ensuring the message being used throughout your marketing works with your target audience as well as utilizing that message in the sales processes that are being used will ensure a cohesive approach that is more likely to deliver results.
Similarly, your marketing can alter the way sales are approached by better informing the buying cycle and ensuring leads are contacted at the most opportune moment.
3. Save customers' time
Not only does Apple offer simpler processes, it also ensures they are quick so as not to keep customers waiting for extended periods of time. Consumers can book in to speak to someone about an issue or to discuss a possible new purchase, reducing waiting time. Not only is this helpful, it sends the signal that the company is there to serve the customer, not the other way around.
Long sales processes can end up putting customers off, whether they are individuals or businesses, as this can often nurture feelings of needing to jump through hoops in order to spend money. SMEs can set themselves apart from competitors by making their sales processes as short and efficient as possible. Spiro suggests that this is a more positive sales process, which is only going to benefit companies.
4. Don't compete on price
Despite the fact that Apple has numerous competitors all vying for the top spot in the market, the company doesn't compete on price. Its focus is always on the product, making it more innovative, user-friendly and as desirable as possible. Sitepoint shows that this ensures that people are happy to invest more money, knowing that they will be getting quality as well as the prestige that comes from the brand.
While SMEs can be tempted to reduce prices and offer discounts in order to sell a service or product, this can undervalue the company and actually affect how potential customers view it. Small businesses shouldn't underprice what they offer, instead, they should take a leaf out of Apple's book and choose a price tag that is an accurate reflection of their offering.
Sales teams should focus on what benefits a service provides to the customer rather than trying to deliver it at the cheapest possible price point. This creates a perception of value and allows them to charge a more premium cost, just like the tech giant.