It’s 2020 and some small business owners still think that the only prerequisite for sales growth is having an excellent sales team.
There is so much more to selling in the 21st century.
Failure to recognize this fact means that you will not pay attention to these other aspects of your business, which can be detrimental to the sales volume ultimately.
Besides having a strong sales and marketing team in place, what other ways can small businesses get more sales?
In this post, we highlight 13 things that can increase your sales this year and beyond. Give them the attention they deserve and the rest will pretty much fall into place.
Make Use of the Existing Customers
You may not have realized it, but your sales can keep growing courtesy of your existing customers. No one is dismissing the fact that new customers are valuable to a small business.
While a small business should consistently look for new customers, focusing on your existing customers can also significantly boost your sales.
So, what is it that you need to do to ensure this happens?
1. Focus on their behavior
Have you ever considered studying how your existing customers use and interact with your products? If not, start doing it as soon as possible. You will find exciting insights that can add value to your sales growth efforts.
For instance, you might find that they place heavy reliance on a given feature, yet struggle with one or more aspects of your product. Such a discovery presents an excellent opportunity for small businesses to upgrade their products and, in turn, entice existing customers into buying more than before.
Studying the behavior of your existing customers also gives you more room to deliver more personalized service. Small businesses are reaping significant benefits from personalization. This is mainly because close to 50 percent of consumers tend to spend more on a product when there is a personalized experience.
With 90 percent of marketers believing that personalization is the future, you cannot help but embrace it. And the only way you can offer personalized service and training is by first having full knowledge of your customer behavior and patterns.
Rather than viewing the personalization approach as an upsell, consider it as an extension or an enrichment of the current relationship you have with your customers.
At the same time, be careful not to appear forceful. Sometimes, simply letting people know what your other services and products are can be enough. Some of them might not just be aware that you sell more than the things they are already buying from you.
2. Request feedback from customers
When actively seeking feedback from your existing customers, resist the urge to only focus on the positive things that they say about your products or services. While knowing the positive aspects that your customers’ value is critical to business growth, being aware of what your products lack is equally beneficial.
Try to find out whether there is a specific problem that your products or services can solve. For instance, is it possible that some of your customers are understaffed (if you are in the B2B industry), and you have an additional service you can extend to improve the situation?
A perfect example is a small business that does an excellent job of making and selling workplace uniforms. A customer who wants to simplify their work may request your firm to print the outfits with their logo and company name.
In this case, you would only require a small investment to start offering this additional service and consequently increase your sales.
So, based on the feedback you obtain from your existing clients, determine the most effective, profitable and sensible range of services to add to your current offering – so that your business makes more sense to your customers. These efforts will bear the fruits of increased sales and a stronger relationship with your customers.
An important question: how do you gather customer feedback? You may want to consider using The A.C.A.F Customer Feedback Loop – a strategic system applied in the collection and implementation of customer feedback. See the diagram below.
The use of this system demands the use of various methods of customer data collection.
While there are hundreds of ways of collecting customer feedback, long-form based surveys, phone calls, short in-app surveys, transactional emails, suggestion boards, and Net Promoter Score surveys tend to stand out.
Other useful tools include Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES).
Do not be afraid of getting customer feedback. You have a lot to gain, and absolutely nothing to lose.
By consistently seeking customer feedback, you understand the likes and dislikes of your customers, you delight them by making them feel important and recognized and finally, you can consistently improve your product/service.
3. Regular promotions
You should reward your current customers once in a while. Regular sales and marketing promotions can help you achieve this.
The frequency with which you hold such promotions should be built upon a couple of things, including your budget, ongoing activities, and the availability of your sales and marketing team. Some organizations hold them monthly, quarterly, and others are comfortable with bi-annual promotions, and so on.
For you to feel a positive impact on your sales, consider holding sales promotions as regularly as possible. Do something that makes your customers look forward to these promotions, including establishing a rhythm with them. The objective is to make them anticipate future interactions with your company and products.
If you can successfully delight them, you gain voluntary brand evangelists. They will inform other people – potential clients – about an upcoming promotion by your company. Referrals, in many instances, give birth to a more significant customer base.
Do not leave the role of customer satisfaction to only the customer service team. It should be made a critical responsibility for all the departments that interact with customers.
Is your firm already experimenting with the different ways of gathering customer feedback? If not, now is the time to do so. You will be surprised at the volumes of sales your company has been missing all this while. The good news is that it is never too late to start something good.
Bring New Customers on Board
A business must have a pool of tactics for increasing its sales. Besides paying attention to the existing customers, you should also focus your energy on bringing new customers on board.
Easier said than done, right? Yeah, but not impossible!
Now is the time to focus your attention on turning prospects into customers. Reach out to the target group aware of the company’s existence and all or most of the offerings, but hasn’t signed on. The question is, how do you make this happen?
Try the following strategies:
4. Set a deadline or ask a question
As harsh as its sounds, setting a “no communication” deadline prevents your company from wasting any more time with prospects whose likely of becoming customers is almost zero. At this point, you’ve acknowledged the fact that not all your prospects are designed to go through your sales funnel and automatically become part of your client base, as you intend.
Send your prospects – especially the ones you’ve been following for a long time – the politest message you can to inform them that they will not hear from you again.
An example of such a message could read:
“It’s been 30 days since we heard from you. While this will be our last communication, we encourage you to reach out to us in the future when you feel comfortable to progress”.
In many instances, such a message will get the attention of prospects who have a higher chance of converting into a customer, and at the same time, you’ll be in a position to identify dead prospects and leave it at that.
If you aren’t comfortable with the “deadline” approach, you may send your prospects a message that requires their response. For instance:
“Two weeks have gone from the time we last heard from you. Do you mind letting us know if you’ve had the time to look at the materials and reach a decision?”
Many marketers view this tactic as a good and polite way of applying the pressure on the prospects. The other advantage of this strategy originates in its ability to open up the dialogue through which you can find out the concerns or questions that your prospects might be struggling with.
5. Offer incentives
It’s challenging and nearly impossible to come across someone who hates free stuff. Discounts and free gifts are fantastic ways of converting sales. Since the majority of people cannot pass something being given for free – irrespective of the value – your discount offerings needn’t be so significant and valuable that you cause the company budget to suffer.
Apart from delivering what you promise, make sure that the free gifts and discounts you are offering are accessible. For example, free gifts redemption shouldn’t be a one-day affair.
One-week redemption period makes more sense, and it goes a long way in showing the prospects that you care about them, and the discounts/free gifts are genuine and for them to benefit from.
Another way of making the free gifts accessible is by reducing the number of hoops that the prospect has to pass through to get the reward. This brings out your generosity and your genuine readiness to reward them.
Incentives can give you happy customers, primarily if you can deliver what you promise. Otherwise, if you can’t keep your promise, or if the process of claiming the incentive appears too tricky or dodgy, it’s just a waste of time.
And sadly, you might even lose your existing customers.
6. Put the right content strategy in place
How does your content strategy look? Is it productive?
Have a critical look at your existing website, flyers, letters and other sales materials. Check if you are paying more attention to the product features than benefits.
Then you need to change a few things.
A better approach is to focus on how your product/service will positively change the lives of your customers. Determine how your product/service can, for instance, simplify the lives of your prospects.
How can it make their lives happier or cheaper?
Find a way of changing a product feature into a benefit. Take the case of a company that offers water and fire restoration services.
Rather than guarantee your target audience 24/7 availability, how about letting them know that they needn’t worry about water damage since you are just a phone call away from all year round.
How about emphasizing that you are at their beck and call, and they can call you at any time of day or night?
You must have realized that creating the right content demands both time and effort. Many marketers still don’t know that they must develop specific pieces to use them in customer prospecting.
As such, in many instances, circumstances force them to change course. Others decide to wait for the creation and approval of a specific piece before they present it to their target market.
These two scenarios can make you lose potential customers to a competitor who is already armed with the right content for their prospects.
Here are five steps you can use to devise an effective content strategy.
Marketers must be ready at all times so they can strike the iron while it is hot when the customer reaches the decision making phase.
The secret lies in the size and relevance of your content library. Your content library should have pieces for multiple product/service lines and features in every sale funnel stage.
The diagram below illustrates the right type of content in the different stages of the sales funnel.
Content creators must also take into account the different personas of their prospects, as well as their respective stages within the sales funnel. The right content strategy entails the creation of a wide array of assets capable of addressing the prospects’ interests and pain points, and most importantly, make their final decision making easy.
In marketing, content is still crucial, and this fact isn’t changing any time soon. Since you must create content, don’t do it for the sake of it.
Focus your energy and efforts on identifying and developing the right content and watch happily as your business gains new and loyal customers.
Lastly, do not forget to measure the effectiveness of your content strategy. Metrics for measuring the success or otherwise of a content strategy are illustrated in the diagram below.
Increase Sales through Social Media
Social media is continually expanding, and business should grab every opportunity that their use presents. A valuable business tool, social media significantly helps in building a brand’s reputation, creating loyal customers, and increasing sales.
Here are the top smart ways of using social media to grow your sales.
7. Use hashtags
Hashtags spread like wildfire and no brand should be afraid of using them. Many other businesses are using hashtags to make their products known to their target market.
Since your competitors have also discovered the benefits of using hashtags, you must do everything possible to stand out. At all times, seek to show up first in all the hashtag searches that your potential customers conduct.
Consider using a wide array of hashtags with generic options together with a unique one that describes the primary focus of your brand.
Explore various mediums until you find one that satisfies you completely, and stick to it. Use that mix of hashtags on all your social media platforms where hashtags are relevant.
8. Post pictures
Social media posts that are accompanied by photos always get the most engagement. Encourage your following to like and share your posts. Recently, Facebook introduced an algorithm that reposts a link every time a person comments on it – which translates to wider exposure of your company and products.
As long as you can attract extra likes on your posts, you can be sure that more people will see it through their friends’ feeds. For this reason, remember to attach photos of your products on every promotion you post on social media.
9. Expose your social media sites even the more
Many brands are now including links to their various social media platforms on their websites. It has now become a must-have feature and it also makes it easier for potential customers to follow the brands.
This is an effective way of exposing your social media sites to the rest of the world. That’s not enough, though.
Have links in other platforms such as on your email signature, blog posts, and newsletters, among many others. The objective is to optimize every opportunity capable of earning you additional followers who will soon learn about all your social media sales.
10. Schedule flash sale
If there’s one thing people love, it’s flash sales. If you are not doing it, then you are missing out on a great opportunity to accelerate your sales. Flash sales have numerous benefits to small businesses in particular.
These include exposure to a large customer base, makes targeting easier and more accurate and also drives more traffic to your eCommerce site. It also helps with relationship-building.
If you haven’t been using social media to inform people about an upcoming flash sale, you should consider doing it.
Create a special price for given products (applicable for a short period) and then inform people, via social media, of your intention to hold a flash sale in the coming weeks. Do not let them know of the actual date of the beginning of the flash sale.
Your following and other people who will see the announcement will have no choice but to keep checking your feeds to know when the flash sale is going down. When it finally happens, be ready to handle heavy traffic on your website.
11. Offer conditional coupons
Just like a flash sale, coupons are a great way of boosting sales. People love to buy items offered at bargains and lower prices. If you want to offer coupons through social media, attach a condition to them.
For example, you can lure people into purchasing your products using a coupon code but make it only available to people who have followed you on Twitter or liked your Facebook page.
To make sure that the post reaches as many people as possible, make it shareable, and promise coupon codes to the only individuals who share the post after commenting something you’ve specified.
The approach earns you two benefits – increased following and new customers.
To make the most out of your social media sites, make sure that all your profiles are optimized. You might want to view your social media profile as a mini-website for your company.
As such, it should clearly communicate who you are, why you exist (purpose), and your values. You must resonate and connect with your perfect customer immediately before you stop being on their radar.
Finally, treat all your social media sites as a distinct site. Since your audiences for every platform is different, seek to optimize all your profiles in accordance with the goals you have for every website.
Other ways of getting more sales include:
12. Free trials and demos
Your ability to offer free trials and demonstrations will be dependent on the type of product or service your business offers. Free trials and demos work best in subscription-based products.
Free trials and demonstrations are a great way of demonstrating to your prospects the value of your service. The goal is to let them see it for themselves, rather than gamble with the questions of whether a service they haven’t tried will work for them.
Utilize free trials, and if not possible, walkthrough demonstrations to show your prospective customers the exact amount of money and time they could save by using your product or service.
Should you decide to go ahead with free trials, accompany them with outstanding customer service and relevant training to make sure that they not only use your product but also, make the most out of it. If your product delivers what you promise, free trials and demos will bring you more customers, and hence, more sales.
Contrary to popular opinion, managing a small business isn’t any easier from running a large enterprise – and more so if you are personally doing most of the things. Rather than expand your payroll, you may consider incorporating sales and marketing automation technology in your business.
The earlier you do it the sooner you begin to reap the associated benefits. Automation could be part of your email marketing or customer relationship management. Imagine having an email nurturing workflow capable of welcoming new contacts and directing them to the next step CTA.
All without any human intervention. How’s that for sales on auto-pilot?