Did you know that 80% of small businesses will go bust in the next 5 years? It’s a scary statistic and if you want to be in the 20% that succeed then you need a good strategy for sales growth to keep afloat.
People go into starting a business with the best of intentions, usually because they are good at what they do and want to make a living from it. However reality soon sinks in that sales are the lifeblood of their business, and without a good stream of sales you will end up in the 80% going bust.
What are the top 4 ways to achieve sales growth in small business?
1) Focus on your Niche
There is no point having a product or an offer that is too generic and impersonal, or tries to appeal to too broad an audience - you’ll end up competing on price in a saturated market. Having a niche means that you can appeal to a specialised section of the population for business growth, and do it really well, with a highly targeted product or service offering. This is an effective way to grow your sales in a target area, and not need to compete on price.
Companies like Porsche and Apple are good examples of businesses that started with a niche market and have been hugely successful, not needing to compete on price.
To find your niche ask yourself these questions:
- What is my STAR product? This may be your best seller or it may be the product/service that makes you the most profit margin, or that you enjoy selling the most;
- Who is the target audience for my STAR product? This may be geographic, demographic or socio-economic;
- What is my Point of Difference? Ie what do I provide that is different and unique and better than everyone else?
Finding your niche and marketing to those people doesn't just mean less competing on price, it also allows you to spend far less on marketing and get a better return. The more specialised and targeted your online message, the easier it is for Google to rank you and customers find you.
2) Have a CRM system and nurture those leads
A CRM system isn’t just for storing your customer and lead information. It is a full-service tool that can help every small business owner increase sales, generate more leads, improve customer service, and ultimately grow. Communicating regularly with customers through automation is a key tool to getting both repeat business from your existing customers and also compelling any new lead through to a sale.
After all, when you enter a lead into your CRM you don’t want that information (or person!) to just sit there. With a CRM you can set up a simple automated campaign to ensure that person continues getting regular updates from you. These may be a new product or service launches, invitations to workshops or webinars, or reminders about things that are important to them. The communication can be via email, text or phone, depending on the urgency and frequency of the message, and you can even use an “abandoned cart reminder” that they have a product in their shopping cart and haven’t checked out yet.
Your CRM is also an invaluable source of data for you, showing who are reading your emails and engaging with your messaging, and which clients are at different stages in the sales funnel. It will also show you which clients have come from which landing pages on your website, and what their online activity has been. This is an extremely valuable tool in telling you where in the buying process they are.
The options are all there to help you provide excellent customer service to your existing clients and your new leads, and nurture them through to the end sale. The more you can automate these systems to secure ongoing annual sales the more time you have to be working ON your business rather than stuck IN the business.
There are many great CRM systems around - here is a good comparison article that may help you out, (scroll down to the quadrant box for a good visual).
3) Build Relationships
This one is an old-school technique that still really works...
Building relationships with people is not about selling TO them, but about helping them solve their problems, and then doing what you say you will do. To be a problem solver you’ll need to first find out what’s important to your customer, then listen..listen..listen. The important point is to really know what their pain point is and then provide a solution that will HELP them alleviate that pain. It’s about providing the best possible customer experience.
It’s a good idea to have some scripted talking points for inbound or outbound phone calls to help with this process, that focus your key strengths and points of difference and the ways that you can help them. This strategy is about building rapport and trust and developing an ongoing relationship rather than getting a one-off sale or transaction. Why not write yourself a few key talking points and set a goal to make a few new calls each week?
This strategy is fairly self-explanatory but is often underutilised! A good referral strategy utilises your existing customers and connections to promote your business to other people. This is usually word-of-mouth and can be spontaneous, but there are also ways to have a structured system of referrals that provide long-term sales as your business grows.
The first rule of Referral marketing is to keep your promises and do what you say you will do. If you are doing a fantastic job for your existing customers then they are highly likely to recommend you to their friends. If you are maintaining the steps we have listed above in targeting your niche, communicating with them regularly, and building good relationships, then you have a pool of customers there ready to be your best advocate.
The second rule is not to be afraid to ask for a recommendation. Your happy customers may not think to recommend you themselves (they are, after all, not sitting around thinking of you all day) but are probably MORE than happy to do it once you ask them.
Finally, you can set a referral structure in place whereby there is a benefit to your customer for any referral that comes from them. This may be in the form of a discount, a complementary product, a gift voucher or the like. And don't forget to follow up with a card to thank them for the referral and maintain your fantastic relationship!
Not already an Action Centre client? We'd be happy to review your business with you and suggest some systems that will help you grow. Contact us below for a free, no-obligation business review with a senior Action Centre coach.
You’ll find having an Action Centre business coach is just like having a marketing manager, sales team leader, trainer and recruitment specialist - wrapped in one - all for one nominal investment. We are the business partner you need without sharing your profits - with over 60 years of collective coaching experience to keep you on track and accountable for your own success.
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