Five Ideas to Jump-Start Sales

 We last spoke about finding your point of difference…that thing that sets you apart from your competitors.  Now it’s time to capitalize on it!

1.  Time is Money

For a small business, setting aside enough marketing dollars to make a true impact on your core consumer base can be challenging.  It can put a squeeze on the monthly cash flow that you just aren’t comfortable with.  That’s okay!  Most small businesses don’t have unlimited funds to execute multi-tiered marketing campaigns.  You aren’t alone.  So what’s the solution?

We’ve talked before about the financial (and warm & fuzzy) benefits of getting involved in your community. Find ways to be truly present in the community you wish to serve.  “Community” can mean a variety of things: geographical area (e.g. Cedar Park), business subset (e.g. operations managers in the restaurant industry), core demographic group (e.g. soccer moms ages 25-44).

Research various clubs, non-profits, activities, etc. that will get you visibility and face time with your key customers.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money doing this, but you will be spending your time!

2.  Develop a Customer Registration System

Do you currently have a customer database?  If not, there’s no time like the present!  It can be as simple as having a clipboard at your cashier desk asking for name/email details so you can share exclusive offers and discounts.  This method requires your employees to systematically enter this information into a database or client relationship management (CRM) system.  There’s room for error in this method, but if it’s all you can do…start there!  Something is better than nothing.

Another great idea to build a customer database is to offer “green receipts”.  Consumers can provide you with an email address so they can be part of a paperless system and have their receipts, monthly reports, tax documents, etc. emailed instead of receiving the same information in paper format.  This goes along way for environmentally conscious consumers as well as those looking for a convenient way to keep track of spending and enjoy the added benefit of de-cluttering their lives.

 Once you build the database you’ll need to activate it.  We’ll talk more about that later.

3.  Focus on the Benefits

Sales is all about showcasing your product or service FEATURE(S) and correlating the BENEFIT(S) to the consumer.  In today’s competitive, instant-gratification-fueled marketplace, you’re better off letting the benefits lead the way.

Consumers are self-absorbed, so hook them quickly with the things that mean the most to them (e.g. time savings, money savings, convenience, emotional attachment, ego – first to have a new product).  Initially, what you have to offer is not nearly as important as the buyer’s perception of what they’re going to get!  Once the buyer knows you can provide what they need then you can dazzle them with the details of your amazing product/service features.

4. Create a Sales Incentive Program

One of the easiest ways to boost sales is by creating a simple, sexy and attainable incentive program for the sales team.  

Simple: Keep the guidelines consistent and easy to follow.  If you operate a retail location you can still do this, just create the program around up-selling specific  items to the consumer.  

Sexy: The incentive needs to be valuable.  Cash is always king, but trips, Visa gift cards, electronics, etc. are also great prizes for sales incentive programs.

Attainable: Keep the program short (i.e. monthly or quarterly).  Anything longer will cause 80% of your staff to lose interest and that defeats the purpose!  Also, take into account typical sales numbers and goals. Make sure the program goals seem high, yet attainable.

5. Give Your Customers the Inside Scoop

This goes hand-in-hand with creating that customer database we talked about in #2.

If you promise to provide loyal customers with the inside track on sales, exclusive offers and new products/services, then they’ll be more likely to give you their personal information (i.e. email or phone number).  And, when they buy, they’ll likely buy more and share the juicy details of your offer with their closest friends.  Peer referrals are priceless.

These few ideas are simple, easy to implement and relatively inexpensive.  The hardest part is making time and getting started.  But, you’ll be glad you did when your ProLedge bookkeeper alerts you of your growing sales numbers!

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