Increasing Sales sounds simple enough doesn't it but it's something that many businesses tend to struggle with. I guess we are not all born with advanced sales skills or pheromones that draw in customers like honey to the pot. No, for the vast majority of businesses out there the sales graph can resemble a theme park ride with massive highs and even lower lows. So what are the simple steps that can be put in place to smooth the ride and grow sales quickly.
Firstly we need to acknowledge industry and seasonal trends as these trends will help us to strategically plan for the quieter periods. If you are a new business or one entering new markets this can be a daunting task. My advice would always be to try and step back and look at the bigger picture and related services or products. For example car batteries usually die when the weather gets colder, In recessions gambling and chocolate does well. You get the idea! Once you have the data it's simply a case of planning marketing or promotions in the months leading up to these quiet periods.
It's not just about the data. Here are a just few tips I have used over the years to help you get early results:
1. Have you ever tried to purchase your own product. The very first thing you need to do is buy something from yourself. Stupid idea hey! But nobody ever does it and it's amazing what you will find out about your products and services when you put yourself in the customers shoes. I have done this with many organisations and people are often amazed at the results. They may have the sexiest looking web site, but no contact details or store locations. The lady on the sales desk says "Wadayawant" or there is no stock. Or it's that you are not open at convenient times for your customers.
2. You customer list/database is your best asset. If sales are slow then get on the phone and start calling the customers who are not buying and just ask them why. Tell them that you are genuinely concerned at the loss of their business and that you would like to get to the bottom of it. I am confident that both you and your customer just started to build a better relationship. You cared enough to call and often they will give you a second chance. As a personal touch I like to address their issues and then call them back to explain what you have done to improve the product or service.
3. Value proposition or Price. I see so many people caught up in the price of the product and most just drop the price as soon as sales slow. Which by the way is quite possibly the worst thing you can do. Now before I get hundreds of emails I will quote you the humble Truffle, yep the fungus that people pay a small fortune for. You see the humble truffle does not have a price, it has a value proposition. If I eat a Truffle, I must be doing well in life or this must be a fancy restaurant, they have Truffle on the menu. In trying economic conditions it is important to focus on the Value Proposition of your product and not just the price.
I do acknowledge that your product needs to be priced within the market (especially if there is aggressive competitors) but before you drop the price and your pants, have a look at the chart below.
This chart (credit to Federal Mogul who created this chart) shows how many sales you can afford to lose if you put your price up. So for example lets say we are trading at 30% Margin and we put our price up by 5%. We can afford to lose 14.3% of our sales. Now most people are a little shocked to see that figure and I think its because we are just all so programmed to discount at all costs.
Building value to your product is a great art and one that I could easily write a small book on but in simple terms you need to ensure that through purchasing your product the customer has a great experience. Have you ever heard the saying "sell the sizzle, not the sausage".
To help you better understand this concept I would ask you to recall the last truly memorable product or service you purchased and what made it special. For those wanting to explore this concept even further I encourage you to seek out and read a book titled Moments of Truth by Author Jan Carlzon. This man understood that the customer contact points are critical and as a result transformed the airline industry in many ways that we still benefit from today.
So Look at your price but also the complete offering as this will ultimately dictate your success in the long and short term.
4. Ask for the business. Now in the old days that was as simple as holding out your hand and saying "can I have your business" however in today's mosh pit of technology, internet and Global village we often don't have the luxury of meeting our clients. Especially those with web based businesses. So it is important that the customer is walked through the sales steps to purchase your product. a). A product offering with a clear short description of the product b). the offering should have a time frame (only while stocks last etc) c). Choice. Part of connecting to a product emotionally is when I choose a colour that I like or a size etc d). Simple payment options again with choice. So make sure you have Eftpos facilities or PayPal and credit card facilities if online. e). Something to take the product home in or shipping options such as express or post.
If you are running an internal phone sales team then make sure that every call ends with "that item is in stock, would you like me to have that put on our next delivery run" The customer then has the choice of YES or NO. I have worked in a company where sales increased by 25% as soon as this was implemented.
5. Ask for a referral. Again something that nobody does and it is so easy to do. How hard is it to simply say "if you have enjoyed our product or service could I ask you for the names of three people you know who might also like this". You could do up a discount card for them to give to friends etc There are loads of creative ways of doing this and the befits are huge. The hardest part of this is building this into your teams culture and language set. I can highly recommend Bill James out of New Zealand who is a fabulous trainer and presenter on referrals.
So that should at least get you started on the path to more sales. There is SO MUCH more you can do, so if you need assistance in growing sales or equipping your sales force with the right tools for the job, then contact us for an obligation free chat.
By Jason Marshall
There are now over 7 billion potential customers in the global business village. It's an amazing statistic that is actually a little scary and for businesses in the modern age, trying to compete and connect with this world can be overwhelming at the best of times.
I often relate running a business today akin to being a plate spinner in a circus. You have so many things to be across and you have to keep all the plates turning, running frantically from one end to the other checking each facet of the business/plate and applying the appropriate spin to keep everything in harmony. Sadly for many of us mere mortals, plates often get forgotten or overlooked and fall. So how do you keep up with it all? Here are my top 10 tips to help you succeed in modern business.
1. WORK OUT - Now I know this sounds cliche but keeping yourself fit can be one of the best things you can do to stay on top of your life and your workload, Sir Richard Branson swears by it! Keeping physically fit will improve your mental health and alertness to help you better tackle the challenges in your day and night. Find the time, make the time!
2. TECHNOLOGY - Some of you will embrace it, others will hate it. Whatever the case you need to find your own rhythm with technology and then try to use the technology to your benefit, not detriment. Personally, I think there is a minimum tool set that you need to be functional in today's world. a). ADSL Internet with wireless connectivity b). PC or laptop c). a smart phone and or a tablet. If you are not comfortable with technology then ring a support company and get them to set you up. These items will help you better organise your schedule, enable you to work on the move and stay connected, which brings me to my next point.
3. GET CONNECTED - The pace of the world today is staggering. New products, new legislation, industry trends, industry events, news alerts...the list goes on. So getting connected is all the more important. Now there are lots of ways of doing this but by far the simplest is to use your technology. Through your smart phone or tablet you can access some great products or apps that will help access vast resources of information in short grabs. My personal favourites are, Google News and Flipboard (available for iphone or Android). It is also important to connect with your industry, so subscribe to as many industry groups or publications as possible and share these publications with staff if you have them.
4. PLAN - My favourite two sayings are "If you aim at nothing, you are bound to hit it" and "those that fail to plan, plan to fail"
5. MEASURE - I am a huge fan of Dashboards. You wouldn't drive a car without a dashboard so why would you drive your business without one. A Dashboard is a central document that brings together information to assist you measure your business performance. You might have a "Sales Dashboard" that measures daily sales, top 10 products, Sales by rep, Top customer by month, Sales by product group etc. They take some time to create but once built they can be an invaluable tool. What Dashboards would you need?
6. COVER THY BACKSIDE - Make sure you have your Derriere covered by not skimping on Legals or Insurances. Is your Intellectual Property (IP) safe, do you have employment agreements in place, are you compliant with Workplace Health and Safety, do you have a Risk Assessment Plan, If you give advice of any kind do you need Professional Indemnity, are any trade marks registered domestically and internationally (or with customs), do the products you sell need to meet any local standards or have any certification or labeling requirements. Actually finding out what your liabilities are can be a real challenge in itself!
7. WORK / LIFE BALANCE - Do you work to live or live to work? This is a question that you need to ask yourself and be honest with yourself about the answer. If you live to work, then I guess it is inconsequential the amount of time you spend doing it. It's just that at some stage you will need to take a break or divert your mental focus. If you don't then long term you may become disenchanted with your life. Finding time to do other things is actually healthy and its amazing how you can gain new perspective when you break free from the bubble every now and then. Family is often the sad victim of business! Remember that you are part of that world also.
8. PEOPLE ARE YOUR BIGGEST ASSET - People are by far your biggest asset. Staff, suppliers, support people and friends. Treat them with respect and you will receive it in return. I like the emotional Bank account theory where you have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals. Every now and then, just stop, sit back and think about the people in your business and your life. What gives them fulfillment, what makes them feel appreciated and special. The smart operators do this and reap the rewards. Not just financially!
9. CUSTOMER FOCUSED - The best advice I can give anyone is this "Don't do it if the customer doesn't benefit".
10. RELAX YOU IDIOT - You need to learn to breathe. Yoga, meditation, a long walk in the park. Just learn to clear the noise from your head and RELAX. No point earning it if you are tied up like a ball and often that stress comes out in many other ways. So just relax a little and things will happen a lot easier.
By Jason Marshall