Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. The obvious advice for business growth is either to sell more or charge more per transaction, but that isn’t terribly helpful. Today’s blog looks at a few practical ways you could boost your sales.
Grow Your Sales To Grow Your Business
OK, so the default advice for any business targeting growth is either to ‘sell more units’ or charge more per transaction. Easier said than done, right? That advice is so obvious it’s useless and yet ‘business gurus’ make entire livings out of dressing this truism up as insight. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at a few ways you could make that happen.
Any kind of business growth is best done from a position of strength, whether you’re looking for investment, a business loan or a flotation. Regardless of your industry, this usually means good sales figures and a healthy profit margin. But if your numbers aren’t strong enough to support the growth you hope for right now, how do you improve them? The art of sales is a huge topic, with a lot of different approaches and more blogs, websites, forums and books than stars in the sky. Some are proven, many are aspirational and most are self-serving. If anything has a subtitle that reads anywhere near ‘get rich quick’, leave it on the shelf or in your spam folder – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I’ve worked closely with many sales people who vary from the real world version of Del Boy to Rupert Murdoch reincarnate and Richard Branson without the branding. James Caan still won’t return my calls, though. Over the years, I’ve picked their brains for just a few ways they might suggest improving your sales figures.
You could always expand your sales team, but more bodies doesn’t always mean more sales. You may see a more immediate uplift in sales by provide training for your existing team to improve their performance. A good combination of product training – so they really know WHAT they’re selling – and sales technique training – so they know HOW to sell it – could pay dividends.
The best sales strategies are nearly always based on a solid needs analysis and how your business can offer a solution to that need. In other words, work out who needs to buy what you’re selling and why. The why is important, because explaining that is how you convert them from a prospect into a client. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but just remember on your next sales call to stop talking and start listening.
Invest in marketing. I know it’s a difficult department to quantify, but the potential for return is massive. Even if your brand isn’t a household name, how much easier would your sales team’s job be if their prospects were already aware of your company before they even started the pitch? Exactly. Look at ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ strategies to determine what would work for your business.
Old-fashioned marketing consists of display adverts, but new techniques include content marketing that sees your brand offer content of value to your customers. Here’s a peek behind the curtain – this blog is content marketing. I don’t write these for fun (although I enjoy doing them); they exist to get your attention. The fact that you’re reading these words proves it works as a 21st century marketing technique. If they’re useful and contain information of benefit to you, I hope you’ll remember that guy – what was his name? Steve Takle? How do you even say his last name? – and maybe tell your friends/colleagues/contacts about the article. Maybe when you want to do your own content marketing, you’ll remember the impression he made on you and book him for your own campaign. That’s probably enough third-person for one article, but if my flyer came across your desk tomorrow, or I called your marketing director looking for work, you’d be more inclined to listen to what I have to offer as a result. That’s how it works and that’s why many of the world’s biggest brands are investing heavily in this area.
The other growth area for marketing is social media. It’s the new hot ticket, but it’s so easy to get it wrong. Interact with your customers and prospects in a way that positively impacts their lives and you are golden. Hit them up with yet another sales message and bye-bye goodwill. The simple truth is that Twitter, LinkedIn and FaceBook can drive sales. The right activity will not only raise brand awareness, but can also encourage prospects to take advantage of promotions, sales or targeted discounts. So make sure that your social media strategy is working to its full effect. Get in touch if you want to find out more about how social media could boost your business, whatever your size.
The final area to look at is ecommerce. I expect that any successful business already has an established web presence, but the ability to complete – or at least initiate – online sales is a huge area for potential growth. Having a fully functional ecommerce website gives your customers the chance to buy your product around the clock, every day of the week. So your business can still make sales – even when the sales force has gone home for the day. At the very least, it can generate new leads for when your sales force hits the phones the next morning. And in a double-whammy of goodness, your website also enables you to increase sales by knowing more about your web visitors. Who they are, where they came from, what they viewed and for how long. All this information means that you can spot missed conversion opportunities and perhaps adjust your product, service or offering in response.
If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.