Looking to increase sales, manage relationships with your customers and increase public awareness? This Guide reviews tips and basic methods for getting your sales strategy going.
Define Your Target Market
In order to secure sales, first define whom you are selling to. Think about who your most profitable, valuable customer will be. Precisely defining and segmenting your market allows for dedicated advertising and a focus on groups who not only have the desire, but the capacity to purchase your offering.
One basic starting point is to determine if you are selling to other businesses or individual consumers. From there you can consider other factors, such as:
- Gender, age, income level
- Behaviour, lifestyle
- Values, desires, needs
- Market conditions
- Contract timelines
- Financial stability
Understand Your Competitive Advantage
Be able to immediately answer this question:
Why should I choose you over your competition?
Your competitive advantage is a legitimate testament as to why you have, or should have customers. Being able to articulate your advantage means you are confident in your offering and have prepared a value proposition for your potential buyer. Keep in mind that your competitive advantage can be a general benefit that all customers receive, or it could be customer specific. From there you can consider other factors, such as:
- Delivery Time
- Customer Service
Develop a Concise Pitch
A pitch is a short, verbal explanation of your offering. Your pitch should highlight the benefits of your product or service, market served, and contact information or an invitation to learn more.
Instead of simply saying, “I own a bakery,” say, “I can make custom-decorated cupcakes for your next reception that your guests will never forget.” Follow it up with proposed next steps and contact information such as, “drop by next week for a free sample at our store at the corner of Main and George.”
Practice your pitch as many times as you can. Practice in front of your friends and family, or video record yourself. You never know when you will have an opportunity to pitch to your target audience. Be ready to capitalize on the time you have, even if it’s one minute.
Keep Marketing Materials on Hand
Business cards, pamphlets and promotional products help potential customers or referrals remember the interaction. If the person you speak to isn’t your target buyer, he/she still might pass it on to someone they know who could benefit from your offering. When developing marketing materials include, consider the following:
- Ensure business and contact information is up to date and correctly spelled.
- Print a sample to ensure colour and formatting accuracy.
- Read the document aloud to ensure word flow is natural.
- Ask other people to review both the text and visual components.
- If possible, exclude prices on your materials.
Identify Partnership Opportunities
Find other businesses that complement your offering. Cross-promoting could be as simple as a referral system exclusive discount. Reaching out to companies that serve the same market as yours is an easy way to meet your target audience; however, it is important to ensure the fit is a proper one. Some factors to consider are:
- Credibility: does the cross promotion enhance both reputations?
- Fit: are customers similar and interested in both offerings?
- Growth: Are they different enough that new customers will be gained?
- Strengths: Do the internal strengths and values of the companies align?
Be Comfortable with Rejection
Not everyone you speak to will be prepared to do business with you. Be able to handle rejection and respect those who do not show interest in your offering. Listen to and acknowledge their reactions, comments and suggestions.
Remain positive when meeting with potential customers. Even if they do not do business with you, their opinion and perception is important and you could still reap a transaction through a referral.
If you are continually being turned down, there might be a flaw in your pitch or business model that is preventing potential buyers from doing business with you. Try to gather feedback to help improve your chance of success. You may need to work on your presentation skills, shorten your pitch, or provide more information on your offering.
Create and Maintain a Positive Image
Customers and the public will create a perception of you based on your actions and choices. Sometimes this perception is not in your control, but working on having a positive image will help clear possible negative opinions away. Consider boosting your positive image by:
- Selling with a client-centric approach. Sometimes your product or service is not the best fit for the customer. Show you care more about the customer than selling your product.
- Investing in a user-focused website. Make it as intuitive, simple and user-friendly as possible.
- Telling your story and speaking to customers one-on-one to make customers feel like your friends and family.
- Making the job look easy; avoid complaining or indicating inconvenience.
- Treating your employees well. They are ambassadors to your brand.
- Increasing your customer’s knowledge and focusing on empowering or educating them about the solution and post-sale tips.
- Learning from the customers that complain. Accept their criticism gracefully and ensure them you are hearing what they need.
- Giving back to a local community charities or associations through volunteering your time or accepting a sponsorship opportunity.
How well you market your business and interact with your customers is entirely up to you, and can vastly influence your success and present new opportunities. Prospecting for potential business is a difficult task and will continually demand an entrepreneur’s attention. Being comfortable with representing your business and “getting in front of people” takes time. Remember, finding new business is the epitome of being a business owner.