There is one thing that can never hurt your business: more sales. But how do you make that happen? Sure, discounts may get customers to purchase, but they aren’t a viable long-term solution. So how else can you increase sales without breaking the bank with expensive advertising or marketing plans?
Keep these points in mind when we explore some cost-effective opportunities:
- It costs 5-25x more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one
- Increasing customer retention rates by as little as 5% can increase profits upwards of 95%
- Over 80% of people trust recommendations from family or friends
Ask for feedback (and listen!)
You may be aware that you need to increase sales, but do you know how you can improve your business to make this happen? One of your most valuable resources for information like this is your customers. So, go ahead and ask them!
Whether you ask them directly or choose to reach out with a survey, your customers will provide insight on how you can improve their overall experience, from customer service to the breadth or quality of your product offering, to aspects of your business you may not have even thought of.
Once you have the information, the most important thing to do is to follow up on the feedback. Customers like to know that you value their opinion — it builds trust and loyalty. If a customer feels that you take them seriously, they are more inclined to purchase from you; and promote your product or service by talking to their friends and family, or even write a positive review.
Focus on the chosen few
It is likely that a high percentage of your sales come from a small percentage of your customer base. It’s a common trait of most businesses and one that shouldn’t be ignored.
Focus your efforts on that devoted small percentage of your customers. Speak to them to understand and address any barriers preventing them from purchasing more from you. Their loyalty to you is invaluable.
By finding out more about those repeat customers you will discover ways to market to them. And, like above, those are the people to ask for feedback — they have a connection with what you offer and likely have some insight from the other side of the counter that could help your business.
Start a loyalty program
Loyalty programs come in many forms. By rewarding your customers, you give them a tangible incentive to shop with you more often. It’s important to figure out how they can best work for your business but keep in mind when you increase customer retention by just 5% you can increase profits from 25-95%. Not bad at all.
Your loyalty program doesn’t have to be complicated. And the rewards can be simple. Think of Starbucks — if you buy enough cups of coffee, you receive a free one. Simple as that. But the goodwill it translates into is priceless. Simply put, customers appreciate being appreciated.
Motivate your sales team
Let’s not forget about the people on the front lines: your sales team. Even if your sales team is made up of one person there are ways to change focus to help increase engagement and push sales to new levels.
Team morale cannot be underestimated. Something as simple as taking your team for dinner or investing in a team building exercise can work wonders. Everyone likes to know that their efforts are being recognized and appreciated.
Depending on your business, developing a commission strategy may work. Or, similar to a loyalty program, consider having your sales team earn points that could be used in exchange for products or discounts.
In order to establish accountability and a sense of being “part of the team”, always communicate with your sales representatives. Don’t leave them in the dark when it comes to changes in the business. Never let them find out through the grapevine — it can develop distrust and form a divide between staff and ownership. The strength of the players is only as strong as the team.
Similarly to asking your customers for feedback, ask your team if they have everything they need to do their job effectively. Most importantly, when they give you feedback, listen to it, and make good on their suggestions.
Increase your social media presence
As you likely know, social media has completely revolutionized marketing, regardless of the size of business. One huge advantage of social media is the exposure you can have with an interested audience for a minimal price.
Creating consistent content is effective marketing for virtually every business. Whether you own a boutique that photographs your newest merchandise whenever it arrives, or an outdoors store that offers videos of fishing tips, you will stay top-of-mind with your customers and motivate them to think of you next time they are ready to purchase. You will be surprised how even a small amount of engagement will get more people through your doors.
One thing about your customers is that they likely know people who share similar values and tastes as they do: in other words, more customers for you. By implementing a referral program, you can gain access to those potential customers without much friction. It has been shown that over 80% of people trust recommendations from family or friends — so why not utilize your existing connections?
More often than not, non-cash incentives work better when it comes to referral rewards. And don’t forget to reward both your referrer and new referral — this small token is usually worth far more than the cost of acquiring a new customer.
Cross-promote with other businesses
Being a business owner can be a lonely proposition. At times it may feel like your business is an island. But have you ever considered building a bridge?
By teaming up with other businesses to cross-promote your products or services, you can greatly increase your exposure to a new clientele.
Do your research to figure out the kinds of businesses that would be receptive to creating a symbiotic relationship. This is an “I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine” scenario — everyone needs to gain something from it.
The relationship can be simple. Let’s say you own a hair salon: why not team up with the nearby nail aesthetician and create a bundle of both your services for customers to buy? Or perhaps you are a mechanic and you connect with the local insurance broker in order to both advertise in each other’s place of business. The options are out there — go find them!
The last word on increasing sales
Ultimately, there is one thing that cannot go ignored when it comes to increasing (and maintaining) sales: customer experience.
You can work tremendously hard to get people in the front door but at the end of the day your customer’s memory of their experience is likely greater in value to the product they take away with them.
What’s more important than getting the sale? Getting the next sale. Make sure your customer will want to come back.
Now get out there and boost your sales!