3 Tips to Boost Your Small Business Sales
Amid the economy’s stop-and-start recovery, many small businesses are struggling to reach or exceed their pre-recession sales levels. This means effective sales techniques and strategies are as important as ever. However, it can be easy to lose sight of best practices when you’re occupied with all the other aspects of running your business.
Here are three tips to boost your sales:
1. Know your customers.
Some customers require more attention, some less, but you should always know who you're dealing with.
Customers who just go with the flow and rarely speak up may fool you into thinking that all is well when it’s not — and then, suddenly, your sales pipeline runs dry. Check in with quiet customers every few weeks via email or telephone to make sure you’re meeting their expectations and anticipating their needs.
At the other end of the spectrum are customers who won’t leave you alone. Since it’s their money at stake, they feel obliged to check in constantly to verify that you’re keeping them at the top of your list. As much as you may want to tell them to back off, it’s probably best to offer a reasonable alternative to their frequent inquiries. Schedule a regular (weekly) status call to keep these customers reassured.
There are also customers who don’t know what they want or need. Your job is to keep them well-informed. Help them to understand the service you provide and/or how your product meets their needs. Invite them to ask questions at any time.
2. Refine your sales strategies.
Whether you, as the business owner, are making sales or have a sales team charged with that responsibility, there’s always room for improving the way you go about it. Don’t rush into acting like the resource with all the answers. Jumping into your sales pitch too quickly might mean missing an opportunity for deeper insights into what your customer really needs. Having this knowledge may translate into a bigger sale down the line.
Meanwhile, resist the impulse to upsell or cross-sell reflexively — especially if it’s a product you know your customer doesn’t need. Trust is essential. Tell your customers that your objective is to save them money (or time) and that you’re most interested in maintaining a long-term relationship with them — and not clinching a one-time deal.
3. Improve your sales presentations.
You probably know your company’s message inside and out. But if you or your sales reps are operating on presentation auto-pilot, you’re not focusing on each customer’s specific needs. You’re probably also boring them with a lot of talk that has nothing to do with their particular challenges and obstacles.
Strive instead to be engaging, spontaneous, and interactive in your presentations. What your customers want to know is how your product or service will benefit them; everything else is fluff. Be sure you genuinely grasp what works for them and tailor your presentation accordingly.
Whatever you’re selling, remember that it’s all about the customer. Make that part of your business’s DNA and sales will follow.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.