5 Ways to Increase Sales in Small Business
With competition increasing and consumers becoming more discerning, it’s more critical than ever for small businesses to focus on sales strategies that will set them apart from the pack and help them grow their customer base.
In this article, we’ll look at five ways how small businesses can increase sales to continue to thrive and compete in today’s market.
Why sales department is so important for small businesses
It sounds obvious that every business must keep growing its revenues. After all, they are the lifeblood of a company and without them, a business would wither and die.
But there’s more to sales and revenue than just a profit and loss statement. If a small business generates enough revenue, profits can be re-invested in technology, people, or projects to support further the company’s growth.
Moreover, a functional sales department can help small businesses reach a wider audience and grow in the long term.
5 Ways To Increase Sales In Small Business
Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why sales are so important for small businesses, let’s take a look at five ways you can increase sales in your business.
Step 1. Implement a sales process
A sales process can be defined as a set of steps you and your team follow when selling your product or service. The process should be well-defined and easy to follow so that everyone on your team is on the same page regarding selling.
The world of sales is chaotic, so the process of implementing a sales process can be time-consuming. But it’s worth it in the end. The implementation usually starts with training and educating your staff and bringing order to your existing sales processes.
There are several things that you need to keep in mind for an efficient sales process:
- Introduce a follow-up routine to make sure that your sales team is in constant touch with potential customers throughout all sales funnel stages.
- Make it easy for potential customers to buy from you. Offer multiple payment options, discounts, coupons, free shipping, etc.
- Let your leads learn more about your product. Create content and provide support for different sales stages and introduce a free trial, if it works for your business model.
The key is to remember that having a structure that can be followed repeatedly will result in more sales and happier customers.
Step 2. Cultivate customer relationships
Defining your target market and understanding their needs is one of the most important steps you can take to increase sales. You need to revisit it regularly to ensure you’re still on track.
One way to get to know your customers is to create customer profiles or the so-called buyer personas. This involves identifying their demographics (such as age, gender, location, etc.), as well as their interests, pain points, and what they would like to see from your business.
You can collect feedback through surveys, interviews, or casual conversations. It’s essential to be open and listen so you can adjust your processes and strategy accordingly.
Once you understand who your target market is and what they want, you can start catering to your customers’ needs. This might involve creating new products or services, revamping your marketing strategy, or even slightly changing your website.
For example, if you know that your target market is interested in environmentally-friendly products, you might switch to using recycled materials or investing in green packaging. Alternatively, if you know that they prefer convenience, you might offer online ordering or home delivery.
It’s also essential to build a relationship of trust with your customers. This can be done by providing excellent customer service, responding to their inquiries, and addressing any concerns they might have.
Here are a few examples of how you can build trust:
- Offer a money-back guarantee
- Provide detailed product descriptions
- Give free quotes
- Offer free shipping
- Make it clear what your company offers (and how this benefits your customers)
Finally, it’s always a good idea to show your appreciation for your customer’s loyalty. Some practical ways to do this include offering discounts, free samples, or running promotions. Not only will this show them that you value their business, but it can also encourage them to keep coming back for more.
Step 3. Automate your sales process
Automation is a term that is thrown around a lot in business. But what does it actually mean? In its simplest form, automation uses technology to perform a task that a human would otherwise carry out.
When it comes to sales, automation can refer to anything from using a customer relationship management system (CRM) to setting up automatic payments for your invoices.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to automating your sales process, but here are just a few practical ways you can get started:
- Use a CRM to keep track of customers and sales leads: this is one of the most important things you can do to increase sales. A CRM system will allow you to keep track of all your customer information in one place. This will help you identify potential sales opportunities. You can use many practical hacks to make the most out of your CRM system.
- Use sales automation tools to save time on repetitive tasks: with the right tools, you can generate leads in a click, speed up some processes, set up deals, and send sales quotes in a few seconds. You can also set up automatic email responders for general inquiries and specific questions about products or services.
- Marketing automation tools to send targeted emails and track their success: these days, there are different marketing automation platforms available. They allow you to send targeted emails and track their success to see which campaigns are working and which ones need to be tweaked.
- A/B test your sales and marketing campaigns: here’s how to get started with this:
- Always test one variable at a time: when you’re running an A/B test, you want to make sure that you’re only testing one variable at a time. This could be something like the subject line of an email or the call-to-action on your website. By testing one variable at a time, you’ll be able to isolate the results and see which change had the biggest impact.
- Keep your sample size small: if you’re just starting out with A/B testing, you’ll want to keep your sample size small. This is because you want to be sure that the results you’re seeing are accurate. Once you’ve run a few tests and have a good understanding of how A/B testing works, you can start to increase your sample size.
- Set up your test so that it’s statistically significant: in order for an A/B test to be effective, it needs to be statistically significant. This means that you need to have a large enough sample size and a high enough conversion rate before you can start to see results that you can trust.
- Make sure your results are actionable: finally, you want to make sure that the results of your A/B test are actionable. This means that they should be something that you can actually use to improve your sales and marketing campaigns. If the results are not actionable, then they’re not really worth anything.
Step 4. Analyze your sales data
According to the latest small business survey, 63% of respondents want to improve their skills in data analysis.
If you’re not analyzing your sales data, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to improve your business. Sales data can tell you a lot about your customers, such as what they’re buying, when they’re buying it, and how much they’re spending.
Here’s a step-by-step framework for those wanting to harness sales data analysis.
Step 1: Identify your top-selling products
Knowing which products are selling the best is essential for any business, large or small.
There are a few different ways to identify your top-selling products:
- Look at your sales data over time. At a very basic level, this can even be done using a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Create a column for each product and track sales over time. You can then use this data to identify patterns and trends.
- Use a point of sale (POS) system. If you have a POS system in place, you can use it to track which products are selling the most. This information can be valuable in helping you make decisions about what to stock and how to price items.
- Talk to your customers. This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s often overlooked. Simply asking customers what they like and don’t like can give you valuable insights into which products are selling well and which aren’t.
Step 2: Figure out what time of day or week you make the most sales
This is another critical piece of information that can be gleaned from your sales data—knowing when you make the most sales can help you adjust your staffing levels, pricing, and marketing efforts accordingly.
For example, suppose you find that you make the majority of your sales on weekends. In that case, you may consider hiring additional staff or running promotions geared explicitly towards those days. On the other hand, if you find that sales are slow during certain times of the day, you may want to adjust your pricing or mix of products.
Step 3: Research your competition and see what they’re doing that’s working
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your competition. Not only will this help you stay ahead of the curve, but it can also give you some great ideas for improving your own business.
When researching your competition, pay attention to their marketing efforts, pricing, and product mix. See what they’re doing that’s working and try to replicate it in your own business. Of course, don’t forget to put your spin on things so that you stand out from the crowd.
Step 4: Adjust your prices, marketing efforts, or product mix as needed
Once you have a good handle on your sales data, it’s time to start changing your business accordingly.
Remember, the goal is to make changes that will increase sales and boost profits. So, don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what works best for your business.
Step 5: Train your staff on the best ways to upsell or cross-sell customers
Upselling and cross-selling are two great ways to boost sales in any business. However, these techniques can only be effective if your staff is adequately trained on how to use them.
Make sure your employees understand the importance of upselling and cross-selling while also giving them the tools they need to succeed. This may involve providing them with scripts or specific product recommendations.
Step 6: Monitor your results and course-correct as needed
Once you’ve made changes to your business, monitoring your results carefully is essential. This will help you determine whether or not your efforts are paying off.
If you find that your efforts are not yielding the desired results, don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy. The goal is to find what works best for your business and stick with it.
Let’s put the above framework into action
Say you run a coffee shop and want to increase sales of pastries, as these are your top-selling products. The next step would be to figure out when you’re selling the most pastries. This information will help your staff accordingly and ensure you have enough product during your busiest periods.
Then, take a look at your competition. Are they selling similar items? If so, how are they marketing them? What prices are they charging? This research can give you ideas for adjusting your prices, marketing efforts, or product mix.
Finally, train your staff on the best ways to upsell or cross-sell customers. For example, if someone orders a coffee, let them know about your delicious pastries and offer to bag one up for them. Or, if someone seems undecided on what to order, suggest pairing a pastry with their coffee.
Monitor your results regularly and course-correct as needed. If you do not see the desired results, try tweaking your approach and see what happens. If your pastries are selling well, but you’re not seeing an uptick in coffee sales, then focus your efforts on marketing and promoting your coffee.
Following these simple steps can increase your small business sales and allow you to reach your goals.
Step 5. Incentivize your sales team
While focusing on hiring salespeople with the right skills is important, providing incentives for meeting and exceeding sales goals is also essential:
- Understand what motivates your sales team. Some people may be driven by money, while others may respond better to recognition or other non-monetary rewards (such as company swag).
- Set achievable goals for your sales team. Make sure these goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Achievable goals have to have a quantity associated with them, for example:
- increasing sales by 10% within the next month
- selling X number of products within a week.
- providing X number of quotes within 24 hours
- giving X number of presentations within a week
- closing X number of deals within the next month
- Provide regular feedback to help your sales team improve. By offering constructive feedback, you can help them identify areas of improvement and work on strengthening their skills.
- Recognize and reward good work. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that will meaningfully motivate and encourage your team.
- Encourage your sales team to learn new skills. Investing in your team’s development can help them stay ahead of the curve and continue achieving success.
There is no business without sales
A company that can’t make sales will soon go out of business.
Having a system to increase sales is essential for any business, especially small ones.
Implementing a sales process, cultivating customer relationships, automating your sales process, and analyzing your sales data are all effective ways to increase sales. Incentivizing your sales team and focusing on your customers’ needs are also important.
By following these tips, you can increase sales and help your small business succeed both now and in the future.