Sales are the lifeblood of any business. Without sales, any business – even the largest ones – are doomed to failure. Finding out what generates sales for your company is key to your success. In this article, we’ll share 14 ways to boost sales for small businesses.
There is no single, sure-fire way to generate revenue for your business. There are, however, many strategies that you can experiment with to drive sales and grow your customer base. The sales strategies you employ to generate sales will ultimately depend on many factors, such as your business, industry, location, and, of course, budget.
The methods for increasing sales outlined in this article revolve around building lasting customer relationships. Our sales techniques have helped us grow our business, and they could do the same for you.
Proven Ways to Boost Sales for Small Businesses
The following section details some of the proven strategies that successful small business use to boost sales. They’re relatively quick and easy to implement, and can be applied to almost any business in any niche.
Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Before you begin planning a strategy to boost sales, it’s important to understand what your business has to offer that your competitors don’t. That way, you can tailor your marketing campaign for maximum exposure. If your product or service provides customers with specific benefits, make sure you emphasise them in your promotional materials.
Ask yourself these three questions:
- What does your business offer that the competition doesn’t?
- Why should customers buy from you instead of your competitors?
- What guarantee can you make that other businesses in your niche can’t?
Once you know the answers to these questions you’ll be in a better position to formulate a marketing campaign that helps your business stand out from the competition.
Before launching a new campaign, make sure you’ve defined a clear and solid path for converting leads into paying customers. A well-planned sales funnel is one of the most effective ways to increase conversions and boost sales. If you haven’t given much consideration to how you’re going to convert leads into prospects and prospects into customers, you risk wasting time and money on ineffective advertising and marketing campaigns.
When your budget is tight, it’s even more important to ensure that your time and money is spent on marketing activities that stand a good chance of achieving results. When it comes to qualifying prospects, the faster you can distinguish genuine potential customers from tire kickers and time wasters, the better.
This is one of the most overlooked but most important stages of the entire sales process. When it comes to qualifying leads, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- Is the lead the decision maker?
- Are your products or services a good fit for their needs?
- Are they ready to buy now? If not, when?
- Can they afford you?
Once you have a solid understanding of the challenges your potential customers are facing, it will be easier to target your marketing efforts and create sales funnels that pre-qualify leads and prospects. This will help you avoid wasting time and money on ineffective marketing campaigns.
If you have multiple lead generation campaigns across many different platforms, a lead management service such as OhMyLead may make qualifying your leads much easier. Essentially, it captures your leads from a number of different sources, such as LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Lead Ads, WordPress, Unbounce and even your own spreadsheets. It then centralises that data in one place before sending it to your preferred CRM.
While price and product benefits are the most obvious buying factors, trust-based factors such as intuition, impressions and relationships are just as powerful. After all, prospects are just as likely to buy for emotional reasons as they are for practical ones.
The challenge is to prove to your prospects that you’re sincere, honest and that you value your business arrangement. This can be achieved by offering quality products, providing outstanding customer service and by never making a promise you can’t keep. Managing customer expectations plays a key role in building customer trust; if they expect something from you and you’re unable to meet their expectations, their trust in you and your business is likely to waiver.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis
Customer Experience, Communication and Benefits
There are so many ways to boost sales for small businesses that it can seem overwhelming. In fact, if you perform a search online for the term “ways to boost sales” you’ll find hundreds of thousands of results filled with tips and information that claim to be the “secret sauce” to help you achieve your goals. Most of the time, this just leads to more confusion.
The customer relationship techniques outlined below will hopefully help you cut through the clutter and boost sales for your business. Although they may seem simple, when used properly they’re extremely effective and can have a genuine impact on your bottom line.
One of the most important steps in the entire sales process is to make the buying experience as easy and painless as possible. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops to buy your products. They’ll only get frustrated and walk away. While there may be a lot of data that you want to collect from your leads, it’s important not to ask for too much information up front.
Instead, ask for the bare minimum amount of information so they can complete their purchase as quickly as possible. If you want to gather additional demographic data from them later on, follow-up by sending a thank you note, asking them to fill out warranty information or requesting their feedback. You may be surprised to find out how many sales you’re losing out on due to a lengthy and convoluted checkout process.
Good communication is the key to closing more sales. It’s important to follow-up with new prospects and customers in a timely manner. Keeping lines of communication open allows you to gain more trust and credibility, which in turn will result in more sales.
Always do your best to put them at ease and let them know they’re not bothering you or wasting your time by asking a question. Answer each question promptly and honestly. Remember, most customers can tell when you’re being untruthful. If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, don’t make something up; be open and upfront, and tell them you’ll find out for them as soon as possible and let them know.
One of the best ways to find out what’s on the mind of your customers is to create a survey. This can help you find out what motivates them to buy, and can provide you with valuable insights into their wants and needs. This is valuable information that will enable you to reach your target audience more effectively. If you find that people aren’t interested in taking your survey, try offering an incentive for providing feedback, such as a free gift, discount or access to exclusive content.
When it comes to finding out what your customers want, there are many free and affordable services that make creating a survey quick and easy. Most of them will even help you track your results. A few of the most popular survey tools are listed below:
When it comes to closing a sale, it’s important that you talk about the benefits of your product or service. More often than not, your customers don’t want to know the technical details about your product or service; they just want to know what it can do for them.
Benefits show off the value of your product much better than features. Let your prospect know exactly what your product can do for them. Will it help them make more money? Save time? Improve their health? This is the kind of information they want to know, and providing that information is one of the most effective ways to boost sales for small businesses.
“Strong customer relationships drive sales, sustainability, and growth.” – Tom Cates
Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
Most people have a built-in instinct when it comes to sales pitches. It makes them feel uncomfortable and puts them on guard almost immediately. It’s your job to put their mind at ease and alleviate any doubt they may have about your product or service.
One way you can do that is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Don’t assume that just because something is important to you that it’s important to them. Try to see what your business has to offer from your customers’ perspective.
Did you know that people often associate premium products with higher prices? Quite often, you can increase sales by simply raising prices. A price increase can set you apart from the competition and often creates the impression that your product or service is superior. If you do decide to raise your prices, it’s important that you communicate this to your existing customers as early as possible in order to reinforce the value proposition of your offerings. It’s all about perception.
When it comes to boosting sales, public perception of your business brand is what will put you ahead of the competition. Conveying a strong brand message that resonates with your target audience can have a huge impact on the success of your business.
Here’s a great example of how a winery used branding to boost sales: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-a-winery-uses-social-media-to-increase-sales-and-brand-loyalty/.
This sales tactic has been used for decades and is still as effective as it ever was. The next time you’re planning on running a sale, try adding a time limit to your promotional materials. Creating time-limited offers causes people to take action right away, as the fear of missing out (FOMO) is often too powerful to ignore. They don’t have time to think about your offer, change their minds or wait to make a purchase. If they want to take advantage of your special offer, they’re forced to act fast, which can lead to more sales for you.
Scarcity marketing tactics use the fear of product shortage to sell more. It’s one of the reasons why limited edition products sell so well. Scarcity can also help to increase the perceived value of the item you’re selling. Your products can become that much more valuable in the eyes of a customer. The fear that there’s only a limited supply available will often push the customer into purchasing, with less consideration given to the purchase.
There’s an argument that scarcity tactics are manipulative and, in some circumstances, exploitative. However, if scarcity tactics are used sparingly, and there’s full transparency about how much stock is left of a particular item, scarcity can be a very helpful, positive sales tool.
“If you want to build a great, lasting business, never stop thinking about the world from your customer’s perspective.” – Scott Axcell
What Motivates People to Buy?
Once upon a time, the number one tip to boost sales was simply to “give people what they need”. While that may well have been the case a few decades ago, things are a little different now.
A recent study on UK spending priorities by Hitachi Capital revealed that UK individuals spend almost 50% of what they pay out for necessities on luxury items such as smart TVs, electronic gadgets and leisure activities.
If you have a product or service to sell, you need to present it to your prospects as something they want. Focus on what’s in it for them, emphasise the benefits and make them feel as though your product or service is something they absolutely must have. The trick is not to sell your product or service; it’s to make people want to buy it.
People buy because they get pleasure from their purchase. They don’t walk into a car dealership and buy the latest model because they need it; they do it because driving it makes them feel good. Whether it’s the comfort of the plush leather seats, the retractable roof or the symbol of status, their decision to purchase was most likely based on want, rather than necessity.
Want isn’t the only thing that motivates people to make a purchase. While it’s the leading factor, many other triggers can motivate them to buy, such as:
- Making more money;
- Saving more time;
- Being more comfortable;
- Being happier and healthier;
- Being more popular;
- Increasing their enjoyment;
- Attracting the opposite sex;
- Escaping pain and sadness;
- Avoiding trouble; and
- Making their life easier.
These are just a few of the emotional triggers that can motivate people to buy and help boost sales for small businesses. Here’s an interesting article that talks more about effective emotional triggers and how you can use them to your advantage: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/205240.
“You can’t just place a few ‘Buy’ buttons on your website and expect your visitors to buy.” – Neil Patel
The Power of Testimonials
If you’ve ever made a purchase from a website like Amazon, QVC or HSN, product reviews probably played a big part in your decision making process.
Customer reviews and testimonials have the power to boost your sales significantly. A glowing recommendation from a happy customer is a powerful emotional trigger that can create a level of trust that no other form of marketing can match.
Typically, when someone begins shopping for a product or service, one of the first things they take into consideration is the recommendations of others. They seek advice from family, friends and other people who have purchased your products or services. They do this because they want to make an informed choice. Testimonials and reviews give them insight into how other people feel about their purchase (and purchasing experience).
One of the most effective ways to encourage people to make a purchase is to introduce them to other satisfied customers. Since taking your customers with you to every business meeting isn’t practical, you should set up a process for collecting testimonials and displaying these as case studies on your website and in your marketing materials. You would then be able to share them with your prospects and leads as “social proof” of the value of your offering.
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is arguably the most powerful sales strategy of them all, and yet many small businesses fail to capitalise on the opportunities it presents. WOMM is widely regarded as the most valuable form of marketing – the one that consumers trust above all others and the one that is most likely to boost sales for your company – and it’s a marketing strategy that no business should ignore.
According to a study by Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe word-of-mouth and recommendations from family and friends over all other forms of advertising. In a recent study conducted by the American Marketing Association (AMA), 64% of marketing executives believe word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% believe they’ve mastered it.
But if consumers value word-of-mouth and “earned media” above all other forms of marketing, and marketers agree that it’s the most effective of all sales strategies, why aren’t more small businesses using it to drive revenue?
The problem is that many businesses are focused on “collecting” rather than “connecting”. How many likes, followers, fans and shares a product, service or piece of content has received has become more important than connecting with the people behind the numbers. Having 100 passionate brand advocates is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who interacted with your content in order to win a prize.
Building relationships with your customers is the key to harnessing the power of WOMM. After all, relationships are built on trust, and trust drives revenue more effectively than even the largest paid advertising budget.
“Word of mouth can be as important, if not more important, for neighborhood businesses as traditional advertising.” – Ekaterina Walter
More Ways to Boost Sales for Small Businesses
There are many other strategies to boost sales available to small businesses, such as:
- Bundling your products and services;
- Creating social media competitions;
- Creating one-time-offers to increase impulse buys; and
- Creating upsells to encourage people to purchase addons and extras.
The Next Steps to Increasing Sales
Hopefully this article has provided you with lots of practical and actionable ideas on ways to boost sales for your small business. Many of the tips and tricks outlined in this article are very quick and easy to implement, but if you need any help or have any questions at all, please get in touch.
If you or your team require a more structured approach to increasing sales, we offer a number of professional sales training courses, including telesales training, presentation skills training and key account management training. We also offer a full sales consultancy service if you would like us to guide you through the sales process.