Struggling to differentiate your businesses’ services against the competition? Hoping to close more sales, but not sure how to do so with your limited resources? Here are eight surefire ways to increase your small business sales.
Narrow Your Target Market
Focus in business is everything, but doing so is often hard for small businesses owners who worry that narrowing down their target market will leave them with very few customers left to go after. But going after a specific slice of the market is a great way to get customers to notice you among the fray of companies competing for their business.
The easiest way to do this is to…
Become an Expert in your Market
Being an expert in your field brings credibility, business and referrals. But you’ve got to work at it. It takes more than simply listing your credentials on your website; you need to be out there positioning yourself as a trusted advisor.
This happens all the time around you. Small business owners are writing blogs, hosting free workshops, and giving away white papers and newsletters – all great channels for sharing information with your target market and positioning yourself as a credible expert in your field.
Rank Your Targets
Another way to zero in on your target market is to rank prospects according to profitability. Anyone can do this, from accounting firms to freelancers. Take a look at your client base – which are the most profitable for you? This will help weed out those whose work you really don’t need and those it makes sense to pursue.
Alongside profitability, identify the client profiles that have proven to be your most satisfied. These are the ones who are referring your business to friends and neighbors. Do they represent a particular demographic or live in a certain neighborhood? Perhaps they have a common challenge or need that can help you fine tune your sales focus.
This is market research at its simplest. And it works.
Showcase Your Differentiators
Thank about what makes you different. Understanding and communicating this can really boost sales, and shift the focus away from price alone.
Fit Your Messaging to Suit your Targets
Once you’ve identified your target and nailed you differentiators, review your messaging and marketing programs to make sure you’re touching the right customers with a relevant message. You might also need to consider your company name and branding to ensure it hits home and reflects your niche.
Sell More to Existing Customers
Here’s another exercise that can ride on the coattails of your customer ranking research. Once you’ve identified your loyal and top-spending customers, think of ways to offer them more.
It’s not as perplexing as it sounds. It can be as easy as setting up a loyalty or VIP program that offers incentives such as promotions, early access to new products and services, rewards points, etc.
This form of customer appreciation is great for keeping you top of mind, driving repeat business, and referrals.
Have a Plan for Each Stage of the Sales Cycle
Does your business have a marketing action plan? Do you know how to deal with aware prospects versus interested prospects? Every stage of the buying cycle is different and deserves a marketing plan all of its own so that you are ready and prepared to nurture those leads further, until you close a sale, and push for referrals.
Optimize the Conversion Process
So you have an interested prospect? Make sure your sales and marketing teams have the tools they need to close the deal. Marketing automation software can really help with this process, but it’s not an absolute must. As mentioned above, start by creating a marketing plan that addresses each phase of the sales cycle – awareness, interest, engagement and sale.
Then think about the timeline that accompanies a typical sale and ways you can match your outreach efforts to keep warming your lead. For example, use your blog or a workshop to generate awareness and earn trust. Then, use social media and your website to encourage prospects to sign up to your email list with the promise of more information and/or special offers.
Now that you have an email address and basic information about a prospect, tailor a personalized marketing outreach campaign to them. Send staggered emails (once a week) and offer more information. Invite them to check back in for a demo, webinar, or other “learning” experience.
If they still aren’t ready to convert, consider mailing them an offer or promotion and follow-up with a sales call.
All through this process, you are deepening your relationship with the prospect by offering value – not just chasing a quick sale. This type of “guided selling” can really help improve your conversions dramatically.
This blog post has been repurposed from sba.gov. Click here for the original post.