Small Business Strategies To Increase Sales
In 1960, my dad invented one of the first spray valves for paint cans and formed a company called Univalve Corporation.
When it came to operating his business, he did everything. He designed the valves and assembly equipment. He held the patents on the product designs. He had the injection molds built to produce the valves. He hired workers. He did the engineering, operations, and sales. And, he tried funding it all himself.
As a do-it-yourself entrepreneur, my dad had experience in all aspects of business. Out of all the parts of his operation, he found one to be crucial to a business’s success: sales.
If you can’t sell, none of it matters
The most important lesson my dad taught me from his years in business was the importance of knowing how to sell. He told me, “Mike, always remember this: Anybody can build anything. But, if you can’t sell it, none of it matters at all.”
Sales are everything to a business. Without sales, you can be certain you will fail. Finding what works for generating sales at your company is key to your success.
Strategies to increase sales
Small businesses account for 54% of all U.S. sales. But, making sure your company generates sales is no easy task.
There is no one, sure-fire way to create strong sales at your business. There are many strategies to increase sales that you can use to grow your customer base. The way you generate sales will ultimately depend on many factors, such as your business, industry, and location.
Over the years, my companies have used several ways to improve sales. Our methods revolve around building lasting customer relationships. Our sales techniques have helped us grow, and they could do the same for you. Take a look at these three creative ways to increase sales.
#1: Relationship selling
New ways to increase your sales are always popping up. But, some traditional methods are still appropriate for modern businesses. Building customer relationships is not a new idea. It has stood the test of time because it works.
Since I began my businesses, I have focused on nurturing loyal relationships with customers. We have used some of the same sales methods since the beginning to create customer connections.
For example, we have always “pounded the phones” in search of new customers. Outbound calling was never easy, and it’s gotten harder over the years. But, we still successfully make many outbound sales calls today.
We build one-on-one relationships with our customers. We listen to their needs and do our best to satisfy as many of them as we can. Sometimes, we even customize our offerings to meet their needs.
These two sales methods have helped us create long-lasting, successful businesses. But, remember, building customer relationships comes with a heavy price. Be prepared to invest your time and resources into your customer relationships.
#2: Utilize the power of the web
Traditional sales methods can help you generate sales. But don’t forget to take advantage of modern-day technology in your efforts. The internet helps you reach a larger customer base and communicate in unique ways.
Two of my companies base their sales models on the internet’s massive number of prospective customers. Since customers don’t have to go to your physical location, online companies have the potential to reach millions.
You need to approach online sales differently than you would a bricks-and-mortar shop. Because of the huge number of potential buyers, it’s impossible to maintain a personal relationship with each online customer. But, you can build customer relationships by creating an easy-to-use website, presenting clear contact information, and providing excellent customer service.
#3: The high-volume sales funnel
At Patriot Software, my accounting and payroll software company, we give prospective customers an initial reason to visit our website. Then, we offer more benefits on the website to keep them coming back. Doing this helps small business owners get to know and trust our company.
Think of your website as a sales funnel. Most website visitors don’t buy the first time they visit a business’s website. Instead, they are likely looking for more general information. Potential buyers who are first visiting your website is similar to the top of the sales funnel.
Often, you have many prospects coming into the top of the funnel. As you move prospects through the funnel, they turn into leads. Pay close attention to leads to pull them even further into your sales funnel. The end goal of your funnel is to convert leads into paying customers. In other words, prospects turn into leads and leads turn into customers.
For example, my company offers something of value in exchange for a potential customer’s contact information. A visitor could get a guided demo of our software by submitting an email address.
Once we receive a prospect’s email address, they are a lead. We send our leads other valuable offerings in hopes that they’ll return to our website.
Our goal is to drive a large volume of prospects into our sales funnel. At the bottom of the funnel, we invite leads to become customers.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure
Knowing which efforts are driving your sales is important. For example, what brings visitors to your website? It might be your blog articles, pay-per-click advertisements, or referral program. You could be great at building brand awareness, but you don’t know until you measure your efforts.
It’s unrealistic to think that you can measure all your marketing efforts. Your small business has limited time and funds. Instead, choose the marketing activities you invest in the most to measure. Track your progress to decide which efforts are most beneficial to your sales.
You can track the success of your sales efforts with KPIs, or key performance indicators. KPIs are measurements that track how well you execute your goals. Some KPIs for small business include revenue, customer retention, and the cost of goods sold. You should define your sales goals and track your KPIs to see if your efforts are successful.
Sales at your small business
A generation later, the lesson my dad taught me about business is just as important for today’s entrepreneurs. Sales are the lifeblood of every business. Knowing how to generate and track sales is vital for growing your company. As you go through your day-to-day operations, don’t forget to keep improving your business’s sales efforts. 
Small Business Strategies; 6 Sure Ways to Increase Sales, Shift Your Sales Focus for Increased Sales
Want to know how to increase sales – dramatically? Then shift your sales focus from attracting new customers to enticing your proven customers to buy again. The best sales prospect is a prospect that’s already converted – in other words, one of your current customers.
Think of it this way; if your business is located in a small town with a population of 1000 people and you sell a sprocket to everyone in that town, man, woman, and child, you’ve sold 1000 sprockets – and saturated your market.
Your sprocket selling days are over. Is it time to pack up and move on?
No! If you start focusing your sales efforts on your proven customers, you’ll be able to increase your sprocket sales dramatically. And these sure ways to increase sales will help build customer loyalty, too. Try some or all of these ideas to increase your sales:
1. Set up a sales incentive program.
Give your sales staff a reason to get out there and sell, sell, sell. Why do so many businesses that rely on their sales staff to drive sales have incentive programs in place? Because offering their sales staff the trips and/or TVs for x amount of sales works. See Paul Shearstone’s Creating Sales Incentive Programs That Work for how to make your sales incentive program “sweet and simple and attainable”.
2. Encourage your sales staff to upsell.
Essentially, upselling involves adding related products and/or services to your line and making it convenient and necessary for customers to buy them.
Just placing more products near your usual products isn’t going to do much. How to increase sales? Persuade the customer of the benefit.
For instance, when I last had my carpets cleaned, the cleaner noticed a pet stain. Instead of just cleaning it up, he drew my attention to it and showed me how easily and effectively the spot cleaning solution removed all trace of the stain.
Did I buy the spot cleaning solution? You bet. He persuaded me that buying it was beneficial to me and made it convenient to purchase it. Result: increased sales for the carpet cleaning company.
3. Give your customers the inside scoop.
Recently I was shopping at a retail housewares store. I had picked out an item and was mulling over whether to buy it or not when a salesperson came up to me and said, “I see you’re interested in that blender. We’re having a sale next week and all our blenders will be 20 percent off. You might want to come back then.” Guess what? I did – and bought two other items as well.
Lesson: if you have a promotion or sale coming up, tell your customers about it. They’ll come back – and probably bring some friends with them too, increasing your sales even more. (And don’t forget – you can give your customers the inside scoop by emailing, calling them, or posting on social media too.)
4. Tier your customers.
There should be a clear and obvious difference between regular customers and other customers – a difference that your regular customers perceive as showing that you value them. How can you expect customer loyalty if all customers are treated as “someone off the street”?
There are all kinds of ways that you can show your regular customers that you value them, from small things such as greeting them by name through larger benefits such as giving regulars extended credit or discounts.
5. Set up a customer rewards program.
We’re all familiar with the customer rewards programs that so many large businesses have in place. But there’s no reason that a small business can’t have a customer rewards program, too. It can be as simple as a discount on a customer’s birthday or as complex as a points system that earns various rewards such as discounts on merchandise. Done right, rewards programs can really help build customer loyalty and increase sales.
6. Distribute free samples to customers.
Why do so many businesses include free samples of other products when you buy something from them?
Because it can increase sales in so many ways. The customer who bought the original product might try and like the sample of the new product and buy some of it, too. Or they might pass on the sample to someone else, who might try the product, like it, and buy that and other products from the company. At the very least, the original customer will be thinking warm thoughts about your company, and hopefully telling other people about your products.
The Best Thing of All – Increasing Sales Is Easier
Attracting new customers is a good thing. But attracting new customers is not the only way to increase your sales, and is, in fact, the hard way of going about it. Shifting your sales focus to enticing your current customers can make increasing your sales easier – and best of all, build the customer loyalty that results in repeat sales.