7 Strategies for Strong Sales Growth
Consistent and upward trending sales is essential for the continued success and growth of your business. Here are some specific strategies that you can deploy to drive your sales. Prioritise those that make the best use of your company resources and they'll yield a positive impact on your company's top line.
1. Evaluate the effectiveness of your current approach
Data gathered from every interaction is vital input for assessing which sales and marketing tactics work with your audience and will help you determine your approach for future campaigns and priorities for your marketing budget.
“If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it”
There are numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to track and evaluate the effectiveness of your sales and marketing strategy but as a minimum you should track Sales Growth and the Lifetime Value of your Customers (LTV).
Sales Growth will help you identify the marketing that does drive sales by reflecting trending in sales historical patterns. LTV will help you realise the untapped opportunity in your customer relationships.
Sales Growth: track and compare your YOY, QOQ and MOM revenue as a percentage to identify growth trends and identify the seasons and campaigns that have a positive influence. Then amplify the strategies that garner the best results.
Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV): this a useful indicator to help strategise on future business goals to grow sales through your current customer base.
Tip: Share your KPIs with your employees, this often instils a level of joint ownership and helps everyone align to achieving the same goal.
2. Maximise your impact in existing markets first
Your sales and marketing teams have gained considerable insight into your current audience and customers. Before spending time and money on breaking new ground, develop strategies to maximise your existing market.
Tweak your pricing strategy, run a promotion or offer a discount incentive for your existing customers
Seek feedback from your customer community on what improvements would incentivise them to spend more with your company
Re-engage with dormant customers
3. Refine your sales funnel
A sales funnel is simply a tool for visualising where your prospects are in the process of making a buying decision. It’s wide at the top because prospects with all level of engagement enter and eventually the most engaged ones are channelled to the bottom of the funnel to be turned into sales and repeat customers. The actual number of prospects in your funnel will continue to decrease the closer you get to a sale. This is to be expected.
Your conversion goals also change as the prospect moves through the sales funnel stages:
Generate awareness to those unfamiliar with your business
Engage those who know you exist
Educate those interested in making a purchase
Convert customers who are ready to buy
Re-engage customers who have already made a purchase
Too often businesses try to rush a prospect into a sale. Instead, engineer your sales funnel from the perspective of the buyer decision stages of Awareness, Preference and Purchase. Adopting a mini-conversion staged approach will not only increase conversions but will likely create a much more loyal customer base.
Increase conversions at the Awareness stage by building familiarity and trust. The most common awareness tactics include:
Blogging: publishing blog articles on your website will help your site be found in search engines and help your prospects who are searching for solutions find your company ahead of the competition.
Social Proof: publishing advice, referrals and reviews via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest will offer prospects a glimpse into your business interactions with customers, build trust and a sense of community. All of which helps increase conversions.
Pay-per-click campaigns: advertising on other websites to drive traffic to your landing page.
Increase conversions at the Engagement stage by offering a lead magnet which helps solve their problems in exchange for their email address. A lead magnet is essentially a valuable incentive offered to prospects in exchange for their contact information. A small commitment like this builds to larger ones, including purchasing your product.
The most effective engagement methods include:
Landing pages with content that addresses one specific problem. It should include a call to action. This is a different approach to a traditional website. A landing page removes the need for site navigation and focuses solely on the visitors needs and is more likely to convert.
Call to Action: for every page on your website ask “What do I need this reader to do?” e.g. watch a video, download a report, complete a contact form. Decide on the outcome you want and add a clear call to action multiple times on the page.
Contact forms: always offer the opportunity for visitors to subscribe to your list and receive your email newsletter. Lightbox popups are very effective tools for catching a visitor’s attention.
Increase conversions at the Education stage: this stage offers the opportunity to pre-qualify your prospects and better understand if your product is a good fit for their needs and if they’re a good fit for your business. You can educate your prospects through:
Automated email and ‘drip’ marketing where your customers or prospects receive a pre-written set of email messages over time, designed to share insight into your business, products and services, and build trust.
Use your CRM to segment your customers into niche groups and identify which email campaigns a prospect should receive next through cookie detection (preferences) and retargeting.
Increase conversions in the Purchase stage. The average customer needs to have seen your product or service 11 times, across 4 platforms before they’re ready to make a purchase. Ensure you provide ample opportunities to access your content and present a clear message and route to sale, whether that is through eCommerce or transactional content.
Increase conversions in the Re-engage stage. You’ve invested significantly in your customer to secure the first sale, your focus now is on maximising your return on investment through:
Referral: who else do they know who would benefit from your product
Discount on next purchase
Upsell / Cross-sell: across your product range
Reminders to encourage further purchasing
Thank you! Remember to show your appreciation for their continued loyalty
4. Address gaps in your product and service offering
Addressing gaps in customer expectations requires you to learn more about what customers expect when they walk into your store or visit your website, and what they also expect to get for the money they spend on your products and services.
While you cannot please everyone, there could be some quick wins that make a significant difference to your customers experience of your company and in turn increase their loyalty and improve your sales.
Create a customer feedback survey that includes questions about business services, products and policies. Use a scale to gauge customer response.
Create an action plan to address each issue or suggestion raised e.g. improvements to relationship management, or easier access to support.
Educate your staff on customer expectations, and update policies and training guidelines to improve the overall customer experience.
Factor requests into your product / service development lifecycle and communicate to customers that you have listened and implemented enhancements accordingly.
5. Review your pricing strategy
There are 2 principles that are universal to successful pricing management:
Your Total Sales Price should be inclusive of all costs e.g. expenses, distribution, development…) + total profit AND
You should track and adapt your pricing to reveal your most effective strategy.
There are numerous techniques to set product and service prices to yield different results, here are 5 pricing strategies for consideration:
Trade on your brand loyalty: once you have an established following and loyal customers, it’s time to review your pricing and assess the feasibility of nudging your prices higher than your competitors
Experiment with demand and supply e.g. the waiting list for Rolex watches actually creates more demand, maintains top tier pricing and pushes up resale prices
Experiment with quantity e.g. McDonald’s cashiers always ask their customer if they would like large fries or small fries, the majority opt for large
Create a range of service plans that offer different features
Elevate the attractiveness of your product through exclusivity e.g. name your product/service Premium vs. Regular.
6. Extend your sales channels
It’s more important than ever to stay well informed of consumer behaviour, industry changes and evolving trends in order to maintain your competitive advantage. That includes understanding and maximising your access to customers through a variety of distribution channels.
Identify and assess the different ways you can reach your target customer and ensure your sales strategy incorporates the channels that are most effective for your business. Distribution boils down to 2 approaches:
Direct sales: you rely on your in-house sales team, website etc. to drive sales
Indirect sales: you distribute your product via wholesale, distributor and retail networks.
Many businesses employ a combination of direct and indirect channels, the decision depends on your business strategy, product and ideal customer.
An indirect channel has certain advantages, namely it offers more specificity.
If you want to sell your product nationwide or globally, a distributor can fine-tune sales tactics based on culture nuances that work for each location you’re selling in.
Your distribution partner may pair your product with a service (like installation) or a complementary good that will help the channel make its own money.
When choosing a channel to work with, understand what they will be offering alongside your product and how they will be generating revenue.
Tip: instead of casting the net wide, select a small number of strategic partners. This enables you to minimise channel conflict and protects your best partners. It might just be your channel partner that drives the bulk of your revenue and saves you considerable costs in running an in-house sales team.
7. Diversify your products and services
Create and offer new products and services to your clients so they become more committed to your company and it becomes harder for them to leave. The new products and services must be profitable, and ideally form or enhance a solution-based approach.
Keep abreast of new themes and technologies on the horizon that could influence your target audience’s behaviour, lifestyle choices and buying decisions in the future.
What new services can you offer that will increase the width of the moat around your business?
By investigating new resources and social and technological advances, you’ll be at the forefront of changes in your market. Being open and proactive pays dividends in the long run.
Fine-tune your sales strategies for even more growth
“Improvise, adapt, overcome”
Is a classic military line that promotes a healthy attitude to running operational campaigns. The most successful companies will incorporate learning from every campaign into the next, and keep tuning until there is a consistent, repeatable outcome, which in this case is a significant and sustainable increase in sales growth.
WANT TO KNOW MORE
Selina Bolton is a business strategist and the founder of Seed.Partners; a mergers & acquisitions firm specialising in attracting investment and creating opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses to scale and build value at pace.
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