Sales is the lifeblood of your business, so it’s vital to try to increase them so you can improve profitability and perhaps expand your business if that’s a goal. There are various factors that influence sales, not least modern marketing methods such as online and social media.
Here are seven important factors that determine sales success:
- Know your customer
The better you know your customers the easier it is to cater to their needs. Modern POS (Point of Sale) systems enable you to capture important customer data that can inform what you offer them, both now and in the future, based on buying habits and needs.
Other ways to know your customer – and potential customer – is to use social media and email marketing to build relationships with them.
- Targeted marketing
Trying to be ‘all things to all people’ is a mistake in that your sales efforts will be too unfocused.
It’s far better to focus on catering to a niche within a broad market area; by understanding exactly what people in this area want and what their problems are you can more easily specialize and solve them.
- Establish your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
Hand in hand with target and niche marketing is establishing your USP: what makes you stand out from the competition and why you’re especially suitable to meet your target customer’s needs.
Your USP should be written up as a benefit statement and form the core of all your advertising and promotional activities. If you have one already, it’s time for a refresh. The market might well have moved on since you drew yours up.
- Value versus price
It’s tempting at times to try and undercut your competition but it’s fraught with perils.
Pricing low to win customers is very much a short-term fix: sooner or later, someone will undercut you and you’ll be forced to pare prices down further and the vicious circle continues. Eventually, you may well find your business is simply not viable on such tight margins.
Far better to focus on value and, if there is some price pressure, maybe include an extra offer or add on; this isn’t quite the same as lowering the price – it’s more ‘adding value’ in a way that shouldn’t have to adversely affect your bottom line.
- Build relationships with customers
As part of ‘knowing your customer’, building relationships with them is a key part of marketing and maximizing sales.
Use channels such as social media properly – they’re primarily designed to build relationships not to openly sell – and develop relationships that will, in time, likely yield some tangible results in sales or at least spreading your message.
If you use email marketing, when a prospect or customer joins your email list don’t immediately bombard them with sales messages; use regular emails to build trust and relationships through helpful communication leading to ‘soft sell’ offers once they know, like and trust you.
Diversification can help you take advantage of opportunities in your niche by catering to the other, related needs of your customer base.
Be careful of diversifying too generally though: as discussed earlier, being too ‘broad brush’ can be a mistake in that your marketing and promotional efforts will lose focus if you try and dabble in too many market segments.
Strategic diversification based on known customer needs is different, however, and will help you increase sales.
- Test new marketing methods
Along with activities that work well it’s important to try new marketing and promotional methods; recent years have seen developments in social media and content marketing for example, so it’s important to keep abreast of the latest trends.
Many businesses minimize risk in that they’ll invest 80 per cent of their marketing budget in activities that are proven to work effectively with 20 per cent being spent on new ones.
This way you are innovating with your marketing but not risking too much of your budget in so far unproven activities.