Today we will talk about the most important part of any business: sales. I say the most important part because a business that does not have sales is out of business. When you increase your sales, you will make more profit. What business owner does not want that? Particularly if you can increase your sales without spending money.
The good news: this is possible!
Increase sales by increasing customer purchase amounts
The customers who are already buying from you on a regular basis, are a good starting point. They know you and if they come back, it means that they are satisfied with you. If you want to see your sales go up, focus on the following question: what could make them spend more when they come to buy from you?
Let us break this down.
If your customers needed additional units of what they are already buying, they would have already decided to buy them. For example: your customer usually buys 1 ice-cream when they come to you. Buying 2 ice-creams at the same time will not offer them a big improvement. So, if your strategy is just to convince them to buy multiple units of the same item, it will not be very successful.
But suppose you are able to offer them something that has additional value? Something that would convince them to even spend more money in your business? Looking at the ice-cream example again: it may be hard to convince your customer to buy 2 or 3 strawberry ice-cream cones on the same day. But if your business also serves top-ups, like fruits or sprinkles to add to the ice-cream, you may be able to convince your customer to buy the same 1 item at a higher price.
This strategy can be applied to all kinds of products and services. If you sell carpentry tools, offer add-on tools and accessories. If you sell bicycles, offer an add-on check-up and tuning service repair as a one-off service or even a subscription service. If you sell vegetables or other products, your add-on could be an additional charge to deliver the products to your customer’s house.
You may have customers who are used to buying from you only when the need arises. For example: you sell butane gas and customers only call you when they run out of gas. Study their buying behaviour. What is their average buying interval? Can you offer a contract that guarantees they will never run out of gas because you will always bring a new bottle before they run out? What other things do you hear them complaining about? Can you offer an extra service to solve that problem?
Sales is about being creative to solve the problems your customers face. So, ask yourself this question: what do you sell, and what ways are there to add value and increase your price?
Increase sales by getting customers to buy more often
Another way of getting the most out of your existing customers, is attracting them to your business more often. The more often they visit your business, the more often they will buy something from you. Taking the same ice-cream example: if your customer usually buys an ice-cream from you once a week, buying an ice-cream twice a week means you have doubled the sales from one customer.
There are many reasons why a customer would visit your business more often. Maybe because you convinced them that buying your products is good for them. Maybe because of the extra service you provide by giving expert advice to your customer.
For example: you sell building materials. You could also provide information sheets giving advice about how to do certain kinds of work. Like how to install a shelf so that it is completely level. This information is available for free on the internet. You can collect it, put it in a Word document (don’t forget to add your logo and business contact details), print it, and make it available to your customer for a small price. Or give it to them for free, but add a few cents to the price of every product that you sell to cover the cost. However, make sure the advice is correct because giving bad advice will cause you to lose customers.
Increase sales by getting more customers
Finding new customers is the most obvious – but not always the easiest – way to increase your sales. Start with what you have. Is your business easy to locate? Is it 100% clear what you are selling? Are the customers you are looking for attracted by the marketing that you do?
Secondly, find out where your customers are coming from. If you know where your customers are, make sure they will find information about your business there. Maybe a poster or hand out flyers offering them a discount. if you want to create professional flyers or posters for free, click here to check out Canva. The free version has enough possibilities for any small business owner. You only need a computer and an internet connection. You can also use their app, but I personally feel it is easier to do designs on my laptop. After designing it, you will need to print it if you want to put it in a physical location, but you could also use it to promote your business on Facebook.
Thirdly, starting with what you have also means starting with the customers that you already have. Ask them to spread the word about your business and give them your business cards to share with friends and colleagues. Or ask them for testimonials that you can put on your Facebook page or your website. Word -of-mouth is one of the best marketing tools!
Increase sales by sending the right message
Whether you are looking to attract more customers to your physical business or online, to convince customers to spend higher amounts or to visit you more often, the key is to make sure that the message is right.
Clever marketing, targeting the right customers with the right message, will cost you the same as targeting the right customers with the wrong message. Or worse: targeting the wrong customers with the wrong message! But the results are completely different. Get the message right, and send it at the right time and in the right place. For example: a large poster at a busy intersection where people coming from work can see it, stating: “Another long, hot day in the office? We have refreshing ice-cream to cool you down. Find us just 15 steps from here!”
Or use your Facebook page to do promotions during particular times of the year. If you sell school supplies, run promos in the month that parents are buying these supplies for their children. If you are targeting office workers, run promos at a time when most of them are getting back to work after a holiday or vacation. If you sell seasonal products, let’s say beach umbrellas and chairs, target the beginning of the beach season.
When dealing with your existing customers, it is important to talk to them and find out how they use your products. This will give you insight into what additional products or services you can offer that they will be willing to pay for. Then slowly start introducing those new products or services and focus your marketing on your existing customers.
Increase sales by increasing your price
This is one area where I see many businesses struggling. The price they are charging is too low. And let me be honest. If you are competing on price, you will lose. There will always be somebody who will sell the same or a similar product at a lower price. As a business owner, you need to be able to distinguish yourself from the competition using other means.
First, verify that your price is actually correct. Have you taken all the costs into account? Including transportation, rent, and marketing? If necessary, maintain records of all your expenses for 1 month to determine what money is going out. This should also include any money you take out of the business for personal/family use.
If your price is too low, try to reduce your costs and expenses. However, reducing costs should not affect the quality of your product.
If you cannot reduce costs, or if you reduced them but your price is still too low, you need to increase your price. But there should be a good reason or else customers will not agree to pay the higher price.
Have you been adding value for free which you can now include in the price? If yes, try to add even more value so that your customers will not feel that you are just increasing the price.
If you are very confident of the quality of your product or the additional value that you add compared to your competition, try increasing the price little by little. Study the results very carefully. Increasing the price only works if you can maintain the same number of purchases. If sales start dropping, you will be worse off. So be careful with this strategy.