How to increase sales: a guide for small business owners
Many businesses experience seasons of strong sales performance, but find themselves wondering how to maintain that incredible momentum year-round. Other business owners struggle to know how to increase sales to gain a competitive advantage in the retail industry.
Whatever your motivation, there are a few strategies that you can use to boost sales without breaking your budget. In this short guide, we'll offer some tips that you can use to reach new customers, increase your revenue, and streamline the way you do business.
How to boost sales and generate more revenue
There are really only four ways to boost your sales and business revenue when you get right down to it. Nearly every sales strategy will ultimately be an attempt to accomplish one of the following goals:
1. Pursue more customers
Getting more people in your door won't always translate into more sales, but with more customers, you increase your odds of making a sale. This is especially true for restaurants and foodservice establishments.
2. Increase the average sale
Increasing your average sale size will translate into more revenue coming in, assuming the total number of transactions stays the same.
3. Increase the number of sales per customer
Repeat business can help you maintain a steady revenue stream all year long. Finding ways to encourage your existing customers to purchase from you more often is a simple way to increase your business's total number of sales as a whole. Satisfied customers are also more likely to recommend your products and services to others, which can feed back into gaining more customers!
4. Raise your prices
Your prices may be set too low to turn a profit in some cases. Raising prices on specific products or services can ensure that you receive a fair price for them. Be careful not to raise your prices too high or you may find that fewer customers are willing to buy a particular item.
In most cases, raising prices should be a last resort, used only when you can maintain the same number of transactions.
How to connect with new customers
If you're wondering how to increase sales, you'll likely want to start by finding ways to generate new sales leads so that you can connect with new customers. There are multiple ways to accomplish this:
1. Create a marketing strategy
How much do you know about your target audience? To devise an effective marketing plan, you'll have to know as much as possible about your target market.
You can invest in market research to provide some data about your customer base, but you can also learn something by evaluating the marketing communications used by competitors who are seeking the same audience.
Your strategy should take on a multi-pronged approach and include:
- Social media advertising
- Email marketing and promotions
- Print marketing materials and signage
- Directed mailers or flyers
The good news is that it costs nothing to manage a social media account. By providing consistent content on your social media platforms, you'll have access to a wider range of potential customers, too.
2. Optimize your online presence
For many customers, the front page of your website has replaced the front door to your retail space. What are you doing to ensure that potential customers can find the products or services you provide?
With your website, you'll want to make sure that your content is optimized for search engines. When a potential customer performs a Google search for a product or service, your store should be prominently featured in the search results.
You can also add your company to the business listings featured on sites like Google or Yelp, as well as on social media platforms. You can create a business profile that includes details about your company and even feature customer testimonials to validate your business.
And of course, you'll also want to maintain an active social media presence. This will help you to connect with a wider range of prospective customers. Your online "followers" can even give you wider exposure when they like and share your content.
3. Tell a compelling story
One of the most crucial elements of any business is the story that drives it. As you're creating your marketing materials, don't just focus on product specifications and technical details. Talk about the problems you hope to solve and the passion that lies at the very core of your business.
What we're talking about here is your "unique value proposition," a statement that describes the benefits that your product or service can offer.
In other words, what can your customers get from your business that they can't get anywhere else? Your sales copy should be built around this principle.
If you can build desire in the hearts and minds of your customer base, sales will often follow.
4. Offer a promotion
Special deals are a great way to introduce new customers to your business. This can be as simple as a discount on a particular item or some type of bundled promotion, depending on the type of business that you own.
Feeling charitable? Many companies are finding ways to give back and encouraging their customers to help. For example, you could set aside a day or week to support a local youth organization. When customers buy items from your store, a percentage of each purchase could go to this organization.
This is one of the more creative ways to attract customers who want to support a charity, but might otherwise not enter your business.
5. Provide a money-back guarantee
It's important that your customers trust the sales process. By communicating a strong return policy, first-time customers may be more willing to commit to buying your product or service.
The fact that you stand behind your products reduces the amount of risk that the customer perceives.
How to boost sales with existing customers
As you're thinking through how to increase sales for your business, don't simply focus on attracting new customers. Most economists even believe that retaining an existing customer can be more valuable than landing a new one!
Here's how to increase sales by leveraging the relationships you have with existing customers.
1. Ask for customer feedback
Your most loyal patrons could be ideal customers to target when you want to ask for feedback about your business. They can give you input on exactly what they like about your store and provide some insight on ways to optimize the customer experience.
You might even ask if your customers have the same experience at other businesses they visit, which can help you to better understand your competition.
As a bonus, you can often use customer testimonials on your webpage or online business profile. In other words, your existing customers might be able to help you boost your retail strategy.
2. Create a loyalty program
One of the ways to increase your sales is to keep your existing customers coming back for repeat business through some type of loyalty program.
Have your customers sign up to become some sort of "rewards members" by offering an incentive. For example, you might offer a small discount to your loyal customers, or you could provide a free item after a customer spends a certain dollar amount.
The added bonus is that you can use this customer data to help build your email marketing list. You can then direct specific promotional materials to your rewards members to generate more sales from repeat shoppers.
3. Decrease your product variety
This tip may sound counterintuitive. Wouldn't a broader range of products improve sales? The answer, it turns out, is that today's consumers have too many options, something experts call "the paradox of choice."
In other words, if you're selling multiple products that perform the same function, you might want to reduce your inventory to just one or two choices. After all, not everyone is going to be able to perform enough research to make a decision on the spot. You may discover that you can increase sales by selling only a single option.
4. Hire employees who excel at customer service
Your employees are the "face" of your company. It's your sales force that will interact with your customers most directly. Train them well. Teach them to answer questions clearly and to build relationships to ensure total customer satisfaction.
When a customer develops a solid relationship with a sales staff member, they'll be more likely to return, as they know that they can expect great service.
5. Plan ahead for the 2022 holiday season
Most retailers see a sharp uptick in sales during November and December. Plan ahead for next season. At a bare minimum, make sure you have enough inventory to cover the increased demand of the holidays.
When the season gets closer, you can even include some teasers about upcoming sales in your marketing materials, which can go a long way toward building interest in your business.
How to make more sales online
Customers today conduct more business online, so it only makes sense to leverage your online store to increase sales and connect with your customers. Are you looking for tips on how to increase sales online? The following strategies have been shown to generate more sales and offer more value to your customers.
1. Advertise your products online
Make sure your marketing materials contain information about the products you're selling. This can ensure that specific items show up in your customers' search results through SEO or PPC, which will help them to connect with your online store.
You can also advertise these products on social media, which can help generate interest and highlight the great deals you're offering on a particular item. In turn, this can drive sales through your company website.
2. Offer something for free
Some businesses offer something called a "lead magnet." This is a free offer designed to capture contact information and other customer data from website visitors. You can provide a free ebook, a coupon, or something else that your customers would find valuable. In exchange, your visitors provide their contact information.
You can use this data to build an email list for future marketing campaigns. This can help you to increase sales by attracting new buyers to your business.
3. Streamline your checkout process
Customers appreciate a secure, frictionless checkout process. If you don't offer a great experience, customers will often abandon their digital shopping carts, leaving you short on sales.
Make sure your checkout process is easy to navigate and optimized for desktop computers as well as mobile devices. You should also have the right tools in place to process online payments securely while protecting sensitive customer data.
Offering multiple payment options is another way to increase sales. Customers may be more likely to use your business if they have the option of paying through credit cards or mobile forms of payment.
4. Talk to your customers online
It's tempting to simply park your content on your social media pages, but companies that do this can lose sight of the larger goal. Instead, use this technology to build relationships with your customers or to help answer questions about the products you're selling. This can increase sales by providing additional data about an item.
By answering one customer, you may encourage other prospective buyers, as well!
5. Allow customers to buy online and return in-store
Some customers may still be wary of making an online purchase, especially if it's not clear that they can return the item if they change their mind. Your business can allow customers to purchase an item online, but return it in your store. This can help customers in your area feel more comfortable about making an online purchase, knowing they can visit your brick-and-mortar business later on.
Increase sales by streamlining your business
These strategies for increasing sales require your focus and attention. The best way to dedicate your attention to the task of growing your business is to streamline your core business processes. Invoice2go, a Bill.com company offers invoicing solutions that can help you quickly and easily send invoices to your clients, along with automated reminders to help you get paid on time.