How to generate more sales for your small business

Café owners working behind the counter

Every business needs sales and there are tactics which you can use to generate more sales for your brick-and-mortar shop and/or online site.

With 8.9 million people living in London, there are plenty of opportunities for small businesses to sell products and render services to the populace. From craft breweries to art galleries, brick-and-mortar shops are varied and numerous in London. Online eCommerce sites are equally prevalent. Entrepreneurs continue to set up sites and launch apps that aim to provide something that consumers need or want.

While the business scene is thriving, it is worth bearing in mind that not every business will be successful. There are numerous factors contributing to the success of a business, including but not limited to:

  • Failing to connect with the target audience
  • Failing to control cost
  • Failing to generate sales
  • Failing to stay on top of tax and financial affairs
  • Hiring the wrong people
  • Lack of a robust price structure
  • Lack of proper guidance
  • Bad time management

In this article, we will only look at sales. Conventional wisdom dictates that without a constant stream of sales, there is little chance for your business to survive and thrive. So how do you go about getting more sales for your small business? As this is a question worth discussing, our small business accountants and business growth specialists put together tips which we gather from working with entrepreneurs across London over the years. Hopefully these useful tips will make a difference to your business.

Do you have a sales strategy?

In the movie Field of Dreams, the character played by Kevin Costner heard a voice telling him, “If you build it, he will come”. The phrase was later modified slightly to “If you build it, they will come” by tech pioneers who seized the opportunities at the dawn of the internet when the competition was scarce. At that point, it became a phrase associating with building a website and customers would flock to it.

Today, many small business owners and online entrepreneurs know that “if you build it, they will come” does not happen naturally. No matter what business you are in, launching a company without knowing how you are going to get your customers is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Needless to say, having a sales strategy is vital to the success of your small business, so let’s discuss what goes into a meaningful sales strategy.

What goes into a sales strategy?

Ideally, your sales strategy should include:

1. Profile of your target market

Who are your customers? Where are they based? What kind of lifestyle do they lead? What are their buying patterns? Questions like these will help you to focus on the next few points.

2. Know your competitors

Understand your competitors and know what they offer. You can divide your competitors into two groups – online and those who are near your business geographically.

3. Your unique selling proposition

Your unique selling proposition or USP in short, states the reasons why your customers would buy from you and not from your competitors.

4. Your goals

Set realistic goals that you want to achieve.

5. Create a marketing plan

This is about how you intend to reach your target audience so they are aware of you and your business.

Having a sound sales strategy is the first step, now we need to translate that into a series of actions. At this point, it makes sense to separate small business owners into two camps – those with a brick-and-mortar shop and those who trade online – as there are points relevant to one camp but not the other. After that, we will share seven tips that are applicable to both sides.

Generate more sales for your brick-and-mortar small business

We have a client who runs a transport service and he builds his business from a single car to running a fleet of vehicles catering to different groups. The three secret ingredients that are key to his success are being local, building relationships, and giving back.

Being local means you advertise locally, you network locally, and you set your sales target based on your customers in the local area. When it comes to your website, you have it optimised for the geographical area you are in and you also set your social media campaign to target the local market.

Being local does not mean that you lack the aspiration to go beyond a geographical area. Far from it – it is about building a strong foundation in your local area first, before venturing out to other regions.

Relationships create loyalty. Businesses thrive when they have good relationships with vendors, associates, and most importantly, the clients. Going the extra mile for your clients will ensure your company stand out and increase the chances of them refer you to other people.

Relationships aren’t just about warmth and happiness all the time, sometimes they can turn negative when your customers are unsatisfied about a certain aspect of the products or services. The best way to handle a negative relationship is to listen, then seek to improve.

Giving back to your community is a step further than just having positive relationships with your customers. It is about doing good deeds for all, including strangers whom you don’t know. Giving back comes in many forms, from sponsoring a local event to participating in a community program. When you give back selflessly, chances are, your action will indirectly help to raise your profile and your brand’s visibility, which in turn will help to attract new businesses.

Generate more sales for your online small business

If you are an eCommerce site owner, you have probably heard of the words ‘sales funnel’ many times. Essentially, a sales funnel refers to the process which converts prospects into paying customers, and the theory centres around website optimisation, meaning how your website can help you convert a customer who lands on one of your pages to putting products into a basket and checking out.

Theoretically, there are four common steps associating with an online sales funnel and they are awareness, interest, decision and action. How you can generate more sales online usually involves you analysing data and tweaking one of the steps. For example, if customers spend a considerable amount of time browsing a certain product, chances are, they want to know more about the product before making a purchase, so you facilitate the process by describing the product in detail, displaying customer reviews and testimonials, using a video clip to show how the product works, to name but a few.

Seven tips for generating more sales for small businesses, both brick-and-mortar and online sites

In this section, we will look at seven tips that are applicable to both brick-and-mortar shops as well as online businesses.

1. Bundle products or services

Combining several products or services into a package has several potential benefits including:

  • It helps you to shift less popular products or services.
  • It creates new categories.
  • It increases sales without higher transactional costs.
  • It appeals to more customers.
  • It makes it harder for customers to compare based on price alone.

2. Create new opportunities

If you discount creating new products or services outright, do pause and think again. The habits of consumers change and as the market evolves, new opportunities emerge. Learning to adapt means you can get ahead of the game.

Creating new opportunities does not mean you have to do it all by yourself. Work with complementary businesses to expand your market and increase sales. For example, if you design and sell yoga apparel online, work with gyms and yoga teachers. If you are a craft brewery, partner with local restaurants. There are plenty of opportunities if you seek to collaborate.

3. Think like a customer

No matter what business you are in, it pays to develop several personas and think like them. Ask questions such as what motivates them? How can you help them to solve a problem or address a need? How can your business be there before and after sales?

4. Nurture loyal customers

Routinely reach out to your customers is just part of the process, it pays to go further and incentivise them to keep coming back and buying from you. Incentives can come in many forms – giving discounts, providing after-sale follow-up, as well as offering exceptional customer service.

Having said that, do not push too hard to grow revenue from the same customers by suggesting products or services that they do not need. This will quickly drive loyal customers away.

Delivering positive customer experience is a big subject by itself, if you are interested in finding out more, this post Customer experience: a discussion worth having may make a good read.

5. Don’t ignore your less valuable customers

While retaining frequent buyers is a top priority for many small business owners, it pays to engage those who do not buy from you regularly. Keeping the conversation going is a way of showing that you value them and it may indirectly build a genuine connection. Even if they have no needs to purchase something from you, they can still refer other customers to you.

6. Have multiple felicitous campaigns ready

You have seen it – when it is raining, stores who know how to capitalise on the weather will display umbrellas and raincoats at the entrance and/or near the check-out.

Knowing how to run well-timed and well-chosen campaigns work exceptionally well online too. When the weather is wet and windy outside, a food delivery company runs real-time local ads targeting the rainy areas because it knows that people aren’t likely to go out in bad weather; they are more likely to have their food delivered instead.

Apart from weather-dependent ads, you can create other felicitous campaigns and make the most of the situations too. The trick is to plan for multiple scenarios in advance and have them ready so you can launch them as and when you need.

7. Monitor and review

There isn’t a standard recipe when it comes to increasing sales. Like all crucial business activities, regularly monitor and review your sales strategy will help you to determine whether it is working well and achieving the desired outcome.

Contact Berley if your small business needs a helping hand

It takes a lot to run and nurture a business. As a small business owner, you are probably wearing multiple hats – you are the salesperson, the marketing person, the IT guy, the negotiator, the web person, so on and so forth.

You know it is impossible to do it all, so use your resources wisely and delegate tasks that take up too much of your time. For example, leave it to our small business accountants to handle your accounts and financial affairs, so you can focus on managing and growing your business. To make it easier for you, our one-stop accounting services offer the full spectrum that seeks to ease your accounting workload, provide sound financial advice and manage regulatory risks, things that can support you grow and flourish.

One of the main advantages of working with us is that once we get a better view of your financial numbers, we can make honest recommendations that are applicable to your business. Treat us as your virtual finance director but without paying big money. If questions surrounding your financial numbers are stressing you out or you simply want an independent accountant to provide a valuable second opinion, kick start the conversation by calling us on 020 7636 9094 today or get in touch via our contact page.

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This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.