Small businesses are the primary employers of Ontario’s population. Whether it is in trades, service or retail, small businesses are the provinces lifeblood. Yet they suffer from one big disadvantage they have compared to their larger competitors. Budget.
Small businesses statistically have smaller budgets due to their small size. However, having a small budget is not a bad thing to have in business. It can be an advantage as well. For example, it forces small businesses to be more creative with their money in order to get in front of their ideal customers.
No matter your budget, there are always ways to increase your sales and grow your business. But one of the trickiest aspects is increasing your sales when your budget is tight. Whatever the reasons are, it could be challenging to increase your sales while keeping your marketing and advertising dollars under control.
1. Talk to Your Current Customers
Your current customers are one of your best resources for increased revenue. It’s much easier to upsell a client who already is familiar with your work, the quality of your product and services, and has already incorporated aspects of your services into their business.
If you’ve built a relationship with your clients, and they consider you a trusted partner, then they are likely willing to share current challenges they are facing. By listening, you can easily analyze how you might be able to help them address these challenges by offering new or alternative products. This approach allows you to continue to be a good partner while also increasing your revenue.
2. Bundle Your Products and Services
Many small businesses have found success by selling bundled products and services as a package rather than individual offerings. Customers equate a bundle of services with savings, even if the savings are nominal, making it a much easier sell for you. If possible, try to keep your bundles somewhat flexible; a potential customer may reject a bundle because he or she feels that only three of the six services apply to his or her business. If you can stay flexible enough to swap out different products or services to align with multiple needs, you’ll find success.
3. Ask for Referrals
Your current customers are also a great asset in providing you with client referrals. If you know that a client is satisfied and happy with your products, ask him or her for the names and contact information of other small business owners who might also benefit from working with you.
You can also ask satisfied customers for testimonials and then use those on your website and in sales emails or newsletters. Always be sure to ask permission first when using a customer testimonial.
4. Have a Limited-Time Sale or Promotion
Discounting your products may seem antithetical to increasing sales, but even offering a slight discount can make your products and services more attractive to a client. Make sure to clearly define the parameters of the sale—including start and end dates—so there isn’t any confusion if the client decides to continue working with you once the promotion ends.
This is perhaps the simplest and most overlooked tactic when trying to boost your sales. Listening to your clients or potential customers is the best way to understand and address their needs. Without open communication, the chances for misunderstandings and frustrations arise. Make sure that you and your sales team understand how to actively listen, ask leading questions to get more information and are comfortable brainstorming solutions with clients.
If some members of your sales team aren’t okay with employing any of these tactics, that’s fine. It might be better to have them focused more on closing sales or making initial contact than true consultative selling.
6. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
If you have even a small following on Twitter or Facebook, using social media to promote and tout your product offerings is a great way to raise customer awareness and quite possibly get the phone to ring. Customer testimonials, as mentioned in item #3, are perfect for posting to social media feeds, and can spark interest in your offerings.
Additionally, don’t just view social media as a sales tool, but as an open line of communication. Use it to disseminate interesting industry information, retweet or repost articles of particular significance or further illustrate how your business works, perhaps with behind-the-scenes photos or videos. Social media is first and foremost social; use it as a personal touch point to your audience.
7. Raise Your Prices
Again, this might seem antithetical to increasing sales, if only because higher costs might make some potential—or even current—clients hesitant to work with you. When you do raise prices, don’t do it quietly. Announce the increase to your current clients. Give them the chance to renew their contracts or purchase products and services before the increase takes place.
Raising prices is not something that should be taken lightly. Be sure to analyze the pros and cons of increasing your prices for both the short- and long-term.
While none of the strategies above require an outlay of cash up front, they will take time and commitment from you and your sales team to really take off, whether over the phone, in person or via social media. However, by continuing to make connections with current and potential clients, you have the best chance of increasing your sales and demonstrating your value.