When you think of your small business and its success, sales is the first thing to come to mind. You live and die by the revenue you generate. But what if your sales are lagging? Or just never took off to begin with? Here are three ways to increase your monthly sales by $10,000 over the next year. As a bonus you’ll get to know your business and your customer base a little bit better in the process.
“Revenue solves all problems.”
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
1. Focus on what sells best
It’s all too easy to give into the temptation to increase your sales by stocking more items for a bigger customer base. The truth of the matter is that you cannot be everything to everyone, so you need to focus your effort on what sells best.
Who Are Your Customers?
Your customers are unique, but if you spend some time talking to them you will probably start seeing some trends. Keep notes about these conversations and spend some time every week seeing if you can pick out patterns. Once you start seeing patterns emerge, you’ll have a much better idea of who your typical customer is and what they want.
How Much More of Your Best-Selling Product or Service Would You Need to Sell to Increase Monthly Revenues by $10,000?
Analyzing your sales will also provide you with some great insights that can really drive your business in the right direction. You probably already have a good idea of what sells best, but do you have a comprehensive picture of your stock across the board?
If you don’t want to sift through all of that information manually, tools like Tranzlogic will do the work for you. For a modest monthly fee, they will provide you with all sorts of valuable information on your customers and what they’re buying by analyzing credit and debit card purchases, e-commerce activity and more.
2. Fill the top of the sales funnel
The sales funnel is a way to describe what stage of the buyer’s journey your prospective customers are in. The top of the funnel is Awareness – and that’s where you need to start. By keeping the top of the funnel full, you ensure that a steady stream of customers are moving through the funnel to the Action stage, where they buy from you.
How Many Prospects Will It Take to Generate $10,000 in Sales for Your Business?
How do you fill the top of the funnel? That’s where your ground game comes into play. You need to build awareness of your business in the community among your chosen audience. In order to build awareness, you should start with a simple marketing plan.
Create a Marketing Plan
Don’t worry if you’ve never written a marketing plan. It’s a fairly simple process – first you have to decide your overall budget, and then divvy that budget up between various advertising and publicity options. BusinessTown has a great example of a marketing plan that you can borrow that launches a small business with just a $2,000 investment.
You should also be aware of all of the options open to you:
- Social media advertising can be incredibly cost effective. Build upon your current social media pages and posts (you do have a social media presence, right?) with paid advertisements. Even $20 can get your business in front of your target audience.
- News channels and radio will often pick up press releases about local businesses.
- Putting up flyers in local hang-outs.
- Taking out an ad in the local weekly magazine.
- And much, much more!
Don’t Underestimate Networking
No matter what kind of business you run, chances are there’s a local meetup or group where you would be a relevant participant. Building your network of professional contacts is a great way to get customers headed for your business. From Sewing with Style to Bubble Soccer, you can find something related to your business at Meetup.com.
Another path is to sponsor your own Meetup that’s relevant to your business. If you’re running a storefront, you can host the Meetup right there, but if you run a services business you may need to find a local venue for free or on the cheap. Hosting your own Meetup is a great way to develop your influence and get a reputation as a business leader in your local community.
Make sure you have some business cards with you, but don’t forget that you’re there to connect, not to hard sell. Keep it conversational and find the right moment to mention your business and hand over a card.
Write Surefire Proposals
If you run any kind of service business, you probably have to come up with proposals regularly. Getting better at this process can have a huge positive impact on your revenue. One of the best ways to perfect your proposals is to use a site like Proposify that lets you automate a big chunk of the process. You can create templates for your various services and then simply customize each proposal you create. It takes a lot of the work out of making a proposal, while producing consistent and professional results.
A Numbers Game
Often, increasing sales is a simple numbers game. You put your goods and services in front of a certain number of prospects and some portion will buy – the sales funnel and practical experience tells us that. If you find yourself losing sales over and over, re-evaluate the way you sell. It’s not all about running killer specials that get customers in the door – your sales reps have to be able to close the deal. Consider incentivizing them with bonuses, gift cards, extra time off or anything else they would see as motivation.
3. Understand Pricing
Are you charging too little for your product or service, or too much? How can you tell? First of all, you have to know and understand your customer base. At both ends of the economic spectrum, price has a huge impact on customer behavior.
How Would Changing the Price of Your Products or Services Allow You to Increase Sales by $10,000 per Month?
If your customers are primarily lower to middle class, they might be very price sensitive. If Amazon and Walmart can win on pennies, so can you. Do some number crunching here – for price sensitive customers, does it make financial sense to drop prices by 10% if it results in a 20% sales increase? Keep a sharp eye on your competition, too. You may not be able to undercut their prices significantly, but if you can offer even a marginally less expensive good or service you’ll stand out from the crowd.
On the flip side, some upper middle class and upper class customers associate higher prices with higher quality. If your business is in an especially affluent area, consider becoming a premium-priced provider. This move lends a certain cachet to your business, one you can capitalize on and build on with excellent service and high-end products.
The Small Business Administration has a great set of tools to help you understand how you price your goods and services in relation to your competition. First, discover How to Price Your Small Business’ Products and Services. Then take advantage of the SBA’s SizeUp tool to see how your prices stack up against others in the same industry and same area.
By concentrating on these three areas, you can realize substantial sales benefits. Don’t let another month go by without addressing the elephant in the room – your revenue.