Ideas to Help You Grow Your Business

May20Learning how to grow your business can often seem like feeling your way in the dark when you are not sure where your sales are generated from. Lack of understanding of where sales are generated can often result in sleepless nights, wondering if the sales will continue to come in. The answer is of course to keep accurate data as to where the sales are generated from the outset and this certainly makes life easier and will also help reduce your sleepless nights.
It makes no difference what your business is; you need sales to keep your business going whether you are a plumber, electrician or an accountant, we all need a constant stream of new customers. So what is the process for generating new sales and keeping them coming in? Well there are a few tips that may help you understand why you need a constant stream of new sales and how to get them.
Why do we need a constant stream of new sales? – Any business loses customers either by the nature of the work – say a plumber completes an installation of a new bath-room there are only so many bathrooms you can install in one house. So, in this kind of trade you are always looking for people wanting plumbing services as there is unlikely to be a large volume of repeat business.
For example unlike an accountant whose clients need an accountant annually to prepare the business accounts you must continually seek ‘new customers’.If you are an accountant or another professional then you cannot simply sit back and ‘live off’ your client base it doesn’t work like that as we know. Clients change accountants, move home, retire, go out of business but for whatever the reason your client base will reduce gradually – so ongoing recruitment is just as important to keep the practice healthy.When you get down to the basics there are only five key areas when it comes to driving sales and they are:

  • Making contact
  • Establish Rapport
  • Establish a relationship
  • Trust
  • Closing the sale

Making contact – this is where keeping long term data really is useful but if you have nothing to work with then simply assess your last sales as far back as you can. You are trying to identify prospects and how best to source them in the future. How did your last twenty sales find you initially? Where they in a particular geographical area? Is there anything at all linking them? Did they use a search engine online? Why not call them and ask?

Your aim in assessing the existing clients is to find a common denominator so you can use this to source other potential sales. Also use the exercise to contact all clients to let them know you thrive on referrals and are happy to repay them with an appropriately sized incentive nice bottle of wine/case of wine dependent on the value of the introduction. Referrals are by far and away the best form of marketing so make sure you actively seek them on an ongoing basis – make sure asking for referrals  is part of your process when dealing with customers.

Establish rapport – you have to find your company’s unique selling points and find your optimum way of communicating with customers and that can range from distributing leaflets locally to advertising on Adwords on Google. Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice when assessing the best way to achieve an optimum return. Whatever the marketing media used you will need to find the right ‘call to action’ and get people to pick up the phone or contact you some other way. Make it easy for prospects to call you if you do not make it easy they may go elsewhere to a competitor who does make it easy.

Without establishing a rapport you will not convert names from a list to a prospect.

Establish a relationship – Once you have been contacted by a prospect then you need to establish a relationship fast and you do this by listening and understand what solution you have to satisfy their desire. The aim here is to move the prospect to becoming a potential buyer of your services so they are not interested in what services you provide they want to know what your services will do for them and how it will make them feel. You achieve this by understanding what your prospect’s needs and wants and relate this to him/her in a language they relate to.
So if you are an accountant don’t tell the client you will make sure the PAYE, VAT and the annual tax returns are made at the appropriate times and for a fee of £x. Your prospect is better off knowing you are going to take away all the hassle of the quarterly VAT returns and the monthly PAYE; saving him the cost of hiring staff and managing the paperwork allowing the prospect to focus on doing what they do best and enjoy. The prospect wants to understand/feel that you know him/her and you can often do this quickly by revealing a relevant case study for example that may reveal something minor but relevant about you or your company. This starts to establish a perceived relationship and moving from a prospect to a potential buyer.

Without obtaining the relationship element you will not move a prospect to a potential buyer.

Establishing Trust – The best and fastest way to establish trust is of course to have someone else say something flattering about you by way of a referee but a very close second is to ideally have on your website via testimonials which is the best way to encourage trust. Why not have both? Past clients who are happy to be contacted and can say objectively that you are trustworthy and your quality of work is great are invaluable. Of course you have to deliver on your promises in order to get the referees and testimonials in the first place. Once you have these they are great source of ammunition to engender trust.

Trust is critical before a potential buyer will commit to the sale.

Making the sale – This may sound easy but quite often a sale can be lost because it may not have been closed. In simple terms this may mean you have provided a quote for example without asking for commitment or assuming the commitment is there. For example rather than simply providing a quote why not make sure you pull out all the key benefits the potential buyer responded to in the same quote. Don’t put your inhibitions on the prospective buyer and do not criticise competitors in any way as this will inevitably make you look bad.

I would also always give the client at least three choices not just one quote as this gives the prospective buyer choices he may not have thought of and of these three choices always include a premier choice. In simple terms offer your top of the range service with an added profit margin with other potential benefits added – you will be amazed that around 10% of the time they will select the premier choice.

Any business that stands still is going nowhere fast so make sure you are driving sales constantly so you are always going forward as this is the lifeblood of your company.

Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Written by: Mike Smith

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