By Rieva Lesonsky
Still working on your sales budget for 2014? Make sure you allot some of that working capital to sales and marketing efforts for better customer engagement and retention. Here are nine tips to boost your sales numbers:
- Stay in touch with prospects. It will take several contacts before a prospect is ready to make an appointment to meet with you in person—much less buy something. To help the process along, you need to keep following up. Get in touch with prospects when there’s a relevant change, such as a new price or limited time offer for the product or service. You can also send them important news about your company.
- Overcome objections. How do you overcome objections? It begins with preparation. Before you ever make a sales pitch, you need to figure out the most common objections someone might have to your product or service and how to overcome them. If you’re having trouble figuring out what your prospect’s actual objection is, you may need to just come out and ask.
- Follow up. Think your job ends once the sale is made? Think again. Once you’ve gotten a customer to buy, you want to keep them coming back. Shortly after the purchase, send a thank-you note. Also contact your customers by phone or email a few days after delivering the product or service to make sure they’re satisfied and see if they have any questions. A few months later, contact them again about products or services they might be interested in.
- Pitch your former employer. If your business is new, your former employer can be a great client. As an insider, you have first-hand knowledge of what they want and need from suppliers; you also have a network of contacts there. Add your former colleagues to your LinkedIn and other networking groups, and keep in regular communication.
- Use referrals to find new customers. Your current customers can be your best source of new business—if they refer you to their friends and colleagues. Once you’ve completed a sale or project for a customer, follow up with an e-mail or call asking if they can give you the name and contact info of at least one person who might be interested in doing business with you.
- Court loyal customers. To encourage customers’ loyalty, you need to keep your business top of mind and make them feel special. Offer special coupons or extra discounts after customers buy to incent them to make another purchase. Hold special events for “VIP customers” where you offer extra discounts.
- Win back lost customers. Make a list of former customers, and figure out which ones are most worth pursuing. Next, contact them to find out why they stopped buying. Was there a problem with your product or service? Did customer service fall short? Find out if they are currently buying from a competitor and if so, why.
- Know what motivates buyers. What motivates people to buy from you? Some purchases are motivated by basic needs, like food and shelter. But even within these categories, emotions play a huge role. People buy one product over another because they want to show off their status, belong to a certain group, attract the opposite sex, feel better and look more successful, among other reasons.
- Sell benefits, not features. Entrepreneurs get excited about the features of their products or services. But customers only care about the benefits. What’s the difference? A feature is something your product or service has; a benefit is how that feature benefits the customer. Emphasize these benefits wherever you can, and make sure your sales staff does the same.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports