Month on month retail sales growth has been slower than forecast for both August and September 2023. With the current reduction in discretionary spending, small business owners are looking for ways to increase sales.
So what are a few simple sales strategies that we can use to increase our sales - even in a depressed market?
1. Utilise Storytelling in your Marketing
People connect with stories, so use storytelling to your advantage. Create real and emotive narratives that highlight your product or service's journey or value and how it has positively impacted your customers. Share these stories through multiple channels, including your website, social media, and email marketing campaigns. Be authentic.
I went to a Queensland Small Business function last week, in which one of the panel of business owners spoke about her first foray into social media. This was largely as a result of seven pallets of stock going missing the week before Christmas and knowing that an apology email to their customers was not going to cut it. So… she took two shots of tequila and got in front of the camera and spoke directly to her customer base about what had happened. This is the type of content that connects and builds trust with your audience (tequila optional of course!) It progresses customers from being a purchaser to being a partner in the journey. The founder in question has had her business grow from strength to strength, and is trying to embrace the influencer life ;)
2. Leverage User-Generated Content
Firstly - UGC is content such as reviews, testimonials and social media posts. Authentic endorsements from real customers carry immense credibility and can significantly influence purchasing decisions. According to MarTech, 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. Researchers found some studies showed a 10% increase in word-of-mouth (off and online) translated into an increase in sales of between 0.2 – 1.5%.
If you don’t have testimonials at the ready, go back to previous clients or customers and ask. One entrepreneur whom I follow online has a great incentive for reviews on her podcast. She asks the listener to take a screenshot of their review (Apple can take a couple of days to put reviews reviews live) and email it to her. She then sends them a free meditation / resource etc as a thank you. It’s a win / win.
And if you are just starting out there is no shame in doing a job in return for a testimonial or review. My very first client in my Sydney business was also a new startup - who paid me in product plus testimonial on both Facebook and Google. I soon booked a much larger (paying) client. Word of Mouth and personal endorsement is a powerful tool.
3. Personalise Customer Interactions
Investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software to gather data on customer preferences and behaviour Is useful regardless of your business size. The ability to track not just purchasing habits but commonalities amongst your customer base will allow you to tailor your sales approach, recommend relevant products or services, create personalised marketing campaigns and know where to best connect with new potential customers.
And whilst a new small business might not be ready to go full HubSpot, there are smaller, free options available such as the CRM plugin on the backend of WIX websites.
4. Offer Subscription Services
Consider implementing a subscription model for your products or services. This approach 1) provides a steady stream of income which is helpful not just with the bills but in forecasting for business growth and scaling and 2) also fosters long-term customer loyalty with regular touch points.
If you sell a larger, non-consumable items, consider a subscription service for an aligned FMCG product. For example if you have an e-commerce store that sells hair straightening / curling products you could consider a bi-monthly auto subscription for heat protectant plus hair spray as an add-on at checkout.
5. Host Webinars and Virtual Events
Organise webinars and virtual events to showcase your expertise, educate your audience, and build trust. Use these events as opportunities to connect with potential customers, answer questions, and present your products or services in a meaningful context. If you are using these types of event as a sales funnel it is of the utmost importantance to infuse your offering with genuine care and authenticity.
6. Collaborate with Complementary Businesses
Explore partnerships with complementary businesses to tap into new customer segments. Cross-promotions and joint marketing efforts can help both parties expand their reach and customer base. It’s also a great way of generating additional marketing content for your socials.
7. Gamify the Sales Process
Introduce gamification elements to make the sales process more engaging. Offer rewards, discounts, or special promotions to customers who achieve specific milestones or complete desired actions, such as referring friends or making repeat purchases. Basically - you’re just making the process more fun whilst incentivising purchase (and potentially a little addictive… who else ended up with thousands of Happy Meal toys that their children never played with?)
8. Implement Additional Payment Solutions
This is a MUST. Offering a variety of easy payment methods for your clients reduces pain points in the purchase journey and thus the likelihood of a failed sale or abandoned cart. Options such as Afterpay and Klarna offer an easy answer to one of the most common objections to purchase - being of course that the customer doesn’t have enough money right now.
9. Focus on Adding Value
Create educational content that addresses your target audience's pain points and challenges. By positioning your business as a trusted source of information, you establish credibility and attract customers who are more likely to convert. Again, it’s really important to remember to focus not just on ‘getting the sale’. The best businesses are Relational not Transactional. And relationships are a two-way street.
10. Ticket punch sales
What add-ons can you sell or suggestive sell with the customers you already have? Work out an essential item that you have a good profit margin on and put in place a process to offer a special deal on this with all existing sales.
And here we aren’t talking about re-marketing as a paid advertising strategy on socials (although this is a very effective way of converting customers to sales in the digital space). Re-market to your existing database of clients and past enquiries. Warm up your cold contacts. Pick up the phone and call through the list. Send them an email. Use SMS blast to shoot them a quick text. Connecting with this demographic of your customer base offers the potential for quick wins, as they’ve already demonstrated interest in your product.
NOTE: It doesn’t matter how great your sales strategy is if you’re preaching to the wrong audience….
All of the above strategies do assume that you have your customer segment clearly defined and know how to best reach that demographic (ie which platforms / mediums to use).
With the right sales strategies you can both drive revenue and build lasting customer relationships. Do your research at the outset - and whilst you need to be adaptive, be careful not to be too reactive. Allow time for your chosen strategy to deliver results.
Last week I offered some free business affirmation screensavers - one of which said “As I Take Action, Opportunity Greets Me”. This week, choose one of the strategies above and implement it. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities that come.