There are three simple, yet powerful, sales growth and business strategy imperatives open to most businesses to achieve their sales, marketing and strategy goals.
Implementation and execution of these strategies as part of your business plan is business marketing in action. It defines your culture. It brings your sales mission and sales goal to the top of the agenda. Higher levels of business communications, team management and motivation almost naturally emerge.
In fact, concentrating on just one of these three areas, could dramatically transform your sales figures.
Selling, as a strategic driving force, is an inexact science. However, today, basic selling practice AND best selling practice strategies apply more than ever.
Let’s look at the three MACRO strategies in turn with some practical tactics to put them into action:
1.Customer Acquisition: Increase your customer base get more customers
2.Customer Share: Increase the average transaction value per customer get customers to buy more of your products and service
3.Customer Loyalty and Retention: Increase the frequency of purchases by customers. Increase the number of times that a customer purchases your products or services
MACRO STRATEGY No1. CUSTOMER ACQUISITION: INCREASE YOUR CUSTOMER BASE
Customer acquisition is one of the more time consuming aspects of sales and marketing. Time management skills are vital. Estimates vary for different businesses but estimates suggest that it costs about 15 times more to acquire a new customer over servicing a current customer.
Here are seven ways to increase your customer base or get more customers:
(i) Develop Word of Mouth Power: Develop a system to keep in touch with and continually communicate with current and past customers. Ask for their help. This will help you to develop residual business. A strategy to ‘keep customers’ is a blind spot for SMEs and corporates alike. A disproportionate effort is put into ‘creating new customers’. Contact your current customers directly by telephone, by post, by e-mail or by personal visits. Keep giving them compelling reasons to do business with you.
(ii) Make more Sales Calls: To increase your sales in business-to-business markets, your obvious first step is to knock on more doors. Sales people need to be very competent and totally professional to maximise this approach. Everyone can make an extra two or three calls per week. Prospecting is a vital selling competency that many people avoid.
(iii) Ask for Referrals, Add value: In business-to-business markets, ask for referrals. This is probably the best way to get introductions to new potential customers. Yet, surprisingly few sales people employ this methodology on a systematic basis. It really only works well when there is a good relationship between buyer and seller. By ‘doing good work’ you will automatically get introductions. Taking away risk by giving a free trial, delayed payment, or 100% guarantee can take away that initial resistance and buyer’s remorse. Value-adding partnerships are an effective and an interesting way to develop contacts and new customers. Many non-competitors with the same customer base use their combined resources to mutually benefit each other.
(iv) Use Advertising: Advertising can allow you to get your message quickly and cost effectively to both prospects and customers whether by mass marketing advertisements or by more precise, targeted advertising. If advertising is part of an integrated marketing campaign, it can, of course, greatly reinforce the effectiveness of all marketing activities.
(v) Direct Marketing for One-to-One Precision: Provided your objectives are clear, direct or internet marketing can be one of the most versatile and precise customer communications methods in either business-to-business or consumer markets. Effective database management is the key to success. It helps to build more detailed profiles of markets, market segments and individual customers. Even retailers are doing this nowadays.
(vi) Do Telemarketing: Telemarketing is becoming the new way to do business nationally and internationally. It can be selective, precise, flexible, fast response and measurable. After doing a mailing to a past, present or prospective customer, a low pressure, information-orientated telemarketing follow-up can increase results by 300 to 1,000 %. Teleseminars are a very live’ way to educate ideal clients.
(vii) Become an expert Educate your customers: A great way to establish yourself as being different and an expert in your industry is to conduct special events, executive briefings or send free worthwhile information to your prospects or customers. Become a mentor to your customer. People like to feel safe in what they are buying and with whom they are buying it. Buying is primarily emotional but if you can add safety, credibility and information to your basic proposition, then it not only helps get that initial sale but also long term residual business. That’s keeping the customer!
MACRO STRATEGY No2. CUSTOMER SHARE: INCREASE THE AVERAGE TRANSACTION VALUE
One of the best sales strategies to grow revenues is to increase the average transaction value per customer. Rather than chasing market share like your competitors instead focus on share of customer. In other words get more of each customer’s spending total. This is innovation and customer service taken to a new level.
To do this you can focus on improving professional selling approach with your integrated relationship marketing, and developing a culture of customer service excellence. Here are the strategies:
(i) Sell to People in the Buying Mood: Have everyone in your company focus on the importance and implications of up-selling, cross-selling and selling complementary and ancillary products. By packaging complementary products and services together you can create a higher perceived value. Stop calling them products and call them portfolios of solutions. Through this method (bundling of products and services)you can employ an important negotiating tactic of giving something of high value to the customer, but of relatively low value/cost to yourself.
(ii) Increase Prices: A very simple way to increase your average transaction value is to increase your prices and hence your margins. Many businesses are obsessed about how their price is set relative to the price charged by their competition. Developing a pricing strategy often needs careful consideration and outside help. It’s the fatal flaw for 80% of businesses.
(iii) Lock in to relationships: Another method of increasing the average transaction value of your product or service is to offer larger units of purchase over extended periods of time. Think about ‘locking in’ your customers to just do business with you.
MACRO STRATEGY No3. CUSTOMER LOYALTY AND RETENTION: INCREASE THE FREQUENCY OF PURCHASES
The third way to grow your business is by increasing the frequency of purchase ‘ get your customer buying on a more regular basis. In other words, build up a loyalty pattern that makes it virtually impossible for them to ‘shop’ with your competitor.