What keeps you awake at night? One of the biggest areas of concern among small-business owners is how to grow sales revenue. In fact, based on a recent poll of nearly 300 small-business owners by The Small Business Authority, one-third worry most about sales. Of 11 big worries in the current economy, increasing sales revenue has more than twice as many people stressed as the next biggest concern, access to capital to grow and operate business.
Here, then, are some suggestions for a sales turnaround:
1. Create a package. Everybody loves to feel like they’re getting a little something extra. Take a look at what your customers are buying and what they are considering but not purchasing. If you sell online, your web analytics can give you a snapshot of what keywords your customers came looking for, where they clicked, and how long they browsed. If you are strictly brick-and-mortar, you have the advantage of chatting with customers. With a little thought, you’ll determine which popular products or services you could package together. And that gives your customers a reason to buy things they were considering anyway. That’s money in your pocket that you didn’t expect to make, so give them discounts on your package price, or throw in “giveaways” if you have enough margin in your pricing.
2. Get testimonials. At the end of every episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” there’s a segment called the “feedback booth.” Does your website have a feedback booth? Is it right at checkout and easy to use? That’s one way to increase your testimonials. Make sure you ask a simple question such as, “What would you tell a friend who was considering this product?” Keep the questions open-ended so you’ll get answers in various customers’ own words. Then follow up with letters thanking them for great feedback that you’d like to use in testimonial form. Specifically ask for permission to use the feedback. Quote exactly which words you want to use, and tell them they can edit their feedback if they want to. They probably won’t edit their feedback, and they probably will give permission.
If you put on an event, ask people to fill out cards giving “feedback.” Again, that’s a friendlier term than “testimonial.” Follow up to ask permission to use it, but in your follow-up, you should use the “t” word so they know what they’re agreeing to.
Do members of your sales team ask for feedback a few weeks after they make sales? That’s another opportunity to request a few lines of commentary on the product, service, ease of use, or whatever you want to hype in your marketing materials. Testimonials add value to your website or marketing materials. And they are free for the asking.
3. Negotiate into a sale. This is a tried-and-true closing technique to use with customers who are not walking away but who are voicing objections. Here’s the dialogue:
Customer: I’m going to continue looking. I think a 90-day warranty is too short.
You: If I can get the 90-day warranty extended to 180 days, will you be able to go ahead today?
This is a negotiating rather than a selling technique, but it will clinch the sale. To do it well, listen to the customer’s objections and answer with a positive sales question. Here’s another example:
Customer: I’m going to go with my usual supplier because I know I can count on her.
You: If I throw in FedEx shipping, will you give us a try today?
The investment you’ve made to nurture and educate a prospect to this point is hanging in the balance, so don’t answer his objection with a “yes, but” or even a “yes, of course.” Answer it with a sales question designed to topple that sale into your waiting arms.