Five cheap and easy ways to grow your biz
I meet with many business owners that are frustrated by the lack of sales and the fact that this has been going on for over two years. During our initial meetings we discuss the activities they are currently undertaking to increase business. The response from many is something like, “We cut all our marketing and sales activities to save money.”
Sales result from generating activity and developing new leads in your sales pipeline. Your sales pipeline today needs to be larger than it was before the recession because in most industries the average sales cycle has gotten longer and the average price of products/solutions sold is lower. Driving increased activity at the front end of the sales pipeline will generate more sales. Here are five things you can do today at very little cost:
1.) Sales focused organization
In one company that I ran, the sales coordinator would check with manufacturing before accepting an order. This was typical practice, even when our manufacturing organization was below capacity. After seeing this, I spent some time with the sales coordinator and head of manufacturing and we all agreed that nothing starts unless we have an order and to immediately take the order, unless it required out of the ordinary delivery terms.
Don’t lose a chance to secure an order. By putting off the decision to accept the order, we found that the delay in getting the purchase order increased by approximately 2 weeks. This does not seem large, but when dealing with all your orders this way it did push back a significant number of orders.
We were also able to shift the culture of the entire organization to one that focused on getting new orders in the house. This took place over time, but it required us to be proactive in securing orders, communication to the entire company on a regular basis on how we were doing and our progress against sales goals. Everyone in manufacturing/operations knows that there job depends on securing new orders, so take advantage of that fact and get them involved.
2.) Visit customers
The largest asset you have in your sales organization is existing customers. The management team should be visiting your top customers. Your sales organization should include visits to current customers in addition to expanding the customer base.
I had an international sales manager that worked for me in one business that only traveled to one international show in Europe each year. We discussed growing sales through our distributors in Asia and he acknowledged that he had never visited any of them. We setup a two week trip and within a few weeks of his return we started seeing incremental orders from the distributorships he visited. He was amazed, since there was no discussion during is visits of the orders we received. It just happens… you visit your customers, inform them of all the products/services you provide and you are now on the top of their mind.
3.) Make sales calls
You obviously expect your sales team to make sales calls, but you expect the management team to join them? You should! It provides your management team with additional information that they will bring back to their organization to help them become more customer focused. It also provides your sales team with a step up against the competition. Your sales team will close more deals because all things being equal the fact that the business owner or senior leader participated in the sales call shows the prospect what kind of company they may be doing business with.
4.) Internet marketing
The tools to generate more sales activity on the web continue to grow. Search engine optimization (SEO) and local search are great tools, but require a large amount of work and time to generate results. These are great tools to utilize after you put together some activities that will generate more immediate results.
For quick results, I like to use pay-per-click advertising programs with landing pages that are designed to convert visitors to a meeting or purchase. These programs along with drip marketing campaigns are a great way of contacting prospects and generating results. You can pull these programs together yourself, but if you are stretched for time and knowledge leverage one of the many experts in the field.
5.) Strategic Partnerships
Your customers and prospects are buying products and services that are complementary to your product line from other companies. Understand what these are, who provides them, and how they sell. Approach these firms with the intent of developing a strategic relationship. It may be a distribution/license agreement, a joint sales approach or a revenue sharing agreement based on mutual lead generation.
Work on these items in your business and you will see incremental activity and sales. It is difficult to do them all at once while you are running the day-to-day operation, so pick one and start doing it. Once you have that one activity generating results, and then do the next one. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time and that also pertains to developing incremental activity in your business.
Larry Turner is CEO of Roundhouse Advisors, Inc. and has over 25 years experience growing, starting up, repositioning, and revitalizing organizations. Roundhouse Advisors is a consulting practice focused on helping businesses increase enterprise value by managing pain, growth and owner exits. Larry is a consultant, public speaker, and the author of “Owner Exit Planning: Leave On Your Own Terms”. For additional information visit www.RoundhouseAdvisors.com