What are the best ways to increase sales as a small business? Although there's a ton of lead generation hacks you can follow, the top results all start with going back to basics. This means finding the focus to:
- Delight your current customers
- Understand your perfect customer
- Know who you can't serve
- Ask questions and listen
- Don't overstretch yourself with marketing
- Simplify your messaging
- Test ad copy to maximize your budget
- Collect more reviews
- Make your reviews more visible
- Be honest about your website
- Make the most of word-of-mouth advertising
- Know what leads to purchases
- Know the most common objections – and how to overcome them
- Use visuals
- Stand out
- Always overdeliver
- Use automation
- Scratch your own itch
It's only once you've covered these fundamentals that you can get the best benefits from lead gen, SEO and other sales tactics.
1. Delight your current customers
Retaining and upselling your current customers is one of the most effective ways to increase sales and revenue, but it's so often overlooked. In the words of Paul Jarvis in his book Company of One:
"Too often businesses forget about their current audience — the people who are already listening, buying and engaging. These should be the most important people to your business — far more so than anyone you wish you were reaching. Whether your audience is ten people, a hundred people or a thousand people, if you’re not doing right by them, nothing you do regarding growth or marketing will make a lick of difference."
2. Understand your perfect customer
You know it once you meet them. They're exactly the right people you want to sell to. They don't need convincing, they get it. How can you find more of these people?
Start by describing the types of people these are. Get clear on their age group, interests, goals and what motivates them to buy your product.
Once you know your ideal customer, make sure that all of your messaging speaks to this person. This includes your website, blog post, brochures, packaging and whatever else your business produces. Everything needs to attract the people you want to sell to.
Knowing the traits of your ideal customer also gets you in the best position for a Facebook or Google ads campaign. You can enter the demographics you want to target, create the best ad copy and publish with a small budget.
Make sure to track your results to see what's working so you can tweak your campaign.
3. Know who you can't serve
You can't make everyone happy, least of all in business. Know who your customers are and don't distort your product or messaging to fit people who aren't them.
4. Ask questions and listen
It's only by communicating with your target audience and listening to them that you can build the best product and service for them. It's also how you can continue improving it, fixing issues, and delivering the best service. To increase sales for your small business, you need to communicate with and understand the people you're selling to.
5. Don't overstretch yourself with marketing
Unless you have a dedicated marketing team (and probably even then), don't make your marketing strategy too complicated. Instead of spreading your efforts too thin, you'll probably be better off focusing on the channels that you know work for you.
Start by creating a solid brand, positioning statement and messaging that can filter through everything else you produce. Make sure your product is getting word-of-mouth attention, and then start thinking about lead generation tools and tactics.
6. Simplify your messaging
When potential customers visit your website or pick up one of your marketing materials, do they know exactly what you do? The best way to communicate your product or service so customers listen – and buy – is with crystal clear messaging.
Get to the heart of what you do and why you do it. Then, describe it in the simplest words possible. As an even better business strategy to increase sales as a small business, speak to your target audience in their own language – use the words they use and respond to.
7. Test ad copy to maximize your budget
Before investing heavily in ads, start small. Test the waters and do A/B testing and small tweaks to find the type of message and content that resonates with your target audience. Only then start scaling up your ad budget to reach more people.
8. Collect more reviews
With credibility signals on your website, you can show potential buyers that you're worth doing business with and increase your sales conversion rates. These can include logos of clients if you're B2B, or valuable reviews and testimonials from happy customers.
9. Make your reviews more visible
Once you've collected great reviews and testimonials for your small business, make sure you show them. They're no use hidden away.
10. Be honest about your website
How good is your website? You might know it needs work. Or you might not... when in fact it really does. Seek out honest feedback from a few target customers. You can also look at a few simple metrics on Google Analytics to see how your website is performing. Check:
- Bounce rate – if the percentage of people who leave your website is high, you're either attracting the wrong people or offering poor user experience. RocketFuel advises that anything over 70 percent is concerning for sites outside of blogs, news and events.
- Time on page – the higher this is, the more engaged your website visitors tend to be.
11. Make the most of word-of-mouth advertising
What do the most successful small businesses have in common? Great word-of-mouth advertising. 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising.
To build word-of-mouth advertising, it all comes down to the experience you provide. But you can motivate it by sharing discount codes or other incentives, and make the most of it by sharing reviews of your business in your marketing.
12. Know what leads to purchases
As a small business owner, it's your job to know what motivates your customers to buy. One of the best ways to increase sales for your small business is to look at your recent sales and understand what the tipping point was just before the transaction.
Was it your website that earned the sale? A solid paid advertising strategy? Testimonials? Maximize the chance of a potential customer buying by knowing what works and doing more of it.
13. Know the most common objections – and how to overcome them
On the other hand, you need to know what's stopping someone from buying from you. Know the most common objections that your potential customers have – even if they don't say them directly to you. Then, know how to overcome them in a way that builds trust and credibility.
14. Use visuals
32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business, with blogging in second (27%). According to a 2018 HubSpot survey, 54% of consumers also wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support. For your next marketing campaign, consider something visual-heavy, such as a simple video (there's a lot you can do yourself!) or a unique product photoshoot.
15. Stand out
To succeed as a small business today, you have to figure out your unique way to stand out in a sea of sameness. In the book Business for Punks: Break All the Rules – the BrewDog Way, James Watt recommends:
"Start a category, not a business. Focus on growing your category rather than just differentiating your brand."
16. Always overdeliver
No matter how small the sale, overdeliver every time. Whether with your product or the experience you provide, overdelivering is how you can retain clients and encourage them to recommend you to friends: the two most powerful strategies in building a sustainable business.
And remember the tiny details: "it’s often the tiny details that thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you", writes Derek Sivers in his business guidebook Anything You Want.
17. Use automation
Managing a small business can leave a lot on your plate, especially if you're wearing most of the hats yourself. To free up more of your time, get to grips with sales and marketing automation technology as early on in your business journey as you can. This could be part of your CRM or email marketing tool, or as a system like ActiveCampaign that you can keep in sync with your other apps.
One of the easiest and most effective automations is an email nurturing workflow that welcomes new contacts and directs them to a next-step CTA.
18. Scratch your own itch
Use your small business to build what you want to exist in the world, recommends Derek Sivers in Anything You Want.
"When you build a company, you have the freedom to create your own utopia. You’re making a little world where you control the laws. It doesn’t matter how things are done everywhere else."
Remember why you're in business. Sell the product or service that you want to exist and do things your way. Be crazily helpful and make people's lives either with your offering and you'll have scored one of the best business strategies out there.
To increase your sales as a small business, you need to focus in what matters and eliminate distractions, including messy and disconnected customer data spread between all of your apps.
To let all of your business tools work together beautifully and keep the latest view of your customer data at hand, connect your apps two-ways with PieSync.