Do you pay enough attention to getting new customers?
If you’re reading this, you probably run a small business or are thinking of starting one, have you asked the question ‘where are my potential customers to be found?’ In this digital age, it’s tempting to believe that if you build a website, customers will come to it.
How realistic is that though? First they have to know it exists and that is the skill of internet marketers, to get your website in front of people on the web. Is that enough though?
Take any small local business, usually family run (Husband & Wife – Parents and Children or any combination of family members) does anyone have the responsibility for ensuring sales are made?
Let’s be honest, although sales has a generally bad image it is vital, without sales you have no business. So here are some questions to ask yourself about sales and your business.
1. Do you know where to find your potential customers?
2. Have you priced your goods or services to fit the industry average?
3. Why have you priced your goods and services as you have?
4. How much do you invest in sales training?
5. Do you make sales as well as any sales team you may employ?
Do you know where to find your potential customers?
This may seem a silly question but it’s a very fundamental one because if you don’t know who your target consumer is how can you know where to find them? Restaurants all target different customers, family restaurants offering plain home cooking at very reasonable prices are looking for very different customers from a high end Nouvelle Cuisine restaurant charging very high prices for elegant surroundings, an atmosphere of wealth and sophistication.
Each restaurant needs to look for it’s clients in different places. The family restaurant is going to need to look at advertising and reaching out to families on much lower incomes than the high end restaurant. The owner of the high end restaurant will be looking to wealthier executives and people who have reached the stage where they no longer have a family at home and now have more disposable income.
Whatever business you’re in you need an idea of who your target customer is before you can create a coherent campaign to reach them and then make sales to them.
If you already run a business you can easily see who your target customer is at the moment, simply by observing your customers. If you’re starting out, look at the customers your potential competition attracts.
In both cases you may want to examine whether or not they are actually the customers you want.
The product or service has to match the target customer, it’s no good if you run a cheap and cheerful family restaurant offering good home cooked food in a place with paper napkins and wipe clean table or cloths, wanting to attract the high end customer used to elegant surroundings and linen table cloths and napkins, fine stem ware and dinnerware.
The two generally speaking don’t mix. Of course that’s not to say the couple with children won’t splash out on going to that high end restaurant for a special occasion or that the high flying executives won’t also visit the family restaurant. However, they will neither of them be regular customers at the opposite place.
Have you priced your goods or services at the industry average?
This may seem an odd question but bear with me. People have expectations, they generally know to within a few cents what the standard price is for any service or product. If your pricing is above what they expect then they may resist buying from you – or – will expect much more for their money.
If your pricing is below, they may try it but will always be looking for the ‘catch’ and are likely to be more critical because they fear you’re cheaper because the product or service is just not as good as the others. Unfair I know but this is just how we humans are wired.
It’s tempting, especially in the economic circumstances the entire would is facing today, to discount prices to get people to buy and this can work very well. Until that is a competitor reduces their prices too. Then what do you do? Reduce your prices even further?
It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out that this is not sustainable. If you’re a new entrant into a market place the established companies may be able to price you out very quickly. If you’re an established business and start a price war, you may find yourself victorious but with no way of sustaining those lower prices and so opening up the market to new blood.
Whichever result, discounting is a strategy that needs careful handling if it’s to succeed.
Why have you priced your goods or services as you have?
Ask yourself this question so you’re sure of why you’ve chosen this pricing structure, is it based on existing figures of costs versus income? Or have you just used the industry average because if other people make money at that price then so must you?
Remember that not all businesses have the same overheads. Location, size, staffing levels, efficiency and customer acquisition all have an effect on your expenditure. Make sure you know that your pricing will mean you make money, regardless of what your competition is charging.
How much do you invest in sales training?
Most small businesses invest nothing or next to nothing in sales training, especially where they don’t have a conventional sales team. Yet every single employee who comes into contact with customers should have sales training.
Why? Because regardless of whether they are actually going to ‘sell’ to the customer, they represent your company and their attitude and overall dress code will have an impact for good or bad. Do you have a cleaner who comes into contact with customers? Provide a smart uniform and ensure they know how to smile and greet clients. Train them to direct customers to the right person/place for that customer to get what they need.
Run a self service store? All staff whether on the tills or stacking shelves should be trained help customers. Remember anyone who comes into contact with customers creates an impression, it’s up to you to ensure they create the right one.
Think back to any time you went into a business and found the staff to be less than helpful or pleasant, what was your reaction? If it persisted, how long did you continue to use that business assuming you had a choice?
Sales training can actually increase profits – get it organised now!
Do you make sales as well as any sales team you employ?
It’s your business and you need to know how to sell your product or service. Without first hand knowledge how can you judge the performance of your sales team? Sales is generally the ‘poor relation’ in any business, with each department or person firmly convinced that anyone can do sales and that their contribution is far more important than that of a mere salesperson.
They forget that without sales there is nothing for them to despatch, administer, account for, replace, service, manage or to pay their wages/salary.
Without sales there is no business and so for you the owner it’s vitally important that you can step into the gap should it be needed. This is the heart of the business and should be treated with the respect it deserves. Something so many people don’t do, even sales people themselves.