We all know that opening a business can be cutthroat—the high cost of starting up, hiring employees, conducting research, and marketing a brand can drain the budgets of even well-funded startups. As a result, around 620,000 businesses open each year in the United States, while around 595,000 close. To ensure you’re one of the thriving enterprises that stays healthy for the next year, you’ve got to ramp up your sales and keep them going steady from Q1 through Q4. Here are some solid ways to do that.
1. Formulate A Plan
“Good business planning is nine parts execution for every one part strategy.” – Tim Berry
Successful planners often make successful entrepreneurs, laying out detailed (yet attainable) goals every step of the way. The fact of the matter is that if you have numbers you want to hit, you’ll be much more likely to have them in mind and aim to reach them constantly. Write them down and keep them somewhere so you can continually reference them throughout the year.
Create a Sales Plan:
A sales plan is designed to outline your goals, tactics, audience, and potential hurdles, according to HubSpot. After laying out a sales plan, you’ll come away with concrete, measurable goals, including revenue targets and deadlines for hitting each metric. You’ll also spend time identifying your target audience, which will be crucial for success in marketing. Creating a sales plan is a necessary first step in meeting your overall business goals.
Build a Prospecting Strategy:
Think of your prospecting strategy as a guidebook for your sales team (even if your sales team is just you). It should cover all of your preferred sales methodologies, as well as information on who to target. Ask yourself which form of selling most closely aligns with your business and its goals, from cold-calling to trade shows, to a 100-percent-digital strategy.
2. Market Your Business
“The aim of marketing is to reduce the need for selling.” – Philip Kotler
Building a good marketing strategy really comes down to two crucial factors—understanding your audience and getting your product or service in front of said audience. Anything you can do to gather information on your target demographic and then to effectively, affordably promote to them will get you ahead in marketing.
Build Your Future through Detailed Data:
As we’ll cover below, having a solid base of well-researched customer demographics and information can help you develop a target consumer profile on which to build your entire marketing strategy. But don’t jump the gun or sink in tons of money right off the bat—growing a pool of research takes time, so be patient and record as much data as possible in the first year.
Leverage 360-Degree Digital Marketing:
Depending on the type of business you operate, you can probably get away with a fully digital marketing strategy. Focus on the most affordable methods first, such as building out your social media profiles. Social media is the best option for connecting with current, and future, customers. Consider pay-per-click and performance-based marketing options, such as affiliate marketing. This will help you get your product or service in front of a bigger audience for a much lower up-front spend.
Make Sure People Can Find Your Business:
Start by implementing the basics, including a well-optimized website and a detailed listing on Google’s My Business platform. Optimizing your website through proven search engine optimization (SEO) tactics—such as including relevant keywords and building out detailed, useful pages—is an easy way to ensure that people can find your business. Plus, besides the time you spend writing the copy, it’s free! This is also extremely important for local businesses. If people can’t find your location online, or your hours, they will not show up.
3. Analyze & Adapt
“The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” – Carly Fiorina
Too often, businesses funnel big money into marketing and development without investing in detailed tracking and analytics. But you need both to thrive. Why does data matter so much for boosting sales? Because it allows you to measure—usually, in concrete numbers—exactly what’s working and what’s not working, and then it forces you to adapt accordingly. Be sure to track your results over time, so you know what strategies are working or if you need to pivot your plan. It is important to keep in mind seasonality, or any other factors, that naturally fluctuate your business, so you can accurately predict results.
Invest in Analytics Tools
Luckily, many digital marketing platforms include built-in analytics, but what about when you’re trying to track something that’s not single-platform based? Often, you can add tools and plug-ins to your website or store to keep track of where sales are coming from and other metrics. For example, you can use a Shopify or Magento plug-in to track your affiliate marketing program or other specific marketing strategies.
Track All Demographics:
As long as you have permission from your user or consumer, you can gather as much demographic information as possible. Pay close attention to patterns that emerge with regard to age, gender, geographic information, income, and education level. This will help you figure out exactly where to funnel your promotional dollars, including which social media platforms to advertise on and which affiliate websites or blogs to partner with.
Put Your Data to Use:
What good is a fleshed-out set of data if you don’t put it to use? Make sure you’re using every single finding to keep your business agile, adjusting as needed to different consumer preferences and market trends. Be patient with your analytics, keeping a close eye but not being obsessive. In time, you’ll have a solid bank of information that will tell an obvious story about where you should take your business next.
Ask for Feedback and Focus on the Customer
A good sales strategy is one that serves both the seller and the consumer. As you’re going through your first year or two in business, make sure to always keep your ears open to feedback, focusing on specific ways you can improve the customer experience. Remember that happy customers tell their friends when they’re both satisfied and dissatisfied with a business, so keeping them smiling can help you grow your sales exponentially without you having to do anything at all!
User experience is a vital part of business success both on the web and in real life. If a customer had a positive experience and can leave a review, that will be invaluable when others are looking for similar products. Positively interacting with customers and ensuring their satisfaction, will not only encourage them to return but also recommend your products to others.
Author The Author: Nick is a digital strategist with over twelve years’ experience in planning and executing marketing plans for B2C/B2B brands. Currently, he’s the Marketing Manager for Refersion, the advanced affiliate marketing platform that helps brands manage, track, and grow their affiliate network.
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