Salesmanship can be a polarizing topic, even amongst small business owners—either you love it or you hate it. For the natural born salesperson, the opportunity for a deal puts a glint in their eye; they are bold and boundless, angled and always ready to pitch. The anti-salesperson, on the other hand, lets conversation drift away from products and services and worries about sounding pushy, even when they see an opening to close a deal. If you are the latter, there’s no need to be ashamed. Not all successful small business owners are in love with selling. Everyone knows they need to sell, but comfort levels can vary significantly. If you want to increase your revenue, but struggle to put on the sales hat, there are ways to push profits forward without changing your style.
1. Make pricing strategy an evolving priority
You may not need more sales. You may just need higher revenue from those sales. If you have steady purchases flowing in, but are just barely staying afloat financially, dig in to your pricing structure. You shouldn’t arbitrarily quadruple your prices, but do some competitive research to determine if you are adequately charging for your product or service. If you want the transition to higher revenue to be subtle, offer different levels of pricing that will ease current customers and prospects into the change.
2. Become a master of up-selling
Perhaps you’re getting the sales you need, but you might be missing out on an opportunity to sell more to your current buyers. If you have multiple products or services, your customers should be aware of all your offerings. Since you have the “easy in” of knowing your customer like what you offer, help them dive deeper. If you sell stylish gardening gloves and have also written a book on gardening tips, have you asked your glove-buying customers if they know about your book? Use an existing purchase as a lead in to mentioning other products. If you offer freelance marketing services, push the client who has hired you to produce blog posts to have you operate their social media platforms. Let the up-sell be less about selling and more about helping. This way you can elevate the customer’s experience with your brand.
3. Do unforgettable follow-up
Whether you have a prospect that fell off the map or a one-time buyer who hasn’t come back, you have to ask yourself if you have made the effort to stay in touch. It isn’t the customer’s obligation to come back to you; it’s your job to make sure they remember you. Whether you develop an email marketing campaign packed with useful content specifically for follow-up, or you send a promotion through direct mail, you need to ensure your voice and personality shine through the other information. Follow up on customer interactions can be a time-consuming process, and full of challenges; don't underestimate the amount of energy you will have to give it. According to Q4intelligence, 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th point of contact. The contact you make doesn’t have to be all sales-driven, just make sure you’re staying in touch.
4. Let someone else do the selling
There are few bounds to your selling methods in today’s economy. While the option to hire a salesperson is always there, you can also elicit the help of partners. An affiliate marketing program can give you the chance to leverage the sales strategies of others who would like to promote your product in exchange for commission. You want to make sure it is a profitable fit for your business, but you can see massive results from utilizing great sales people to sell your product. Developing strategic business partnerships can also be a great way to drive sales -- consider what elements other businesses lack that you could help fulfill and vice versa. If you are a catering company that doesn’t have a bartending element, find a company who only offers bartending services. This mutually beneficial relationship can drive sales and bring in business with half the effort for both parties.
5. Keep creating irresistible, cohesive offerings
Product development is no small task, but if you feel your core product is losing steam, think of what can be added to enhance it. A suite of products that works cohesively is a very attractive option. Do you have fans that rave about your top-seller? Figure out how to add to that product, release an updated version or duplicate its success in a different form. Defer to your customers for direction. If a customer has ever asked “When are you coming out with [blank]?” or told you, “I love this, but I wish it could do [blank],” you have the beginnings of a new product or upgrade. Pay close attention to the feedback you get. Know what your customers want, and deliver again and again.
6. Deepen your relationship with your audience
For the anti-salesperson, some of the best news you can receive is that driving sales doesn’t mean you always have to be selling. Pushing product is just one way to close a deal. Building thriving, loyal relationships between you and your customers can keep them buying without requiring you to pester. Provide content that helps solve their problems for free, offer consultations on how to best use your product, or if you can’t help a prospect, refer them to someone who can. You don’t have to aggressively sell to build a tribe of people who want to buy from you. Make helping your priority, and close the sale because of your service.
7. Make your product visible
It may seem obvious, but for many small businesses, even showcasing that they have something to sell can be difficult. Don’t bury your product page in a tiny tab on your website. Don’t shrug off opportunities to spotlight your product as a solution. If you want to make a sale, people have to know what you’re selling. You can use a number of tactics to show you have something to sell without forcing people towards a purchase. Let your product be known by using:
- Imagery – Do you have pictures of your products or people using them?
- Landing pages – Do you have a dedicated page on your website just for your products?
- Testimonials – Are you sharing what people say about your products and services?
- Instructional resources – Is there a way for prospects and customers to learn more about your offering?
You don’t need an infomercial to get buyers’ attention, but don’t hide your product for fear of being too “salesy.”
8. Use calls to action
Some consumers, no matter how deep their pockets, don’t know to buy unless they are told to. This doesn’t mean you have to become aggressive, but you may have to give prospects a nudge when they are getting close. If you have an engaged audience member who just won’t take the plunge, give them a non-purchase action to complete. You don’t have to be in sales mode to get someone (yourself included) engaged in a sales conversation. Tell your audience how to get deeper into your sales funnel, and if that means making a phone call, tell them to do it. If that means going to your product page, direct them. Some prospects will only go so far, and you may have to help take them the rest of the way. You can be intentional about driving your prospects towards a sale without being pushy. Selling isn’t for everyone. To some, even the word “sell” tastes bad, but without it, there isn’t any revenue. So instead of letting your business suffer or forcing yourself to be someone you’re not, find ways that make selling comfortable for you.