28 IDEAS TO INCREASE YOUR SALES & PROFIT

by Joe and Maria Gracia

Growing your business doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. These simple, cost-effective ideas are designed to help you increase your sales and profit, without draining your budget.

1. FOCUS ON HELPING, INSTEAD OF SELLING

You shouldn't be trying to force people into purchasing your product or service. You should find people who want your product or service and then focus on offering any helpful information to them so that they can make an informed decision.

2. TARGET

If you're trying to target everybody, then chances are, you're not targeting anybody. For example, if you're selling something that homeowners would want, as opposed to renters, then target homeowners. State your target clearly in all of your marketing materials.

3. STOP SPENDING MONEY ON INEFFECTIVE MARKETING

One great way to save money is to stop wasting it on marketing and advertising that isn't producing for you. Don't forget to track the number of responses you are getting from whatever method you use. If you're not reaching your goals, then your strategy needs to be revised.

4. NETWORK

Networking is a great way to get your message out to a large number of people, for free. Since each person knows about 250 other people, you can spread the word about your business pretty quickly. Go to your local Chamber of Commerce meetings. Shake hands at business functions. Exchange business cards with associates you see in stores, churches and community events.

5. SET GOALS AND DEADLINES

Collect your thoughts for a moment or two, and set goals and deadlines. These are vital to your business success. State your goals as specific numbers. (e.g. 10 new accounts, 11% increase in sales, etc.)

6. FOCUS ON BENEFITS NOT ON FEATURES

Spend your time focusing on how your prospects will benefit if they purchase your product or service. For example, if you're selling central air conditioning units, don't sell the power of the unit. Sell the benefit of comfort. Selling insurance? Don't sell the coverage amount. Sell the benefit of security.

7. WRITE TIPS ARTICLES

Newspapers and other publications are always looking for helpful tips articles that would be of benefit to their readers. Submit simple, problem/solution type articles related to your product or service. State the problem, and then share some insightful tips that can help to solve the problem. Always include information at the end of your articles so that people will know how to contact you to receive more information about your services.

8. BE PERSISTENT

Persistence is power when it comes to increasing your sales and profit. Far too many firms fail because they don't follow-up long enough to produce results. Most sales are made after the seventh or eighth contact--the sale is rarely made after just one contact.

9. SUBMIT PRESS RELEASES

Press releases are a very cost-effective way to get your message out to many people . . . for free. Submit your press releases to a wide variety of publications for immediate release. Keep in mind that the newspapers will usually only print releases that are of interest to their readers, rather than of a selling nature.

10. OFFER TO BE A SPEAKER

Business and civic organizations are always looking for speakers for their meetings and get togethers. Make yourself available by contacting these groups and offering to talk about your area of expertise.

11. GIVE A FREE DEMONSTRATION

If possible, give free demonstrations of your product or service to those that might be interested. Follow-up with these prospects in a timely manner to attempt sales conversion.

12. DISTRIBUTE SAMPLES

If possible, get samples into the hands of people who may be potential customers. People like to try before they buy.

13. DISTRIBUTE INFORMATIVE LITERATURE

Make sure that you get your product benefits, features and ideas into the hands of your prospects. If people don't know what you have, how can they make a decision to purchase it?

14. USE THE TELEPHONE

The telephone can be one of your most effective, and least expensive, sales tools. Call people who you would like to do business with. Ask for a few minutes of their time so you can show them how your services can help them save time, cut costs, increase sales, etc.

15. GENERATE REFERRALS

Referrals are a great way to generate new business. Don't just wait for people to refer you. Proactively ask for referrals from existing customers, acquaintances, family and friends. Don't forget to graciously thank anybody who refers your business to someone.

16. HAVE FUN

Frustration and stress will slow you down. You will succeed far better when you're doing something that you love.

17. TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS ABOUT THEM AND THEIR NEEDS

Most company publications, ads, letters and sales literature are filled with words, photographs and information that do nothing more than toot the company's horn. Talk about your customers needs instead. Rather than using the words, "I," "me," "my," use "you" and "your."

18. DEVELOP CUSTOMER-ORIENTED RELATIONSHIPS

Take an interest in your prospects and customers. Send them helpful articles that you think would interest them. If you know of an event that your prospect or customer will be celebrating, such as an anniversary or birthday, send them a card or small gift. They will appreciate your generosity and will think of you when they need your service, or if they know someone else who may need your service.

19. TELL YOUR PROSPECTS AND CUSTOMERS WHAT TO DO

Getting your message into the marketplace is important, but getting prospects/customers to respond is the real test. Tell your prospects exactly what you want them to do next (e.g. call for your free brochure, drop your reply card in the mail, etc.)

20. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TESTIMONIALS

Whenever an existing or potential customer says something positive about your company, ask them if you could use their statement in your marketing materials. Your company's credibility will increase with the use of testimonials from happy customers.

21. MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU

Your customer is not going to work for you. You have to work for them. Do anything you can to make doing business with your company easy and a pleasure.

22. CONTENT FIRST, FORM SECOND

When developing your sales materials and literature, spend less time worrying about the graphics and colors, and more time working on the content -- what's in it for your customers. As long as your message is enticing, black ink on white paper could work just as effectively as expensive four-color materials.

23. GIVE TO GET

There's an old saying, "You can get everything you want, by helping enough people get what they want." Listen carefully to your prospects and customers so you'll know exactly what they want and be generous in your offers. That way you'll be sure to reap the maximum rewards.

24. LEARN A NEW TECHNIQUE EVERY DAY

Read, go to seminars, listen to audio tapes. Continuously improving your sales and marketing skills will help you to increase your sales and profits.

25. ASSOCIATE WITH POSITIVE, SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE

Talking to and learning from people who are always striving for and meeting their goals, will help you commit to and achieve your own objectives.

26. BELIEVE IN THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE YOU SELL

If you don't believe in the quality and benefits of your product and service, your prospects won't either. Present the benefits of your product/service with confidence and enthusiasm.

27. FOCUS ON THE LIFETIME VALUE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS

Don't focus on generating one-time customers. Build a relationship so that a prospect becomes a repeat, lifetime customer.

28. LEARN FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCE

Marketing is an important skill based on both knowledge and experience. The fastest way to gain that knowledge is to find someone who knows what works and has done it successfully. Ask about his or her specific experience in generating marketing results, as well as references, or testimonials. Reasonably priced marketing materials, like books, courses, workbooks, newsletters, audio cassettes, etc. can be excellent resources, that allow you to learn and apply effective marketing systems at your own pace.