- Take an objective look at your existing sales strategy. Do you have the right approach? If not, adopt a more customer-focused sales strategy and re-evaluate its success in six months. Look at which sales techniques have worked and what hasn't. Learn from your mistakes.
- Concentrate on increasing business from existing customers. The cliché about 20% of customers providing 80% of revenue is often true. Existing punters are already convinced about your product or service - the hard part is done. Think about ways to generate more sales from existing customers. Maybe they're unaware of the full extent of products or services you offer, and how these can benefit them.
- Go back to basics. Make sure you're targeting the right market and listen to what potential customers really want. Remember that whatever you're selling, it needs to meet people's needs.
- Make excellent customer service a priority. Put simple steps in place, such as offering after-sales support and providing training for all customer-facing staff. As well as encouraging repeat business, keeping customers happy means that often they'll do your selling for you by recommending you to others.
- Get your prices right. Are they too high, which is putting people off buying from you? Are your prices too low, with the net result that potential customers fail to recognise the true value of your offer?
- Look at what you're selling. Do you need to replace flagging lines by launching a new and improved offer? Would this enable you to make more sales? Remember, solution is evolution. Successful people know when it's time to make changes.
- Do some basic market research. Are you up to speed with the needs and expectations of customers? These can change rapidly. Also take a look at what your competitors are doing. Constantly look for ways you can provide your customers with better value for money than your competitors can.
- Raise awareness of your business, perhaps by launching a new marketing or advertising campaign. Even a simple leaflet drop can increase profile. It might even be time to take out a new advert in your local paper. Also try to gain free publicity by getting journalists to write good things about your business. Write an attention-grabbing press release about something newsworthy to do with your business. Encourage your customers to tell others about you. Word-of-mouth recommendation is the best form of advertising there is.
- Assess your image. Is it making you look unprofessional or out of date? Consider ways you can improve your business image. This could involve decorating your premises - or even just having a good clean and tidy around. Maybe you and your staff need to dress more smartly. Perhaps it's time to upgrade your stationery or website. Simple changes aimed at improving customer perception can make a big difference to sales.
- Consider training. Be honest with yourself about your sales technique and how you and your people deal with customers. If you have any concerns, get some external training. You could even seek advice from a mentor with a proven track record in sales.
Without sales your business won't last long. And, if you want to grow your business, the quickest way to do it is to increase sales. So how can you identify and target 'hot prospects'?