Q: My business has survived the recession, I am now looking to grow my business to take advantage of the economic upturn. What areas do I need to focus on?
The easiest route to growth is all about sales, or business development as some firms refer to it. Here are three opportunities that most firms can adopt:
Focus on selling more to existing customers
From a marketing perspective it is really true that it is easier, cheaper and simpler to sell more to existing customers.
So what can you do today? Find that set of customers who are not your number 1, 2 or 3 customers today by amount of sales, and call them. Invite them out for a coffee, ask them how business is going for them, and see if there is anything you can do to help them. Even buy something from them (if you can) as this is a really powerful relationship building tactic. Since you already have a relationship with them it is OK to grow it.
Analyse your losses as well as wins!
Always assess wins and losses equally. One owner I worked with spent the same amount of time understanding why they lost business as they did on winning business – on the basis they will have probably expended as much doing both bids. After all everyone wants to improve our sales conversion rate and it helps to build knowledge that can be shared in the company about which sales messages work and which don’t. Share this knowledge with your sales and marketing people – in fact share it with everyone in the business
Set your targets for your sales team, specifically for closing deals.
By setting targets for your sales people they will know what is expected of them; sales people who are not comfortable with targets are just that comfortable. Keep reminding everyone to ask for the order, many sales people are frightened to ask in case the customer says ‘no’ as no one likes rejection. All the buyer is doing is saying no this time, if you keep asking open questions they may say yes – my mum used to say ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’.