Sales are the lifeblood of every business. If you have inventory that isn’t selling fast enough or want to increase your sales to hit your business goals, this article is for you.
There are several ways to drive sales and grow your revenue. However, your level as a company will determine what options are at your disposal.
If you are a new business looking to attract customers, your options are different from that of an existing business looking to increase the sale of an existing product with a good customer base or an existing business trying to launch a new product line into the market.
However, the strategies discussed in this article cut across all types of businesses and products.
No matter where you are on the value chain, you can implement these strategies, and you’ll immediately see them bear fruits for your business.
The Three Main Sources of Sales Growth
There are three core sources of sales growth for every business. They are:
- Growing market share
This has to do with getting new customers from the existing market. You either attract your competitor’s customers to buy from you or you get new customers joining the market.
- Repeat sales
This is essential for every business to survive. If you don’t have repeat buyers from you, then your problem may be more than a sales problem; it’s most likely a product problem. You can grow sales by having your already existing customers buy more products from you frequently. Amazon is a great example of this (more on this below).
- Entering a new market
And last but not least, if a business wants to grow sales, a proven (but risky) approach is to enter a new market. For example, Amazon is an e-commerce company, but they launched a video streaming service known as Amazon Prime Video.
It will interest you to know that Amazon has gained millions of new customers on its e-commerce platform via their video streaming service. This is a risky option because it has to be done strategically. A business going outside its area of expertise to attract new customers will definitely be a risky bet, but if done well, it can pay off big time.
Now that you know the three main sources of sales growth, let us look at the strategies that you can implement to actually grow your sales and bring in more revenue to your business.
The strategies we will be looking at in this article are broadly grouped into the sales growth sources listed above.
Strategies For Sales Growth
1. The Customer Magnet Strategy
As you already know, a magnet is used to attract anything metallic unto itself. It is based on this understanding that the Customer Magnet Strategy (CMS) is built.
If you want to gain new customers or increase your existing customer base so you increase sales, this is the perfect strategy to use.
However, to be able to execute this perfectly, you need to properly know who your dream customers are.
No, I am not referring to the boring KYC done by banks and other organisations. I am talking about understanding your dream customer at a deeper level.
You need to know how they think psychologically, emotionally, culturally, you need to understand their desires, fears, hopes, what makes them happy, what makes them sad, their biological and cultural makeup, you need a broader understanding of their generation and how your customer fits into the broader picture.
Sounds daunting? Well, that’s because it is. Think of it as trying to get a lady or a guy to fall for you. If you don’t know what the person likes and don’t understand how the person thinks, you can’t win them.
In the same way, in business, you are trying to get your customers to love your products, love your brand and love your company so they can buy from you. If you don’t know these things about them, how can you ever hope to win them over?
After identifying all these about your dream customers, the next step would be to create a ‘magnet’ that will catch their attention.
Your magnet can be a free offer, a product, an e-book, etc. What you choose as your magnet will depend largely on the business you are in and the customers you want to attract.
We once ran a campaign for a client who is in the agriculture industry. This client (for confidentiality sake), let us call his company “Agric World” (this is a totally made-up name).
Agric World wants to organize an event to train young people looking at starting their own farms. Our goal was to register people for this event. After creating an image of who the dream client was, we decided to use several magnets to get them.
One of such magnets was a free training on mushroom farming. It was a short video (less than 30 minutes long) which just gave an overview of how profitable mushroom farming can be.
We uploaded the video and run an ad and the results were staggering. The video alone generated over 500 leads, which we then pitched the event to.
When you have a better understanding of who your customers are and what they are about, creating magnets becomes easy. The real work has to do with converting those who are attracted by your magnets into lifelong customers.
This strategy works for just about any business in any industry. If you think it doesn’t work for yours then it just means you don’t know your customers.
2. Sales Funnel Engineering
Sales funnel possibly the most underutilized tool in the marketing and sales arsenal of businesses.
Think of a sales funnel as a sales process you take each customer through, selling a different product (or meeting a different need) at each stage, each complimenting the other.
Given how much I love sales funnels because of how efficient they are, I’m not going to try talking too much about it (this article won’t end if I do). I want you to learn from the king of sales funnels, Russell Brunson (co-founder and CEO of ClickFunnels).
Russell Brunson didn’t only prove that sales funnels work, he built an almost $500 million business based on this simple yet efficient concept.
I know many people wrongly assume that sales funnels can only work online, so for such people, I’ll use a physical store in this case study.
Say you walk into a restaurant looking to buy a box of pizza. After placing your order and just before you leave, the attendant informs you of a “special package” for just a few lucky customers.
The attendant adds that if you buy an extra box of pizza, you’ll be given a 50% discount plus a coke bottle.
Cool deal, right? So you take it.
Next, you’re informed of a membership program that will make you earn points each time you buy pizza, and once your points accumulate, you can claim free boxes of pizza, all you have to do is give them your name, phone number, and email address.
And just like that, this restaurant has gotten you to signup to its membership program and can send you promotions at any time, rather than paying for ads.
They know this will work best because you already love their pizza!
But not only that, now this restaurant is almost certain that anytime you want to buy pizza, you’ll definitely buy from them so that you can accumulate those precious points…
You see the power of a sales funnel?
(While it’s a fact that this won’t work 100% of the time, you can grow sales by as much as 200% using this simple technique. Try it!)
3. Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing is a huge trend in marketing which became increasingly popular with the rise of content sharing on social media platforms.
Initially brands preferred using celebrities to promote their products online. This is however changing, as more companies are looking for smaller-niche accounts to promote their products.
This is important because people who follow smaller account holders (especially accounts with a niche following) tend to trust them more than the sometimes trust celebrities. This is because people with smaller accounts are more connected to their followers than most celebrities. Hence, their followers tend to see them as “friends”. This makes them more likely to accept product recommendations from such people rather than celebrities.
However, the power of an influencer campaign isn’t solely on the account type you go with but also in how the campaign is executed. People tend to favor promotions that look original and authentic as compared to promotions with highly edited and professional content.
When scrolling through your feed on any social platform (say Instagram) and you come across two videos which are talking about the same product, the difference is just the person in the video.
In the first video is a famous TV star (a lady) talking about baby diapers from “Company S”. The video is professionally shot, well scripted and beautifully edited.
However, in the second video, a woman (who is not a celebrity), records a selfie video of herself holding her baby and in the video, she talks about how she has come to love the “Company S” baby diapers after trying it out for a month. The video is recorded with just a phone camera, no editing, no well-written script etc.
Data shows that to generate sales, the second video (which can be called a social proof ad) is the most efficient when running influencer campaigns. This is simply because it feels original and doesn’t look like a marketing material from a company.
According to marketing psychologists, people love to buy things but they hate being sold to or marketed at. This means, people want to feel like they made the decision to purchase a product or service and not the company telling them to buy through their ads.
In simpler terms, people just want to feel like they are in control of their money and they decide what they want to do with it. Although we all know this isn’t the case and a vast majority of customers aren’t actually in control of what they choose to buy, it is important not to make them feel like they aren’t in control, through the ads you run.
Does this mean that companies should stop using celebrities for its ads?
Certainly not. But such ads should be focused on brand awareness campaigns while social proof ads should be focused on generating sales.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective and powerful ways to grow your audience and customer base.
It’s basically going into an agreement with affiliate marketers to market your company or product and they earn a commission on every paid customer they bring to you.
The power of affiliate marketing is that you get to tap into the audience of others and use it to grow your audience or customer list as well.
Assuming Company R has a cooperate food delivery service, and there is a podcaster who’s podcast is targeted at companies and startups. Company R can ask the podcaster to speak about their service on his podcast and for each client that signs up for their service throughout the duration of the contract.
This is a win-win for both the company and podcaster because the company doesn’t pay advertising costs and will only have to pay when they actually get a customer. And the podcaster gets paid more per customer generated.
5. Direct To Consumer Makerting
This approach to marketing is taking hold of the fast moving consumer goods market.
It is basically an approach to the marketing and sale of products from the producers directly to the consumer, cutting out all middle men.
Back in the early days when manufacturing, the idea that people who manufactured goods could sell those goods directly to the consumer seemed impossible. But with the rise of eCommerce and the success of direct to consumer companies like Apple, Samsung etc, different companies are now using this approach to sell to their customers.
One hidden benefit of direct to consumer marketing is that, due to your frequent interactions with those who are actually using your product will help you build a deeper understanding of what the consumer wants and hence, you’ll be able to create better products.
How exactly you execute your direct to consumer approach will be determined by the location of your business and the industry you operate under. Some direct to consumer companies utilize street hawkers to move their products quickly, others sell through ecommerce websites such as Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Jumia, etc.
You can also sell directly through your own website, but you’ll have to spend a lot more money to purchase traffic to your website.
There are a hundred and one marketing techniques that you can use to increase your sales and grow your customer base. Whatever strategy you choose at the end of the day will depend on a number of factors such as what you can afford and what industry you are in.
In all things, execution is key. It doesn’t matter what strategy you decide to go with if you don’t have the skills, knowledge or experience and resources to execute it, you’ll ultimately fail.
Some Not So Conventional Notice:
Usually, when you hear marketers speak about marketing strategy, they speak with so much confidence that you might be tempted to think once you pick a strategy and implement it, sales will pick up immediately and your goods will begin flying off the shelves.
While this does happen, such situations are the exception rather than the norm. It takes lots of trial and error to sometimes find the perfect strategy to use in selling a product at scale.
So in most situations, I advice my clients to make a list of the best fit strategies for their product and industry. Then test each strategy on a small budget. When you are done testing, you’d know the best strategy to use in selling the product, after which you can then scale it up.
Most people tend to realize later no one strategy is sufficient on it’s own, but a combination of a number of strategies. But you may never know which strategy combination will produce the best results until you test them all.
Furthermore, your evaluation after the testing should be based on numbers only. What is the return on investment on each strategy?
Stick to the ones that yields the highest returns. It is however worth noting that, some strategies take time to yield returns. So you cannot evaluate all your sales strategies under the same time period.
Marketing can be tricky, but when done right, the results are self-rewarding.
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