Last week, on the Lendio/Business Fuel Linkedin Group, I came across an interesting article by Oliver Kersey that reminded me of some simple sales and marketing advice I’d learned long ago that is still relevant. Oliver calls out four simple tactics that I believe work very well in a small business sales environment. Here’s the list:
1) Create a USP: I think idea of using the term USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is a little out of vogue now, but the idea is still incredibly relevant. In fact, Seth Godin’s Purple Cow is all about creating products that are unique and remarkable. Although I don’t know if I’m a real fan of using the term USP either, I am a huge fan of creating remarkable products that offer unique solutions to customer needs. The idea of ensuring that you have such a product and that you know how to effectively describe what makes your product or service remarkable is a critical tool to increasing sales and improving you place in the the market. Ultimately, if you can’t differentiate your product or service from everyone else who might be offering something similar, your business will struggle.
2) Adding to the invoice is a legitimate sales tactic: A wise and seasoned sales professional once told me, “There are two ways to increase sales within your territory. Find more customers or get the customers you already have to buy more.” He was a master of finding every opportunity within his territory for expanding his footprint. He spend much more time working with the end users of our product than he ever did with the purchasing agent. He became a trusted resource of the engineering teams when they were looking for manufacturing solutions. He didn’t call it up-selling, but that’s exactly what he was doing. If you asked him, he’d probably call it, “Doing my job.” It was second nature to him. Next time you go through the checkout line, notice the candy bars, gum, news magazines, and other miscellaneous items designed to get an “impulse buy.” Successful merchants in any business are always trying to “add to the invoice.”
3) Give people a reason to come back again and again: Although I’m not a big fan of punch cards, I use them. What’s more I do enjoy the occasional FREE meal at my favorite restaurant—even though I have to keep track of my punch card. I like the frequent buyer program my local Harley-Davidson dealer uses. Any time I make a purchase, they keep track of how many points I’ve earned and send me an email message thanking me for the purchase and notifying me that I’ve earned some new points. However, the best way to reward frequent customers is with what’s called a surprise and delight. One morning, I drove through a fast-food place I frequent far too often and ordered a breakfast sandwich. They owner of the restaurant knew me and knew I was a frequent diner and said, “This one’s on me. Thanks for being such a good customer.” He surprised me with a free meal and I was delighted. However, despite the punch card at my favorite restaurant, the real reason I continue to go back week after week is that the food is good, they treat me well, they recognize me, they call me by name, the price is fair, and they get my “usual” order started as soon as I come in.
4) I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine: All you need to do is look around and you’ll find there are other businesses in your area that cater to the same type of customers you’re looking for. If I owned a photography studio, a flower shop or reception center would be good partners to work with. I’d introduce their businesses to my customer and they would do the same for me. The beauty of the relationship is that we aren’t competitors, but because we work in different parts of the same industry, we’re regularly talking to some of the same people. I’m sure those same types of relationships exist within your business. It just makes sense to me to look for opportunities to form strategic partnerships (or alliances) that are mutually beneficial. What’s more, I think these types of synergies are good for our customers too.
I’ll admit, there’s nothing really new about these four simple strategies, but simple doesn’t mean they don’t work—really well. If you’re already doing these things, please share some of your successes. If you see something new you’d like to try, let us know how it goes and where you see success.