We have been living through some crazy times this year and from all the small business owners I talk to, it seems that there has either been a boom or bust in sales. The booms have mostly been from a couple different situations:
- They happen to be in and industry where demand is booming.
- Or they quickly switched gears and tweaked their business to remain relevant or become in demand. Many however are still struggling to find ways to shift or expand in these uncertain times.
This has inspired me to create this list of the top growth strategies from what I’ve been seeing work TODAY to help small businesses thrive.
1. Different Products/Services
We’ve all heard the stories of textile manufacturers either moving part or all of their operations over to manufacture face masks.
Do some research and poll your client to figure out how their needs have changed and what is most important to them today. What shifts can you make in the products or services you offer to help fill those needs?
Also don’t get stuck in the box of what you have historically offered. Expand your horizons. Focus on your company’s core goals and see what else you can provide that remains true to what your business is about.
If you have typically offered a service, are there complimentary products (digital or physical) you can provide?
If you have always sold product, could you add a service that meshes with your products? Can you provide training or consulting that goes along with the use of your products?
Airbnb is known for allowing people to rent out their properties short term and in 2016 they launched Experiences, that allow travelers fun local activities to get to know the area better. Now, due to fewer people traveling and socializing (especially with strangers), many of these Experiences have now gone online. I actually went to a virtual wine tasting with a Sommelier in Portugal with my friends and family.
And now with few people wanting to go out and hair becoming disheveled, many enterprising hairstylists are offering their services online via video conferencing and walking clients through how to cut their own (or loved one’s) hair!
2. Improved Customer Service
Current clients are the BEST resource for recurring sales and referrals. Making there experience wonderful is the cheapest, easiest, and least time-consuming way to increase sales.
I am sure you do not treat your clients poorly, but are you doing everything you can to ensure they have a great experience from start to finish?
It is often the little things that make the biggest WOW factor.
What can you do to make the buying process smoother?
What type of gratitude do you give once they become a client?
How easy is it for them to find the information/resources they need before and after purchase?
Are you monitoring online reviews and social media to respond quickly?
Are you making sure it is easy for clients to contact you and that every email, message and phone call receives a response?
Do you allow your team to take time and be creative with solutions instead of being bound by strict rules?
Tesla offers Mobile Service for many needs of their clients, so they will come to wherever your car is to help you out. And Zappos is not only known for their excellent phone support, where employees are encouraged to spend a long time chatting with callers, but they also make sure they answer EVER email; even those sent to the CEO.
3. Sales and Marketing Alignment
If you have separate sales and marketing departments, they often work in their own bubbles and do not communicate as well as they should.
It is advantageous for close collaboration to ensure everyone’s job is easier and that you are meeting the needs of your prospects.
Sales has their boots on the ground and the pulse on what is going on with their potential clients. Therefore, they have valuable insight into what their needs and desires are. Marketing can also assist by creating the materials that will help answer frequent questions and better prepare prospects for their interactions with sales.
Having clear common goals is essential to improve lead generation and sales.
4. Digital Efficiency
Do you ever find that time is wasted because you do not have the right software and tools to make certain tasks more efficient?
Are you doing way too much manual work?
Do you have great software, but have no idea how to properly use it and find it more frustrating than beneficial?
So much of our growth depends on efficiency! If you are spending a lot of time with things like data entry, hunting for files and information, or referencing multiple systems to find what you need, then you are losing money.
Work to develop a process and software that saves you time, so that you can then put that extra time and energy into what is needed to expand and grow.
5. Customer Feedback
This is a gold mine for figuring out what you can do better or offer to increase sales!
Do not be afraid of negative comments or feedback. Instead use that as an opportunity to evaluate what you are doing and find ways to make improvements that will benefit your current and future clients and/or give you a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
You can do a big one-time poll of all clients for mass feedback.
You can start implementing feedback requests into your daily operations. Identify when and how you want to ask for feedback, and how you will review and track it.
6. Packages and Deals
A great way to get renewed interest and sales is to offer limited time promotions or to find ways to take your current products/services and combine them together into bundled packages that offer a discount over buying them separately.
Do a little research into client’s past buying habits or do polling to figure or what their current needs are. This will help you figure out the best package(s) or deal(s) to make.
People love to feel they are getting a deal and saving money, even if they end up spending more than they originally intended. They walk away feeling like they received a great value.
Packages can either be a bundle of items that can be purchased cheaper together than separately, or you can include items in your packages that can not be bought on their own. This as well increases the desire as they are not only getting a deal, but they are getting an item they can’t otherwise have.
Costco does a great job of this by bundling together kitchen appliances that are often purchased together.
McDonalds is also famous for their bundling. Many people probably go in for a hamburger, but how can you resist getting fries and a drink for such a low price?
7. Lead Nurturing and Follow Up
This is CRITICAL!!! If you have leads coming in, you are flushing money down the drain if you do not have a process to follow up with each and every one.
Sadly I see this far to often. The two most common culprits are that a business has no good process to handle new leads or they are too busy and wrapped up in the day to day and taking care of current clients they let new leads fall through the cracks.
Depending on your business, the manner in which you receive leads and the volume will help dictate follow up.
If most come in online and provide an email address, software to capture this and send automated messages are inexpensive and can be relatively easy to implement. This will at least allow the lead to receive an immediate message and even continued follow up messages until they are ready to take the next step.
If most leads come in via phone and you do not have someone who can take the time to answer or promptly respond to messages. There are answering services that will field incoming lead calls and simply take messages or you can provide scripts to answer simple questions. This allows for immediate interaction and allows the calls to then be filtered to those that the service couldn’t help and need a personal call back.
These services do require an small investment, but the ROI is HUGE when you think about how many more leads you will be able to convert into clients just by increase the amount you actually respond to in a timely manner and have a follow up plan for.
8. Business Partnerships
I am a firm believer of rising tides raising all boats and collaboration is a win-win situation, for the businesses and the clients.
I often work with other businesses who serve the same client base but do not have the same offer.
When I am working intimately in the operations of a business, I am easily able to see all the issues, even if they are not my specialty, like finances, HR, or team culture. This is all integral to the successful operations of a business, therefore I will often bring in other agencies to assist with those aspects and I bundle it under my service to make it streamlined and easier for the client.
Are there other businesses you can collaborate with to at least create a business referral network or combine forces to offer deals or packages together?