Working in sales, either as a salesperson or managing a team of salespeople, is intense, competitive, and very draining—but it’s also incredibly rewarding. A job in sales is a great way to earn a living, and then some. The ladder to success is narrow, and there are plenty of competitors on there all vying to be at the top but being in online sales or brick and mortar retail has perks and outcomes that cannot be compared.
Some of the strongest entrepreneurs may have started as salespeople in customer service, spending each day turning potential customers into new customers, and current customers into more regular shoppers. Their standing in the market today shows that committing to the role will get much more than a bonus on your salary. Not that there’s anything wrong with having great conversion rates, but if you can go beyond finding that bold and excellent way to increase sales, thus standing out from the rest of the sales team, then you’re looking at promotions, pay rises and––who knows––maybe you’ll have your own business in the market before long.
Similarly, if you’re higher on that same sales ladder, and leading a team of salespeople to higher conversion rates (i.e. turning potential customers into actual buyers), then you also stand to gain through being innovative.
Before you get there, however, you need to drive sales to the point where your conversion rates are through the roof. If you are a salesperson looking to make a difference to your superiors, or own a business which could do with new customers, then the best way to get those sales up is to strategize and then carry out a solid game plan.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at three strategies for increasing sales.
1. Know your target audience inside-out.
It’s one thing to target customers who have a passing familiarity with your business, whether that be through your brand’s social media accounts or simply via a physical presence of a brick-and-mortar store. Obviously, retail is a particularly competitive industry, and so having a strong customer loyalty is already an effective way to increase your bottom line. However, the first sales strategy in upping the numbers of your business is simple: lose the idea that there is such a thing as the ideal customer.
That might sound counter-intuitive, but all of the market research in the world will not help you if you are targeting specific prospective customers under the guise that they are everything that fits for your business. Sure, you may have a niche corner of the market, and you might be selling particular products that have a target audience, but aiming for those so-called ideal customers are simple ways to get nowhere fast. A target market is made up of a much more varied demographic, so first things, first––drop all of your assumptions as to who your prospective customers will be as people.
Lets break this down a little further. If you are in retail, selling modern digital-based technology like mobile devices, then you might find that your sales team (or yourself, if you are a sales rep, too) has an unconscious bias when it comes to directing your efforts. It’s easy to presume that electronics are usually for younger ages (they do seem to be glued to most teen and young adults hands, after all), and that means your target audience is likely to be a more tech savvy crowd.
Wrong! This is an easy mistake that sales reps in technology retail make on a near-constant basis. Focusing on a narrower demographic of potential buyers is a great way to miss out on a huge number of new customers. The fact is that older demographics are proving to be just as interested in all things digital as their millennial counterparts.
So, the only way you are going to know who your potential buyers will be is to remove the dividing line between potential customers and target audience. Realign your thoughts here and assume that everyone is a potential for sales––as the target audiences will be there no matter what. Getting the brand awareness up is largely a job for marketing, and whilst that might also fall under your remit as a salesperson (particularly if you run, or are part of, a small business), it’s not the main feature of your sales position. Whatever it is that you are selling, it will attract the target audience anyway––but don’t perpetuate the idea that that is a streamlined demographic in and of itself.
If you want further proof of how much of a difference diversifying your sales direction will be, take a look at your current customers. See any similarities? Why is that––and more importantly––how can that be resolved? Today’s consumers are wide-ranging and varied. Your sales reps should reflect that in their work––it is just best practice.
2. Use all platforms.
It’s not hyperbole to say that social media has taken over our lives. It used to be the case that brick-and-mortar stores would fight over plots of land and units that were based where the most amount of people would pass, even though all the competitor stores were only yards away, and on the same high street.
It’s academic to suggest that you should drive sales where the people are, but if the vast amount of your intended audience are on the World Wide Web, then just how can you follow them there? That is easy––go online yourself. No one is suggesting that online sales is anything new, of course. However, using social media to advertise your business and sell your products whilst you are at it is cutting out a barrier between your business and your customers that you probably didn’t even know was there. It is also a competitive advantage equivalent to having the best unit in a shopping district.
Don’t just use social media either––get artistic! Come up with more and more creative ways to really get your profiles, and therefore your great products, into the digitized public’s consciousness. Innovation is key in the online world, and so collaborating with influencers might be a great way to show the wide audience online the different benefits of a product and host effective ways to keep the new products interesting and stand the test of time.
Dedicate a few team members to your social media platforms, and use the in-app communication methods to conduct sales, answer questions and keep in touch with your customers. As social media reaches a much wider area than physical advertising, expect sale opportunities to grow and grow. Don’t forget about customer retention though, and ask those who you hear from on a regular basis to leave testimonials for your landing page for all to see. Encourage creativeness and make some great content that can be posted to your online presentations, too.
Email marketing might be a little old-fashioned (whoever thought that could be possible, a decade ago?!), whereas, using social media platforms allows for real time interaction that you don’t normally see outside of a brick-and-mortar store. Don’t just use these applications as a way to push your intended audience towards your online sales team, or towards a store. Instead, use the platforms to showcase the different ways a product can benefit the customers lives, enrich the business-customer relationship, and––especially if you’re part of a small business––show that your strengths involve having a little fun too. The latter can go a long way to show you are less interested in the bottom line and much more relatable.
3. Research Research Research
Though it almost seems contradictory to say it, considering how much emphasis is being placed on removing assumptions about who your target audience will be. However, if you want to take your sales to the next level then you need to know everything about the people you are selling to, and about the customer experience when doing business with them.
You may already have encountered the “customer journey” if you spent time working in face-to-face sales. This is the process of literally mapping out a customer’s typical journey through the store, putting yourself in their shoes and seeing what they see, in the order that they will see it themselves. The same technique can be applied to online sales too, as the order of site interactivity should be the same at the checkout.
Leave a little room in that journey for you to be able to communicate with your current customers and use the time to ask them about their experience with your sales technique. If they have the time, and you have built up a good rapport with them, then they should be willing to take the requisite time to answer. Then, all you need to do is gather that data and see where your strengths and weaknesses lay on their journey through the store––online or otherwise.
That, in a nutshell, is essentially how the best sales opportunities work––a strong customer relationship, built by great accessibility and time to get to know each other. Interactivity is the best tools that a salesperson can have.