One of the most effective ways to increase your sales is to track what works and what doesn’t, so that you can focus your efforts most effectively. Now you may not have expensive algorithms and a large sales team to track your progress but you can be just as successful by strategizing around three key factors:
Many restaurants are busy on some days of the week and not so busy on others; most retail stores move the most merchandise during the winter holidays; and health clubs tend to gain more members at the beginning of January (because of New Year’s resolutions) and just before bathing suit season. By tracking when sales occur, you can prepare for any ups and downs in your sales – and even smooth out the sales cycle by holding promotions during times that would otherwise be slow.
Set up promotional campaigns around holidays and national events. For example, if you’re operating with a liquor license, offer special deals on St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Cinco de Mayo etc. and set up more expensive packages for holidays like Christmas, News Year’s and Thanksgiving. Take advantage of nationally recognized occasions that also get people excited and in the mood to celebrate, such as presidential elections, graduations and the Fourth of July.
Online businesses tend to measure the number of visitors to their web site, knowing that a certain percentage will convert to paying customers. Companies with a direct sales force often require that their sales people report how many cold calls and how many in-person meetings they make, as a way of understanding what practices lead to sales. Use free tools like Twitterholic, Klout and Facebook Page Post Metrics to measure the effectiveness of your social media. With real-time numbers you can see how well your posts and tweets are converting leads into sales.
Do not get discouraged if a potential customer visits your site or your brick-and-mortar establishment but leaves without buying anything. It’s a lot easier to get someone to return than to get a fresh lead through the door. Always track every individual who shows interest in your product. Offer an online discount to new site visitors who submit email addresses. Incentivize with an even bigger promotion by providing visitors who fill out marketing information with a freebie. Ask for their company type, product needs and budget. If you’re running out of a physical location, talk to potential customers and find out what kind of products they’re looking for, if they work or live around the area and why they’re looking to buy. This gives you an idea of who your target customer is based on who you’re naturally attracting.
Satisfied customers who share their experiences with your business can be one of your best sources of new sales. Finding a way to reward them (perhaps with a discount off their next purchase for each new friend they send your way) can help provide useful information about what your customers like best about your business. Hulu Plus has an excellent referral program; for every friend you get to sign up for a free trial, Hulu will grant you two weeks of usage for free. Maximize the power of referrals by promoting to clubs, associations and unions who have a lot of participants. Groups love to give their members discounts so this relationship not only helps you to get new customers but you’ll find many organizations that are eager to join in.