How to Increase Sales Volume for the New Entrepreneur

How to Increase Sales Volume for the New Entrepreneur

Is figuring out how to increase sales volume in your business keeping you up at night? Of all the responsibilities of a business owner this is the one thing that you need to focus on like a heat-seeking missile. There’s just one tiny itty bitty problem. You started your business because you like that thing you do. You are really excited about the crafts you make or the diet product you “share” or the life coaching you love. No one told you that you actually have to sell something!

The duties of a business owner require that you get your product, service, or idea out into the marketplace and that means you need to know some sales fundamentals. Most importantly, you need some good sales strategies and you will find them below.

 In my twenty-five years of professional sales experience, it has not mattered whether the product is high tech, educational, direct sales (MLM), service-related, or even selling my ideas, the sales process always comes down to the steps I will explain. Even modern online selling models require that you understand the selling basics before you can write effective sales copy.

Are you on the path that leads to the treasure chest?

Any good journey requires that you take a look at the map and figure out where you are going first. 

How to measure success of a project is a key idea in the sales process.  As you focus on how to get clients for a new business, it’s worth it to consider your preferred path to sales growth. An increase in revenue can come from four places: 

  • Find more customers
  • Charge more per customer
  • Expand the product and service offerings
  • Hire people to sell more

How do each of these options fit in with your overall business goals?  

For instance, I have a personal goal to never be an employer and my business needs to be location independent. Since I have a long-range plan to traverse the globe and take my business with me, any kind of brick-and-mortar business is a non-starter for me. 

Your goals might be entirely different-the important part is to pinpoint your own aspirations and create a business that fits the lifestyle you want. If you also want to design a life you don’t need to take a vacation from, check out how to create a personal strategic plan.

There are many topics to research before starting a business. The question at the top of the list is -what kind of annual income is going to get you where you want to go? What kind of sales volume do you need to create the kind of profit you want?   Are you driving the right (business) vehicle to get you where you want to go?

The first step in the sales process is to define your sales volume goal. Know your number and monitor it daily. 

Key Idea #1:  Know your number!

Every Thorny Problem is Searching for a Simple Solution

What problem does your business idea solve?  Can you explain it in one or two sentences. Problem solving business ideas cause explosive sales growth. Not only must you provide a solution to a problem, but your customer must view it as a problem, preferably a big one. One of the reasons that health-related products seem to sell well is because health issues are a big issue for most consumers. Proceed with caution if your product or service fits into the “nice to have” category. 

The second step in the sales process is to create a message that clearly articulates how your product or service is a solution to a pervasive problem. 

Do note that sometimes your future customer does not even know that they even have a problem, yet. Your job is to get them to care about that problem before you even tell them your unique value proposition. Professionals who master this skill easily know how to increase sales volume. 

Key Idea #2:  Find a problem, make it bleed (preferably gush), and YOU provide the band-aid (solution).

Those Hidden Gems Make Your Best Customers

How to get clients for a new business is a thought that preoccupies the mind of every entrepreneur. Your strategy will obviously be different depending on if you want to increase sales growth through existing customers or new customers. You need good sales strategies targeted to both existing and new customers. 

How do you identify your customers? The answer to this question is different depending on if you already have a current customer list or not. Assuming you do have a customer database, use this information to create a customer profile. You want to identify the key attributes of your best customers.

The moral of this story is that there is a preferred order to your sales seeking efforts. Always try to sell to your current customers first. They already like you-capitalize on that! Can you sell them more of your offerings?  Have you learned about new problems from your existing clients?  Can you use this knowledge to create more products and services to sell?

Key Idea #3Always go in search of “low-hanging fruit” FIRST.

Many in the online selling community will frequently say, “The money is in the list!”  Another familiar refrain is to “build your e-mail list………fast!” Have you ever wondered why?  The goal is to convert your “visitors” to subscribers. Ultimately you want to convert your subscribers to customers. Once they are customers, you have the beginnings of the aforementioned customer database.

You want to gain as much marketing intelligence as possible and learn why your customers bought your products and or services. This knowledge will help you expand your offerings by meeting their needs. This “low-hanging fruit” is a much quicker path to increasing your sales volume. 

Having said that, a wise business owner is always searching for new customers. The next step is to go in search of customers that look just like the ones you already have. Remember that marketing intelligence you collected?  Here is where you put it to good use. Before I create a target list of prospects, I need to know my parameters to research. Need some examples? 

If I sold in the business-to-business market, my list might include type of industry, annual business revenue, number of employees, and geography.

If I sold fashion apparel in a direct sales company, my list might include, gender, age, average annual income, stage of life (new mom, career woman, retired), and geography.

If I had a social media marketing agency specializing in Facebook ads, I might notice that most of my sales are to dentists. For this reason, my list might include dental practices of a similar size to my current accounts.

Why complete this exercise?  Most of your new business will come from similar types of customers. Also, you probably already figured out what works with these types of customers. Why reinvent the wheel? You will know how to increase sales volume and accelerate the process by working with familiar customer types. 

Your messaging will also probably be quite similar. As you scale your business, you are looking for economies of scale and ways to use your time more efficiently. Creating a system for selling to similar types of businesses and/or people will help you enjoy increased sale volume in a timely fashion.

Key Idea #4:  Clone your Top 20% of customers!

Perhaps your business is brand new and you don’t even have a single customer, YET. In this case, you need to create some ideal customer profile examples. You need an avatar to focus your efforts. Once you have a well-defined problem to solve, you need to know who you serve. 

Who is your ideal customer?  Who do you serve? What problems does this customer have?

For instance, at Wisdom Wrapped, they curate delightful gift boxes for key life events like weddings, new babies, and new graduates, just to name a few. 

I can infer that most of their customers are women because most females (not all) are in charge of gift giving in their households. I can look at the price point of the products and make some inferences about the income level of the target customer. These are high-quality products with words of wisdom attached………..hmmm, the target customer is probably a reflective person who likes quotes. They most likely take great pride in being a good gift giver.

You get the idea, each marketing message is aimed at a particular kind of person. This is commonly called the avatar of a business. Some small businesses even have an imaginary picture posted on a wall to represent this potential customer. Make it your business to know everything you can about your avatar. Some questions to ponder:

  • What keeps them up at night? (the BIG stuff)
  • What are their day-to-day problems?
  • How do they make their money?
  • What is their disposable income?
  • What delights them?
  • What annoys them?
  • What infuriates them?
  • What do they value?
  • What are they willing to pay good money for?
  • What are they NOT willing to pay for?
  • Which of their problems go unsolved because the product/service doesn’t exist YET?
  • How do they like to have fun?
  • Who do they love?
  • Who do they NOT love?
  • Does religion or political affiliation play an important role in their life?
  • What is their religion (or lack thereof)?
  • What is their political affiliation (or lack thereof)?
  • What is their nationality?
  • What is their race?
  • What do they read?
  • DO they read? 🙂
  • What do they watch?
  • Where do they get their information?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Do they have children?  If so, what are their ages?
  • What is their stage of life? 
  • Where do they hangout online?

Know your avatar inside and out so that you can “take a trip inside their head” from time to time. With these details, you can craft a message that allows you to connect with your ideal customer.

Wherever you are Kate, I think about you A LOT. Yes, I gave my avatar a name. You should, too. I think of my avatar as a friend that I just haven’t met, yet.

Key Idea #5:  An avatar is like the bullseye that provides a focus for your sales message.

So what does your avatar have to do with increasing your sales volume?  Marketing generates sales leads and these sales leads are the lifeblood of any and all sales growth.

Now that you know WHO is your customer, you need to figure out WHERE to find them. Where do your customers hangout?  Identifying the proper marketing channel for your promotional efforts is important.

This is why it is relevant to know whether your target customer prefers Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Find out and be there………often. For instance, Generation X and Baby Boomers tend to be on Facebook the most. Educators cause heavy traffic on Twitter. Millennials love Instagram. Generation Z wants to be wherever Generation X is NOT. These are all generalizations, but often true nonetheless. 

This idea can be extended to magazines, newspapers, television shows (cable, network, and streaming), trade shows, conferences, and events. Make your presence known at all of the “hangouts” of your ideal customer.

On the flip side, if your tribe doesn’t hangout on Facebook, why are you killing yourself to do those weekly Facebook Live sessions for your fledgling Facebook group?  Only go where your people are.

Now that you identified your avatar, you should know these details about your target customers. As your database expands, these details might change. In all things related to growing your sales volume, make it a priority to stay in lockstep with your particular customer type.

Key Idea #6:  Show up at your customer’s favorite “hangouts” (in-person, virtually, and in print)

Explode Sales Growth with a Spark of Your Unique Value

What unique value add do you bring to your customer? Not only do you need to know what problem you solve for your customer, but you need to know how you do it differently and better than your competition.

Spend the time to craft a message that clearly conveys your unique selling proposition. This message should be at the forefront of all written and verbal communication shared with your customer.

Key Idea #7:  Communicate your unique value proposition (UVP)-why your solution is the best choice.

Three Times up at Bat and You Create a System for That

Performing like a sales superstar requires that you focus on the things that really matter, such as lead generation, prospecting, sales presentations, follow-up, and closing sales. Anything that you can do to free up time to concentrate on these sales activities is a good thing.

Are you noticing that you do the same kinds of tasks over and over again?  Make it a habit to notice the things you do more than 3 times and create a system for that task. Next, do that process the same way almost all the time. Here are some examples of sales tasks that require a system in place:

  • Create lead generation e-mail templates for each product offering
  • Create e-mail campaigns for each product offering (with multiple touches)
  • Create marketing collateral
  • Create e-mail stems for all recurring verbiage (Thank you for your order, etc…)
  • Create qualifying forms for discovery calls 
  • Create an onboarding process for your customers
  • Create a follow-up system
  • Choose a customer database provider

Save your mental energy for deeply listening to the customer, rather than thinking about your next question. 

Key Idea #8:  Create a system for every sales task you do more than 3 times.

You Need a Roadmap to Success

You can see that before you ever meet with your first customer, a lot of thought has gone into the process. This is because your next step is to create a plan to reach “your number.”  Your business plan includes all of the steps you will take to reach your desired income and profit goals. 

The importance of tracking your data will become increasingly clear to you. You want to know how many visitors you need to your website, or e-mail subscribers you need, or trade shows you need to attend to result in one or more sales. Once you know these numbers, you will know how to increase sales volume because you can “tell your time where to go.” Some activities are more fruitful than others.

Key Idea #9:  Make a plan to “hit your number” and then work your plan!

Are You Qualified to Be My Customer?

I always find it interesting when people start selling to me and begin the proverbial feature dump of their product or service. Usually, I have to will myself not to yell, “No, no, no-stop talking about your product or service!” This would be a hard no.

Your initial interaction with a potential customer is all about discovering what they need or want. If your product or service involves in-person selling you have the benefit of asking discovery questions to elicit these nuggets.

 If, however, you are selling in an online environment you are probably going to have to back up and get them to care about the problem you solve. Before you tell them your unique value proposition, create content that informs your audience about the problem and why it deserves their attention. Whatever you do, don’t launch right out of the gate with a litany of reasons why your product or service is a must have!

Selling skills are mostly about your questioning skills. Learn to ask the right questions and you will have all the right information to make the sale. Design your questions to lead your customer down a path that leads straight to your offering as the best solution. This is the part where selling is fun because you are more of a detective than a pushy salesperson!

The Best Salespeople are Professional Problem Solvers

Some people are afraid to sell because they have a negative view of salesmanship. They think  they are expected to be pushy and annoying. My answer to that is……….not if you do it right!

The first “sales job” you have to do is on yourself and your mission is to change your mindset. Realize that superstar sales people consider themselves professional problem solvers.

In my first ever corporate selling position, I left a sales meeting with my boss and we entered the elevator of an urban high rise. That was one of the longest elevator rides I’ve ever taken. As that elevator descended the seventeen flights, she proceeded to tell me that I had messed that up royally because I acted like a “space cadet” and wouldn’t stop talking. She said I sounded “like an annoying parrot.” Lovely.

As I held back the tears (I’ve never taken criticism well), I was sincerely baffled by her comments. Hadn’t I delivered my sales presentation flawlessly?  I had given a masterful rendition of why this copier (that was what we called them then) would lower costs dramatically for the law practice we just left.

Once I licked my wounds, I returned the next day to ask my boss for some feedback. One thing I had learned already is that when you are losing the game a good strategy is to find somebody who is winning the game and ask for some coaching. Success leaves clues and winners love to tell you how they won.

I’ll never forget what she told me. She said, “Kristen, you just need to go and find some people to help.”

Come again?

 I didn’t know that I had signed up to be a “helper.” I thought we were doing hard-core sales here. More importantly, I thought that if I could just communicate my product features effectively surely these customers would buy from me.

Nope.

Find some people to help. Sales is really about serving people well. This is still relevant in the online selling world. Maybe even more so.

All you need to do is find a problem in search of a solution. Figure out how to attract and collect your audience. Connect with them through your message. Sincerely solve their problem with excellent execution. Build an ongoing relationship and become their provider of choice.

Voila! You just mastered how to increase sales volume with no pushy sales tactics!

The Fortune is in the Follow-Up….REALLY

If you want to ride the rocket to success rather than take the slow moving train, realize that the fortune is in the follow-up. Some business owners think they close a sale, send the thank you message, and they are done. Not quite! The real work begins the day the sale is closed.

The most important question you ask your customer comes AFTER they buy from you. I call it the Million Dollar Question. Here it is:  “Why did you choose to buy my product/service?”  Then, be quiet and listen.

Did you know that your customers will tell you exactly how to sell to them?  If you recall, you completed a customer profile. At this stage of the game, you have a “type” that buys from you. When you ask them why, they will tell you what they found irresistible about your offering. This is valuable marketing intelligence!

During the investigative process, your clients will tell you the most amazing things! Through the years, my customers have schooled me on the benefits of my products and or services. Some of those things I did not know about and, frankly, sometimes it had not occurred to me that those features and benefits might be so important.

So how do you use this new knowledge you gleaned?  You build it into your presentation or content plan by continuing to refine your message. Your customers will turn out to be your best teachers.

They might also tend to be your best salespeople. We all know that word of mouth marketing is pure gold. Leave no stone unturned as you search for creative ways to reward your current customers for spreading the word about your product or service.

It goes without question that you should always ask for referrals. Please brainstorm methods to make this easier for your customers. One idea is to ask pointed questions, such as, “Who do you know who has the same problem I just solved or needs a solution to xyz problem?”  Make it easy for them to refer you! 

If you are in the online space, for the love of God, please master the art of the well-placed social media share button. Consider the share button Referrals 2.0 updated for the modern era of online selling.

Your follow-up efforts to gain new customer referrals and earn repeat sales from existing customers is what will catapult you to explosive sales growth. Staying close to your customer throughout the post-sales process is a key part of this task.

The ever-important e-mail list you build is what allows you to continue to communicate with your customers, inform them of new offerings, and encourage them to send new business referrals your way. This is why the fortune is indeed in your e-mail list! Treat it like the treasure that it is. 

Ultimately, you build a relationship with the people you stay close to and this is the aim with the list-stay close to your customer. Make it your business to solve their problems and you will master how to increase sales volume for the new entrepreneur. 

Key Idea #10:  Extraordinary Follow-up is the Key to Explosive Sales Growth!

Still need some practice mastering the art of salesmanship?  Grow your selling skills with some online classes at Skill Share. Here you can pinpoint the skills you need to reach your customers more effectively. 

For those moments when you need some inspiration, watch this video and unleash your ability to be a powerhouse seller. 

Key Idea #11:  Investing in Your Selling Skills Will Pay Dividends for Years to Come!

Want to connect with a community of female entrepreneurs committed to exploding sales growth? Don’t forget to subscribe to the Act 2 Mom e-mail list for ongoing support and tools related to entrepreneurship. You can also find us over at the Act 2 Mom Facebook Group.

Happy Selling!

Make Money Selling

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