5 Ways to Earn More Every Week
Elaine Pofeldt Independent journalist and editorial consultant, Elaine Pofeldt
March 15, 2011
In baseball, a single is nice, but a home run brings the crowd to its feet. We’re a culture that celebrates big wins — in sports and in business. But often, the most important victories for entrepreneurs are the small daily ones that, added together, result in a company’s long-term success.
There’s no place where this is truer than in sales. If you work on selling just a little more each week, you’ll find yourself racking up some pretty impressive cumulative results by year’s end.
Looking for ideas on how to add to your revenue this week? Stop swinging for the fences and focus on putting together a few singles.
Focus on Your Ideal Client
Many small business owners make the mistake of trying to go after too many different types of clients at once, diluting their efforts. You can ramp up revenues significantly if you focus your sales and marketing efforts on the customers who are the most rewarding for your company, says Bert Martinez, founder of Houston-based sales and marketing strategy firm Bert Martinez Communications. Say Dell is a very profitable client for you, and you already do some business with one department there. Ask your contact there for a referral to another department that might need your services, Martinez suggests. It’ll be easier and less expensive to win another internal account than it would be to approach a brand new company. “You already have credibility,” he says.
Start a Letter Writing Campaign
The cheapest and quickest way to build brand recognition with ideal prospects is to send them a sales letter every week and follow up with them by phone regularly, notes Martinez. “Repetition builds brand recognition,” he says. “You will probably double or triple your sales with this one idea.” (U.S. mail and e-mail are fine, says Martinez, but you may want to try sending letters to an important prospect in an overnight mail envelope to ensure that they get opened.)
Of course, your sales letter has to grab readers by the lapels. If you don’t know how to write a compelling one, hire a direct marketing firm to create one for you. An engaging sales letter will cost you between several hundred and several thousand dollars, estimates Martinez. It’s money well spent. “A good sales letter will open tons of doors, get people to call you back and help you set appointments,” he points out. And you may be surprised at how little competition you have from other companies on this front. “A good sales letter is the No. 1 most overlooked asset that companies don’t use,” he says.
Improve Your Customer Service
It’s next to impossible for a small company to compete with big retailers on price alone, says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of Retail Systems Research, a retail industry research firm in Miami, and a retail expert on Focus, an online network of business and technology experts. “Amazon is probably selling it cheaper,” she says.
“Where the small retailer can often do best is on customer service,” she says. The more you exceed customers’ expectations, the more loyal they will become. That doesn’t always mean a big investment of time or money. Simply following up on a purchase with a personal e-mail to make sure the customer was happy can go a long way, she says. Bear in mind that a very satisfied customer is likely to recommend you to friends and family, providing invaluable word-of-mouth marketing.
Offer Free Shipping
“Customers love free shipping,” says Rosenblum. Of course, the trick is figuring out how to offer free shipping without eroding your profit margins. Some retailers build the cost of shipping into their pricing or offer free shipping for purchases above a certain dollar amount.
Use Your Social Media Pages for Market Research
They can be great places to float ideas for new products or services, so you can act on them quickly. “Engage your community in what you should sell,” advises Rosenblum. She points to designer Tory Burch. Last year, while waiting on an airport security line, Burch used Twitter to send out a message saying, “Is it me, or is everyone grossed out by having to go through airport security? Should I design a line of travel socks?” Getting a positive response, Burch forged ahead and unveiled the stocking stuffers in time for the holidays.
Got an idea for a new product or service? Follow Burch’s lead. Who better to tell you if your latest brainstorm is a winner than the customers who already like your business enough to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites?
Follow up these singles with a few of your own, and the runs will start piling up.