Five Ways to Boost Small Business Sales

Five Ways to Boost Small Business Sales

By Alice Bredin

Increasing company revenue can add to your profits and help you to create a financial cushion. This financial “breathing room” can help you weather lean times and take advantage of business opportunities that come your way.

Consider these tactics to help your business raise its revenues.

Focus on your best customers
Each business has certain customers who contribute most to their success. These are the buyers who are loyal and profitable. To maximize sales, take steps to identify who these customers are and do two important things with this information. One, make sure you keep these customers happy with great customer service and rewards. Two, create a profile of the customers who help keep you in the black. This profile will help you to shape marketing, sales and customer service efforts to be sure you are attracting and retaining the right shoppers.

Know what inventory performs
Analyze your sales numbers to find the items or services that yield the biggest payoff for your business, and pair them with bundled or complementary offerings to increase sales. Say you own a liquor store; you might assume your best sales come from bottles of high-end liquors, but a closer review of your transactions could show that you really make more money from transactions that consist of multiple bottles of mid-priced wines. You might capitalize on this by promoting deals on variety packs of wine—by offering a slight discount on five complementary but different types of wine, you may get customers to spend more on new types of bottles.

Expand your offerings
Keep in close contact with your customers to figure out which new offerings would resonate with them while building on your current strengths. For example, your European-style coffee shop could offer a few items, such as specialty Italian coffees and coffeemakers, so customers could enjoy coffee at home or buy them as gifts for others.

Consider adding a suggestion box at the cash register or sending out a survey to your email list with specific questions on customers’ preferences and buying habits. Keep in mind that casual conversation can also lead to surprising revelations—chat at checkout about their purchases and you may better understand how you could provide extras that will increase their satisfaction. Consider partnering with a complementary business to garner more sales too. For example, a floral shop could partner with a local dance studio to sell bouquets at the studio’s annual recital.

Know your customers’ schedules
Turn your busy periods into opportunities to rake in even more sales. Create a calendar that shows the peaks and valleys of your business and prepare for them by lining up temporary staffing or buying extra inventory before the rush hits.

You may also find creative ways to further feed your sales at these times. A hair salon, for example, may get swamped every year around local school proms. The owner could promote the salon as “prom headquarters” online or in signage around her location, with notes that hours are extended and that she can accommodate groups.

Raise your visibility locally
Get your name out to potential customers by expanding your presence online and in your community. Many people use their mobile phones to quickly search for nearby businesses, so follow step-by-step instructions to ensure you appear on Google Maps and do the same for Yelp. Connect with your town’s chamber of commerce and other local business groups, or find events pertinent to your industry or neighborhood through Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com. Networking will help you find other opportunities to sell, such as local school events that need catering or fundraisers that your business could participate in.

The day-to-day is always busy for small business owners, but try taking a step back and looking strategically at these aspects of your company. A few simple ideas might give a big boost to your sales.

While taking the initiative to grow your business revenues, also consider how you can free up cash. For ideas on how to trim expenses, download PG&E’s free e-book, "25 Money-Saving Tips for Business".


Five Ways to Boost Small Business Sales
  • SMB Blog Author
    Alice Bredin
    Alice Bredin is an internationally renowned small business expert and author. Small business owners worldwide have relied on her books and columns to improve their productivity and success. She is a former small business commentator for public radio's Marketplace program and has helped shape small business policies through her testimony to the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Alice is president of Bredin, Inc., a B2B marketing agency that helps the Fortune 500 sell to small and midsize businesses.
 

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