One thing almost all businesses need is more sales. So, how can good business planning help you find new customers? The key is to take a step back from your daily routine and reconsider your strategy, as well as its impact on sales.
While you were busy building your business, your market or your customers may have changed. You can sometimes identify these changes by asking individual customers out to lunch, searching online or joining a workshop or class to give yourself new insights.
After that, the goal is to reconfigure your business plan by adding new sales initiatives as concrete tasks among your milestones. Each initiative should involve specific responsibilities that can be assigned to specific people, with start dates, end dates and budgets.
New start-ups will want to add the following initiatives to their business plans, with detailed explanations about how to track and follow through on these goals.
1. Sell more to existing customers
Generally, that’s the quickest path to healthy growth. The best example I’ve ever seen is the computer store that contacted its entire customer base and reminded them all that they may be overdue for upgrading their data storage, networking gear, printers, software and computers. They created a special promotion and cleared old inventory in the process.
How could something like that work for your business? Essentially, there are three parts to it: Determining what you can offer that relates to your customers and business offering; how to turn it into an event; and how to get the message out to customers.
And when you come up with something, put it into the milestones of your business plan. Give it a start date, end date, and a person in charge. Estimate additional sales so you’ll know for next time whether you underestimated or overestimated.
2. Review your pricing
Price is your most powerful marketing message. What’s most important isn’t the high or low of it, but how it matches your strategy.
Some businesses are built around visible low pricing to bring people in and generate higher unit sales, while others offer more quality and need a higher price to communicate that message. I see far more businesses underpriced than overpriced.
A problem with frequent low pricing is that your business may lose customers who assume your product or service isn’t great because the price doesn’t match it.
And if you decide to revise pricing, reflect that in your sales forecast and marketing messages. Synchronise what you’re saying to your customers with what your price says. And then, most important, deliver the value you promise. Put that into your plan as a task in the milestones.
3. Review your marketing messages
That means both the core content of your message and how you deliver it. Some businesses are turning to social media to spread their messages in new ways. Others are resurfacing email marketing, direct sales, and even direct mail marketing because they’ve been neglected for a while.
Make this effort concrete and measurable in your plan. Add specific measurement, whether it’s ads, page views, web visitors, retweets, Klout.com score, friends or links. Track results and follow up.
4. Expand into nearby markets
That means either selling something new and different to your existing customer base or selling what you’ve always sold to new customers. Either option is usually more realistic than trying to develop a completely new product or service while trying to sell it to a different client base. You have to look at your own business and think creatively.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to add it to your business plan. As much as possible, include measurement and tracking so you can tell if you’ve successfully implemented the new plan.
Then follow up and review actual results regularly so you can see what’s going right and what isn’t, and make the necessary adjustments.
Related: 10 Retail Sales Rules