1. Consider expanding into foreign markets
North America isn’t the only market in the world. Even a small business, in many cases, can expand their sales reach to include foreign markets. To determine if this is a wise option for you, begin by developing relationships with export centers and other associations specializing in reaching foreign markets.
2. Reach out to new market sectors
Very often a company can sell an existing product to a new target market with little more than a shift in market positioning. Some companies can significantly increase their customer base by doing this. For example, Nintendo successfully expended their share of the electronic game market with the Wii product by promoting video games to the previously untapped market of middle aged women. So ask yourself, who else might be interested in your products or services?
3. Expand you product/service offering
Ask yourself, what products or services do your customers already consume in relation to your existing product/service offerings? Can you add any of these to your product line? For example, a client of Wardell who manufactures kitchen cabinet doors has employed this strategy to become a wholesaler for an exclusive line of hardware. They have had excellent results.
4. Streamline your product/service offerings
Conversely, consider ways that streamlining your product/service offerings will help you become more profitable. Make sure you are aware of your margins for each of your products and consider dropping or replacing those that don’t make enough profit. Too many business owners only pay attention to their income statement as a whole (if at all) and don’t take the time to drill down into the details, effectively leaving money on the table that should be theirs.
5. Offer self-serve options to your customers and your vendors
Implementing DIY services is a great way to meet the needs of people who prefer self-directed options. At the same time, this alleviates pressure on customer service, and has the potential for significant cost savings. Today’s customers and vendors are no longer afraid of doing their own orders or checking out themselves. Self-check-in at the airport is a great example of how this option can be a benefit to all involved.
6. Improve your level of customer service
Your customers will spread the word about your business for only one of two reasons; they either have a bad experience, or a fantastic experience. It pays, therefore, to put the effort into giving your customers an experience worth talking about. Your customers are your best source of new business, and customer service is your most powerful tool for generating that business.
7. Clarify your market position
Ask yourself, do your customers clearly understand why your business is unique and why they need you? The answer to this question determines if they will continue to do business with you. Conversely, if you are seen as part of a homogeneous category of business, your selling prices will be dictated by your competitors- not a good thing in our current economic times.
8. Get to know your customers
The more you know about your ideal customers, the better you can make their buying experience. Are they more interested in customer service or self-service? Do they want better prices or more value for their money? Do they want you to make them look good to others or do they want to feel good for themselves? Ask, observe, and experiment. And by relentlessly focusing on your customers needs you’ll develop an almost unfair advantage over your competitors.
9. Track and analyze your prospecting systems
By properly tracking both your lead generation and your conversion rates (leads that become customers) you can develop a clear picture of the pace of business coming your way. This is critical for several reasons. (1) It helps predict production rates, increasing overall efficiencies. (2) It sends up a red flag when a drop in sales is coming, giving you time to do something about it. (3) It supports the setting of sales targets, helping to drive top-line growth.
10. Change your pricing
Far too many businesses remain at the same price point because they fear losing customers. It’s worth your time to research a spectrum of your competitors ranging from lower to higher end versions of your market. For example, sometimes raising prices may help associate your products/services with a higher value. While in some cases, slightly lowering prices may place your products at a better competitive advantage.