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Business Advice

Raising sales performance

Revitalise your gameplan and identify underlying issues that have been languishing on the backburner
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - August 30, 2011
By: Sheila Lim
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Raising sales performance

Singapore’s GDP is forecast to slow in the second half of this year, and the global economy is still tottering back onto its feet. If things seem “a little quiet” on the business front for you, now’s a good time to take stock and seriously think about what you can do to boost your sales performance.

REVITALISE YOUR GAMEPLAN

For a start, identify underlying issues that have been languishing on the backburner, which you know need to be addressed and improved. Some key areas you should seriously look at to rev up sales are: motivating your staff to stay ahead of the game, attracting new customers and enticing existing customers to come back again or to buy more.

It might also be good to adopt a new mindset towards how your business is being run and take bold steps to make necessary changes. For instance, you could introduce new incentives to raise productivity and performance, initiate innovative ideas for improving the efficiency of your production, operation and/or sales systems, or outsource tasks that will free you to focus on planning and implementing new sales strategies. 

SELL, SELL, SELL

There’s an old adage with regard to sales: Ability x Motivation = Performance. Whether you are in the business of selling kacang puteh or diamonds, it pays to ensure that the quality of service you provide is consistently of the highest level possible.

  • Get the right staff

It is much easier to convert shoppers into customers if your sales people are helpful and knowledgeable. So, hire people with the right abilities and attitude; do whatever you can to retain and motivate your skilled staff; and provide inexperienced staff with proper training.

  • Establish a sales incentive programme

Give your sales staff good reasons to get out there and sell. Besides keeping them happy, find out what kind of incentives will work in driving them to perform better, and create a sales incentive programme that’s attractive, simple and attainable.

  • Encourage your sales staff to upsell

Upselling essentially involves introducing related products/services that your customers will deem as bringing them additional benefits, such as greater value for money or convenience. To upsell successfully, customers have to be convinced of the benefit they will gain. Just placing more items near your usual range of products isn’t going to increase sales much. But you’ll be surprised how effective the power of “suggestive selling” can be. For instance, if you are selling chicken rice, recommend that your customers get a soup and vegetable dish to make their meal more complete. Better yet, provide information on the health-giving aspects of your food!

KEEP CUSTOMERS COMING BACK

Converting a shopper into a customer takes more effort than enticing one who’s already “sold” on your products and services to return again or buy more. So obviously, it makes good business sense to focus your sales efforts on bringing them back and building customer loyalty.

Here are more customer-centric strategies you can employ to stimulate incremental sales:

  • Use the right sales approach

The worst thing you can do is to apply hard-sell techniques. Pushy or aggressive sales people will not only drive customers away, but give them a negative image of your company as well.

As far as possible, avoid using words connoting negativity, such as “don't”, “no” and “cannot” when responding to customers’ queries/requests. For example, if you don’t have the product they want, avoid saying “we don’t have it” and leaving it at that. Instead, encourage your sales staff to recommend the closest substitute they can think of or try to suggest an alternative. It would also be good to encourage them to provide regular feedback on what customers are looking for, and consider the possibility of adding those items to your product line if it will help to keep customers happy.

Unless you aren’t interested in doing “repeat business”, it’ll always pay to know your customers well. Make the effort to impress upon them that you care enough to find out what they want and like, are able to cater to their needs and can even provide solutions to their problems.

  • Set up a customer rewards programme

This business tactic is commonly used by large businesses, but there’s no reason a small business can’t employ it too. A rewards programme could be as simple as a special discount on a customer’s birthday or as complex as a point accumulation system that earns freebies and discounts on merchandise. A well-thought-out rewards programme can be effective in building customer loyalty and increasing sales.

  • Connect With the Customer

One of the most effective ways of winning over a customer and getting him to come back is to show him that you are genuinely acting in his best interests, and not merely trying to make a quick buck out of him.

  • For example, give your customer the inside scoop. If he is mulling over whether to buy Product X, your sales staff should approach him and say, “I see you’re interested in this product. We’re having a storewide sale next week and there will be a 20 per cent discount on all our items. You might want to come back then.” Don’t think of it as letting a sales opportunity slip away but as fostering a bond with your customer.
  • After you’ve built your customer base, how do keep your customers loyal? Let them know you value them above “walk-in” customers. There are many ways of doing so – from greeting them by name to giving them extra discounts or special privileges.

 

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