Every small business owner faces the challenge of selling more—and these days, we’re all trying to do that with less. How can you achieve your sales goals without busting your budget? In this guest post, author and entrepreneur Patricia Sigmon shares 8 tips adapted from her new book, Six Steps to Creating Profit.
Are you looking for new ways to address the problem of flat sales and low profitability at your company without spending a dime? The solution greets you every morning when you arrive at work. It’s your employees. Since every employee needs full buy-in to the company that supplies his or her paycheck, it’s natural for you to put each of them to work promoting your products and services.
Regardless of their position or job description, there’s an opportunity for all levels of workers to be salespeople, ambassadors, promoters and cheerleaders for your company–and boost your profits and sales revenues in the process.
Here are 8 ways to make sales and profit promotion part of every person’s job description.
1. Create an easy-to-follow “package” for employees. Come up with a bulleted list of messages about your products and services that tell a story, illustrate value, and trigger positive emotions. In every phone call, email and face-to-face meeting, encourage employees to engage the client or potential client in a conversation that conveys your company’s valuable offerings, reinforces the company’s brand and boosts its reputation. This isn’t about “overselling” for a person who is a non-salesperson. It’s about subtle message spreading. When everyone is speaking the same language and delivering a compelling message, it builds a powerful image of your company and the people behind it.
2. Make email an everyday marketing tool. For every email that leaves your office, create a tagline below the signature that promotes the website, has the company logo, emphasizes the mission statement, links to a blog, or even offers a service. Adding a pertinent article link in the email, such as a new research study or a hot trend, is a good way to get your company’s information passed along virally when receivers forward that great link to others. The body of emails, too, can house reference links, videos, and researched material pertinent to a client’s questions, which makes them selling tools. And emails to business peers, vendors, and non-clients are as important as any professional client correspondence because you never know where a new client is lurking. Respectfully ask your employees to pay attention to grammar, spelling, accuracy, and email etiquette.
3. In face-to-face encounters, look sharp and be positive. Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting, a service call, or a Web conference, insist that employees dress appropriately, arrive promptly, and treat the client with utmost respect. A company with consistently well-dressed, considerate, articulate professionals then becomes part of your brand and image.
4. Recruit profit-boosting talent from within. Every employee has a hidden talent that can be tapped to promote the business and improve profitability. For example, which of your employees has a knack for Facebook or Twitter? Who has a design flair to help update the company website? Who writes with sparkle and pizzazz, and might be a great blogger? Which of your employees is good with Web conferencing, online forums, and CRM software? You can also diversify tasks departmentally. For example, your HR department can learn to be astute in locating potential sales opportunities. Your part-time receptionists could research market trends online. At a brainstorming meeting, ask employees what ideas and hidden skills they have for generating more profits and sales. You’ll be surprised by what they come up with.
5. Foster and inspire self-growth. One of the best ways to improve your company’s image, performance, and profits is by raising the caliber of your employees. But here’s the catch: Motivate your existing employees to bump up their skills rather than trying to find outsiders to do the tasks. To promote self-growth efforts that aren’t job mandated, it’s useful to copy the tactics of large corporations. These include: starting an in-house newsletter; setting up roundtables, conferences, lunchtime meetings, and webinars; and rewarding employees’ self-driven accomplishments and development.
6. Build a pro-company attitude. The easiest way to get everyone at your company rooting and working for its success is to formally ask employees what’s working and what’s not working. Ask these same questions of clients. The trick is to show everyone involved in your company that you are listening and want to make things as good as they can possibly be. When you find problems, fix them. When you are looking for solutions, always keep sales and profitability in the forefront of the equation.
7. Enlist club members–from your ranks. Everyone at your business should be using your products and services. You need complete buy-in and dedication of the staff to the company so that insiders and outsiders both can sense and respect the pride and work ethic behind the door of the business. If you have a staff of 30, that’s 30 salespeople talking about your products and services to family, friends, friends of friends, and casual acquaintances after hours. You couldn’t pay salespeople to do that!
8. Actively promote team spirit. Come up with fun and meaningful activities that demand cooperation and that foster team spirit among your workforce. For instance, sponsor a community event; have a company barbecue; hold a volleyball tournament; or get involved in a charitable cause. The more your employees come to see the company as their extended family, the more loyal they’ll be. Close-knit, loyal employees will be motivated to go above and beyond the call of duty to help their company succeed.
Patricia Sigmon is a successful entrepreneur, a sought-after speaker, and a leading expert in the field of profit management. She is founder and president of David Advisory Group (www.DavidAdvisoryGroup.com), a boutique firm that specializes in helping CEOs and small and midsized businesses reengineer their business practices to generate more profit, cut inefficiency, and optimize their earning potential. Her new book is Six Steps to Creating Profit (Wiley).