You did it. You built an excellent little business up from scratch and have your products or services and know them inside and out. You’ve developed a steady customer base that loves everything about you, entire operation is a well-oiled machine, and now there’s only one thing left to do.
And job one, when attempting to scale up your enterprise, is getting more sales. After all, that’s what scaling is, isn’t it? Exposing your business to new people who haven’t yet tried your product or service and converting them into paying customers.
Consistent and effective sales are the lifeblood of any growth strategy. And because you’re in new, uncharted territory for your business, it can be tempting to change your sales techniques and “try something new” in order to drum up more business. But beware of the sales techniques that offer quick and easy success for your company because they can bring about long-term disaster instead.
It’s important to know what kind of sales techniques are out there and which ones will actually help scale your enterprise. If you’re fortunate enough to be in this position, you know it’s both exciting and scary at the same time. The thought of leveraging what you’ve built into something bigger creates an incredible sense of purpose and raises some significant challenges if not approached with caution, especially when it comes to sales.
Here are some sales techniques you’ll want to avoid if you intend to scale your business effectively.
Businesses looking to scale up often decide to go big with their online ads on Google and Facebook, and for a good reason. The more traffic they’re able to drive, the higher their chance of landing a customer. But there’s one problem with this strategy: it doesn’t scale!
Instead of using your ads as a way of trying to reach every single user online, try leveraging them for what they are best at – driving targeted customers in that door at an affordable cost per acquisition (CPA). The reason these sites have become such massive ad platforms is the ability to laser focus your ad campaign to increase the chance of seeing success.
So before you launch your campaign, take time to develop a customer avatar of the type of person you want to attract.
Consider the following:
When you precisely know who you’re looking to target, then you can identify what type of products or services your company offers that best suit this customer’s needs.
If done correctly, a well-thought-out strategy can have enormous payoffs for scaling a business, as we’ve seen from some big players like Zulily and Zappos. They rose to fame using targeted marketing strategies with laser focus.
Online customers have become savvy over the years, and the idea of a “free trial” often leads to increased sales. People want to try before they buy, and the free trial method is the best way to do that in an online buying environment. This makes the free trial model popular, especially amongst software-type services.
The surprise billing technique involves hiding the fact that a customer’s credit card will be automatically charged at the end of the trial period, without warning that this would happen.
This could cause some severe backlash and result in individuals disputing the charges on their credit cards as well as leaving bad reviews online about your company, both things you want to avoid happening.
If you choose to use the free trial strategy, you should make it crystal clear upfront when they will be billed and how much. Some even go so far as to send email reminders to customers that the charges are coming up soon. Better yet, you can offer a “No credit card required” free trial to give your customers peace of mind about trying your product.
Whatever you do, don’t start with bad blood, bad reviews, and a reputation for chargebacks with credit card companies.
Customers love a sale, and some shoppers refuse to buy anything until it’s marked down to some degree. Knowing this, some businesses resort to the unscrupulous tactic of marking a product up, then “discounting” it at a sale price that in reality is equal to, or still higher than, the actual retail price.
It’s far too easy for people to shop around online, even if they are standing in your store at the time. By simply whipping out their phone and Googling products similar to yours, they can establish the “going rate” for your goods or services quickly.
It won’t take long for them to realize your “sale” price is just the regular price for these goods elsewhere. There are few things as frustrating for a customer to experience, and they’ll probably never come back once this type of phony discounting scam has burned them.
Worse yet, in many states, this technique is flat-out illegal. So bottom line, avoid this tactic altogether. If you’re offering a discount, make it an actual discount that customers can verify because they will!
This one is so notorious it’s become its own trope. The image of the shady salesperson leaning heavily on a poor, unsuspecting customer, insisting they buy the product right now or risk missing out on this life-changing opportunity is a common one.
Again, there are few things as frustrating for a customer as being pressured into making an immediate purchase decision without having time to think or consider other options. It doesn’t matter if you desperately need a sale that day or if you have some extra inventory that needs clearing off; pressuring someone until they make a commitment rarely leads anywhere good, so don’t do it.
In fact, many customers report feelings of actual anxiety when approached by salespeople because of tactics like these. Is that a recipe for growth? Your potential customers fearing you?
Of course not!
Try utilizing the technique that Best Buy teaches its employees. Say something along the lines of “Feel free to look around. I’m right here if you have any questions.” This puts their mind at ease, knowing they won’t be accosted while they shop, but also have someone nearby to answer questions or help them if needed.
There’s no getting around it. We live in a review-based economy. Don’t believe me? Check out these stats:
Get the picture? To say the least, reviews are essential.
So important, in fact, that it can be very tempting to buy reviews from sites online or generate your own fake reviews using fake accounts or employee and friend’s accounts.
Here’s the rub: Remember when we told you consumers are savvy these days? It turns out they’re especially smart when it comes to reviews. After all, they’re clearly reading them every time they consider a purchase. And over time, they learn to spot fake reviews. It seems fake reviews just lack the sincerity of a real customer offering feedback and tend to stand out like a sore thumb.
And not just to customers. Sites like Google and Amazon have developed algorithms to spot review fakers and will mercilessly terminate accounts that engage in those practices.
The bottom line, don’t do it.
But DO encourage genuine reviews from customers and make it easy for them to leave feedback. Statistically, it will be impossible to scale without generating steady, positive reviews from real people who love your service or product. So provide excellent service, nurture your customers and ask for their review. They’ll be happy to sing your praises for the rest of the world to read.
Remember that before you can successfully employ any sales technique, it is vital that you understand what your customer wants out of a purchase and how they make decisions. For customers to be happy with their purchases, they need to clearly understand its benefits and how it will make their lives better. Anything more complicated than this is really just smoke and mirrors techniques promoted by sales gurus looking to make a buck.
Odds are, whatever sales techniques you used to get this far will continue to bring you success as you scale your business. So there’s no need to reinvent the wheel; rather, learn to apply those techniques that have brought you success to a larger audience.
This is an area where you can benefit greatly from the services of a professional business consultant. Optimizing your sales strategy with a business consultant is the best way to ensure that you’re able to scale your business without falling victim to any of the scenarios we discussed above.