Posted: Thu 24th Nov 2022
It might sound obvious, but to grow a business, you must know how to sell your products or services. Building sales is a step-by-step process, in which you identify your ideal customers, create a sales plan, and then begin the hard work of selling more.
Let's assume you've already set up your business, and now you're ready to make sales. Here are some straightforward tips courtesy of StartUp UK, Enterprise Nation's scheme to provide free tailored support to budding entrepreneurs.
Identify your target customers
Even if you've been trading for a few years, you may not have the clearest idea of who your ideal customers are. Understanding your target audience is absolutely crucial to increasing your sales.
In our workshop, Making sales, part of our ongoing StartUp Series, Janet Milner-Walker, founder of Bespoke Advantage, explains customer (or buyer) personas: what they are, why you should create them, and how to go about doing it. (It's important to note that you may have more than one customer persona for your business. In fact, you might have several!)
The workshop details:
how to create a sales plan (see Write a sales plan below)
what sales tools and techniques are available to you
how to attract your first customers
You'll also find out some of the important questions you must ask yourself when thinking about your target audience and ideal customer. These include the following:
What product or services do I provide?
Who needs these products or services the most?
How do my ideal customers perceive them?
What are the benefits of providing my products or services?
Where are my ideal customers hanging out and how can they find me?
Once you have a customer persona and have started to build a profile of your target customers, the more you'll begin to understand how to better service their needs. You can then analyse your competitors and speak to your target customers through surveys or focus groups.
Watch the workshop to learn more about sales, including brand positioning, building a strong unique selling point (USP), email marketing, keyword analysis and more.
Watch this Lunch and Learn webinar to find out how understanding your target audience can help you set business goals
Write a sales plan
If the idea of sitting down and writing out a plan fills you with dread, bear with us – writing a sales plan can actually be fun! Not only can it be creative, but knowing your business goals and vision and then setting them down in a plan can be great for your motivation.
If you don't have any goals for your business, how do you know what to aim for? Having aims and ambitions and being strategic in how you tackle them can help you make smarter business decisions and give you much better control over your finances.
Your sales plan is an item you want to be using and referring to from day to day, not just an exercise to worry about one or two times a year.
Bottom-up sales plan
Write a 'bottom-up' sales plan – this is where you set out your business's predicted sales for each month. Yes, it's based on some assumptions, but it should be logical and realistic.
As an example, if you predict you'll have 10 conversations with customers next month, the average conversion from conversation to sale is 20%, and you know your customers' average spend, you can estimate the total revenue you'll bring in from those sales.
Read our guide, How to create a sales strategy for your small business
Watch this School of Sales webinar on writing a winning sales plan
Watch this short e-learning video, 5 things to include in a sales strategy
Expand your sales
The main way to increase your sales is through marketing. You find your ideal audience then share content with them that will make them more aware of your brand and more likely to buy from you.
The aim is to build interactions with your customers and use online channels to create a number of 'touchpoints'. In return, you get a customer base which is much more engaged.
You might also look to develop a new product or service or diversify your revenue streams.
Ultimately, you want to be bringing customers back to your business. Estimates say it's five times easier and cheaper to attract returning customers than it is to gain new customers.
Read our guide, How to get your first sales as a new business
Sign up to StartUp UK to watch the Expand your sales e-learning module, which gives you the in-depth knowledge you need to grow your sales
Access support to start your business
Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.