One of the most common questions I get when I’m speaking to large audiences of business owners is “How can I increase sales without spending a fortune on marketing?”
Here is a list of my “go-to” favorite strategies to quickly boost sales without spending a lot of money on ads or other marketing costs.
1. Cold Calling
Cold calling is the outbound dialing to a person or business who isn’t expecting your call. This proven strategy just works. I’ve personally used it in my various businesses to generate millions of dollars of sales. I understand it isn’t fun, but you can, and likely should, hire someone else to do it for your business. Also, remember you can use “warm calling” where you’re making unexpected calls to business relationships you’ve already developed. If there were any one sales-generating activity that applies to a large cross section of businesses, yet is commonly overlooked, cold calling would be my pick.
Action Step: Cultivate your “house list” by collecting phone numbers and keeping this information in an organized spread sheet or “CRM” (customer relationship management tool.) This way when you’re ready to start dialing, you have a warm list versus a cold list of contacts.
A close relative to cold calling, canvassing is when you are making an in-person visit to talk with someone who isn’t expecting you. I’ve had clients who hired canvassers to go through office parks office by office, to move through large outdoor events handing out flyers and talking with people, and even to go door-to-door in residential neighborhoods. Again, this isn’t glamorous, but it is very cheap and can be highly effective.
Action Step: Brainstorm a list of physical locations that have a high concentration of your target market. Test out what 5-10 hours of canvassing can produce for you by visiting one or more of these locations.
If you’ve been in business for any time, you probably have customers who, for whatever reason, stopped doing business with you. Reach back out to them in an organized, structured, systematic way. We call this a “reactivation campaign.” This could be a phone call, an in-person visit, an email or direct mail letter (or a combination of several of these.) You’ve already spent the time and money determining these people are qualified, and they trusted you enough to do business with you before. So why not reach out with a compelling reason why they should come back and do business with you again.
Action Step: Gather a list of your past customers. Create a simple strategy, and offer to reach out to a target number of them about doing business with you again. Track your results.
4. Raise Your Pricing
Most small business owners are scared to raise their pricing. It’s as if they feel the only way they can sell is to be the low-cost provider. I strongly encourage you to revisit your pricing with a fresh eye. Test out what would happen with new prospects if you were to raise your pricing 5, 10, 20 percent or even more. You likely set your pricing back in the day and then rarely raised them thereafter. One contractor I know raised his pricing across the board 8 percent. This 8 percent equaled an increase to his actual net profit of over 30 percent with no more work.
Action Step: Mystery shop your competitive market to find out what other companies are charging for a comparable product or service to yours. Consider testing out a higher price with new customers.
5. Referral System
How can you turn your best customers into a volunteer sales force finding you new customers? Can you offer a gift, discount or other reward for making a warm introduction? Can you just ask them for their help? I’ve seen dozens of small businesses use this simple tactic to generate sales with no additional marketing cost, often for just the price of a handwritten thank you card or small gift.
Action Step: Create one simple “system” for how you can consistently ask your clients for referrals on a regular basis.
There you have my five favorite strategies to quickly boost sales. Good luck!