Every business, even an established one, will experience a slump in sales at some point during its existence. Even with superior products or services, a killer brand, and a hardworking band of employees, a business may still struggle to bring in new customers or deals and experience a sales plateau.
And irrespective of the forces fuelling the sales plateau, a slump in sales can be catastrophic for businesses that are just starting out. The ability to generate sufficient revenue from sales is an important determinant of growth for a business. It is also a key metric that is used to measure the profitability of your business, something that your investors, creditors, and other stakeholders will be keenly looking at when deciding if they should partner with you.
So, for businesses that are looking for ways to boost revenue without having to pump significant amounts of capital into their business operations, here are a few inexpensive ways that will go a long way in helping you break through a sales plateau.
1. Create a growth-oriented sales strategy.
An effective sales strategy is the lifeblood of any profitable venture. Without it, your sales reps will be stumbling in the dark, often making decisions based on impulse and short-term gains instead of building on long-term goals as would typically be described within your sales strategy.
A good sales strategy often has a clear starting and endpoint. Begin by assessing where your business stands, specifically regarding your overall sales process. Key indicators to dig into here include total sales within the past year, the number of new and repeat customers, which customers brought in the most revenue and those who had the shortest sales cycles.
You can then use these indicators to create an ideal customer profile that your sales reps can subsequently use to target prospective customers with the highest chances of conversion and repeat business. Your customer profile, bundled with an in-depth SWOT analysis, should help you come up with clear revenue goals and an efficient sales funnel customized for each of your sales reps showing how they intend to generate leads.
2. Re-assess your business model.
Sometimes, the only way to break through a sales plateau is by simply getting out of your comfort zone. This may involve anything from simple behavioral changes around the office to a complete overhaul of some of your core business functions that are working against revenue generation.
For instance, if you've been selling exclusively from a brick-and-mortar store, with marketing strategies targeting walk-in customers, then it might be time to open an online store to help increase sales. If you've never worked with any social media channel or you've restricted yourself to Facebook or Twitter, it might be time to expand your horizons and look into how you can use social media to get your business out of a sales rut.
You can even go further into your core business structure to shake things up. If you've never legalized your business, this should be the time to walk down that path. As far as business costs go, a legal business entity gives you significant tax benefits, including tax exemptions and deferred tax payments. A registered business also carries a significant level of credibility and perceived reputability, which gives your business significant mileage when it comes to improving customer relationships.
Plus, it has become quite affordable to register a business, especially if you plan on sticking with an LLC. Some registered agents can help set up your LLC, complete with a tax ID for reporting purposes, for a few hundred dollars. Plus, as long as you don't give out more than 20% of shareholding to an individual partner, you get to keep full control over your newly-registered company.
3. Optimize your payments infrastructure.
While the payments industry has been – and still is – going through one of its most disruptive cycles in decades, businesses, both e-commerce and physical stores, continue to bleed sales during payments. Online stores continue to suffer astounding cart abandonment rates, with two-thirds of shoppers abandoning shopping carts at the payment stage. Consequently, the payment stage of an online or physical store presents a ton of simple and inexpensive opportunities for boosting sales.
At the basic level, there's a lot to be gained by simply giving your customers a choice when it comes to payment methods. However, be careful not to increase the complexity of the payment page by offering too many input options for the customer. Incorporate design elements that will nudge your customers into choosing their preferred payment method early enough, so you get an opportunity to hide everything else that isn't relevant for them.
Another little-known tactic for boosting sales at this stage is by incorporating financing as a payment option. According to research by Currency, an online payments platform, businesses that offered financing at the point of purchase increased the average size of purchases by 15%, which makes it easier for the business to achieve its sales targets.
It is also important to pay special attention to security during payments and at the point of data collection. Your customers will be more likely to pay or give your business their data when they feel safe enough to do so, thanks to the rising wave of cybercrime within the digital space. One cybersecurity report found that small businesses incurred at least $2.2 million, on average, in costs associated with cybercrime, a significant number for merchants looking to boost profits.
4. Collect and analyze data.
When your business has the infrastructure in place to collect and analyze data, your company can make better decisions regarding many crucial business processes, including inventory management and pricing strategies, which can help boost revenue down the line.
Collecting data at a point-of-sale terminal or during various points on your e-commerce site lets your business gain insight into many revenue-boosting elements of your enterprise, including what items are the most and least popular, how much time website visitors are spending on each page of your website, which pages of your e-commerce shop they are spending the most time on, and so on. All of these stats can give you a better idea of your most valuable products, web pages, and customers, including their demographics.
This data can be used to create targeted business strategies that promote your most popular products. You can use the data to direct potential customers to the most popular pages on your website while using the same information to identify your most valuable customers. You can then extend special offers to the demographic that is most likely to spend money at your business, thus improving your chances of closing sales and boosting your bottom line.
For young merchant businesses that are just starting out, saving money while generating revenue should be a paramount goal, especially during those formative years of the enterprise when the business owners and their investors are looking to break even.
So, while these tips will work for businesses of any size, they'll be especially handy for businesses in their infancy that want future-proof ways of growing profits while keeping expenses down. By registering your business, for instance, you give your enterprise a base from which you can build a solid brand that will be more favorable among potential customers. And if you do plan to get online, your registered business will benefit from enhanced security features like advanced SSL packages that will boost your website's credibility and, naturally, increase the number of paying customers.
Additionally, providing multiple options for online shoppers is crucial in a world where customers are starting to prefer shopping online rather than at physical establishments. If your business can effectively collect, analyze, and act on the data it collects, then your business is more likely to create strategies that influence and incentivize customers to shop with your company and make a purchase.
By taking advantage of some of these measures, you can work toward your revenue-generation goals without investing a significant amount of money in your business operations.