How are sales? Good? Glad to hear it!
You are cruising along, with your profits squarely in the black. What if we said that you are nevertheless actually stuck in… The Comfort Zone (cue The Twilight Zone theme music)?
You already know that the best businesses are the ones that engage in a continually process of improvement. Just look at some of the world’s biggest brands, like Google and Apple. Those companies are always turning it up a notch, so to speak. When they find something that works, they retain it. Along the way, they extend their reach into new markets. Apple did not just make its famous personal computers; it pioneered the portable music device, and created arguably the world’s most identifiable tablet, the iPad.
What about your business? Do you do one thing and do it well? That is “all well and good,” sure. However, are you leaving money lying on the table in closely related markets that you could easily adapt to fit?
Many businesses wither in The Comfort Zone. If you suspect that yours might be stuck in a comfortable rut, consider these pointers. Here are five sales tips to help you uncover new business and break out of your comfort zone.
Sales Tip #1: Keep in touch (with a customer database)
Your existing customer database is a goldmine. No matter what goods or services you provide, the chances of an existing customer generating a new sale are great.
A detrimental mistake is accepting a sale graciously and waiting for the next one to trickle in. You have probably seen a much better strategy in your inbox. Many of the companies you have shopped with probably keep you up-to-date with a monthly or quarterly newsletter. The purpose of those newsletters is to keep the lines of communication open with existing customers.
A customer database is more than just a tool for your newsletter publication efforts. Cold calling is still a practical reality. Say you are a web designer. You have a customer who you built a major corporate website for six years ago. Once the project was completed and paid-in-full, you went on about your business, helping other customers. With this scenario in mind, ask yourself, “How many updates does a website need after six years?” In all likelihood, the site needs a total overhaul. Therein lays a way to grow your business.
How can you apply that way of thinking to what you do?
Sales Tip #2: Change with the times
Did you train on outdated software? Did you learn all about Pendaflex files and cannot imagine organizing your business without them? Do you know how to operate a slide rule?
There is no harm in any of those things, but have you ever given some thought to “keeping up with the Joneses?” Times have changed. Enterprise applications have become more intuitive, broadly speaking. More importantly, documents, business proposals, and accounting have gone digital. Simply cutting out the offline aspects of these business tools can uncover hidden cost savings. That is certainly one way to grow your profitability.
Sales Tip #3: Could you stand to hike the price?
The truth of the matter is you may be selling yourself (literally) short. If you are keeping busy (in fact too busy), you may simply be pricing your goods or services too low. Price negotiation is a fine art, one that can make or break a business.
If you labor your life away, for relative penance, you might want to increase your prices. Profit formula, after all, is an exercise is adjusting price in accordance with supply and demand. You may simply be good enough at what you do to ask a premium price.
You have to approach price hikes carefully. You do not want to end up in a disjointed situation. If your services or products do not meet with the expectations implied by a certain price, you may lose income. Conversely, if you are working for next to nothing, servicing a boatload of customers, you wind up feeling chaffed by the situation. Carefully weigh the options, and make sure any price increase is justifiable and beneficial.
Sales Tip #4: LinkedIn can help you grow your business
LinkedIn is a platform everyone is aware of, and all of us know we should be using it. That said, very few people are using LinkedIn effectively. If your LinkedIn profile has a crummy image, outdated work history, or a lousy bio, you are failing to “win friends and influence people.”
Step up your LinkedIn game and connect with people who are movers and shakers in your industry. Through LinkedIn, you may be able to make connections that lead to business-to-business customers, or strategic partners (which can prove profitable).
If you do not know what it means to optimize your LinkedIn profile, you can always consult with an expert on the matter.
Sales Tip #5: Embrace your industry
Have you ever attended a tradeshow? How about a seminar that relates to what you do? These are networking opportunities that can help you grow your business. You may also find local consortiums, collectives, and unions that will connect you with people in your industry, and more importantly, people in need of your services.
Are you an expert in your field? If so, consider speaking at a tradeshow relevant to your industry. You can never go wrong getting your name out, particularly in a forum that is expressly looking for what you have to offer.
Are you caught in The Comfort Zone?
Operating in your comfort zone is no reason for shame. In fact, having reached a place where you are comfortable in your business indicates that you have hit your stride. Once you get comfortable, it is time to broaden your horizons and grow your business in the process. You may have noticed that all of the tips on this list call for networking and people skills. That is what business is really all about, and we urge you to continue to cultivate the talents in those areas that have brought you this far.
We also urge encourage you to keep on upping the ante. We think a little restlessness in business is a good thing.
How are you actively growing your business? Are you taking action to break out of your comfort zone? We would love to hear from you in the comment space below.
Photo Courtesy of Viktor Hanacek, PicJumbo