151 Quick Ideas to Increase Sales

151 Quick Ideas to Increase Sales

by Linda Sparks

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Sales is the lifeblood of the vast majority of companies. Without the influx of new business, most organizations would wither and die. So sales must be successful, not just once in a while but constantly--every month, every week, every day.

Because we constantly need more sales we also need new ideas for identifying and contacting our prospects, for understanding and meeting their needs and most of all, for inspiration to fight the good fight.This book will be a wise and ambitious member of your sales team, a one-time investment that will pay for itself over and over again. No commissions required!

151 Quick Ideas to Increase Sales is all about increasing the return on the investment you make in your organization's business development program. It will break down the walls between the sales function and the other promotional elements in a typical marketing mix, allowing for a more synergistic approach to sales. 151 Quick Ideas to Increase Sales shows you proven sales tactics from a variety of business models and how to put them to work in your own programs. Tactics such as:-- Branding Your Products-- Creating Cross Promotions-- Letting direct mail deliver -- Selling More to Existing Clients-- Reaching Out to the Community

These ideas will allow you to leverage the assets and momentum present in your existing system, and use your skills and knowledge to get exactly what you need and want more sales!

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781564149152
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 09/15/2006
Series: 151 Quick Ideas Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Linda Sparks has spent more than 25 years in the field of sales. She began her career as an outside sales representative, learning to unearth customer needs then sell products and services to meet those needs. In 1990, Sparks founded Performance Development Company, a business consulting and training firm, where she served as president for 10 years. For the last five years, Sparks has worked as an independent consultant, helping her clients take a more integrated approach to business development. She is the co-author of Business Development is Everyone's Business. She and her husband Jim live in Tucson, Arizona.

Read an Excerpt


Business Development Is the Bottom Line

If a sale is an individual transaction, then the organization's overall sales function should embody a broader perspective that can be referred to as business development. It's all about developing new business for your organization. Business development principles should be known and carried out in every nook and cranny of the organization, and by just about everyone in the organization.

It all works in a cycle. When your organization develops new products or services, the goal is attracting and retaining specific customers. Servicing customer accounts with honesty, accuracy, and integrity closes the loop on this cycle of business development by making sure that customers have no reason to leave you and every reason to stick around and provide very valuable referrals. And finally, every strategic plan has, at its core, goals to acquire and retain customers. Almost everything done in your organization has a clear and practical tie to good business development.


Develop a transaction map that tracks your products/services. I challenge you to find an element that cannot be tied to business development. Separately, create a process list that details the steps that make up your formal sales activities. Make this fun by picking up a new box of crayons and invite everyone in the organization to come by and add their own contributions.

Documenting a complete business development continuum for your organization will help everyone recognize their existing inter-dependence.


The whole is worth far more than the sum of its parts.


Marketing 101: Lots of Ways to Influence Sales

In order to make more sales, it's a good idea to look at the wide range of methods you have available to influence customers and prospects. Often we lose sight of the fact that direct sales activities represent only one of many essential elements of an overall marketing mix — one tool in the business development toolbox. For some the term sales has become passé, even unseemly. The term marketing has been substituted in polite conversation in order to protect sensitivities. But just substituting the word marketing in place of sales has not changed the reality of the situation. Sales must be made if your organization is going to continue to stay in business.


Make a list of the elements you know of from your marketing mix that impact your business development success. Rank them in order of importance and add categories you don't think are covered here. Keep the list; by the time you finish this book you'll be adding more!

Many things influence the prospect along the business development continuum, so it pays to understand the other elements in the marketing mix and how they might help you to make a sale.

Some of the elements that make up a typical marketing mix are advertising, public relations, Websites, pricing strategies, cross promotions, trade shows, special events, direct sales, and publishing and speaking.


There are 64 colors in the crayon box, and all of the colors can help you make a nice picture. There are more elements than you think.


The Three-Phase Business Development Process

In the grand scheme of things — business development things, that is — there exists a basic, three-phase process:

• Phase One: Getting to Know You

• Phase Two: Formal Sales

• Phase Three: Customer and Account Management

Although it is easiest to describe this as a linear process, as if the prospect/customer moves along a flat continuum from one phase to the next, the fact is that all three phases represent a dynamic series of transitions and feedback. Phase One starts with the organization floating its image and message in the prospect /customer pool. When the potential prospect recognizes that your firm is one of its options for a solution to a problem, then we transition to Phase Two and Formal Sales. Once the sale is made we make the formal transition to Phase Three: Customer and Account Management.

Because most organizations tend to be stronger in one phase of the business development process than they are in the other two, the sales effort can sometimes lose momentum. It is important that everyone in the organization understands how each of these phases plays out and the impact they each have on business development success.


Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses you feel your organization has in each of these phases.


Good things tend to come in threes.


Trust- and Rapport-Building — It's Still Sales

The first phase in business development begins with letting people get to know you. A great deal of the groundwork with prospects is laid out before you even get to meet them. They will make judgments about you based on your "brand." Your brand is who and what you are in the eyes of others. How, when, and what prospects learn about you, your organization, and your solutions in this early stage can have a dramatic impact on your success at moving them to sales.

For example, in a professional services environment, being known as a forward-thinking, approachable professional who participates openly in a local business association may be the perfect groundwork for this phase. You and the future prospect may not even know each other yet, but you have begun a path of trust by sharing a common interest and "bumping into each other" professionally.


Become active in a professional, business, or community group that will put you in proximity of your future prospects, and let them get to know you.

Most small businesses don't have unlimited funds to perform expensive marketing activities. Choosing how you promote your organization in this phase will say a lot to potential prospects. Do you value similar things? Do you speak their language? The goal is to be well known to them by the time they need your particular product or service.


Time is money. Be truly present in the community you wish to serve.


The Formal Sales Cycle: Parts Are Parts

The formal sales phase of the business development continuum is triggered when the prospect admits a specific need and recognizes your firm as a potential supplier of the solution. This is the point when a lead turns into a prospect. You will close more sales if you recognize the distinct components of this phase and keep your actions on track.

Discovery: Develop a systematic approach to gathering the customer information you need to develop a solution.

Proposal: The proposal represents your offer of services or products in response to the prospect's request for assistance. If you have performed a discovery process, you will be able to speak to the situation much more completely than your competition. The proposal represents the technical aspects of the solution you propose.


Think about creative ways to present your solutions to prospects. Think as a stage manager, an orchestra conductor, or even a high school teacher preparing an important lesson for a group of preoccupied teenagers.

Presentation: The presentation of the proposal document (or your product) is your opportunity to convince the prospect to choose your solution. Treat the presentation as an important appointment with your prospect regardless of whether it was pre-scheduled or not. Build a case for your solution by demonstrating that you understand the prospect's situation, the desire for this type of product or service, and why your particular offer is the one that offers maximum satisfaction.


What you have to offer is not nearly as important as what your prospect thinks of it.


They May Be Clients Already — But It's Still Sales

Once a sale has been made with a new customer you have triggered the third phase of the business development continuum: the customer/account management phase. It is important to note that this is not the end of the continuum. Customers represent the best source of add-on sales and qualified referrals, and the level of operational feedback that drives innovation and fuels public relations efforts. They may be customers, but some of your most productive sales activities will occur in and around these accounts.

Contracting: The prospect becomes a customer at the moment of agreement. Whether you have a retail transaction or a written agreement, or simply do business with a handshake, this represents an important transition in the relationship. The prospect has chosen you and can reinforce his or her own decision by inviting others to choose you as well.

Add-On Sales: If you effectively engage your customer and do your job well, there will often be new opportunities to serve. This is a beautiful thing, but you need to be prepared to handle it. Plan ahead for the potential needs of your customers and develop a proactive approach to recognize, quote, and close add-on business. If needs fall outside your offerings, be prepared with a thoughtful referral.


Analyze your customer base and determine what percentage of your sales comes from repeat customers or referrals from those customers.

Customers as Champions: Nothing can help your sales more than customers singing your praises, providing you with qualified referrals, and simply being a good partner. This final element in the business development continuum brings you full circle and places new leads directly into the trust and rapport phase of your program.


Treat customers as if they are your best prospects — because they are!


Clarify What You're Really Selling

A pile of rocks is just a pile of rocks, right? Why should we get all sentimental about a pile of rocks? What if this particular pile of rocks was going to become a stone path in the Johnsons' backyard? What if the purpose of the path was for Mrs. Johnson while she carried her infant son?

The Johnsons need help choosing a product that will be appropriate for this path. They may need installation tips to make sure they get the best possible results. Many retailers would simply load the product with no concern for helping the customer make the best choice.

Customers rarely need the products or services you sell. What they are really looking for are solutions to problems and new opportunities. Understand this simple truth and you will increase your sales.


Develop simple questions that you can use with qualified prospects to establish a productive dialogue. Your goal should always be to learn enough about their situation to help deliver the best possible solution.


Silence is not golden when it comes to your customers.


Understand the Lifetime Value of Your Customers

In order to make the sales you desire, be prepared to make the necessary investment. If there were a store that sold customers — good customers — how much would you be willing to spend? Consider this example.

A local ladies' department store wants to attract more professional women. These women spend an average of $150 on each visit to the store. The store's cost of goods sold is about 50 percent, so its gross profit is $75 on each sale. On average, these women visit the store four times per year, so these particular shoppers are each worth $300 in gross profits per year. If a client remains a regular for three years, she has a lifetime value of $900.


Perform the kind of analysis discussed here on a low, medium, and high value account from your list of customers. See how much you can afford to spend.

How much can the department store afford to spend to acquire one of these highly desirable regular customers? How much advertising, direct mail, or sales perks should it invest?


Make new friends, but keep the old — they are gold.


Understand the Impact Business Goals Have on Prospecting

There was a marketing team for a statewide professional association that was suffering from a constant barrage of new ideas and demands from their president. As a thought leader in the industry, he was constantly asking the marketing staff to work on new projects. This might have been fun and exciting if the old demands went away when the new arrived — but they didn't.

The boss was unwilling to set clear business goals, but the marketing team had to make a few assumptions to maintain their sanity. They needed to set baseline goals for each of the organization's key income streams in order to keep their work in perspective. The team established the following baseline factors relating to sales growth to help them to determine how much time and attention needed to be invested in acquiring new customers:

• What are our primary revenue streams?

• What does our account (customer) retention look like?


Instead of picking a sales goal, try this backwards planning approach. Look at your budget and figure out how many more customers you will need to achieve it.


There are only so many hours in the day. Use a little creativity to determine the activities that will give you the best payoff.


Understand How YOU Add Value

Every salesperson has a role in business development, and you'll likely make more sales when you fully understand yours.

A salesperson at a value-added reseller (such as a computer store) helps the customer make sense of all the options. He or she may find people willing to drive an extra distance to buy from someone with special skills and knowledge. If you find yourself in this type of role, keep yourself sharp and tuned into the options, and you will retain your competitive edge.


Take a close look at the business you're in and write down the ways you add value for your customer.

A salesperson for a contractor may have the role of managing deadlines relating to a request for proposal and demonstrating to the buying committee that doing business with his firm is the best option. It would be wrong for him to get so caught up in the technical aspects of the proposal document that he lost track of his primary role as the salesperson.

If you are a person who wears many hats inside the organization, you will need to take special care when you shift into your sales role.


Knowing how you make a difference for your customers will keep you focused on important issues.


Inventory Your Business Development Assets

Every organization has major assets that can be leveraged toward developing new business. Instead of starting with the sales goals and performance shortfalls, take a look at some often-overlooked assets and see how they can lead the way in your sales strategy. Consider leveraging assets such as existing customers, your staff and facilities, and your company's reputation.

A marketing company that has a staff of subject-matter experts can develop a strategic approach to share information with the business community and allow qualified prospects a chance to sample the type of expertise they could expect from this organization as paid counsel. White papers, articles in the local business publications, and informational Websites are just the beginning.

A hardware store with a busy street-front location and filled with on-trend inventory can host a home-improvement program on a local radio station and let walk-in customers supply some of the program content. A celebrity shopper would add some fun.

An event with a strong charity cause and a large spectator following can increase participation or attendance by developing a grassroots effort encouraging experienced spectators to attend again, invite a neighbor, and help double the impact on the charity.


Make a list of your organization's greatest assets. Consider how you can bring them to bear on the business development goals.


Leading with your best shot just might help you win the round.


Round Up Collateral Materials

Communicating with your key audiences will increase your sales. To lay the groundwork for developing a communications strategy, start by gathering samples of all the tools, tricks, and tales that have been used in the past to communicate information to your audience.

For example, organiza- tions that develop detailed proposals as part of their approach often create works of art that never find their way into routine sales collaterals. Retailers tend to reminisce about that one record-breaking sale, but often fail to capture the principles of the offer, the details of the sales results, and the potential environmental factors that played a major part.


Get a three-ring binder and a set of tabs and collect your samples. This will become a reference guide when you sit down with others to establish a strategic approach to increasing sales.


Excerpted from "151 Quick Ideas to Increase Sales"
by .
Copyright © 2006 Linda Sparks.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Page,
How to Use This Book,
Chapter 1 - Business Development Is the Bottom Line,
Chapter 2 - Marketing 101: Lots of Ways to Influence Sales,
Chapter 3 - The Three-Phase Business Development Process,
Chapter 4 - Trust- and Rapport-Building — It's Still Sales,
Chapter 5 - The Formal Sales Cycle: Parts Are Parts,
Chapter 6 - They May Be Clients Already — But It's Still Sales,
Chapter 7 - Clarify What You're Really Selling,
Chapter 8 - Understand the Lifetime Value of Your Customers,
Chapter 9 - Understand the Impact Business Goals Have on Prospecting,
Chapter 10 - Understand How YOU Add Value,
Chapter 11 - Inventory Your Business Development Assets,
Chapter 12 - Round Up Collateral Materials,
Chapter 13 - Get More Customers — the Good Kind,
Chapter 14 - Uncover Your Path to Sales,
Chapter 15 - Dump the Dead Weight,
Chapter 16 - Do You Have Brand?,
Chapter 17 - Share Your Bounty With the Community,
Chapter 18 - All Roads Lead to Sales,
Chapter 19 - Advertising Has a Place,
Chapter 20 - Public Relations Are Rich in Paybacks,
Chapter 21 - They Call It Earned Media for a Reason,
Chapter 22 - Publicize Your Publicity,
Chapter 23 - The Media Is Your Friend — Not Your Mother,
Chapter 24 - The Community Wants to Know and Love You,
Chapter 25 - Websites Are More Than 24/7 Brochures,
Chapter 26 - Pricing Strategies Are Way More Than a Discount Program,
Chapter 27 - Cross-Promotions Can Help You Make New Friends,
Chapter 28 - Let Trade Shows Show You the Way,
Chapter 29 - Direct Sales Aren't Always Direct,
Chapter 30 - Cold Calls Can Warm Things Up — or, "The Cracker Jack Moment",
Chapter 31 - A Territory Management Approach Lends Perspective,
Chapter 32 - Direct Mail Still Delivers,
Chapter 33 - Publishing Your Ideas Increases Exposure,
Chapter 34 - Cause Marketing Takes It to Heart,
Chapter 35 - Speak and Grow Rich ... in Prospects and Sales,
Chapter 36 - Customer Referrals Are Rare Birds,
Chapter 37 - Event Marketing Is a Hot Property,
Chapter 38 - Find the Synergy Inherent in Your Own Programs,
Chapter 39 - Develop Sales Objectives for Improved Performance,
Chapter 40 - Identify the Most Efficient Strategic Approach Ideas,
Chapter 41 - Selling More to Existing Clients,
Chapter 42 - Going Beyond the Transaction,
Chapter 43 - Quicker Closes Equal More Time for More Sales,
Chapter 44 - Organize a Collaborative Workplace,
Chapter 45 - Innovation Gets Attention,
Chapter 46 - Time Organize Your Business,
Chapter 47 - Momentum Markers,
Chapter 48 - Sales: It's Not About You,
Chapter 49 - Create an Opportunity-Focused Strategic Acount Profile,
Chapter 50 - Go Wide and Deep With Key Contacts,
Chapter 51 - Mission Possible — Mission Profitable,
Chapter 52 - Market Position Matters,
Chapter 53 - Be a Budget Bandit,
Chapter 54 - Are You Speaking Their Language?,
Chapter 55 - Customer Satisfaction Connects Us All,
Chapter 56 - Knowledge of the Competition Inspires Confidence,
Chapter 57 - Industry Insights Shine a Bright Light,
Chapter 58 - When Opportunity Knocks, Who Will Get the Door?,
Chapter 59 - Income and Expense Streams Mean Business,
Chapter 60 - Staffing Gaps Cut a Wide Path,
Chapter 61 - Interesting Fellows,
Chapter 62 - Short-Term Goals Are Golden,
Chapter 63 - Big Red Truck,
Chapter 64 - Tap Into the Momentum Present in the Universe,
Chapter 65 - Referrals Come Easier With Celebration,
Chapter 66 - Regulate This!,
Chapter 67 - Patriotism Serves Up American Consumers,
Chapter 68 - It's Fair to Say,
Chapter 69 - Partnering With Worthy Causes Helps You Make New Friends,
Chapter 70 - A Mother's Day Makeover,
Chapter 71 - Information Overload Meets Relevant Intelligence,
Chapter 72 - Be Bold: Stand for Something,
Chapter 73 - Be Real: Share Yourself and Your Stories,
Chapter 74 - Be Kind: Show Genuine Interest and Concern,
Chapter 75 - Talk Easily About Money: Pricing,
Chapter 76 - Talk Easily About Money: Add-On Projects,
Chapter 77 - Talk Easily About Money: Invoicing,
Chapter 78 - Understand the Value of a No-Sale,
Chapter 79 - Retail Stores Put Up a Good Front,
Chapter 80 - The Principle of the Loss Leader,
Chapter 81 - Convenience Stores Give You Gas,
Chapter 82 - Popular Brands Use Celebrities to Strengthen Credibility,
Chapter 83 - So Many Choices, So Little Time,
Chapter 84 - Inventors Use Infomercials to Tell a Complex Story,
Chapter 85 - Big Tickets Get Big Thanks,
Chapter 86 - A Chocolate on Your Pillow,
Chapter 87 - Independent Consultants Go One-on-One,
Chapter 88 - Consultants Live Their Work,
Chapter 89 - Home Builders Do the Work,
Chapter 90 - Big Business Inspires Big Ideas,
Chapter 91 - Marketing Is a Hard Number,
Chapter 92 - Coffee Shops Invite Us to Hang Out,
Chapter 93 - Free Cell Phones Aren't Free,
Chapter 94 - A Web-Based Business Thrives on Visitors,
Chapter 95 - Converting from Free to Fee,
Chapter 96 - Affiliate Programs Multiply Your Efforts,
Chapter 97 - Events Accomplish Success With Grassroots Efforts,
Chapter 98 - Events Rally Corporate Support,
Chapter 99 - Not-for-Profits Get People to Help Them Sell,
Chapter 100 - Galleries and Museums Host Special Showings,
Chapter 101 - Do You Want BBQ With That Windshield?,
Chapter 102 - Bloggers Stir the Water,
Chapter 103 - The Bookstore Bonanza,
Chapter 104 - Scrip Bank Multiplies the Love,
Chapter 105 - Media Outlets Take Their Own Medicine,
Chapter 106 - Retirement Communities Give Away Vacations,
Chapter 107 - Harley Davidson Builds Community,
Chapter 108 - You Can Do It, We Can Help!,
Chapter 109 - Organizations Have Long Memory,
Chapter 110 - Real Estate Agents Do Open Houses,
Chapter 111 - Buffet Style Feeds the Masses,
Chapter 112 - Assisted Living Assists Future Prospects,
Chapter 113 - More People Selling Is Better,
Chapter 114 - Make Sure Everyone Knows What You Sell,
Chapter 115 - Keep Employees Engaged,
Chapter 116 - Develop Your Corporate Information Bite,
Chapter 117 - Suppliers Can Help You Sell,
Chapter 118 - Customers Can Help You Sell,
Chapter 119 - The Community Can Help You Sell,
Chapter 120 - 100 Percent Participation in Intelligence-Gathering,
Chapter 121 - An Attitude for Business Development,
Chapter 122 - Skills for Business Development,
Chapter 123 - Everyday Things That Impact Sales,
Chapter 124 - How to Lose a Customer,
Chapter 125 - Product Category Makeover,
Chapter 126 - Microwave Customers,
Chapter 127 - Target Market Overview,
Chapter 128 - Plan Ahead to Keep Them Talking,
Chapter 129 - 5 Levels of Deep,
Chapter 130 - Study Solutions to Your Customer's Problems,
Chapter 131 - Build Memorable Sales Presentations,
Chapter 132 - Daily Nourishment Essentials,
Chapter 133 - Stay in Front of Your Clients Every Week,
Chapter 134 - Invest in Yourself,
Chapter 135 - Become an Expert (It's Easier Than You Think),
Chapter 136 - Keep Your Promises,
Chapter 137 - Use the Buddy System,
Chapter 138 - Go on Retreat,
Chapter 139 - When You Feel the Pull,
Chapter 140 - Changing Places,
Chapter 141 - Reality Check 101: Income,
Chapter 142 - Reality Check 102: Target Market,
Chapter 143 - Reality Check 103: Approach,
Chapter 144 - We Manage What We Measure,
Chapter 145 - Leading and Lagging Indicators,
Chapter 146 - Measure What Matters to Customers,
Chapter 147 - Measure What Matters in Your Business,
Chapter 148 - Say Thank You — Often,
Chapter 149 - Live Thankfully,
Chapter 150 - A View of Abundance,
Chapter 151 - Celebrate and Reward Success,
About the Author,

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