I wonder if you have to be a certain age to understand the reference to MacGyver?
You know, that 80’s series where every week “Mac” found himself in a tricky spot and somehow used whatever was available to get himself out of it?
Oh, never mind! You can Google it!
I want to talk about how you, as a small business, can MacGyver or innovate new sales strategies.
But before I start I want to make clear that I’ll be talking about sales strategies, not marketing strategies this week.
What’s the difference?
Marketing is about the whole system of filling your sales funnel – of making people aware of your business and your products, of defining who is your target market, of understanding what your product means to your target market, creating focused messages to warm your potential customers and getting them to your business so that your sales process can start.
The sales process is about having that final sales conversation, about collecting your warm targets and helping them make their final decision to buy. Sales strategies are initiatives you can take to encourage existing customers to buy more from you, or to tip an interested potential customer into becoming a new customer.
So what are viable sales strategies that small businesses can use once they have a warm target base?
If you re-watch any program of the series, Mac uses a simple 4-step strategy every week.
First, he gets clear on what the objective is, and what it is not;
Then he identifies what resources he does have, even if they may not seem related to the objective.
Third, without preconceptions, he innovates by asking how the resources that are available to him can be used to meet the objective.
Finally, he executes and makes changes as he executes if required.
What is the objective?
The objective of any sales strategy is to convert interested buyers to buy. These may be existing customers who already buy from you, but don’t buy enough, prequalified potential customers who have had some contact with you but have not yet bought, or new targets who have shown an interest before. The objective is to get them over the line to make a purchase or for existing customers, to make more regular purchases.
The objective sets some parameters.
You do not have to explain the benefits of your product as much as to a cold audience – you are not trying to educate them about your product or to get them interested, they have already warmed up and have shown some interest.
Therefore any sales strategy you come up with has a focus only on conversion.
What resources do you have?
This is where you list everything that you have available to make the sale, no matter how unrelated. For example, you might have time (to build your lists, to make multiple contacts), you might have a budget (to offer discounts, to advertise, to send out mail), you may have the expertise (to answer every objection, to offer solutions), you may have a healthy mailing list, you may have a big network, you may have loyal customers, you may have a great location.
One of the benefits of your product itself may be your best resource (e.g. it is the only one of its kind that gives X to the customer).
Don’t be constricted in your thinking; Mac never was! If Mac can fix the wings on an aircraft with a penknife you can use any unrelated resource in your sale strategy.
Write down all your strengths and tools within your business.
Without ruling anything out, how can these resources be used to meet the objective?
Go through all the resources you have listed and invent ways that they can be used to help you make the sale.
Can you use your network to bring in prequalified prospects? Can you generate a strategy based on your mailing list, no matter how small? Can you use existing customers as a referral source?
Make up any new way these resources could lead to a sale.
Then, make up practical designs for a sales strategy by applying the most practical connections and putting the strengths of 2 or more resources into the strategy.
For example, why not utilise the customer base of your networks?
You can put together a coalition of service providers related to your business.
Say you sell tyres and you have in your network a mechanic, an auto spray-painter, and a retailer of vehicle batteries. You may only have a database of 500 customers, but put together, you may have a total of a couple of thousand names, all of who need some of those services that you can all market to. They may not all be warmed to your business, but they are to one of the coalition partners, and warm to the idea of getting products and services for their vehicle.
In another example, is there something you can do with your great location?
Can you attract people who pass by every day and are therefore aware of your business? Can you offer passing traffic a special offer? This could work for a cafe for example. You can offer free coffee on Friday if they buy a coffee every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of that week.
Time to execute and monitor.
The great thing about watching MacGyver is that it’s all action. When he executes his plan, he does not hesitate, he goes for it.
But inevitably, something in his plan always goes awry. He doesn’t stop, he watches what happens and he adjusts.
So when you execute your sales strategy, make sure you execute fully.
Don’t stop at the first sign that it doesn’t seem to be achieving your objective. Keep the sales strategy operating for long enough that you can make some reasonable conclusions about what happened. If your passing traffic offer isn’t bringing anyone in on Monday, don’t cancel it on Tuesday! You need time to see if it is working, and you need data to see why it may not be working.
Once you understand what’s happening, however, then make tweaks and changes fast and keep going. In sales momentum is critical. Keep monitoring the effects and keep making tweaks to see what is working and what isn’t working. Keep your objective in mind and measure the results by the objective.
Depending on your type of business, here are a few sales strategies that any small business can employ:-
- You can use your networks to get access to their customers, especially those already looking for a business like yours
- You can take advantage of natural assets like your location to bring in potential customers who notice you because of those assets
- You can join with other businesses at your location to cross-sell to existing customers of those other businesses
- You can send out invitations to your existing customer base to come to a limited-time sale
- You can give every customer a voucher for a one-time-only offer so that they come back again
- You can offer existing or potential customers a “frequent flyer” scheme where they get a free service or item after every 10 buys from you
- You can instigate a “try before you buy” offer to encourage a nearly decided buyer to take the plunge
- You can offer “add on” bonuses like a free oil-change for every 100 km service to brand-new customers
- You can create “30-day challenges” if your industry is health and exercise, attracting new interested customers to see results if they follow a plan
- You can pre-qualify potential customers by rewarding your existing customers to make referrals
- You can create special service weeks for your mailing list where you offer one service at a discount that week – for example, a legal firm might offer Wills drafted at half price for a week
These are sales strategies that create an interest in your business from existing customers, so they get more when they buy more from you, or that provide an extra incentive to potential buyers who are already considering buying from you.
You can MacGyver your way into any of these strategies or come up with your own.
All you need to do is to make sure you know what you are trying to achieve, that you have surveyed all the resources available to you, that you have asked yourself how these resources can help you meet your objective, and then to implement and keep improving.
If you want to follow this with a free mini-how-to training on choosing your marketing activities, you can go to this post here which is accompanied by a downloadable worksheet, or you can just download the worksheet here.
Go be a MacGyver!