Increasing Sales: Generate more enquiries

In the first article in this series I looked at The 5 main ways to increase your sales figure. I discussed how, by increasing any of the 5 sales growth drivers, your business will start to increase its overall sales figure.

In this article, I will explore the first sales growth driver, being ‘How can we generate more sales enquiries’? I will look at a few powerful ways of increasing the quantity and quality of your sales enquiries.

The ideal customer

Not every sales enquiry is a good one. Sales enquiries that are unlikely to convert into a customer from the start are a drain on your business’ resources (time and money). Therefore, it makes sense that we should define and target our ‘ideal customer’ profile.

For example, if you are advertising through Google Adwords on the term “cheap web design” but your prices (that are not shown on your advert/website) start at £2,000 for a basic 3 page wordpress website, then you are unlikely to attract the clientele that will convert into sales (unless you have an extremely good upselling pitch!). If you are winning customers solely on your ability to undercut local web designers, then you are thinking short-term. That customer is unlikely to develop any loyalty to you and your business (as the fee charged will not allow you to provide the quality of service that you should be) and guess what happens to that customer when an even cheaper web designer comes on the scene?

Other than the price point of your product/service, your ideal customer can be defined by other factors, such as: age, gender, marital status, children/no children, profession/position, income, interests etc.

Take some time to think about who your ideal customer is. Who will benefit from your product/service? Who will be happy to pay the level of price that you charge? Who will refer other ideal customers to you if they like your product/service?

Then focus your marketing on that profile.

Where does your ideal customer spend time?

Potential customers will expect to be able to find information about you and read your quality content on a number of platforms (e.g. your website, blog posts, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube videos, podcasts etc).

The social media platforms used may vary depending on your industry and the products/services that you provide. For example, a business selling games console related accessories may concentrate their time on Youtube and Facebook. A solicitor promoting their personal injury legal services may primarily look at Facebook – whereas the same solicitor may also provide commercial contract writing services that may be more successfully promoted through LinkedIn.

As a rule of thumb, businesses that sell to consumers (B2C) may get better results by focusing their content on Facebook, Instagram & Youtube. Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) may get better results on LinkedIn, Twitter & Youtube. However, nowadays, every business is expected to have some sort of presence on all of the major social media platforms.

Regardless of the platform for your content, it is vital that your message is consistent on each. For example, if you are marketing your watches as a luxury item at a premium price to CEOs of large companies on LinkedIn – don’t market the same watches at a significantly lower price to the general public on Facebook. Potential customers move about the web between platforms to research businesses before they buy. If your message is not consistent on all platforms, then this will result in distrust and confusion.

Don’t forget to consider marketing in ‘real-world’ places too (i.e. not online).

Reciprocal referral arrangements

An extremely powerful method of getting warm sales enquiries is to create relationships with other business owners that sell to the same audience as you.

Think, for example, about a business that specialises in gutter cleaning for homes and commercial properties. Perhaps it would make sense for that business owner to get in touch with local roofing businesses? Assuming the roofer doesn’t also provide gutter cleaning services, after spotting a clogged gutter whilst repairing a customer’s roof tile, the roofer could let the property owner know about the state of their gutters – before passing on the gutter repair business owner’s details.

Vice versa, with an hour or so of training, the gutter cleaner should be able to spot issues with a customer’s roof – passing the customer’s details on to the roofer.

It is important to not neglect the “reciprocal” aspect of the arrangement of course. If one business does not provide a sufficient amount of leads in return (or does not pay an appropriate referral fee for each lead) then the relationship is likely to break down pretty quickly.

Business owners should go into discussions with potential referral partners, not just thinking about what they want from the arrangement – but also being ready to display the amount of value that they can provide to the other business owner.

Other examples that are ideal for reciprocal referral arrangements are:

  • Web Designers & PPC Marketing Agencies
  • Accountants & Bank Managers
  • Grass Cutters & Gardeners
  • Personal Fitness Instructors & Gyms
  • Builders and Electricians
  • Plasterers and Painters
  • Vehicle Repair Only Garages & MOT only garages

Or more obscure ideas, but potentially just as effective:

  • Hairdressers & Travel Agents
  • Luxury Watch Repairs & Private Schools
  • Pubs & Marriage Counsellors!

What types of business sell to the same audience as you? (remember, they can be in a completely different industry to your business). Write a list and think about what value you can offer the other business owner in return for warm leads.

Key persons of influence

 Are there people in your industry that are ‘Key Persons of Influence’? A key person of influence is somebody that has built up a lot of respect in an industry. When they talk, people listen. They are trusted by most and have become an authority in that specific field.

As a result, if you are able to work with that person in order to get a recommendation of your product, you are likely to receive an influx of high quality enquiries that have already been warmed up significantly.

Bare in mind that key persons of influence will be inundated with requests for recommendations, affiliations, partnerships on a daily basis. Also, key person of influence has their own reputation to protect. Therefore, you will need to go to great lengths to evidence the quality of your product/service. You should also focus your thoughts on what value you can give to the key person of influence. It is likely that the person will not be motivated by money alone anymore – as they have made their money already.

Make your offering stick out from the crowd. If it does, it can be extremely lucrative for your business.

Become famous to a few

Research has shown that it takes around 10 hours of contact time with a potential customer for them to be ready to buy anything of significant value from you and your business.

 Therefore, it is vital that you have a number of ‘touch points’ where your leads can get to know you and your business.

These touch points can include, amongst others:

  • Watching informative and free videos about the problem your business solves
  • Reading your relevant blog posts and articles
  • Reading your website
  • Listening to your podcasts
  • Reading your Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn posts
  • Attending your seminars (web or ‘real-life’)
  • Reading your ebooks or physical books
  • Taking out a free trial / walkthrough
  • Networking events

Remember, it is important that you remain consistent in terms of the nature of your offering on all of these touch points.

Depending on the value and profit margins inherent in your product/service, you may not need tens of thousands of people consistently reading your content in order to make a living. Building up a small and growing force of loyal followers (perhaps via a regular email newsletter?) that trust what you have to say will make it easier to sell your products and services too – even if you change the direction of your business in the future.

Maybe you’ll even become a key person of influence within your industry one day!

Great service & word of mouth

Word of mouth is an extremely powerful marketing tool. A business that provides a truly exceptional product/service will find that their marketing costs as a percentage of sales income is reduced massively. Essentially, the offering will largely sell itself. Customers will talk to others if

  • they have found something that solves one of their problems
  • the customer experience is great
  • if they like the business owner

It is very difficult to get word of mouth referrals if none of the above conditions exist. If you can provide all 3 conditions, just wait for the enquiries to fly in.

Of course, on the flip side – if the product/service has no real value or purpose, is poorly put together, if the customer experience is non-existent and the business owner is hostile, then that negative word of mouth will travel around like wild fire. Beware!

 In conclusion

There are many ways to get more sales enquiries. The methods will vary from industry to industry and from business to business. There is no one correct way of doing things. Test new ideas out and concentrate on the methods that work.

It is important that you define your ideal customer. This will give you a more focused idea of where you should target your marketing efforts going forward. Find others that sell to the same audience as you (or are respected by your audience) and see if you can work with them for a mutually beneficial outcome. Ensure that you portray the full value of your business and product/service offering by creating quality content and ensure that potential customers can find it easily. But above all, ensure that the products/services that you sell solve a problem that your target audience has. Make sure that your offering is at least as good as your direct competitors. Then, watch the quantity and quality of your enquiries increase.

Managing director of Enhance Accountancy. Chartered Accountant. Helping UK businesses to grow and meet their financial reporting obligations since 2003.