Increasing Sales in Existing Markets

A Sales Growth Strategy Any Small Business Can Use

Fish Sales
Ingolf Pompe / LOOK-foto / Getty Images

The captain of the Peerless II knows a lot about fishing – but she also knows a lot about sales growth strategies. Each time her boat comes to port in season with a load of fresh halibut, cod, or salmon, she uses her automated messaging system to call all of her regular customers, letting them know that it’s time to go down to the dock again and buy fresh fish (note that the captain is old school - if she were younger she would probably be using a Social Media platform such as Facebook or Twitter to notify her customers).

It's Easier to Sell New Products to Existing Customers

Increasing sales in an existing market is one of the easiest ways to grow your business. You already have a head start with this growth strategy as once your business is established, it has regular customers, and, like most businesses, you’ve probably collected various kinds of information about them. The key to successfully increasing your sales in an existing market is to know your customers’ buying histories, both generally and individually.

The goal, of course, is to get your existing customers to buy more. The data about what your customers buy, when and how often will help you make savvy decisions about stocking and marketing. Cold drinks a hot seller in the summer? Offer a bulk buy discount. Or use your hot sellers to move other items that aren’t doing as well. When they buy the hot item, give them the opportunity to buy another related item at a reduced price.

Offer Discounts or Buyers Programs to Repeat Customers

Looking for a shortcut for implementing this sales growth strategy? Institute a frequent buyer reward program. Such a program doesn’t need to be complicated. One way to do this is simply to offer your regular customers a straight discount on whatever they buy, such as 10 percent.

Another approach is to tie the discount to purchasing a specific dollar amount, such as offering 10 percent off for every $300 a customer spends. Yet another is to offer other merchandise as rewards to frequent buyers. The key to success with any frequent buyer reward program is to make sure the rules are clear and applied equitably.

Customize Your Sales Efforts

Bulk buys, purchase incentives, and frequent buyer reward programs are all examples of business growth strategies for increasing sales in existing markets based on the general buying histories of your customers. Sales strategies based on individual customer buying histories can be even more powerful. An individual customer’s buying history gives you insight into her preferences and attitudes and allows you to customize your sales and marketing efforts.

Think again about the example of the Peerless II. Because we (the customers) have a history of buying some types of fish, it’s a safe bet we’re going to be interested in buying more. But it’s also a fairly safe bet that

1) we would be very interested in buying other types of fresh seafood and

2) we are the sort of people who prefer to buy seafood as fresh as possible (off the dock).

The captain of the Peerless II would find it incredibly easy to sell us other seafood products off her boat – and here’s the best thing – we would be more likely to buy that seafood from her rather than any of the other boats because she has bothered to customize her sales efforts.

You see, if done right, customized sales and marketing efforts build customer loyalty – which also helps to increase sales. This (along with great customer service) also builds positive word of mouth for your business which can bring in even more sales.

Websites are ideal for this kind of customized sales effort. When you put something into the shopping cart on the Amazon site, for instance, on the resulting page you’ll see several other products listed under the title “Customers who bought _______ also bought”. Because the list is customized to that customer’s interest, the chance of a customer adding one of those products to the shopping cart too is high.

But you don’t need to have a website to successfully use this business growth strategy, as the example of the Peerless II shows. All you need to do is mine your individual customer’s buying histories and use the information to customize your sales appeals. Think “this customer has bought this and this. Therefore, she might also be interested in _______ and _______.” Then let the customer know about these other products, via social media, an email, a phone call, or a special mailing.

Automate Your Sales Appeals

Although customizing your sales efforts sounds like a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be. You already have the data, and chances are good you’re already using some kind of customer relationship management (CRM) software such as Microsoft Outlook Business Contact Manager, Maximizer, Goldmine or Act! to help you track and analyze it.

Social media is ideal for customizing your sales appeals, depending on your customer demographic. There are also other kinds of products that will help you automate the process. There is software to automate notifying customers by texting their mobile phones, for example. Some of the CRM software programs listed above have built-in capabilities for managing email campaigns. There are also stand-alone email marketing software programs.

Focusing on increasing your sales in existing markets is well worth the effort, because it’s a business growth strategy that will grow with your business. And as we all know, one regular customer is worth ten one-time buyers – or more.