GPI 469 – 54 Ideas to boost sales; try one or more of these various ideas to boost your bottom line.

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Improve your company every day. Try new ideas and suggestions that work in other companies. Review your present procedures with this checklist of random suggestions to try to boost sales and the bottom line every day.  Here is a list of brief ideas to test and implement immediately to ultimately increase sales, improve customer service and boost customer satisfaction.

Ideas to try to boost sales:

  1. 800# every website page: Put your 800# on every page of your website in the same spot.  Make it easy to contact your firm for any website visitor. Never force the customer to look for your telephone number.
  2. Email every website page: Put your customer service email on every page of your website so the customer never has to look for it.
  3. Drivers are salesmen: Send sales brochures out with  your company drivers.  Every employee who drives a company vehicle should have sales literature in the back seat or trunk to pass out. Make your vehicle cost pay off.
  4. Vehicle advertising: Put your toll free 800# company phone number on all of your vehicles.  You are paying the total cost of these trucks, delivery vans and cars so get some free advertising out of it. They are seen by thousands of cars every day so make it payoff. That ad should include company name, what you sell and how to contact customer service any time, all printed in large font for all surrounding drivers to see, read and use.
  5. Front door sales: Put your company telephone number on your front door to be used by people who may visit after hours.
  6. Front door website: Put your company website address on your front door so people coming anytime can go online and view your products or service.
  7. Envelope advertising: Advertise on all of your company outgoing mail. Get the envelopes printed with all of the information you want conveyed.  Consider sending coupons, catalogs, sales events and announcements along with your invoices to encourage the buyer’s next purchase. Get some use out of the postage you already pay everyday.
  8. Email downloads – free advertising: Add the ability to download the company catalog or sales literature at the bottom of all your employees’ outgoing emails stemming from your company. Below their signature, add optional short informational videos that can be viewed by the email recipient (i.e. product catalogs, videos demonstrating uses for your product, instructions how to make your product last longer).
  9. Catalog downloads: Allow customers to download all of your catalogs, sales literature and other guides directly from your website.  Allow them to go to your website and email them out also. Make the process as easy as possible.
  10. Credit line increases boost sales: Notify customers of your credit line increases for them given because of their good payment history. Tell their purchasing department they can buy more on credit. Give all of the credit to the buyers’ great accounts payable people who paid your bills on time.  This praise most likely will encourage those AP people to continue to pay your firm quickly.
  11. Orders on messages: Always allow customers to leave sales order messages on the customer service voicemail. Tell your customers leave their message and phone number and you will call them first thing when the office opens the next day so they do not have to worry about the follow up.
  12. Catalogs with shipments: Ship catalogs with all of your orders, especially ‘restricted and limited’ private sales event catalogs for preferred customers.
  13. Special sales for high volume customers: Consider creating feature sales catalogs for ‘high dollar, high volume’ customers that buy over a specific amount from your firm.
  14. Personalize acknowledgements: Call directly to versus emailing customers when you acknowledge their orders. Tell them you are calling them to inform them of specials on the items they are buying (i.e. buy three, get a fourth free, buy A and B, get C free).  Let the buyer decide if they want to participate in the sale or not.  Make the personal telephone call worthwhile to the customer. Make personal attention pay off versus emailed automated nonpersonal messages like your competition. You may want to personalize specials which could never be done with automated emails.
  15. Teach customers: Write, share and post articles discussing unique uses for your product or how not to waste your product or other articles that inform the buyers about subjects in which they are interested.
  16. Target SIC lists: Take one current customer, look up his SIC code, then look up and download a list of customers within that SIC code group (use free reference lists at any public library.  They will also help you make mailing labels if you are interested in direct mailings also.)
  17. Follow orders with email specials: When you receive an order, call and get an email for the actual buyer and send a catalog and other literature (sales, instructions, how to use, how to dispose, etc.)
  18. Sell in all of your company building lobbies: Place copies of all your company literature in all of your company lobbies. Encourage visitors to take them freely. Stock them first thing every morning.
  19. Sell to ex-customers: Mail catalogs and company literature to all ex-customers in your database. Why? Personnel in all companies change, companies get bought, attitudes change and you will never know the new buyer will be who will try you out as a vendor again. Keep selling to customers even when they are not currently buying. You may ultimately change their mind.
  20. Change sale items frequently: Feature different sale items on your website every week. Force customers to come back to your website to visit to see new updates. Give them an option to sign up for a weekly ‘on sale flyer’ sent to them via email. This will be a good source of email addresses of those customers interested in your product.  Consider giving them a referral credit when a new customer buys because of their forwarding your email.
  21. Return order calls immediately: Call back customers quickly who left orders after hours. Make it easy for them to complete their order. Remember, if you do not let them leave messages, they may go to a competitor who stays in the office after you have gone home.
  22. Verify PO data upfront: Review incoming purchase orders for correct information; price, quantity, delivery date, buyer name, email address, phone and fax, payment terms, where to ship or forward, where to bill, contact information or call number for confirmations.   When completely reviewed, call the customer and offer product specials that may interest him. You may wish to alter or personalize the specials offered after you review his specific order history. Review his purchasing history before calling and target with something he has bought before.
  23. Inform customers after you are closed: Tell customers what to do ‘after hours’, in case of emergency, how to contact someone or an alternative company or vendor, how to leave an order or message to be returned.
  24. Answer the question, “Who do I call?” Print the sales representative’s name and phone number on all of the invoices sent to the customer. Make it easy for the customer to reorder, complain, ask for replacements,  seek product information or ask any question by giving him a body to call. You might wish to use stickers applied to the face of the invoices if you wish to draw attention to their buyers.
  25. Sales literature points to the representative: Always send sales literature to end users labeled clearly with the sales representatives’ email, phone number and contact information as well as your main office number. If they cannot reach your representative, you want them to reach you. You also want to find out how accessible your representative is or is not.
  26. Tell distributors how to make more money: Tell your distributors their discount percentage from your catalog list price.  Tell them the monthly or quarterly sales levels they must achieve to be eligible for higher discount percentages. Give them incentives to boost and grow their purchases from you. Always let them know there is a better level waiting for their increased performance.
  27. Define what to do after your product is finished: Write instructions for the proper disposal of your product, least costly but legal methods, recycling options or other alternative uses.
  28. Find new markets: Ask customers for new uses: Run a contest for your current users asking how they use your product. Their answers may disclose a new potential market you can pursue. Publish and share all of the good ideas to share with your other customers through your website. Make sure to specify awards will be mailed directly to the participant (to his home, not his office).  Send out gift cards the participant can use personally. They are more likely to yield ideas, like everyone, if they are going to benefit themselves from this exercise.
  29. Discover and detail disposal options: Run a contest of your current users asking how they dispose of your product. Some of the unique methods may help to increase your potential market of buyers. Publish and share all of the good ideas on your website. Pay the participants directly and make it easy to contribute multiple ideas in your contest.
  30. Remind customers when to buy: Send email reminders about the estimated time for product replacement or renewal as a courtesy follow up.  If the buyer is not ready, offer a follow up email reminder in a week, one month, etc. Make it easy to alter the reminder date.
  31. Make it easy to reorder: Put your toll free 800# on all products so customers can easily contact you when they are ready to reorder or when they notice they are running low. Consider putting a scan bar on your product which is read by your smart phone which dials a reordering phone number automatically.
  32. Offer cheaper ‘slower’ shipping rates. Everyone focuses on premium overnight rates, but try to also offer the absolute cheapest freight rate for a purchase that is NOT needed right away. A purchase that is scheduled with a delivery date two weeks out should carry a very very low freight rate. That flexibility allows your company to find cheaper alternatives and freight companies that may have backhauls or be less busy and need work.
  33. Be honest with customers about their price: Always tell a customer if their submitted purchase order has an incorrect price whether it is too low or too high. You must make sure to keep the trust of your customer.
  34. Ask for suggestions and listen: Ask for suggestions from your customers about everything.  Do not limit their input.  You do not have any idea what they will suggest so do not try to limit their input on your suggestion forms.  Keep it open and let them participate. They will suggest something hopefully you never pondered.
  35. Categorize feedback – what is more important? Categorize website comments, favorable or unfavorable, price related, product failures or disappointments, complaints about shipping, arrivals, missing parts or components, wrong sizes, colors, etc.  Focus on eliminating all other complaints first before trying to drop your selling price.
  36. Does your customer like your freight company? Find out. Do not assume your delivery methods work or that your freight vendors please your customers. You must call customers to ensure they received their order on time and in good order. Try to do this on a portion of your shipments to get feedback about their experience. Increase your calls on the higher dollar value transactions. When contacting the buyer, make sure your product arrived at the correct destination, he is happy with the receipt and initially has no complaints at the time you call. Give him your contact information about anything that is discovered missing or incorrect afterwards to reassure them.  Tell him you stand by your product before and after a sale.
  37. Use easy to submit comment cards: Give your customers comment cards to use to respond for suggestions or complaints.  Make it a postage-free and make it easy to respond. You can send it with the shipment or send it with an email as soon as you are notified the shipment was delivered. You might offer an 800 number to record their satisfaction or log their complaint and offer a call back if they wish.
  38. Your mailed documents should provide great advertising: All your company documents have your physical address, telephone number, fax number, email address, customer service number and email address? This should be on your envelopes, invoices, packing lists, proofs of delivery. Do not make the customer look long to find out how to contact you especially on your website.  Make it easy on every page.
  39. Make your AR collection statements effective: On your accounts receivable statements, include the date of the statement, all of your invoice numbers outstanding (late and current), each invoice date, applicable customer purchase order number, dollar of the invoice, age of the invoice, customer’s accounts payable (AP) person’s name (if known), customer’s AP telephone and fax numbers, customer’s AP email address,  markings or highlights on all past-due invoices (make it easy to spot what you are asking to be paid) and your accounts receivable telephone number for them to call to discuss why those old invoices have not been paid.  If you send them a statement and ask a question, give them someone who is easy to contact. Make it easy to respond and if a call is missed about a past-due, call back immediately. They want to give you money.
  40. Give your customers their order history: Can your customers logon to your website and see what they have ordered over a time period? Consider this option. When they review their history, make sure to let them know of current sales on items they have ordered in the past.  Let them know of volume discounts that they might consider when placing their next purchase.
  41. Website should work 24/7: Make sure your website contains catalogs, how to guides, troubleshooting manuals, how to select product guide, how to fix problems, schematics, blueprints, replacement parts information sheet or order form and other pdfs or templates that the customers may download at any time.  Offer a suggestion or comment field for them to suggest any missing guide they want to see.
  42. Limit longon procedures – most do not want to: Try not to force visitors to your website to logon just to get a catalog or instructions. Do not bother the customer more than you absolutely have to.  If you are trying to advertise with informational downloads, do not bother them with a forced logon request.  Most will not and go to another website that is easier.
  43. Send catalogs to every customer in your database: Send catalogs to all ex-customers until they ask you to stop. New buyers may start to buy from you again.  They are unaware of previous problems and most of the time do not care. You cannot afford to ignore previous customers.
  44. Send catalogs to multiple recipients: Send catalogs to several departments in a company and politely ask if the recipient would please forward them to the correct person. Also send some to purchasing because there is likely more than one buyer and your catalog with lots of items may be applicable to several buyers covering different departments and needs within the company.
  45. Target the end user, not purchasing: Send catalogs to the end user at your customer’s facility. You are not selling to the purchasing agent or buyer. You are selling to someone else in the facility so find out who that originator is.  (i.e. coolant is ordered by the maintenance manager, not the buyer.  The buyer expedites an order defined by someone else. Copy paper is purchased by administration clerks or accounting. Presentation materials is ordered by marketing or inside sales personnel. Pallets are ordered by warehouse personnel.)
  46. Continue to teach your customers to keep them: Try to teach the end user something they may not know.  People who learn from others normally will return to learn more. They do not want to miss out on new information.  For example, teach them how to buy wisely, how not to waste a product, how to perform proper maintenance or to repair parts or maintain the product for the longest period of time. Teach them things no one else does.
  47. Does your mail advertise for you? Do your mailing envelopes tell everyone what you sell? They should. All your printed envelopes should include your company’s physical address (for return mail), an 800#, website address and something short that tells the reader what you do, what you are known for or why you are special. Let your envelopes perform free advertising.  Until you use up those old envelopes, put stickers and labels on them to start advertising now. Call your printer and tell them not to print anymore items for you until you can discuss what is missing and make the corrections.  Ask the printer what other companies put on their materials to get good ideas.
  48. Use customer credit balances to sell: Tell your customers when they have credit balances and encourage them to place an order. (This occurs when you give them a credit towards a previous purchase and they have paid all of their open invoices.) Let the customer’s purchasing department know they have a credit to use up if they wish.  Make sure to let the customer have the money if they insist on being paid the open credit.
  49. Evaluate all of the relationships between your customers. How many are owned by the same $3.5B parent?  The credit limits for those guys should not take long to determine if you are wise and understand how to collect. How many are private and how many are public?  For everyone traded on the stock market, it is safe to say to give those customers a broad credit limit to do business with your small company. For those related to each other, code them so they appear together in sales reports.  You need to know how much sales is concentrated in one company.
  50. On new orders, who pays you? Find out the AP person when setting up new customers.  Do this first before making a shipment. Find out the name, email address, telephone number, fax number and internet portal address so you are ready when their invoice becomes past-due.
  51. Make sure your new customer is setup correctly: Sometimes customers are setup and the purchase orders come in later. When that occurs, compare the address you entered previously into your system to that data on their purchase order. If there are additional phone numbers, get them into your system.  Note all buyers’ names and record them into your system for future use. Is the bill to address the same? Most purchase orders tell the vendor where to bill and how to collect.  If this is missing, call the customer back and clarify who to contact for all invoices.
  52. Upsell with new orders: When acknowledging purchase orders, send specials notices to the buyers before they finalize their orders. Mention all specials. Send your sales flyer with the acknowledgement.
  53. Anniversary coupons: Send coupons on customer anniversaries. Note the first date they bought from your firm and have IT set up a notice a week in advance of all of the upcoming customers’ anniversaries so postcards, emails or coupons can be sent out to buyers. Give them a special or credit off their next purchase because of the length of time doing business with you.
  54. Product anniversaries are effective advertising: Celebrate product anniversaries (i.e. 25th year for your radial tire, 30th anniversary for your coolant brand, 15th year for a flavor of ice cream).  Announcing the age of a product tells the customer that the product must be good because it is still being sold after several years.  Product anniversaries evoke ‘staying power’.  It tells potential customers that this product must be safe to buy because it would not be around unless there were repeat buyers.

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