Has your business fallen on hard times? Thanks to the Internet, you can reach customers outside of your local area. But at the same time, your customers find it easy to go online and compare prices, find product information and make purchases from companies across the country, or across the world. As a result, you may have customers calling to cancel orders or asking you to cut prices. And big companies who bought services from you in the past may be outsourcing them overseas. Whether you target businesses or consumers, there's a good chance your customers have less time, and less patience for sales pitches than they did in the past, too.
They may find that researching and shopping online is preferable to talking with a salesperson or traveling to your retail location. And then there are other problems. Even if you can compete on price, your company may not be found online. Labor costs and other expenses may be rising, and changing customer needs and preferences may be putting a big crimp in your sales and profits. How many bookshelves can you sell to people who read books on their e-readers or tablets?
What can you do when your small business falls on hard times? How can boost sales and profits? The answer is to be proactive. Here are 21 strategies to consider:. You don't have to be a big, high-tech company to reinvent your business. In fact, the smaller and leaner your business already is, the faster you can shift gears and zoom back into action. Sit back and take a cold, hard look at your strengths and weaknesses and possible markets. Ask yourself the hard questions first: Do customers still want and buy the same type of products or services you sell?
Have industries and styles changed since you started business? Have you kept up with the changes? If not, what changes should you implement now to make your business competitive again? Do you need to develop new products or services? Don't guess at what customers want and will pay for. Analyze your existing sales and talk to actual customers and prospects. What do they need? What can you provide? What's the best way to deliver solutions to them? What's going to bring in the most profit?
Is there any particular niche that buys regularly from you now? If so, consider how you can bring in more of the same types of customers, and what other merchandise they'd be likely to buy. Are you selling your products and services online? If not, why not? If your sales are declining and you aren't selling online or capturing leads online, it's time to get your head out of the sand. Even when people buy in-person or on the basis of personal relationships, they are likely to research the products, company or consultant online before making a decision on what to buy and from whom to buy it.
If you have a business, you need a website. The type of website, and what should be on it depends on what you sell. Do you have a social media presence? Post comments, answer questions, start discussions related to your products and industry.
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If you don't have time, consider having a trusted staff member handle social media tasks. Consider advertising on social media sites, too. An ever-growing percentage of business people and consumers are reachable electronically via computer, smart phone or tablet for a majority of the day. These people include everyone from teenagers to retirees. The Internet - thus their ability to search for vendors, products and prices and be notified of deals as well find the nearest restaurant or gas station - is no longer limited to their desktop computer.
You need to be accessible by the devices and methods the customers you want to reach prefer. Customers' needs and circumstances change, just as yours do. The megacorporation that didn't renew your contract a couple of years ago because of changing business priorities may have changed their direction once again and be a good prospect now. The customer who went with a lower-priced competitor may be dissatisfied with the quality or service and be receptive to a call from you today.
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Or, the manager who had given the work to his best friend may no longer be with the company. If a company needs what you sell, there's a good chance their competitors do too. Industry groups you belong to, trade shows, seminars, and friends in the industry can all help you identify likely prospects. If the people you meet don't need your services, ask if they can put you in touch with someone at their company who could.source site
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The bigger a business, the slower they are to move. The project that was put on indefinite hold last summer may become urgent this spring. Or, some other project the company is working on may be right up your alley. So touch base periodically. You may be able to sell more of the same product to the same contact, or sell the same product to a different division of the company. Or, you may be able to sell related products and services to the customer. Keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities and be sure your customers are aware of all of your capabilities.
If you provide services to homeowners, market to homeowners near your customers.
When a homeowner needs to hire a contractor, they often ask neighbors who they use to do similar jobs. Keep your name in their minds with mailings and local online advertising. Leave extra business cards with your existing customers so they can give them out if anyone asks for your number. Labor statistics show people entering the workforce today are likely to change jobs seven to 10 times in their careers. You can position yourself for new sales just by keeping in touch with people as they change jobs.
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The human resources manager who hired you to do a harassment awareness training program for Company A, may need to find someone to put on the same kind of seminar at Company B. Thus, if a contact at a client company tells you they are leaving the company, ask them for new contact information. Recommendations and referrals are among the leading sources of new business for small businesses. Look at possibilities for joint sales, as well. Doing so may allow you to bid on and win bigger projects than either of you could on your own.
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That's corporate speak for a concept that's as old as the hills: find more ways to make money. Tax tips for business. How you manage money once your business makes it can sometimes be as critical as your business model. Here are some basic deductions you must take to be sure you are saving all that you can. The One of a Kind Preneur. Why your business should crave more connection.
There is a reason successful small businesses today crave Facebook likes, Twitter follows, and prospect e-mail addresses. By any other name. A brand or company name distinguishes you in the market. Put enough thought into your company name and how it may hit customers and others and why.
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Tweak Your Biz. An entrepreneurial accident. Rachel Strella started her business in what many might consider the classic way.
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