Your business is now established: you’ve got a good name and reputation, and some loyal customers who share a similar enthusiasm as you for your brand. Now it’s time to grow, but how? You might think employing a star sales person is the answer. However, there are some ways to achieve sales and grow your business without it costing the earth and a new hire.

Should a Small to Medium Business Employ an External Salesperson?

Before you go out and employ an external salesperson, it pays to think about the easiest path to achieving a sale in the first place. You can waste a lot of time, money, and energy trying to achieve a set result when there is actually an easier path to take. For most small to medium businesses, be it retail or restaurant, the two simplest and easiest sales techniques are repeat sales and word of mouth referrals.

Your Best Sales People Are the Staff You Already Have

If you have a few loyal, long-standing staff members, chances are they know your business well and know your full range of products or services. Utilise them! There are three tools in your sales kit you can arm them with: Suggestive Selling, Email Marketing, and Loyalty Programmes. These can make a huge difference to the growth of your business.

1. Suggestive selling

If you’ve not heard the term before, you probably can figure it out by the name. You’ve more than likely already experienced this first-hand if you’ve visited a good retailer or restaurant.

Suggestive Selling Defined:

According to Investopedia, suggestive selling is a “sales technique where the employee asks the customer if they would like to include an additional purchase or recommends a product that might suit the client. Suggestive selling is used to increase the purchase amount of the client and revenues for the business. Often the additional sale is much smaller than the original purchase and is a complementary product.”

“The idea behind the technique is that it takes marginal effort compared to the potential additional revenue. This is because getting the buyer to purchase (often seen as the most difficult part) has already been done. After the buyer is committed, an additional sale which is a fraction of the original purchase is much more likely.”

2. Email Marketing (Your best sales person)

So, the trick is to stay in touch with your customer, again and again. The easiest way to do this is to ask for the customer’s email address at the end of the purchase. There are many methods of acquiring an email address and it doesn’t need to cost much to promote. It could be as simple as being in the draw for a free meal for two at the end of the month. To the customer, the odds aren’t bad and chances are they could win. So why wouldn’t they hand over their email address?

As the business owner you then already have two reasons to stay in touch with your new-found customer; first, to thank them for giving you their email address; and second, to tell them who won the promotion.


Your Customer is Not Always Ready to Buy or to be Sold to

In the sales process, no matter how good the sales technique, no matter how good a sales person is, sometimes your customer is just not ready to buy, for a raft of reasons. Customers need more information, they want to compare features, they want to look at other competitors’ products, and they want to look at your reviews. That’s where email marketing can help: as targeted campaigns to address all the buying questions and give the customer the time to make the decision of whether or not to hand over their hard-earned cash.

Social Media is Good, but Email Marketing is Better

According to Neil Patel, Contributor to Entrepreneur, the rage over social media is overrated.

“Email is the number one lead generation technique, with three times as many active users than all the social-media users combined. It’s 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter. Email marketing has three times the purchase potential of social media and pulls in average orders that are 17 percent higher. Even though it’s one of the oldest digital marketing channels, it’s still the best. And it’s still growing. This is a growth hacking channel that is too big to ignore.”

“Growth hackers may speak softly, but they carry a big email list. If your goal is to hack some growth, then you need to grow your email list.”

“There’s a quick and dirty way to do this. Simply create an email opt-in form on your website. Or, you can use a popup for maximum email harvesting.”

3. Loyalty Programmes

 When your customers come back, try rewarding them. Statistics show when it comes to getting new customers, ‘companies focus on acquisition more than customer retention, even though it can cost 7 times more to acquire new customers.’

That being said, if you think about it customer acquisition can be pretty expensive. Another way to calculate the true cost of customer acquisition is by:

‘Dividing the total costs associated with the acquisition by total new customers, within a specific period.’

If you’ve done say, $2000 worth of advertising, plus employed a sales and marketing person for approximately $3500 per month and acquired 50 new customers then your cost of acquiring each new customer is a staggering $110 for that month’s worth of activity.

It makes good sense to focus on customer retention and repeat selling since you have worked so hard and spent so much money to acquire your new customer. When it comes to how many times your customer comes back, you might be surprised to learn more than 70% of retail and restaurant customers visit only once. (Thanx) So it makes sense that the trick, if you have spent $110 to acquire that customer, is to convince them to come back again.

Loyalty Programmes Increases Your Sales

So now your email marketing campaign is starting to get traction and you have managed to get your customer returning. The next step is to keep your customers constantly coming back. There are quite a few reasons and benefits as to why you need to put your energy and time into this retention method. Firstly, your sales activity is focused on repeat business. It’s an easier sale and building customer loyalty increases profits. Say a 5% increase in customers leads to an increased average profit per customer of anywhere between 25% and 100% (The Loyalty Effect). Statistics show restaurant loyalty programmes increase visits by 35% (Loyalogy), and a repeat customer spends 67% more than a new one (BIA/Kelsey).

Loyalty Programmes Work

In the retail space, 46% of retailers say loyalty programmes are the best sales drivers (Forrester). It’s not surprising that 82% of small business owners say that loyal customers are the main way they grow their business (Constant Contact). Not only do loyalty programmes help achieve growth, but they also help increase purchase frequency by 28% compared to non-loyalty programme members (CrowdTwist).

Also, loyalty programmes help increase word of mouth referrals, which again goes toward helping to lower the cost of acquiring your new customers. In the restaurant space, 73% of consumers would recommend a restaurant more if it offered an appealing rewards programme (Loyalogy).

The Reasons Why Customers like a Loyalty Programme

Now there are a lot of statistics as to the reasons why customers like loyalty programmes but the common theme boils down to saving money and receiving rewards (TechnologyAdvice). There are a number of ways to do this, but the most important benefits to loyalty programme members when surveyed were discounts (79%), cash back (71%), and rebates (70%) (Bond).

Your Loyalty Programme Can Integrate with Your Email Marketing

Choosing a loyalty programme takes some research, and by asking around I found that some retailers have developed their own systems. For me it seems systems that talk to each other and share customer information are most efficient and ideal, hence why your loyalty programme and email marketing should ideally link – to save you time.

So Think Again About Employing a Sales Person

In 2007, it took a sales person an average of 3.68 attempts to reach a sales prospect. Today it takes an average of 8 times. The average sales person makes two attempts to reach a prospect and of those cold calls only 2% result in an appointment. What’s worse, most sales people give up after their second attempt. According to Forbes ‘in fact, they take 46 hours and 53 minutes to pick up the phone and respond to a lead. And the sales rep who does call, only makes 1.3 call attempts before giving up and moving on.’

Looking at those stats it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that once the sales person’s salary is factored in, it’s an expensive exercise for any small to medium business.

Conclusion: To Recruit or Not to Recruit – The Question.

So after reading this, have I convinced you that in fact the way to recruit your best sales person ever – is not to? At the very least after reading this blog you will have a few things to think about in reaching the easiest path to sales. I hope this approach will save you money and make your business more profitable. Good luck!