Well, growth is obviously a way of creating more money. This is one of its aspects. The most visible one.
Another is to get the chance to evolve personally in your management and your responsibilities. This can be very exciting. Growth may also be the occasion to bring all your team somewhere else, where everyone will be able to experiment with new skills and find new motivation in their work. Finally, even if you target constancy and/or moderate changes, you still need to develop to avoid getting smaller in the market. So, you should always have a look at the ways to boost your sales.
Growing is obviously an idea that most companies have. The real question is: what should you do to make your business grow?
First step is defining strategies based on the company’s SWOT (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) analysis and history.
Second step would be defining a team that will work to attract new clients and, finally, creating a sense of loyalty from clients. In this document, we will address what you can do, starting from now, to boost your sales, hence your growth.
Strategy is key
Understanding your company situation is extremely important because it gives your strategy guideline. Try to understand:
- What do you do you best? Is it translation, post-editing or maybe localization or video dubbing?
- Which fields are you serving best? For example, if you specialise in legal translation, what kind of legal domain (family, investment, insurance and so on)?
- Where do you serve best? Is there a country where you serve more and from which you receive many more positive feedbacks?
- Who do you serve best? Which industry do you focus on? Is it gaming, fashion industry, automotive and so on?
- When is your company most active? Look at your previous year, what period(s) did you have peaks in business?
Once you analyse all the answers, the profile of the best target client will emerge. Contacts fitting all those criteria are prospects on which you should focus first, as this will maximise your efforts on one group of clients that is more likely to work with you taking into account your expertise.
That being said, you can define several client profiles to target, but the most important rule is to coordinate your actions. Indeed, you will segment your business, so that you apply a different strategy to different client profiles. You will certainly not sell translations to law firms the same way you are selling to fashion industry.
So, focus your efforts on people that are more likely to order your services, profile them, establish a strategy for your segmentations, and prospect them accordingly. The more clients you have in one segment, the more referrals you get for that segment and the more chances you get to convince people of the same group (simple maths).
Increase your visibility
The way we communicate has changed. Today, increasing visibility is linked to your online presence.
– Working on your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will bring you to the top 3 pages of results in search engines (Google, Yahoo…).
– Using social media is now crucial to creating business. Not being on social media is like being invisible to the world. Even worse, people may not trust you, and think you are a scam.
– Creating video content allows you to reach more people, as people are used to swapping content through Apps, and give less time to written communication. Their eyes capture keywords and images in their brain. So, your audience is more likely to swap through your logo and video than to stop and click on a link to your article… unless your article is as engaging as this one!
Pro tip: make short videos of less than 1 minute to convey a message, they will certainly stop to watch it if it’s longer. Sending emails to all your contacts from time to time (do not send too often) will allow them to learn something from you, and see that your company is still around to serve them when needed.
Don’t forget to optimise your website. As your website is the first point of contact with your prospects, you need to engage visitors with calls to actions such as registering to receive a newsletter, or sharing their contact information to allow an interesting white paper to be downloaded, or even dropping a project on your open client portal.
Prospecting is the most challenging part for sales representatives because it is like placing a message in a bottle, throwing it into the ocean and then waiting for someone to answer. You probably need to send thousands of emails to get just one positive answer, and five negative answers (when they do bother to answer). Getting someone to give a positive answer is only the first step.
As you have defined strategically which group of people you are targeting, write a message tailored for them, make them feel that you understand their needs and that you can help them personally. When messages are too general, readers won’t be attracted to whatever you are proposing. You can choose to write a personalised email for each of your contacts one by one which is probably the most effective but not very productive as it extremely time consuming. Now there are tools that can help you write personalised emails to a group of contacts that have the same criteria. That way it is personalised enough, and you save a great deal of time while prospecting.
Motivate your team
As prospecting is the heart of sales’ job, and also the most challenging part of the job, you need to motivate your team. Your team will get motivated if you tell them that they will receive incentives on reaching targets objectives so try to fix some fair objectives. While fixing objectives, you can choose to set different ones for each of your collaborators. For example: Salesperson 1, who is more experienced, will get overall a higher commission rate on his or her targets and that might be higher than others’ because that person has a bigger portfolio. Meanwhile Salesperson 2, new in the company, could have two types of commissions, one lower, because that person has taken over some contacts from Salesperson 1’s portfolio, and a higher one for developing new clients from scratch.
Your team needs to be perseverance. Salespersons should not stop following up with prospects if at first they don’t get an answer from them. They might not answer for several reasons: the email was sent at the wrong moment for the prospect; they read it but forgot to reply; they were waiting for a need before writing back. For whatever reason, your team should not stop following up with them until they receive a definitive “I’m not interested”.
Actually, even if they answer “I am not interested”, being the annoying person might give additional information on the prospect, asking “thank you for your prompt response, I understand that you are not interested in my services, may I know if you ever needed such service in the past?” or “thank you for your feedback, I hope to work with you in the future, shall you have any need for translations, please keep my contact”, would open a short discussion with new elements that can help salespeople to target better next time.
We have to consider clients as very busy people. Your services are not essential to them, and represent probably 1% of all the things that they have to do. This means that your salespeople need to persevere if they want their prospect to confirm a quote. They need to take action to remind them that they owe them an answer.
Thing is: it is so easy for your prospect to just not answer that even when you receive a no, take the time to acknowledge that they don’t need you because it shows that you understood their current need. And whenever they will need you, they will come to you. So make it a rule to always follow up between 6 and 12 months.
Focusing on your existing database is one of the fastest ways to grow your business, because we all have a huge client database that represent a gold mine.
You certainly have clients who ordered only once with you, but never came back. Those are people that showed a need. They are easy targets. You just have to understand why they are not ordering anymore. Ask them to give you a chance to do better, or maybe they simply forgot about you, and so did you.
You can try to find out if your current contact in a company has a colleague in another department who needs some translation. Your current client might need legal translation, website localization within the marketing department, as well as technical translation for their product manual.
So, if there are so many opportunities waiting to be unearthed in your data, get your sales team to exploit it, look into it, and optimise it.
Finally, if you apply all these tips, you are more likely to get positive results.
Keep in mind that sales results are mostly proportional to sales actions. So, think about the automation of these steps and try to use the right technologies that keep your quotes, orders and invoices data connected to your prospects and clients database. That way you can optimise your actions and enhance your success rate
Christine Xaysakda International Account Manager LBS Suite