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Is your business growing and as profitable as you would like it to be?. All businesses have room to improve. But, how do you identify the areas that will make the most significant improvements and detect the potential hazards that are hindering you? The answer is with an honest and thorough inventory of the health of your business’ sales and marketing practices. You can make substantial improvements in your current rate of growth and your profit margins, while eliminating some of the hidden dangers that lurk beneath the surface. And, you can do this without ANY additional cost! Here are 7 early warning signs that your business may not be as healthy as you believe it to be and some suggestions to improve each area.

1. Your sales are driven by price

Price DOESN’T sell, relationships do. If your sales philosophy is based on being the low cost provider, you immediately sacrifice profit margin. Price is not even a valid objection. When your customer says “The price is too high” they are really saying that they do not perceive the value of the product or service for the cost. The solution is to raise the perceived value, NOT to lower the price. For the customer to best accept this, they need to trust you. This improved credibility comes through an improved relationship with you. This is called “Relationship Selling”. People want to know and trust the people they do business with, not just be a number. Take the time to get to know your customers and what THEY need. It will pay off for you.

2. Your products/services cannot be distinguished from your competitors

EVERY business has unique traits. Even if you sell the exact same product as the guy 2 doors down the street, there are unique differences between your business and theirs. KNOW how your business is unique. Is it the service after the sale? Is it the level of service and expert knowledge shared during the sale? How are you unique? Make a list of EVERY way you differ from your competitors. If they are stronger in a particular area, how can you improve that? But, it is not enough that you know how you are unique, your customer needs to know as well. Tell them! Share the unique ways that you differ from your competition with your customers. Do this by focussing on your business. NEVER compare yourself to a particular competitor by name. This will only be seen as distasteful and will make your customer uncomfortable.

3. You use disconnected sales gimmicks

Make sure that the “attention grabbers” you use to draw people to your business are not out-of-character for your business. Example: Buy 3 and get 1 free will probably work for a tire store, but not for a tractor dealer. Find an offer that is compelling for YOUR customers. Something that is so attractive to them, that they cannot ignore it, and is in keeping with both their interests and your company image.

4. You have no unified marketing plan to your customers

It is vital that ALL your marketing consistently sends the same message. This includes the information on your website. Consistency is THE KEY to a successful marketing plan. Ironically, numerous advertising and marketing studies show that the consistency of your message is actually more important than the quality of the message. Of course, this does not mean that a second rate message will benefit your business as well as a quality message will. It simply emphasizes that a clear, concise, consistent message should be your 1st priority when developing your marketing plan.

5. The majority of your sales leads come from your sales staff

Sales leads for your business should come from a variety of sources, NOT just from your sales department. Quality, effective marketing should result in sales leads. Consistent marketing should result in sales leads. And, they should come from your website, other employees, current customers, friends, family, and everyone else that you and your employees come into contact with. In fact, your best leads should come from referrals. These will be prospects that have interest in your products and services and have been recommended to you by people that the prospect knows and trusts. And, remember that you get what you reward. So, reward those that make quality referrals to you

6. Established customers are heard to say “I didn’t know that you do that.”

Another way to word this is: “I didn’t know I could spend my $ with you that way, so I spent it with someone else.” This means that these loyal customers don’t know ALL of the products and services that you offer. This problem is solved by educating your customers about ALL that you have to offer. Train your ENTIRE staff about the full breadth of products and services that you offer and follow-up to ensure that they are sharing this with your customers. Make sure that your website has comprehensive information about what you have to offer. Your best and least expensive place to gain more sales is with your existing customers. It’s really a part of “Relationship Selling” . Another thing you can do is to post signage and provide informational brochures about all your products and services. But, don’t count on your customers reading this information, tell them as well.

7. You do not have a comprehensive customer and prospect database

70% of all customers that change vendors do so because they feel neglected, not because they are dissatisfied or got a better deal elsewhere. Thus, it’s important that you stay in touch with them. Follow up with existing customers is vital to success. But, how do you do that without knowing who the are and how to contact them? This is why you need a current, and complete, contact database of your customers. This also allows you to contact them about special offers and sales in an economical and personalized way. They will appreciate that and so will your cash register! And, how much business are you losing by not pursuing your prospective customers? Studies show that it takes a minimum of 7 contacts with a prospect to turn them into customers. You can’t contact them if you don’t know who they are and how to reach them. Without a prospect contact database, you’ll never contact them enough to turn them into customers and you will waste a lot of time and money.

Correct These 7 Deadly Business Sins, and Watch Your Business Grow!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Call me with any questions or comments you may have. Wayne 985-796-1288 YourLMP.com

Wayne Ivey

Author Wayne Ivey

Wayne is the president of Local Marketplace. He has over 40 years of sales and marketing experience. He specializes in applying technical solutions to business problems, resulting in more efficiency and lower cost.