Sales and Marketing
What Can Any Business Do to Boost Sales or Revenues?
No matter what its size or type, every business always wants to find ways to boost its sales or revenues. However, this need often translates into encouragement to those responsible to “sell more of what we’ve got” which they often interpret as “work longer, harder and smarter to beat the competition.” This is the “dog-eat-dog” race to the bottom sales approach and the resultant “battle” in the marketplace is often a bloody one, with endless product claims and counter claims between the players (which may or may not be valid) with price perhaps playing a more powerful role on who wins than it should.
Even though more aggressively trying to sell more of what we’ve got will continue to be a common prime strategy for most companies, there are a number of other strategies that should be considered as either an alternative approach or ones that can be added to the overall general revenue-lifting effort. Let’s therefore look at five of the most useful ones that should be considered:
Greater market penetration
Most companies have got plenty of scope to better penetrate the market they already serve or to sell to a greater percentage of the customers within an existing target segment. Naturally, this means knowing exactly who your target customers are and what it’s going to take to convert these prospects for buying your product or service to becoming consumers. It also means knowing how much potential upside market penetration opportunity exists in percentage terms and then developing particular strategies to appeal to this population of would-be customers. One of the best ways to do this is to re-differentiate your product or service from your competitors or to give it a new “angle” or “spin”. For example, the Chobani organization made huge penetration inroads to the Yoghurt market with their “Greek style” branding, especially when it was accompanied with promises of better taste and health.
Finding new geographies
This may sound like a simple step but it’s one that the majority of companies give little thought to, preferring to stay put in familiar places (their home city, state or nation) or traditional markets for the product and service they provide. This is not to say that a business does not need to have a sound “home” business but is to say that the opportunities in a wider geographic “footprint” can often go begging if a little thought and planning about expanding into new areas does not take place. There are typically three ways to expand geographically. By direct entry, by franchising/distribution partners or by strategic collaboration or alliance. Each of these options will depend on the appetite each company has for risk and how confident it feels about entering a new geography. However, in all three cases, success will heavily depend upon appreciating the local expectations of customers and meeting these well, (and in language, literally and figuratively, that is compelling). Despite being a UK brand, the Virgin group has always done this well in all of its various businesses. For example, in its airline, a UK centric business initially has been slightly modified to compete successfully across Europe, Asia and the US.
Identifying new segments or niches
New segments or niches in a market may not be obvious to identify but can often arise out of some simple analysis of the entire customer base and asking the simple question, “can we sell more to parts of the market that are only buying at a minor level today or even may not be buying at all right now” (or once again the “non-consumers). These groups of customers may be minor is revenues but quite large in volume. However, the product or service you provide may currently have low appeal to them until you give these prospects more time and focus and think about what this particular niche may need. A good example here is the Harley Davidson motorcycle company. For many years almost the entire focus was on men over 35 and their dream of “free riding” – a customer base generating 90%+ of all revenues. However, female motorcycle enthusiasts were large and growing and to reach them, Harley Davidson created a whole new department to tailor marketing, product and service initiatives to meet their needs.
Different pricing or packaging
Although they can be quite separate or discrete strategies to use, new or different pricing and packaging of a product or service can be a powerful way to boost sales. This typically involves finding ways to stand out from competitors. In pricing this could be to price below your competition (but communicate that your product still delivers as much value) or to price above your competition (and communicate that the incremental cost delivers considerably more value). However, perhaps an even better approach, if you have scope to offer it, is to price entirely differently – such as offering a monthly subscription price when everyone else is charging per unit, for example. On the packaging side, it’s even more about standing out by looking at how either your product or service appears or what is bundled together to be purchased. Free services in the software and app industry are a good example here as a way of acquiring customers or getting them to experience a product before encouraging them to partake in paid services over time.
Acquisitions in similar sectors
In some situations, none of the above may be able to bring in substantial revenues and it may even be that the market or segment in which your company operates is too fragmented as far as customer choice is concerned. In these circumstances, acquiring a competitor in the same or similar sector may be a viable way to lift revenues. This is a way to gain market share quickly but needs a lot of care and planning (as the failure rate can be high if this is not done well). However, if an acquisition brings in new products and services, new customers, new geographies, or different pricing and packaging (or in some cases all of these) then it can be a very fast way to increase revenues and profits quickly (especially if there are some “back-office” economies of scale to be had as well). Many companies in the healthcare delivery business, including hospitals, have pursued this strategy well in recent years, and in so doing have experienced growth that would not have occurred as quickly organically.
Naturally, all five of the above approaches can be pursued individually or collectively. However, each of them offers new opportunities to “push revenues higher” with a little pre-thought and effort.