When I started my business two years ago, I felt like I had made a mistake. Although I was into fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), things weren’t moving fast for me.
I really struggled for the first few weeks. I had a lot of goods to sell, and I knew that the market was good. But the sales weren’t just happening.
Three months later, my business began thriving seriously. I had a large customer base, and I was making a lot of sales. My monthly turnover jumped from about 14,000 to close to 200,000.
Business was suddenly so good that I had to start thinking of opening a second outlet.
What did I do to change my story within three months?
- I stopped waiting for the market and rather went after it.
While driving home one day, my mind was filled with disappointment because of how poor the sales was. Suddenly I got a call from a good friend of mine. She placed an order and asked for the goods to be delivered on a much later day.
Immediately I thought, “The usual thing is for people to go to the market. Is there a rule that says that the market can’t go to the people?”
Those thoughts marked a turning point in my business. They made me decide to take the bull by the horns and go after for what I wanted.
The next day, I prepared a well-packaged catalogue of the products I had for sale. I dressed up in my best suit, and made sure I had a wonderful smile planted on my face. I equally took a little time and rehearsed my elevator speech.
Armed with these I went out and started making cold calls. My target market was the busy professionals- bankers, lecturers, doctors, etc.
Most of the people I met were impressed, and many placed their orders immediately. I was not just selling my products; I was selling the service of home delivery and stress alleviation. It was new, but very welcome.
- I turned my Customers to Friends.
Everybody wants attention. They want to know that there is someone out there that cares not only for their money but for their total well-being.
I became that guy.
I gave myself a personal job of remembering things like their favourite products and their children’s birthday. Doing this helped me make these people happy customers who were always willing to buy. It worked wonders for me in return.
- I assessed their needs and made recommendations as a consultant.
I took my game up a little bit higher. I started presenting myself as a consultant that wants to help and not just a salesman out to make a quick buck. Rather than showcasing all I had for sale, I asked people questions about their needs. From the answers I got, I made my recommendations.
This made them open up to me and talk to me sincerely. By doing this, I was able to gain their confidence and make more sales.
- I opened a channel for receiving feedback.
I learnt very early in business that it is easier to maintain an existing customer than to get a new one. This made me to try everything within my ability to ensure that my existing customers were satisfied.
One major way I did this was to create a channel for feedback. I made it a habit to collect the phone numbers of almost all the people that ever patronised me.
Most nights, I would call these numbers, introduce myself and ask if they were satisfied with my product and service. Many of them were happy that I called. There were a few exceptions of course, but it was worth it.
- I collected referrals and used them.
Most of my big and very regular customers became customers simply because of a name I mentioned when I met them. I guess they usually thought, “If Toby is already doing business with ‘Mr A’ who I admire, that must mean that he is good. I had better try him out”.
How did I get my referrals? From my satisfied customers of course.
All I did was smile and say, “Thanks so much for your patronage ‘Mr X’. It is because of people like you that we are still in business. How I wish all my customers were like you. Is there any friend you have who would probably need my service?”
The gratitude and compliments usually made the customers feel good. To reciprocate, they would refer me to one or two people.
- I created a brand and stuck to it.
When I started my business, I got a lot of ideas from people on what I should add to my business to make more money. They meant well, but I insisted that I wanted to be known for what I do and nothing else.
It worked for me. I was into the FMCG line, and one of my popular products was frozen chicken and turkey. Some customers who didn’t know my real name simply referred to me as Frozen Chicken.
Surprisingly I saw customers go a very long distance just to come and buy Chicken. It wasn’t because they couldn’t buy it elsewhere, but because of the brand popularity.
- I was reliable.
When I started delivering my products to customers, I always made sure that I delivered on schedule. I made my customers know that they could count on me. And even if there was going to be a hitch, I usually communicated with the customer involved and informed him of the situation.
This made it easy for my customers to rely on me.
What’s your business turnover like presently? Which of these steps do you think will have the greatest impact on your business?Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community