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Increase your sales with these 40 tips

Do you want to win and keep customers? Put these tips from our experts into practice.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. This article was updated on December 9, 2019

Do you want to win and keep customers? Put these tips from our experts into practice.

Patrick Tomasso vía Unsplash

Prepare your startup strategy

  1. The first impression is key. You will never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Therefore, from the beginning, focus on satisfying the client's wishes and do not focus only on presenting an offer. If your start is weak, the end will be the same. Take advantage of the first meeting so that your consumers are convinced - through a good deal - that you are their best option and, of course, that they are also important to you. Otherwise, you will have to work hard to change a bad first impression later.

2. Make a plan to win customers. Planning the actions that you will take will give you great advantages to offer an excellent service. Create a general plan before dealing with new clients and a special one for your main accounts. Profile each of your prospects based on general data and specific needs that you observe. The purpose is to develop specific actions aimed at filling these gaps. Remember that the plan is only a starting point that must be adapted according to the case, since each client is different.

3. Listen first and anticipate. Once you've made a plan, the second step is called "get ahead." How to do it? Allow the client to explain in detail what they want. Sometimes words are not a sufficient resource to express what we really feel, so also take into account facial expressions and gestures. When it is your turn to speak, use all the information you collected to present the characteristics of your product or service as the exact solution to the demands made. Karl Albrecht, management specialist and pioneer of the new service economy, explains in his book All Power to the Customer that "excellence in service is only possible when the satisfaction of customer expectations has been exceeded." Conclusion: anticipate and go further.

4. Choose a good place for your business. The location is a fundamental point for customers to enjoy going to your business with pleasure and without complications. Take into account the communication routes to get to your place and the type of area, that is, it is not too conflictive, dangerous or difficult to access. Also consider having your own parking a priority or make an alliance with a nearby one and offer a special rate for your buyers. It would be useless if the design of your store is spectacular and that you have the best products at competitive prices if you cannot get people to reach you without major obstacles.

Know your client

5. Study your market. Invest time to be an expert in your market. Attend trade shows and events that your consumers consider important. There you can live closely with them. Also take advantage of the occasion both to observe what your competition is doing and to detect what type of products and services are the most in demand. Another option is to keep up to date on market trends through specialized publications and by getting involved and participating in chambers and trade union organizations.

6. Put yourself in your client's shoes. A serious mistake is to think that customer service is a standardized activity and that the same tactics will work to meet everyone's expectations. People are unique and special. Put yourself in the other party's shoes and ask yourself the following question: how would I like to be treated: good or bad? Then offer a deal, at least a good one. Better yet, excellent. It begins with a general care plan and, as the case may be, designs specific strategies to create a "different" experience for each client.

7. How to start on the right foot? The secret is to ask the right questions at the beginning and end of the conversation you have with a client. Thank him for the time he has given you and then ask, "Just out of curiosity, why did he accept this appointment?" Most will tell you about their experiences with different products and companies. You just focus on listening. This fact will show that, on the one hand, you are interested, while you will obtain valuable information and the communication channel will remain open for when it is your opportunity to present your proposals.

8. Ask the right questions. A common mistake is to question customers incisively. For example: What goals would you like to achieve in your company? Even if you receive an answer, it may not be entirely true. Another mistake is to ask: are you satisfied with the sales of your business? The answer will be "yes" or "no", ending the conversation. Instead, consider this position: "Based on your experience, what tools, allies, or resources do you need to increase your sales?" The question is direct and leaves the answer "open", inviting the consumer to share everything they have in mind. Anticipate these situations and prepare before a date. The client will feel that they are in front of an expert capable of providing excellent service.

9. What is a customer looking for? When a person purchases a product or service, they are actually buying emotions. If we all have five senses, cause your consumers to experiment with each of them. For example, going to the cinema is not limited to watching a movie, but to a moment of entertainment that is accompanied by images, sounds, food and drinks. "Quality" is what you must give to the customer. "Service" is the way you are going to give it to them. You choose how: delivery of a pizza in less than 30 minutes; a courier service in just 24 hours; If there is no business for you, we will refund your money, etc.

Strategies to conquer it

10. Show why you are the best option. When you are in charge of the first task that your client has entrusted to you, do not forget to provide updated information on your progress. Share all the results - good and bad - and solve the problems that come up together. Show, at all times, that you are doing your best and working for mutual benefit. If you succeed, you will not only build a good relationship, but also create a feeling of satisfaction in your consumer, which will help you improve the chances of winning that account and many more.

11. Focus on the details. Who doesn't love to receive something that surprises them. That's why the details make the difference. The strategy is simple: take a good look at what your client likes and dislikes, identify these elements and use them to your advantage to cause great emotion. It is not a question of giving him a gift, but of knowing what are the things he appreciates the most about your offer. It keeps a punctual record of your consumption and detects your tastes and then, before you ask, show you the options that you surely have in mind. Creativity will be your best ally.

12. Solve the most difficult problem. Once you have identified who your ideal client is, the question is: how to start a relationship with him? A good alternative is to ask what is the most difficult problem that you face that no one else has solved. Present a concrete solution accompanied by an action plan. So the prospect will think, "wow, if (he or she) can handle a tough task, imagine what they'll do in other areas." This opportunity will allow you to create a solid foundation to think about a long-term relationship.

13. Let the client "try" your work. Offering a "sample" of your work is a fairly effective marketing tool to win over new clients and is as accurate as running an advertising campaign. It is an excellent opportunity for the consumer to know your proposals and, mainly, to know how you carry them to execution. But don't confuse this strategy with "working for nothing." What is the difference? After the "trial" period, put the matter on the table and make sure the customer offers more than gratitude. Calculate the amount of your fees so that, if he makes a proposal, you are ready to negotiate a fair deal for both parties. This will be just the beginning of a long relationship.

14. Create expectations and go beyond. Fulfilling what was promised is the least you have to do so that your clients feel satisfied with your service. The ideal is to provoke the "wow" effect, that is, to surprise them with a greater attention than they expected or surpassing the experiences lived until then. To achieve this, you must know perfectly who is your client? Meet with your staff and exchange information about the profile of each of the buyers. Important: any time is a good time to generate the surprise factor. You decide when and how to provoke it.

15. Offer an experience. The difference between offering a service and an experience is this: a service can become a "stiff argument" where phrases like "I hope you come back soon" are repeated. Instead, an experience includes sensory marketing. This means managing colors, lights, scents, etc. Integrate all these sensations to your offer, in such a way that they conquer the senses of your consumers. The goal is to provoke in them a reaction similar to: "What a pleasant experience! I'll be back soon to live it again."

16. Be the perfect host. If you have a restaurant, put yourself in the customer's shoes and reflect on the following: Would you like the chef to come to your table to ask you if you liked the food he prepared? Most likely, yes. These types of details are unforgettable for consumers, so keep an eye on them. The advice is that you treat your clients like friends who decided to visit you. Do not disappoint them and create a perfect atmosphere full of details. In the end, they will be so pleased that they will return soon in search of an equal or better experience. Get ready and receive them as they deserve.

17. Earn the customer's trust. Studies show that most managers base their final decision on "who they buy from" and not on "what they buy." The way you present yourself and the questions you ask will reveal who you are, how you think and, most importantly, will create something invaluable: trust. A smile is not enough. The consumer is fed up with companies that tell you "we have everything you need", but in the end they do not deliver the product on time, nor do they respect the agreed price. So, to earn the client's trust you will need, more than a smile, to keep your word. To do this, do not neglect your consumer for a moment, dedicate time to him and keep him informed.

18. Speak the customer's language. When a consumer goes to a certain establishment or hires the services of a person, what he is really looking for is to make contact with someone who speaks the same language. A common mistake made by professionals is that they explain things using technical terms that most are unfamiliar with. This makes the client feel uncomfortable because they do not understand what the proposed solution consists of. The advice here is to present specific solutions and, above all, what is the purpose of each one. If what you offer is a product, the essential thing is to describe its advantages and how they will solve the problem that the consumer raises.

19. Never let him go mad. In the business world there is a saying that "a happy customer will tell one or two people, and an unhappy one will tell 10 people." For example, when you are faced with an angry customer about a failure in the item they purchased, appeal to the service as the best alternative to reconciliation. Give him the opportunity to express his discomfort, show concern to help him through the bad time and offer him immediate solutions such as a replacement of the product or a discount on his next purchase. If it was a staff failure, assess the situation and apply measures to prevent it from happening again.

20. Keep the communication channel open. Communication and follow-up step by step are the basic rules to guarantee a long-term relationship. Many think that care and service end when the consumer walks away with the product or service they wanted. Serious mistake. Knowing their opinion, satisfaction level and prospects is essential to offer you exactly what you need. First, let the customer know that their opinion of your business is important to you. Set up a suggestion box, a direct service telephone number and send opinion polls - via email. This information will be the starting point for making decisions aimed at improving your service every day.

Do not let him go

21. Cultivate the relationship with your customers. More than looking for new accounts, take care of the relationship with your current consumers. The eagerness to increase your customer base will prevent you from taking care of those who already trust your business. Therefore, stay in constant contact with them to hear their comments and clarify your doubts. Thus, you will become not only a provider of products and services, but an advisor specialized in detecting and solving the needs of your buyers. The result: customers 100% satisfied and willing to repeat the shopping experience or refer you to their acquaintances.

22. Add value to your offer. Experts recommend not relying on just two or three clients to generate the most sales volume. But it is also a fact that the main accounts grow at a faster rate than the others. To do? Instead of reducing the concentration of your businesses, a good alternative is to provide additional services that complement your original activity. Show him that you really care about him and that it's not just about doing business. Therefore, diversify your offer in order to be the strategic ally that your consumers seek to perform different tasks. In this way, you will create a solid barrier against your competitors.

23. Personalize, personalize, personalize. News: the customer is no longer just another number. Now the first requirement is to call him by his name and know him thoroughly. Each person is different and loves individual treatment. So get ready to offer tailor-made experiences. Examine his consumption habits, ask him why he likes a certain product or service and if he agrees with the price. Integrate this information into a database and keep an eye on it to provide you with a totally personalized service, taking care of the details to the maximum and anticipating your wishes.

24. Create a personal bond. Doing business is not everything. Learn to see your customers not only as a source of income for your company, but as a fundamental part of it. How to create a personal bond with your prospects and consumers? Live with them in a less formal and more relaxed environment. Invite them to breakfast or a sporting event. The goal is to talk about different topics and, at the same time, get to know each other better. During these talks, pay attention to the details, as they are privileged information to later formulate interesting proposals.

25. Innovate your service constantly. Everything is capable of being improved. So, use your knowledge and imagination to find, day by day, how to improve customer service. There are countless elements that, at first glance, seem unimportant and that are actually key to creating a different experience. It offers complementary services that are simple but have a great impact on consumers. For example: gift wrapping at no extra cost, personalized advice to buy technological items, etc.

26. Investigate and you will win. Have you ever called your customers to ask if they are satisfied with the product or service they purchased? Carrying out this action is essential before moving to the next level, that is, thoroughly researching who is the person or company that came to you in search of a solution. Find out what he does, what are the resources he needs to improve his job performance and who are the people around him. If you sell computers, ask your customer, first of all, if he is happy with his purchase; Later, he asks if he is interested in acquiring another piece of equipment, perhaps for a relative or a special model as a work tool.

27. The experience ends when the customer returns. What interests you most about a client? Answer: earn their trust so they come back again and again. Make no mistake, the relationship between bidder and consumer does not end when the latter leaves a store with a product in hand, but when - convinced by the attention he received - he returns to repeat the shopping experience. Always give your client something else, a characteristic touch of your business, which he cannot get out of his mind until he meets again. Encourage him to come back with promotions over the phone or online.

Prepare your equipment

28. Put your service policy in writing. Create policies aimed at offering an excellent service and put them in writing. The goal is to create a guiding principle to guide employees. The rules of the game are summarized in the following sentence: "the customer is always right". But the most important thing is to put these policies into practice. As an entrepreneur, you must be the first to implement them so that, in response, your staff will do so without hesitation.

29. Don't hire employees, look for allies. The personnel selection process is one of the fundamental points to create an excellent service. Therefore, recruit people who are committed to this goal. This implies a strict selection process to discover the capabilities that your collaborators have and focus them on customer service. Take on the role of leader of your team and become an example for others. As your allies, allow them to actively participate not only by dispatching goods, but also by contributing new ideas and, above all, implementing them.

30. Invite your employees to contribute ideas. Rules for promoting a change in staff conduct and conducting business procedures need to come from employees. They will easily adopt policies only if they believe in them. Invite them to contribute ideas, since they are the ones in the "firing line", living day to day with customers and listening to their comments. Together, make a selection of the best contributions and put them into practice immediately.

31. Carry out the suggested proposals. Choose one of the ideas contributed by the staff and help unconditionally to carry it out. Remove all obstacles to a successful implementation. If this new idea collides with an established policy or procedure, do your best to make the switch hassle-free. With this, your collaborators will see that their opinion is important to you and that you appreciate their interest in providing a first-rate service.

32. Use consumer opinion to your advantage. All the actions that you undertake will have as a starting point the opinion of the client. Both you and your collaborators should be alert to any comment, good or bad, issued by consumers. Use several methods to gather information, especially the most powerful of all: a face-to-face conversation. The next step is to evaluate these opinions and make the appropriate changes so that the client notices that their suggestions were not only listened to, but that they were the basis for improving the service.

33. Motivate your staff. An effective way to motivate your collaborators is through the effect caused by the positive comments provided by customers. For example, if an employee proposes to place seats for older adults to rest while they queue, and one of the consumers asks you whose idea it was, immediately call the employee to receive the opinion directly. This fact will motivate your staff to continue contributing ideas and to carry them out as well.

34. Evaluate the performance of your collaborators. Mystery Shopping is one of the most effective methods to measure and increase your customer's satisfaction and loyalty. Hire an expert company to send "mystery shoppers" to your business with two goals: to live the experience as a consumer and to make sure that the customer receives good service. Although you will notify your employees in advance about these evaluation visits, they will not know the day, the time and the person. From the information generated with this exercise - carried out once a week or fortnight - you will take two types of actions:

1) If you verify that the staff is performing satisfactorily, you will make a public recognition and reward your collaborators.

2) But whoever is caught in a negative attitude towards the client, the consequences could be from a serious wake-up call to dismissal.

Win more customers "online"

35. Transform your virtual site into a real experience. Having a commercial website should not be an obstacle so that the client does not feel as if they are really in contact with the product or service. A detailed description and photographs of good size and from different perspectives will better illustrate the visitors. With these tools you will awaken the interest of consumers so that they dare to place the order and, in this way, fully live the shopping experience. If you get it, they won't be long in coming back.

36. Keep your client informed. It is not enough to display contact details on your website if you do not give a quick response. Install an automatic email generator that indicates to your buyers, once they place a purchase order, that their request was received successfully. Partner with various courier companies and offer a wide range of shipping options. Every day send an e-mail to your client to inform him about the progress of his order. In case of any delay, please report it and explain the causes. Honesty is one of the golden rules in customer service.

37. Gives all the contact and shipping facilities. It is important that your business site is easy to navigate. Within the main menu, create a special section where the visitor will find all the answers to their questions about delivery time, payment and shipping methods, return policies, etc. Make sure to include all your business contact details: address, phone number, and email. This information will be of great use to your clients and will help you to give them a better service regardless of whether it is through a computer.

38. Answer the "frequently asked questions." A study by the Pelorus Group showed that 42% of commercial websites take at least five days to answer the questions submitted by their customers. Create a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) section within your main menu. It also includes an email address that will serve as a link between your visitors and your business. Constantly check your inbox and respond as soon as possible to all the queries you receive.

39. Make your smart switch really smart. If the form of contact you have with your clients is by phone, try to manage a simple and useful menu. Do not forget to always have the option to "speak to a representative" available, who will know how to channel the consumer to the right person to resolve their doubts.

40. Surprise them with exclusive promotions. Add an element of surprise to the automated emails you send to your consumers when they order. It can be a discount coupon valid for your next purchase or extra information about the product you have just purchased. Attach a short questionnaire to find out more about them and what products they are looking for.