In the mad scramble to develop a strategy to increase your sales, it’s easy to overlook the most obvious path: trusting the experts. Seasoned veterans from industries of all kinds have developed sales strategies and shared them for others to try.
This article will feature three strategies either used by veterans in their respective fields, or developed from their observations and writings. Along the way, we’ll be taking a close look at what makes each strategy tick, addressing their strengths and weaknesses, and providing practical tips for execution that apply to just about any tradie business.
The 3 Strategies to Increase Sales
- Reviews. Reviews. Reviews
- See, think, do, care
- Be Aggressive
1. LinkedIn’s Sean Callahan Hints at the Power of Reviews
In the Information Age, you’re either well-represented online or doomed to obscurity.
…Okay, that might be a stretch, but here’s our point: what people read about your business on the internet matters. And trust us, plenty of your potential customers are looking online—in fact, 80% of all consumers turn to the internet to find information about local businesses.
Managing the information that’s available to a digital audience can be a rewarding strategy to increase sales, but one that’s easier said than done. This brings us to our first bit of expert advice: leveraging the power of reviews.
Sean Callahan is an author and senior manager of content marketing at LinkedIn. He specialises in helping B2B companies strengthen their marketing and use data-driven tactics to boost their sales and reputation.
In an article he wrote for the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog, Sean breaks down a study by the Spiegel Research Center. It homes in on the importance of online reviews, and the role that end consumers play in shaping the reputations of modern businesses.
You can take a moment to read through his breakdown or the study itself, but here’s a rundown of the points we’ll be using moving forward:
- Featuring reviews can increase your conversions (key actions taken on your website) by 270%.
- Having at least five reviews on your website can quadruple interest in your services.
- People may think that five-star reviews are too good to be true, so be careful of looking too perfect.
- Negative reviews can be good for engagement. They can increase your credibility and lengthen the amount of time users spend on your site.
- The more important the product, the more important it is to collect and feature reviews.
The premises behind this first strategy are quite sound: we know for a fact that internet use is a statistic that only climbs higher with every passing year, and the Spiegel Research Center is highly reputable.
Now for the fun part: how does this strategy translate into action points, and what kind of plans can we draft from it?
Action Point: Feature Reviews Wherever They Matter
There are dozens of websites and digital platforms where customers could go to find reviews about your business, and this strategy demands being featured on as many of them as possible.
Google’s My Business platform is the obvious first choice. You’ve likely seen those extra bits of information that Google packs onto their search results pages—these are called SERP features, and establishing a profile on My Business allows you to feature your business’ information and more importantly, collect and display reviews.
Likewise, you shouldn’t underestimate the utility of your business’ Facebook page: it’s part information hub, part review board, and part contact point (thanks to Messenger).
People can be very thorough when looking for reviews, so encouraging happy customers to drop kind words on your business’ page can do a lot of good. If you’re actively growing a social media following with a healthy page, then this matters even more.
Finally, it goes without saying that you should feature reviews on your website’s homepage, and perhaps invest in building a dedicated page for case studies, testimonials, and the like. As advised above, feature a minimum of five reviews at all times, and try to avoid awarding them with a perfect score (maybe save the stars for Google).
Action Point: Address Negative Reviews (Gracefully)
Negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. If anything, they’re an opportunity to leave your business looking even better than before you received them.
You can position yourself as a group of responsive, mindful, and accountable tradies by addressing negative comments. If the negative review seems legitimate (that is, it’s from an actual client with an actual grievance), then try the following 3-step process:
- Be Clear. From the start of your response, admit that your business fell short of expectations. As a service provider, you will lose points for doublespeak: be blunt and straightforward.
- Apologise. It should go without saying that you ought to apologise when you fail to meet expectations. You aren’t sorry for how your clients feel, and you aren’t sorry for any unfortunate circumstances. You’re sorry for failing to meet expectations, pure and simple.
- Make Amends. Consumers don’t care about how badly you regret your mistakes, they care about what comes after. It’s good practice to offer something in exchange for a job poorly done—you can fix your mistakes free of charge, and possibly take things a step further with more work.
A good response to a negative review looks like this:
Hi Mike, we’re truly sorry for failing to meet your expectations. These kinds of repairs can be quite tricky, and we accept full responsibility for failing to get it right on the first go. We’ll be reaching out soon and we’d truly appreciate it if you let us take another shot at it—free of charge.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and keeping us grounded.
A weak response to a negative review looks like this:
Hi, we’re so sorry you feel unsatisfied with our results. Our staff do their best with every job, so cases like these are very rare and unlikely to ever happen. Please reach out to us so we can talk about next steps.
Now, if you’re sure that a review is fake, flag it. A simple message like, “We can’t find your name or email address in our client directory, and the details you gave don’t quite match our records. Please reach out to us so we can make up for your grievance,” is a great way to both call the reviewer’s bluff and seed doubt in the eyes of any readers—while looking responsive.
2. Patrick Cutliffe of Google Digital Initiatives Says, “See, Think, Do, Care”
When it comes to marketing, it’s no secret that a person’s position along their customer journey defines how you should sell to them. A complete stranger to your business demands a different approach from a lead who’s been actively engaged with your sales team.
Patrick Cutliffe, speaker and trainer at Google Digital Initiatives, recounts four categories for an easier time sorting how to sell to whom:
- See. These are the full set of people who might potentially patronise your business (your broadest possible audience). They’re, quite literally, the group who are positioned to see your business as merely one among a set of options.
- Think. These are the set of people who aren’t sold on your business just yet, but who are already thinking of choosing yours. Or at the very least, counting yours among their shortlist of options to explore in greater depth.
- Do. These are the set of people who are engaged and on their way to becoming a sale. They’ve done the research and are raring to make a final decision to spend.
- Care. These are the set of people who’ve already chosen your business. You want to take these former customers and encourage them to care about your business enough to keep you on speed dial for future work.
The concept of a sales flow or funnel is well-established and has been useful to marketers for the better part of the last decade, so the premises to this strategy are quite sound. Having a framework for classifying your leads is essential, and it can make for clearer sales plans down the line.
Action Point: Plot Out Your Clients’ Purchase Journey
Like marketing, not all of sales is monolithic. You’ll want to take a different approach to people depending on how well your marketing has massaged them into considering your business.
The best way to accomplish this is to take control over how your prospective clients go from strangers, to prospects, to paying customers, and then finally to loyal regulars.
If you think of your sales process as a chain with each step being a link in that chain, then your job is to make sure that each link is strong. This means having a clear set of plans for drawing in new clients, for prospects who are exploring your business, for closing sales, and then for generating new business for your tradie shop. Each step is important in and of itself, and so are the ways a client flows from one category to the next in sequence.
Keeping this in mind helps you situate your plans in a wider scheme of things, and puts your focus on shifting them from one state of mind to the next, getting ever closer to providing value to your business.
Action Point: Generating New Sales from Old Ones
Upselling, cross-selling, and sourcing references are the bread and butter of sustainable tradie business—and a strong part of any strategy to increase sales. As such, the Care step means recognising the potential that your past clients have to be sources of future work.
The strategy branches off here, and encourages you to explore further strategies for maximising the value of your clients. If you don’t have a strong referral network in place, for example, now’s a good a time as any to start developing one.
3. Forconstructionpros.com Says Be Aggressive
We aren’t the only group of coaches and mentors you’ll find who help construction businesses. Forconstructionpros.com is a mentor group based in the U.K. that caters to their own local construction professionals. We’ve had a look through their site and liked what we’ve seen.
This article, in particular, offers some very sound advice on how to improve your sales strategies, most notably: to be aggressive when chasing bids and contracts. It’s clear that competition is a hard reality in any business, and there’s no excuse for losing business to people whose only advantage over you is persistence.
They’re big fans of following up, and see any bidding process as an invitation to court new business. This isn’t only a good bit of advice for builders, but for any tradie. Everyone handles leads and inquiries, after all, and whether you’re vying for or receiving attention, it’s good to know how to follow-up on an opportunity.
Action Point: Build Relationships from “Go”
Following up with a stranger can easily feel like desperate badgering, so we understand how one might hesitate to be persistent. But following up gets easier once you’ve established a friendly relationship with your contact persons. The more familiarity you can create between you and your leads, the easier it’ll be to make talking business feel like catching up.
Whenever possible, be warm and engaging—and make sure your tradies do the same. There’s a reason why charm is a big factor in sales: it makes people more receptive to spending, it helps build trust, and it kicks in during situations where you have to reach out and nudge someone to keep the ball rolling.
There are many sources of inspiration for strategies to increase sales, if you know where to look and take the time to do some digging. Whether or not the strategies we’ve outlined above turn out to be a great fit for you, we highly recommend reading up on stories of those who’ve found success before you. Hell, even stories of failure are good for a lesson or two.
As a parting note, we realize that you can distill these three strategies into very basic lessons traits: social proof, structured thinking, and persistence. It appears that the true wisdom behind these strategies (we mean, apart from the practical tips on how to boost your sales) lies in the fact that there’s always a way to turn great traits into directions for your business.
We can’t say we’re surprised. Success, after all, is as much a matter of being a smart person as it is having a smart strategy.