Analysis of sales helps build success

score Question:
My business appears to have reached a plateau, and I'm at a loss as to how to improve its growth. Is there a way I can determine what's wrong and get back on my planned growth pattern? I apparently lost my marketing touch.

Marketing poses a problem for most entrepreneurs because it involves the way customers buy. The true reason may involve sales psychology, which is not as well defined as other aspects of operating a business, such as selling, accounting, and financial and organizational structure.

We frequently examine why a sale was successful. However, it is equally important to find out why a sale was not made. Many sales and marketing profesionals think of this as a major part of a good sales analysis. You probably have a better handle on why the sale was made. What was your closure rate: 10, 20, 40, 50 percent? But let's look at the other side: The loss rate is 90, 80, 60, and 50 percent. If you can improve on the loss rate, the efort stands a reasonable chance of being more productive.

How do you go about developing an analysis of your sales? First, define where you want to take your business. What are the short-term and long-term goals for your company? These need to be definitive in products or services, sales, profits, growth, sales area, cash flow, etc.

Once you've defined where you wish to go, it's time to get on with the actual survey process - or shall we call it a sales autopsyy? Here are some ideas for developing a method for implementing your survey:

  • Determine the market direction and pick those sales that validate the desired direction. You're looking for real-time sales info that willhelp guide you in moving your business in the desired direction.
  • Interview clients on how they went through the buying cycle. How did they identify their need? Why did they choose your store? What was the major reason they bought? What else can you do to make their shopping trip more satisfying and easier? Develop these questions relative to your business. The key is to understand how and why they bought from you, including why your products and services appealed to them.
  • Look for patterns that are common. The goal is to be able to develop a sales and marketing program that will send an accurate message to the market to support and enhance sales to your high-potential prospects.
  • Review the developed program against your objective. Has your new program resulted in moving your company in the desired direction? If not completely, adjust your sales and marketing rechnique until you get it right. Remember, there's no fast cure and one size does not fit all. It must be tailored to your store and market.
  • Check your sales techniques. Are you in sync with the buyers during the total buying process? Remember, marketing is the strategy and sales are the tactics. Tune your tactics to meet your marketing strategy.
  • Redo the total process every six months. Conditions change, competition is forever changing and potential client base never stays the same. Don't be surprised if your sales anaylsis confirms your gut feeling about some issues while giving you new information.

Once you've done this a couple of times, it will be less time consuming and easier to do.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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