In a small business, it is easy to lose sight of the basics.
Sometimes, team members may become focused on minor details that don’t really matter to your customers, or to the long-term health of your business.
In this article, we will go through a number of ideas to help you to maximize your company’s revenue.
These tips are designed to help you juice revenue without adding huge sales teams or massively increasing headcount.
So let’s get started!
First, Optimize Every Team Member’s Productivity
Before using any of the more specific tips below, you must make sure that your business is in tip-top shape. What do we mean by this?
Ensure that all of the members of your team (yes, that includes you!) are using their time wisely, and have the resources they need to be effective in their jobs. There should be clear goals, as well as space and support for your team to achieve those goals.
For instance, if you find that your salespeople spend half of their time in internal meetings, or find it difficult to schedule appointments due to a lack of resources, this needs to be addressed.
Here are some ways in which you may be destroying your company’s productivity:
- Managers and meetings. Jason Fried, co-founder of Basecamp, has made a point of trying to help businesses limit the over-scheduling of meetings and over-managing of employees. These two major issues can cause employees to spend valuable time and energy on non-revenue generating activities, and can leave employees jaded and exhausted.
- Administrative tasks. If one of your sales reps is not only responsible for revenue targets, but also answering the phones, ordering snacks and booking meeting rooms for others, you are not setting her up for success. Consider hiring a dedicated employee for this role.
- Expensive customer service. It sounds scary, especially for a very small business, but you can outsource your customer service team. Many firms now offer virtual receptionists who can provide top-level customer service at a fraction of the price of a full-time employee. These services use highly-trained staff and are often based in the U.S.
A virtual receptionist can help in a number of other ways too, including the basics of answering phones, taking messages and forwarding important calls. They can also help your customers with basic troubleshooting and common queries. Plus, they can assist your sales team by collecting information from potential clients, and pass it on to your sales team, if you wish.
Okay, so now that we are humming at near capacity on the productivity meter, let’s talk about some other specific tactics you can use to increase revenue without a big team.
Change Your Prices
This isn’t a new strategy, but a commonly repeated suggestion for increasing revenue is to raise your prices. Sometimes, it’s good advice.
But without knowing your company’s specific situation, no outsider can tell you that this is a great idea.
In some cases, you might be able to increase your overall revenue by reducing price.
So how can you tell whether to raise or lower prices?
Well, you should think about a few issues.
First, what is the competition doing? If they are charging less than you, is their pricing sustainable in the long term? There is no point in following a competitor down into the bargain basement if they can’t afford to keep their lights on through the end of the year.
Second, look at your metrics.
You should be monitoring conversion rates for your sales team. If you find that your conversion rates and customer satisfaction metrics are high, maybe you can increase prices.
If conversion rates are low or decreasing, perhaps a price decrease will help you to reach your maximum potential revenue.
Be careful with this strategy. It can be confusing and worrying for customers if a business changes its pricing structure too often.
Other pricing ideas:
- Use a recurring subscription model, and offer discounted pricing if a customer purchases multiple years or months in advance.
- Offer special limited time sales at a massive discount. Note that you need to differentiate this offering from your core product so that current customers won’t be upset. (TIP: Offer prospective customers a discounted new barebones plan for a limited time, after which the customer must purchase the standard package. This is one way to market your company without upsetting your current customers.)
- Extend your area geographically.
- Expand your product offerings into a related niche.
Coops, Customers and Commissions
Another way to get more revenue out of a small team is to let other people do your selling for you. Let’s look at three different ways to make this work:
You can enter into cooperative agreements with businesses who have similar customers (but do not directly compete with you).
For instance, if you own a landscaping company, consider partnering with local paving companies to share leads and commissions. When they install a parking lot at a local business, you might be able to snatch the contract for the landscaping.
Another example: if you provide graphic design services for websites, you might be able to recommend a great product that will help the business grow their social media presence.
Be creative—there are tons of adjacencies to your business that might not appear obvious at first.
Customers as Brand Ambassadors
In addition to cooperative agreements with other businesses, you can also entice customers to share their experiences with your prospects.
You can take the traditional route of offering discounted rates or cash bonuses for every customer referral. Alternatively, you can give them special recognition in your own marketing materials, or even take the client out for a great meal.
Different people like to be thanked in different ways. You know your customer. Think about how you could show appreciation for their help, and they will be generous towards you.
The most important part here is just to ask.
Your satisfied customers will often be more than happy to help you with testimonials and referrals.
Increased Commission Rates
Last but not least, you can use the boring old commission increase.
You might want to run a limited time commission increase on all new customers and renewals, or you can use this tactic to juice new products or categories where you might be lagging in revenue.
Be Smart About Automation
Computers are great, right? And we’ve all got tons of them just laying around. But just like your brain, you are probably not using your computing resources to their full potential.
Here are just a few ways you can use automation to get more leads and increase conversion rates:
- Run cheap marketing campaigns on Twitter or Facebook to test your messaging and get your products in front of relevant leads.
- Use content marketing strategies to build a relevant email list of interested prospects.
- Send weekly email marketing blasts to communicate with existing customers, partners and prospects. Stay top of mind with minimum effort. Bonus points if you outsource this part. (Tip: This will be cheaper than you think.)
Conclusion: Keep Your Eye On the Prize
While there can be a ridiculous number of daily challenges for small business owners, it is essential that you try to stay focused on the big picture, instead of putting out small fires all day.
It can be hard to avoid the temptation of increased meetings and layers of management.
Do your best to create an environment where you support your team members, and allow them to focus on doing their core job.
If you can maintain that kind of environment and add value by using some of the above ideas, you should be able to increase your revenue without adding significant overhead.