Question: I have recently started my business and want to grow my sales and operate profitably. What is the best way to do this?

Answer: There are a series of four steps that can help an entrepreneur develop initial sales for his startup, grow those sales over time and maintain a strong competitive position in his selected market. Here is the process that can help you do this.

Step 1- Learn what your customers want.

This is done via direct contact with customers asking what their problems and opportunities are and then developing your product and/or service solutions to address those requirements. Remember that customers are buying the experience of dealing with your company, so all aspects of the relationship must be presented in accordance with what customers want. The result of this research should be your ability to segment (divide) your market into specific categories of customers to whom you can later direct targeted sales programs.

Step 2-Learn how and when you customers get information and buy products (solutions)

Customers get information about products and services to meet their needs in various ways, such as via social media, the Internet, advertising, and experience. Your information must be available to aid them in their search for solutions. This is a continuous process of trying to understand as much as possible about what information customers base their buying decisions on, such as competitive pricing, availability, quality, and seller’s reputation and to provide it to them.

Step 3-Develop and refine your sales presentation,

Your presentations, whether via social media, print or electronic advertising, or in person must always convey current information, expertise in creating and implementing solutions to problems, willingness to help the customer, and knowledge of the market and your competitors. They must also be updated frequently, as well as tested and refined as needed.

Step 4-Plan and monitor progress and profitability

Sales planning must include profit panning, and plans must have both volume and profitability targets. The focus of plans should be both short term and long term. Short term plans, for example monthly or quarterly should have specific product and/or service goals over the period with projected profitability as well. Long term plans should be focused on more on growth and market share as planned and achieved. Financial tools such as ratio analysis (costs related to profits by percentage) will be helpful to determine the financial success of sales planning. Also consider the concept of product life cycle. Newly introduced products have differing potentials than established products and services.

Using this four-step plan can get your started on the road to growth and profitability. We would welcome the opportunity to hear from you and discuss the planning system in greater detail.

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