Contributed Column

Marketing 101

by Christine Miller

Seven sales growth strategies for 2017

Outside the ground may be freezing and the trees becoming bare, but inside, the office is fertile with ideas on how to grow your business for the new year. You may already have a sales goal set, but do you have a plan? Define your top objectives, identify the path to success, and you’ll have a winning year. Some common strategies for sales growth that can be applied to almost any business include the following:

Reduce customer turnover

This seems like a no-brainer, but how much time do you really spend making sure current customers are well serviced and happy? Do all your client-facing employees understand the importance of customer service? Make this a major focus for the new year and watch your sales improve.

Up-sell current customers

While we’ve all said that it’s easier to sell more to existing clients, that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. For many salespeople it’s scary to offer more to an existing client. The fear of jeopardizing revenue that is already committed often holds salespeople back. Ensure that your reps have the confidence and knowledge to know how to sell more to current customers.

Acquire new customers

Without new customers, growth stalls. Closing new accounts requires a significant commitment of time and energy from your staff. Make sure that your incentives match your goals and that your team has the resources needed to close those deals. Define what success looks like (five new customers a month or 10 a year), then plan and track your results.

Optimize lead generation and cold-calling

Whether you are a fan of the old-fashioned cold call, or social selling, you need to hit the right leads to get the right results. The outlet of choice is yours, but always track and measure against your goal. Be careful not to confuse quantity with quality. In today’s sales environment it is more productive to have the most effective contact (e.g., calls, clicks, visits) instead of more contact.

Improve sales margins

When I was a media buyer I knew which reps would cut their prices in half, and those who would not budge a cent. If I was willing to pay full price, I saw the value in the product. Are you selling value or a deal? For most businesses, having fewer but more profitable customers is more valuable than having more accounts. Analyze what makes sense for your business and build it into your plan.

Increase sales effectiveness

Administrative work is a necessary evil of sales. Tracking customers in CRM (customer relationship management), filling out order forms, creating contracts are all tasks that need to be done, but are generally loathed by salespeople. Offload as many administrative tasks to support staff so that salespeople can sell. The main aim of salespeople should be spending time with customers.

Refine your sales role and process

Are you a vendor or a partner to your customers? When selling you can assume one of several roles and present in a number of ways. If you are selling based on a simple “approved vendor status” you are likely to have a smaller sale than if you are a trusted partner. The more dynamic and customer-focused your pitch, the higher likelihood of success and revenue.

Before you finalize those budgets, do a deep dive into where you need to grow and improve. An opportunity can only be realized with the right focus, team, and direction. Cheers to the New Year! Happy selling in 2017! •

Christine Milleris the author of Sales Geisha. She can be reached at

Index of Contributed Columns

For information on submitting a contributed column see here.