Merchants are always looking for new methods to increase customer sales. It doesn’t matter if your business model is business to consumer or business to business; finding new customers and closing sales is the most important aspect of every business. Merchants spend a lot of time, resources and money on traditional advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click marketing, direct mail and face-to-face sales. No matter what method you use to generate new sale opportunities the goal is always the same – find new customers and generate sales.
Track Your Marketing Campaigns
In order to be effective merchants should always track their marketing campaigns. I find CRM tools to be the most effective method for tracking all customer interactions. There are several commercial and open source CRM tools on the market so you have many to choose from. For more information on selecting the best open source CRM tool search for my article entitled “Open Source CRM for Small Business”. Even if you’re not using a CRM tool to track your advertising campaigns, merchants should have some way to track which marketing method is most effective. Once you determine which marketing methods are most effective you should focus your advertising budget on those campaigns that generate leads.
Leads Don’t Always Mean Sale
Now that you have determined the best methods for generating leads for your business you must now translate those leads into sales. The most successful companies are able to convert over 60% of their leads into sales. Companies with a high conversion rate are in a better position to navigate a recession or other challenges in the economy. So the question is how are some companies able to convert the majority of their new leads into orders while others cannot? Assuming you offer a quality product or service with superior customer service the main factor in closing more sales is providing your customers with multiple payment options.
8 Tips on Increasing Customer Orders
o Accept Credit Cards – customers must be able to pay for your products or services using their credit card or signature debit card. Customers want convenience and flexibility while paying for the products and services they want. Offering credit cards can increase sales by as much as 80% compared to merchants who don’t accept credit cards.
o Accept Electronic Checks – in today’s market consumer credit cards are at their maximum. Banks are also lowering consumer credit card credit lines. Offering customers the option of paying by check can easily increase sales. More customers are paying for products and services by check so they don’t have to worry about finance charges. If you sell to other businesses accepting check payments is a must.
o Accept Multiple Cards – your customers should always be able to pay with the credit card of their choice. Therefore, merchants should accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. International merchants or merchants in the travel industry should also accept Diners Club, JCB and Maestro credit cards. If the customer can’t use the credit card they want they will simply shop with another merchant.
o PIN Debit – more consumers are paying for products and services using their PIN Debit card. PIN Debit transactions are often less expensive for the merchant than credit card sales. PIN Debit can increase sales and lower your costs.
o eCommerce – the Internet has changed the way consumers shop. There is more opportunity for the customer to compare prices and save time by shopping online. Your business website must be more than an online brochure. Your website should be a lead generator and a portal for processing customer orders.
o Mobile Payments – imagine you’re meeting with a potential client, attending a networking meeting or other social gathering and you have an opportunity to make a sale. If you’re mobile device is payment enabled you can use your iPhone, Blackberry or cell phone to process a sale. Mobile payment technology is becoming a standard feature in today’s marketplace. Payment enable your mobile device so you’re ready to close the deal anytime and anywhere.
o CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – in order to be more effective managing customer interactions you have implemented one of the top rated CRM applications to empower your sales force. Improving sales force automation is also a critical component to quickly obtaining ROI (return on investment). Adding a payment module and extending the functionality of your CRM tool will allow your sales team and back office staff to process credit card and electronic check payments directly within your CRM application. Now you can track all customer information including payment history in a single location.
o Recurring Payments – automatically bill your customers on a periodic basis. Recurring billing options provide your clients with the opportunity to pay for your products or services over time. Recurring payments can lead to more sales since consumers can make smaller payments without accruing interest.
Merchants that implement the above recommendations will be in position to convert more leads into sales. The next 12 months will be very competitive so merchants must be ready to accept orders using the payment method chosen by the customer. Offering multiple payment solutions will help merchants turn every customer interaction into an opportunity to make a sale.