The owners of small businesses often wonder what they can do quickly to make their sales and marketing more effective. Usually this is because they have a problem with revenue growth or with attracting clients that will pay profitable rates.

The good news is, that the means to change things are usually already within the business but they have just been neglected. Here are 6 straightforward ways to sharpen sales results using what you already have at your disposal.

1. Improve your data

When you mention the word data, most people think about IT but really we are talking about information and in the context of this article, sales information.

The biggest asset that your company is sitting on other than its current clients plus you and your team is the data that you hold. In many companies, this data is in shockingly poor condition.

Capturing details like job titles, the names of events that clients or prospects attend, their average stand size and other sales-related information can help you market to both clients and prospects more effectively. And by more effective, I mean with greater relevance to the person receiving your messages.

2. Segment your database so that you can promote your business with greater relevance

Segmentation of a database can be a very complex business but in its simplest form, it just means grouping like types of companies together.

For starters; your current clients.

Client information will be in your accounting system. Who are the clients who spend most with you or most frequently? Who are your least profitable clients? What are the buying cycles within your client list and is your sales and marketing plan (see point 6) geared to work within these cycles and produce results?

Dormant clients (see point 4) are usually a big opportunity for “new” sales in many businesses.

These are the companies that purchased from you in the past but haven’t done so within the last 12-18 months or more. Why haven’t they been repeat buyers and what can you do to entice them back?

Then there is your prospect list but can you define or identify the companies and individuals within it better than by piling them into one main “Prospect” category?

Can they be defined by the events that they take part in? Are they organisers, exhibitors, agencies, corporates? Can they be segmented by job title, geographic region and most important, likely value of spend?

Why bother with all of this? So that you can market your services with greater relevance, yes it’s the R word again, to the companies that you would most like to be doing business with.

3. Keep marketing and offering new items to your current clients

The people who have purchased from your business in the recent past are, as long as you did a good job, your best prospects for future orders both in the short and long-term.

Marketing in this context means thinking about other products or services that you might supply to current clients and then, introducing them to those clients.

Are there variations of your product or service that could be offered? This is particularly important if you feel that some of your clients pigeon-hole your expertise in one area and especially if that area is low in value or low in skill compared to other services and products that you can provide.

4. Start marketing to dormant clients

Many small businesses are so focused on getting the work done and winning new clients that they often overlook clients that purchased from them in the past but have since become “dormant.”

These are the companies within your database or within your accounting package that haven’t purchased from your business within the last 12 months or more.

Reconnect with them. Let them know about the new products or services that you offer. Find out what they have been up to and why they haven’t purchased from you since last time. Log those details and use them to build sales offers that will reignite sales.

5. Work backwards to discover how you will achieve a financial target or sales goal

If you want to know if you can hit a sales target or revenue goal, work backwards from the objective.

Write your goal at the top of a page or a spreadsheet and then list all of the revenue lines that you feel confident are going to come in between now and the target deadline.

Don’t include flimsy “maybe” sales. Only list repeat business or contracts signed that you know are going to happen or have been contracted already.

Total-up what everything on your list adds-up to and then, go to work on filling the gap between your target and the business that you expect to confirm (see next point).

6. Write a marketing plan to fill the gap in item no. 5

When you know what the gap in your figures is likely to be, you can write a plan to fill it.

To do this you will need to think about all of the possible ways sales could be generated.

This is where a good database is such a great asset but you’ll also need creative thinking and resourcefulness to be successful.

What sales can be generated in the period from existing clients, from dormant clients and prospective ones? What are the products, offers and incentives that can be employed to generate leads and conversions?

This is where you also need to be hyper-aware of every enquiry that’s coming into your business.

What are those enquiries for? What’s the potential sales value if they convert? How well is each one being followed-up? How can you attract more like them?

Leave no stone unturned in your quest to fill the gap.

Is your website working in attracting leads? How effective is your email marketing? Your tele-sales? What incentives and offers can you promote to generate leads and firm orders?

This is not an exercise in writing ideas. What you should do is put a financial value against each line of activity that you put into your plan.

If you up the number of emails that you send and make them more relevant to the people who receive them, how many more leads do you think that would generate per month?

How many of those leads would likely turn into orders? If you know the average value of a sale, you can translate that percentage conversion into a forecastable revenue figure.

Repeat the exercise for all of the items in your marketing plan. Then, get marketing!


The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESSA, its members, board or staff. Our members represent a broad range of views within the event industry, and we have provided this section of the website for their opinions to be openly heard and discussed.

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