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One of the mistakes that most business owners make is thinking about their sales as a one-time event.

And it’s natural to think this way! In fact one of the essential metrics to measure in any business is their sales volume and revenue.

The problem here is a sale is never an isolated event – ever!

Let’s consider a couple of different businesses to demonstrate what I mean.

For example, if you owned a bookstore, you may think that a customer coming up to the cash register with some books to purchase is the sale and a stand-alone event.

But even in a bookstore there is a sales process, which might look like:

  • Customer received a flyer or saw an ad
  • Calls up the store to find out location and hours
  • Enters the store, takes in the general layout
  • Searches for book looking for – asks for help
  • Sees other books or items that captures interest
  • Stands in line for cashier
  • Check out with cashier
  • Merchandise bagged and customer thanked for business.

When we are measuring sales, we only pay attention to the checking out with cashier step, however the number of people who go to the cash register and the amount of merchandise they take with them is completely determined by their experience at the other steps.

If when the customer calls the store they get a poor reception or it is hard to get the information they are calling about, they may just look somewhere else (including online).

If the customer approaches the store and the windows are dirty or have out-dated posters in them, they may just walk away.

If they can’t find someone to ask for help, or they get poor service they are likely just to leave.

If instead they get excellent help, with the staff asking probing questions about what they are looking for, they may instead head to the cashier with more books or material and feel like they got more accomplished than expected.

Every interaction is essential because every interaction your customer has with your business either adds to the value you are providing, or takes away from it.

Think through the typical route a customer would take doing business with your company – what are the series of steps and interactions they go through?

Next work with your team to create a positive experience for your customer at each step – put in place structure so that you have confidence that your customers are having a positive experience at each interaction.

For example you with your team may create a phone script so that the phone is answered in the same way every time.

The goal is to make it easy for your customers to do business with you – eliminate the bottlenecks and road blocks.

There is a general store, popular in Canada, which I rarely shop at. They advertise extensively and have great deals but they fall down in two areas.

One is their staff are generally young and minimally helpful. If you are looking for something the response is almost always – check out aisle 25, rather than taking you to the section and pointing out the product.

The second area they fall down on is it’s painful to check out. There is always a line (even if the store is fairly empty).

Rule of thumb – never make it painful for customers to pay you money!

Are you losing revenue because you haven’t identified your sales process?

The simplest way to increase sales is to evaluate and improve your customers’ experience at every step in your sales process – a better experience translates into more captured business and higher sales!

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