Coronavirus hasn’t been kind to many small businesses. Nevertheless, plenty of startups and modestly sized organizations are looking toward the future with a positive eye.
More than half of participants in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study from mid-2020 felt their companies were in economically good health, all things considered. A similar percentage believed that 2021 would bring increased income into their coffers. However, nevertheless, smart owners and founders aren’t waiting around for money to come their way. Rather, they’re looking for ways to turn on their sales spigots and enjoy a renewed stream of fresh revenue.
If you’re bent on recovering any lost income related to COVID-19 and global shutdowns, consider looking inward before looking outward. Specifically, rake over your internal operations and processes to uncover areas of untapped economic growth.
1. Put energy into elevating your customer experience.
Whether you call it CX (customer experience) or UX (user experience,) the experience you offer your prospects and clients matters. In fact, a heightened CX will keep people buying from you again and again, even if you make mistakes. After all, erring is human, and customers are willing to forgive if you’re wowing them in atonement.
How can you elevate your CX? Start by aligning your sales and marketing. Remember: Marketing sets buyer expectations, and sales fulfill those expectations. Therefore, marketing and sales language have to be in sync. Otherwise, your customer may become frustrated or feel like a victim of bait-and-switch.
One way to enhance alignment between marketers and sellers is to collaborate on the creation of all messaging. PandaDoc, an all-in-one document automation software, details how collaboration removes customer engagement hurdles caused by “gut decisions” that aren’t based on real-world facts. When sales and marketing team members speak openly and share a vision, they can help drive conversions.
2. Break down departmental silos and work toward common goals.
You don’t have to stop the beauty of alignment at your sales and marketing department doors. Instead, embrace the cross-pollination of people from various verticals throughout your organization. It’s actually easier than ever, now that no fewer than 42% of employees are working from home according to research from Stanford University. Basically, any resistance those workers may have had to work with unfamiliar teammates have been lowered. Remember: Change is in the air, and it’s time to embrace it.
The next time you schedule a Zoom brainstorming meeting, bring in different team members than you might have pre-COVID. Perhaps you’ll want a voice from finance or your IT department. Maybe you’d like to loop in a freelancer or two for their outsider opinion. The bottom line is that the more voices on your call, the more everyone can see their part in the bigger equation.
As everyone adjusts to working without classic silos and invisible lines in the sand, you can start assigning leadership duties. These will be vital to ensure that crowdsourced project management processes don’t fall by the wayside. When someone “owns” a new initiative, they can be held responsible for seeing it come to fruition. And all those initiatives working in tandem should help point your ship into profitable waters.
3. Augment core staff with gig economy workers.
If you’re trying to open your sales pipeline, you might not be able to do it with a skeletal crew. On the other hand, hiring and onboarding full-fledged employees can be a costly venture. That’s why you may want to look for ways to use independent contractors to branch out and develop innovative services or solutions.
Partnering with gig workers can be highly cost-effective. Although gigsters may charge a high per-hour or per-project dollar figure, you’re not tethered to them forever. Plus, you won’t have to pay their taxes or give them special perks.
Best of all, independent contractors can give you insight from a wider range of people. You’ll get to hear from professionals with diverse backgrounds, educations, and expertise. Never underestimate how valuable this can be to a growing company. Your next independent contractor could solve a conundrum you’ve been unable to unravel in-house. But you won’t know until you tap into the gig market.
4. Conduct plenty of A/B split tests.
Data doesn’t lie, which is why marketers rely so heavily on content testing. Unfortunately, other departments that could also benefit from some testing may not be familiar with how to implement A/B split tests. As a result, they miss out on getting better ROI from their efforts.
As part of your commitment to looking for any way possible to encourage more sales, put forth an effort to tweak any repeat content that goes out the door. This could mean swapping headlines in an email to new buyers, or trying different “percent off” coupons with repeat shoppers. Optimizely, an optimization platform, suggests making sure you have a solid hypothesis and clear documentation for a successful A/B test. While you’re at it, make sure that you give each change enough time to produce measurable results, and don’t try to change more than one thing in a message at a time.
Be sure to teach employees to question and analyze all their templated content, too. You might be shocked at how switching up words or even peppering texts with emojis if you have a particularly “fun” brand can pay off. If you could boost content performance by just a few percentage points, you’d no doubt see the outcome in your bank account.
It doesn’t matter right now if you’re a small business or Fortune 500 megalithic enterprise. The playing field is wide open for companies willing to ditch old ways of thinking and doing. Make no mistake: People are spending money. Make sure you’re doing all you can to funnel it your way.
Image credit: Lukas; Pexels