Red Zebra Business Centre -Management Memos
April, 2007. Make Measurably More In Your Business!

Marking More Than 21 Years of Service to Small and Medium Business.

See how
you can
your profit.


And it won't cost the earth.


You can make more profit out of your business, even now.The Red Zebra will run you a profit improvement program.

Every fee dollar charges will be refunded if we cannot demonstrate a profit improvement that is at least double the cost of the program.

Find out more!

Click Here

Remember to
Visit the
and the

Printing from Internet Explorer

Click on the text before you click on the printer icon, otherwise the main part of the screen will not print.

Save a Local Copy:

Do you want to save a local copy on your computer? Go to "Menu/File/Save As ", select the folder you want to use to keep this report, and choose the "File Type" to be "Web Page Complete".


Recently, many business people have been reporting sales as "below expectation".  It's not that the situation is critical, or worse than last year,  It's just that sales have "tapered off", and what was looking like a good year now promises to be bit "ordinary".  It's time to crank up the sales machine to finish the financial year on a strong note.

When sales taper off this way, it is easy to blame the drought (in Australia, but not in New Zealand!), the Government, interest rates, the most recent election, or something else.  Sometimes, that may be legitimate, but always the question is "What can be done to increase sales, and do it quickly?".  Here are four ways to do something now to increase your sales performance.

1.    Get Started on Price Pointing

It's been said before - "price is your most powerful business development tool - ever!"  That is not an invitation to get volume at the expense of profit, but over and over again we see people who report great gross margin percentages - but lousy sales.  The have sacrificed actual gross profit dollars by not fighting to get sales, in the mistaken belief that "matching the market" is not necessary.  "We don't have a price problem" is the usual comment.  They do - it just has not been obvious.

In fact, pricing is quite complex.  If you simply use the manufacturers' recommended retail price, you have not maximised your sales and gross profit.  Do these four things:

You May Be in a Tight Market

Across Australia and New Zealand, growth rates vary regionally.  For the Australian scenario, refer here to the "Two Australias" comments extracted from Management Memos October 06.   You may be in the southern states and territories where growth is slowing, or perhaps just your sector is slow in the northern "hot growth" regions.

In New Zealand, the Treasury estimates (refer to "Half Year Economic & Fiscal Update 2006" from the New Zealand Treasury) reflect sound growth, rather than vigorous.

In each case, winning strong sales growth for an individual business will require  the extra effort described here.

  • Check your competitors
  • Determine the key price points
  • Use 'landmark' pricing
  • Price up to the market

If this looks a bit hard, the reason is that it is. Get someone to help you, or contact The Red Zebra. When your prices are properly trimmed, you will be amazed at how sales will begin to grow.

2.    Review Your Staff Sales Training

Look anywhere, and you'll see it. Bosses saying how "Xname" is 'really good with customers'.  

You'd hope so, wouldn't you?  Otherwise they need to be locked up in the back room - away from customers until they learn who pays the wages!  But just how significant is being 'good with customers'? You could probably say that about the local signwriter too, but then you'd like them to be good at signwriting as well.  So with a salesperson.

If the main job is selling, they need to understand that skill set and be good at it.  After all, the purpose of the salesperson is to stimulate someone to transfer money from the prospect standing in your store, to you.  You treat your money very carefully, and it is hard to get money out of you.  So, won't your salespeople need to know how to go about getting money out of your sales prospects?  Won't they need real sales skills?  Being good with customers is nowhere near cutting it.

When sales "taper off" it's a good time to re-evaluate the genuine professional sales skills of your front line people.  Then, remember that sales training is strictly perishable.  It needs to  be constantly refreshed.  Find a sales trainer, or contact The Red  Zebra.

3.    Focus Your Advertising!

Last month (Increase Your Advertising Effectiveness) we referred to just how much more effective your advertising is when it is based on a merchandising campaign.

Simply advertising a product or service is nothing more than institutional brand building.  It does not generate sales at the time. If you want to stimulate sales in the here and now, your advertising effort needs much more.  Your standard approach to advertising is not good enough. It  needs skill and understanding, creative merchandising campaigns - and a dedicated sales driving  focus.  

Keep your ads focussed on the "Buy Now" imperative of your merchandising campaign. Don't dilute your advertising. Run just one message - over and over again, as often as you can afford.  Just one offer.  Any more is too many.  Don't trust media outlets for advice - talk to your advertising designer, your ad agency, or contact The Red Zebra.

4.    Run Your Database!

database marketingDo you realize that your database of previous customers is like pure gold - if you mine it properly?  In just about every case, there will be at least three times as many sales prospects there than you have present customers.  And you know they are all users of your goods or services.  Of course, it costs so much less to resurrect an old customer than it does to generate new one, so this is a very cost effective way to get more sales. So, why not mine that database to get real sales leads?

Some people do that really well.  For others though, it is too hard.  Databases are notoriously untidy, and need a lot of work to make run effectively - unless you have made a special effort to keep your database 'ready for action'.

Don't underestimate the power of personalised micro-marketing.  Don't underestimate the task of doing it well.  If you have not done it before, or have had no success, get help.

Run your database to make special, tailored offers to past customers. It needs a special approach, so get help, or contact The Red Zebra.

 If you'd like to find out more about Improving Sales Performance Quickly, talk to us, or ask us a question here!  Remember, there's no charge or obligation, and you get a whole hour's consultation free.  This same offer also applies in New Zealand.