Sales strategies determine the direction and success of your company. Without a sales strategy, your sales team is left stumbling in the dark. That’s a frustrating position for you, your managers and your employees to be in. Productivity, efficiency and morale are all negatively affected when you do not have a concrete sales strategy. The issue, then, lies in developing sales strategies that work for the individuals on your team and in your specific industry. Because the best sales strategies are tailored to your circumstances, that might be challenging.
The Importance of Sales Strategies
The main purpose of a sales strategy is to increase your profits by tracking prospective, new, and current customers as they interact with your company. You will not be left scrambling to meet the needs of your clients because you will know what they want ahead of time. Having a sales strategy enables you to hire the right people for your sales team, too. You will know what qualities you need in an employee before hiring someone, which will save you time and effort when it comes to training. Finally, the return on investment for each of your actions will be higher with a sales strategy. With a well-documented strategy, you will discover what works best for your company and customers. You will be able to perfect your sales process.
What is a Sales Strategy?
A sales strategy is a document or collection of documents that outline your plan for selling your goods or services. It is meant to give you and your sales team clear steps to follow when marketing, promoting and attempting to sell your product. Sales strategies are related to but different than marketing strategies. With a sales strategy, your end goal is to make a sale. With a marketing strategy, your goal is to increase your company’s visibility. It will likely result in increased sales, but it is an indirect benefit.
Building a Sales Strategy Plan
There are several things you need to know to build a successful sales strategy plan. Each successive piece of your sales strategy builds on the one before it, which means they are all essential. It also means there are a lot of places where something can go wrong. It is vital to build a well-organized, well-researched sales strategy plan.
Identify Your Market
You need to know who you are going to sell to before you can sell. Without a market, your product has nowhere to go. Market research is an incredibly necessary part of developing sales strategies. You should also be aware of who your competitors are and what they are doing. What makes your product different? Why should someone purchase your product over something offered by one of your competitors? Those are questions you need to be able to answer.
How to Reach Your Target Audience
Once you have identified your market, you need to identify the best ways to reach them. Social media, radio, television, web ads and other marketing media all have specific demographics for which they are the most effective. The ideal marketing campaign has several layers, and if you are trying to reach more than one market, you will need more than one campaign. Once again, know what your competitors are doing to reach that same audience, then do something to distinguish yourself from them.
Be Aware of Changing Trends
As technology changes and the business environment shifts, even the best sales strategies will eventually outlive their usefulness. You will have to tweak your sales strategies as time passes, and at some point, you may need to rewrite them completely. Your sales process should be dynamic. That’s not a sign that there was anything wrong with your strategies. Instead, it means that your company is growing and adapting to stay competitive.
Best Sales Strategies
These are the two main categories of sales strategy: inbound and outbound. Which one is right for you, and how do you decide?
When you use an outbound sales process, you reach out to potential customers directly rather than advertising your product and waiting for them to come to you. As with all sales strategies, there are benefits and drawbacks. Outbound sales are usually facilitated with cold calling, which is notoriously difficult and requires a dedicated sales team. There is also the matter of identifying potential customers. Because you are reaching out to individuals directly, you are casting a narrow net. If your market research was incorrect or lacking, or you are simply calling random numbers out of a phone directory, your conversion rate is going to be abysmal.
With an inbound sales process, you will reach out to your target market as a whole rather than a person or business. Inbound sales still require market research, but casting a wider net means the likelihood of stumbling onto a client accidentally is higher. You want to use marketing to make a variety of people aware of your company or product in the hopes that they will then come to you to make a purchase. Large-scale marketing campaigns may be significantly more expensive than simply contacting individuals, but you will reach exponentially more people.
The best sales strategies are the sales strategies that work for you. Unfortunately, there isn’t an equation you can plug your variables into to solve for success. The industry you are in, the market you are targeting, the individuals on your sales team, what your company’s management looks like, and even your physical location all factor into what makes a sales strategy a success or a failure.
Some basic concepts are the same no matter what, although none of them are comprehensive sales strategies by themselves. Despite that, the following items are good advice, and you should try to incorporate them into your sales process wherever possible.
- Have an attention-grabbing sales pitch. If no one cares what you’re saying, they don’t care what you’re selling.
- Automate your email marketing. It’s just easier that way.
- Know what problems your potential customers have, and articulate how your product or service solves them.
- Offer free trials and product demonstrations, but do not lose money on them.
- Have a specific audience in mind. The more specific your target market, the higher the likelihood that your marketing campaign will lead to conversions.
- Be open about risks and potential disadvantages. Potential customers will appreciate the honesty, and it can help build a trustworthy reputation for your company.
- Sell, sell, sell. Every single interaction you have with an existing or potential customer is an opportunity to make a sale or otherwise promote your business. Do not waste these extra chances.
Effective Sales Strategies
There are many different ways to define effectiveness. A sales strategy that produces fantastic immediate results may not have long term staying power. Likewise, some sales strategies take time to reach their full potential and may not produce the short-term results you want to see.
Communication is the most important factor in making your sales strategies effective. Specifically, you need to communicate the value of your product or service. Your product could be ground-breaking or life-changing, but if all you are saying about it is that it’s new or different, it is probably not going to get much traction. You need adjectives that evoke an emotional response, and you need evidence to back them up.
If you feel like your sales team struggles to communicate the value your product or service offers, consider putting together or purchasing a training program focused on communication skills. The benefits that proper training provides are well worth the cost. Don’t forget to emphasize listening skills too. Your potential customers might already be telling you what you can do differently that would help them. You just need to hear what they’re saying and incorporate it into your sales strategy. Improving communication and listening skills is not as impossible as it might sound. If the people you have in management roles embody the skills and values you want your lower-level employees to pick up on, they will.
Depending on the product you are selling, a subscription model may work well for you. Take software licensing, for example. Software-as-a-service, otherwise known as SaaS, is a unique example of a sales process because when you’re selling software, you’re not selling anything tangible. Essentially, your company hosts the software and allows customers to use it for a fee. With SaaS, they don’t download the software onto their computer.
By keeping the software in the cloud, your customers will not have to worry about storage space. Your product is also more financially viable because it’s a recurring charge rather than a one-time purchase. It’s effective because many people would rather pay five dollars a month than 60 dollars upfront, even though it ends up costing them the same amount if they use the product for a year. If they use it for longer, you will make even more money than you would have with a flat fee. You do not have to produce a new product to make money, although you do have to update your existing software to stay competitive and ensure your customers continue to subscribe.
Sales Strategy Presentation
How you present your sales strategy matters. In most cases, you cannot just drop a stack of papers on someone’s desk and tell them to read it. Instead, you need to extract the relevant data and simplify the steps explained within your sales strategy so that they are easily conveyed. There are plenty of sales strategy presentation templates available online, so shop around and find one that fits your needs or create your own.
Be sure to include information about your target market, your product or service, your sales process, what your company’s values are, and a consistent marketing message. Include data on your current profits, sales numbers, customer retention rate and more. Then decide what you want those numbers to look like next quarter, next year and on into the future. Emphasize your priorities and goals, and have a plan for achieving them.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Is the difference between sales and marketing purely semantic? Are we just splitting hairs here? Well, sort of. The two processes are inextricably linked. Sales do not happen without people being aware of your product, which means marketing is essential. Likewise, you cannot practice marketing without a product or service to sell. Both sales and marketing are too important to lump together under one heading, but they need to operate in concert. That’s where sales and marketing alignment comes in. By aligning your sales and marketing goals and practices, you can ensure the two departments are lifting each other up rather than getting in each other’s way.
Sales Strategies Examples
Consider Netflix. How did a service that mailed DVDs turn into a billion-dollar entertainment company in twenty short years? Part of it was lucky timing. Amazon was still in its infancy, and Blockbuster’s days were numbered. The rest of Netflix’s success can be traced back to a comprehensive and dynamic sales strategy.
Netflix has always been quick to adopt new technology, which keeps them on the cutting edge in that respect. It takes advantage of a subscription model of payment and, due to its ubiquity, can raise its rates with only minor grumbling from customers. Netflix also markets itself as a friend rather than a brand. More companies should pay attention to Netflix’s social media marketing strategy. Customers view it with fondness rather than irritation.
Netflix has successfully found and defended its niche despite the recent rise in other streaming services. With the appearance of Disney+, watch Netflix’s response carefully. No matter what happens, it will offer insight into how to handle competitors.
For sales strategy inspiration, look at a company you admire and break down the steps it has taken to succeed.
Grow Better With Sales Strategies
You don’t want your company to survive, you want it to thrive. Implementing the right sales strategies won’t just help you grow, it will help you grow better. With Selling Revolution, you have the opportunity to build an individualized Selling System™. By using a customized sales strategy like a Selling System™, you can increase sales and boost your company’s bottom line. Book a call with Selling Revolution today to learn more and take advantage of co-founders Ryan Chute and Roy H. Williams’ combined 65 years of experience.
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