Effective marketing is crucial to the success of any business.
Simply understanding your market is not enough.
You need to build on your marketing plans, turning theory into profits. A good sales strategy will help you identify and take advantage of the best opportunities.
Sales & Marketing has undergone extensive change over recent years with Marketing now supporting the sales function much further into the buying process. With Digital Technology advances available to business, Marketing now plays a much greater part in raising awareness and interest throughout the decision journey.
Base your sales strategy and objectives on your business and marketing plans and understand your market by finding out more about your customers, the decision makers, their business and buying process. Concentrate on generating profitable business and rank customers in order of profitability and potential. Define the benefits of your business and communicate such to market.
Your objectives may include:
- Sales volume increase
- Average sales deal size increase
- Decrease average length of sale
- Increase turnover value by customer
- Break into new prospect or sector
Business growth depends on creating new, profitable business with different customer types. It is important to generate business with both new prospects and develop further business within existing customers, at the same time working out a sensible balance. Lapsed customers are also an invaluable source of opportunity.
The Pareto Principle 80/20 rule highlights:
- 80% of your profits may come from 20% of your customers.
- 80% of your Sales may come from 20% of your products or services.
Once you have worked out which customers to target, you need to decide which sales & marketing channels and strategy will be most effective and how to reach these target customers.
Sales lead generation may include channels such as: web-site, exhibitions, references, trade memberships, networking, prospecting, direct mailing, social media and the use marketing automation tools which include CRM, e-marketing and analytics.
Direct sales methods include selling face-to face, direct mail, e-mail, telesales and e-commerce. Be aware that a sale particularly B2B includes many others in the buying process and that sales people need to be aware of all those involved and take this into account.
Selling face-to-face is the most expensive and is best for high-value sales. You might target customers that are individual consumers through retailers or if you are breaking into overseas markets, consider using an agent, partner or distributor particularly in B2B selling.
It is important together with your sales employees to prepare a sales forecast which is a detailed breakdown of the sales you plan to achieve by month, by customer and by product/service. It is useful to revise your sales forecasts quarterly and annually using past performance as a guide comparing forecast vs actual. Be aware also of sales cycles in any year. The total amount of time it may take to complete a sale can have a critical impact on your cashflow.
Organise, plan and support your sales team and make sure they understand what sets your product or service apart from those of your competition, in other words your differential or USP and get them to communicate this to customers and ensure they have an effective elevator pitch ready.
Ensure technology is on your side. The right technology can significantly improve your selling efficiency. For best results, give your sales people the training and technical support they need to use it particularly in this new digital age.
Analyse, monitor and measure sales team performance within both new and existing accounts and improve selling techniques and knowledge where required.
- Clarify your sales objectives.
- Decide how to reach target customers.
- Plan and support your sales effort.
- Monitor, measure and improve.
- Close….and follow up!
Written by Iain Rose