A business without a sales strategy is like a zombie, it is not dead because it still has a few sales trickling in, but it is not living either. When you just started out you can tolerate this freelance approach to getting sales but it is not effective in the long run.
It’s not a good way to run a business that you want to grow; barely surviving, with sales relying more on hope than any plan of action.
So, if this is how you’ve been running your sales, here is what your business has been lacking – a sales strategy. A sales strategy is a plan of action that documents how a business intends to sell its products or services, it includes who their target customers are, and the channels they would employ to reach them in order to achieve the objectives of the business.
There are two ways to approach a sales strategy. The first is the outbound sales strategy and the other is the inbound sales strategy.
The outbound sales strategy relies on the action of the seller or business. Here the business owner or its sales team are expected to initiate the sales process; he or she reaches out to the prospect via face-to-face meetings, cold calls and emails, with the aim of nudging them to make a purchase.
On the other hand, the inbound sales strategy relies on the prospect or buyer taking action. This means that the customer is already actively seeking solutions to his or her problems, via information or advice to help that can lead them to a purchase.
Different businesses adopt the strategy they suit them best. For instance, most traditional businesses tend towards the outbound sales strategy but online and internet businesses today easily adopt the inbound sales strategy because customers are better equipped to find them. No matter what strategy you choose to adopt, there are a few things you should know to help you flesh out your sales strategy.
- Research and Identify Your Target Market
The first step to creating your sales strategy is to identify the market and customers are providing solutions to. You should answer the question – who would want to buy this product or service? The answers you get would indicate the customer(s) that suffers from the problems you are offering solutions to. To provide answers to this question, you need to carry out a detailed research of your market. At the end, you should know the size of your market, the key pain-points of your customers, your ideal customer profile, etc.
- Unique Value Proposition
The areas where your business has a clear advantage over your competition should be clearly defined. This why, you know where you are providing more value to your customers. Your unique value proposition should answer the question “Why should your prospect change from their current status to take action on your offering?” – The customer would prefer that the status quo remains unless you provide sufficient reasons why buying your product or service would be more beneficial. Whether you’re initiating the sale or the customer is, purchase can not be made if the benefits are not clearly defined. So, make sure it is crystal.
- Sales Channel(s)
Thanks to the research you did earlier, you know who your customers are and where to find them. As a part of your sales strategy, you should know how you intend to reach out to your customers (outbound) or how you want them to reach you (inbound). Sales channels are critical to the success of any sales strategy because you would not have the avenue to interact and convince your prospects to buy if you’re not using the appropriate channels. Imagine the sales that would be lost if majority of your customers are online and you don’t have an online presence.
- Sales Goal(s)
Measuring the performance of your sales strategy would be impossible if you don’t set a goal to meet. Your sales goals can vary depending on what you want to achieve but your goals should always be S. M. A. R. T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound). An example of a sales goal that follows this principle is ‘Increase Units sold by 10% in the 12 months.’
Now with your goals set, you should set key metrics that can be used to measure how well you’ve performed in relation to your goals. What it costs you to make a sale should also be determined. It should make economic sense (you should not spend more than what you would get to make a sale). Creating a budget and tracking it too would help you stay on top of that.
At the end, a sales strategy is just another piece of paper lying around your drawer if you don’t make active use of it. Create your sales strategy and keep reviewing it to meet the objectives of your business.
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