The act of mastering sales in any given business is no coincidence. Successful sales strategies require careful planning and well-timed execution. It is not a matter of making random cold calls or networking at professional events (though that does play a part), it is a much more deliberate activity where leaders must be strategic in how they craft, deliver and act upon sales pitches.
In an article for Small Business Trends, international leadership consultant Diane Helbig compares organisational sales processes to riding a bike.
Creating a strong sales process is a lot like beginning to ride a bicycle.
“When you ride a bike you have to gain momentum. When you first start to pedal, it takes extra energy to get the bike to move. Once you’ve been riding you develop a flow; you can even glide at times,” explains Helbig.
“As you ride you build up steam. And when you hit a hill it is easier to climb it because you already have that momentum going. That’s what an effective sales process is like.”
Starting out is half the battle, once you and your team have an effective strategy and rhythm in place you can continue on your business journey with relative ease.
So – what do you need to build that sales strategy and get pedalling? We’ve compiled a list of five critical steps.
Define your market
If you haven’t already done so, the most important first step before approaching any sales strategy is defining your audience. Who will you be selling to? The more you focus in on your market the better equipped you will be to cater your sales approach appropriately.
A sales pitch that would work on the 20-30 year-old female demographic may not be as effective with the 40-50 male market. Make sure you keep your target specific enough to tailor your approach but big enough to increase your chances of success – too small of a selling pool can lessen your likelihood of making a sale.
Do the pre-planning
Creating a comprehensive sales strategy involves running through some standard planning activities, according to the University of San Francisco (USF). Defining your market and honing in your sales focus are important but the strategy sessions don’t end there. Leaders need to conduct SWOT analyses, decide on big picture goals and determine key performance indicators (KPIs).
- SWOT: These analyses help you and your team pinpoint the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. By identifying these things early on you can craft a strategy that plays to your strengths and potentially circumvents or addresses your weaknesses.
- Goal-Setting: Setting goals for your sales strategy can help keep your team aligned and working towards a common end point. Deciding on both long and short term goals is useful to help reach sales objectives.
- KPIs: Key performance indicators are intended to help you measure the successes and failures of your approach. Creating these benchmarks for measurement help you see what is working and what isn’t so you can change your strategy accordingly.
Extensive planning plays a huge role in a successful sales strategy.
Pinpoint your methods
Once you have the planning in place, it’s time to craft your pitches. You need to identify which channels you are going to use to reach your audience – and once you do reach them how you are going to sell your product. Many businesses start out by looking at their pre-existing connections, explained Helbig. Look at your LinkedIn connections or your social media ties, reach out to the people you know fit your target market and build from there.
Your pitch should clearly include three main elements, according to USF.
- Start by showing your prospect value. How does your product or service benefit them?
- Detail why you are best positioned to deliver this value. You have competitors, why should this customer choose you over them?
- Connect with them on a personal level. Showcase that this conversation is about more than just a sales transaction.
Align your strategy with other teams
Businesses today are most successful when they create a cohesive customer experience. It’s not just about singular departments excelling in their given area anymore – it is about all of these areas coming together to deliver a brand experience that customers fall in love with.
This means that your sales, marketing and customer service departments should be in constant communication with one another. Your sales strategy will benefit from better marketing and high-level customer service so make sure your plans are aligned with these departments when crafting your strategy.
Monitor your success
Using the KPIs you created during your planning process, keep track of how well your current strategy is working. This is arguably one of the most important elements of a successful sales strategy. Without monitoring your progress (or lack thereof), there is no room for improvement or growth. Take the successful pieces and see how you can expand upon them, pinpoint the failing areas, examine why they aren’t working and eliminate them.
For almost 20 years Leading Edge has provided custom built sales solutions to New Zealand companies, including our largest partner Spark. We provide high-performing, locally based sales teams that can help businesses achieve outrageous growth. If you're interested in seeing how sales outsourcing could work for you, contact us here.