Being successful at sales isn’t a hit-or-miss endeavor. Rather, sales is an activity that takes careful planning, diligence, and persistence.
If you’re finding that you aren’t hitting your sales numbers or are unable to meet business development goals, it might be that you don’t have an effective sales strategy.
What does having a “sales strategy” mean?
Does it mean making calls? Yes. However, it could be that you are making calls, but haphazardly.
Does it mean reaching out to prospective clients? Sure, but you may not be following up with leads, or tracking data on which clients are more likely to close, and when.
If you execute your sales and outreach initiatives in this way, your efforts can easily become diluted. When this happens you lose not only momentum, but customer recall of your brand or product (and all of the time and effort you spent bringing in customers and educating them in the first place).
The process behind sales success
Developing your brand, educating customers, and creating a profitable sales channel are not easy tasks. However, once you make the decision to start working on these areas, your sales strategy that will keep the momentum going as your business grows.
Your sales strategy should be robust, responsive to client needs, and it should take care of itself once it has been set up.
So what is the best way to start crafting your sales strategy? Here are a five tips:
1. Know your customer (KYC)
This isn’t just fancy business jargon. In fact, it is mandated legislation for many organizations, large and small. You need to know who you are selling to!
Define your customer segments. As the saying goes, the quickest path to failure is trying to please everyone at the same time. For businesses, the corollary is trying to serve everyone at the same time.
You need one narrowly defined ideal customer on which to focus. Then you can take it from there and expand to other target segments, niches, or even markets once you are successful serving your core customers.
2. Pick your marketing channels carefully
Will you call customers on the phone, engage them via your social media accounts, send direct mailers, send out an email newsletter, work with affiliates, launch search ads, test a remarketing campaign, or all of the above?
So what do you need to do? Reach out to people in your network, tap into your contact list, develop your network, and identify which platforms your customers are the most active on. Then build your presence on those specific platforms.
Doing this will put you in the right place at the right time to not only sell to high-conversion customers directly, but for them to stumble across you themselves.
3. Over-deliver and ‘wow’ customers
Always deliver what you said you were going to deliver, do so on time, and “wow” your customer.
But don’t stop there! Follow up and make sure you to build the relationship so your client, knowingly or unknowingly, becomes an enthusiastic spokesperson for your brand.
Remember: no sale ends with the sale itself, rather it should extend beyond that into a lasting relationship between you and the customer you just closed. Your mantra should be: customers are for life, not just one-off trades.
4. Don’t overlook analytics
Analytics is often overlooked when there’s talk of sales strategies. Don’t make this mistake. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t; improve, pivot, tweak, and experiment with things until you have a winning strategy.
In fact, studies suggest that companies who keep detailed records and track data generated by everything (think, social media, company website, ROI, etc.) are 12 times more likely to generate profits year-over-year.
Marketing teams often lean towards bright-shiny-and-new tactics, but how long can you do things haphazardly? Such an approach is not only expensive and time consuming, but it’s unprofessional from the data science perspective of marketing.
Instead, ask yourself how things went, what worked, what didn’t, did you achieve your targets, why or why not, and figure out how you can improve each step of the process incrementally.
After repeating this several times over weeks and months, you’ll have a system that has been tried and tested in the market and is actually built on factual data and first-hand market research.
5. Think bigger
Most small businesses and startups start small with one web page, one product or service, and one goal in mind. But if you do a good job of executing on the four things outlined above, you will hopefully find yourself in the enviable position of having too much work to do and not enough time or resources.
What can you do in such a situation? Here are a few ideas.
However, only do so after maintaining consistent profits and steady growth from your original business, site, or location.
Franchise your idea
For sales folks, this might mean giving commission-based works to new market entrants, or having freelancers or other outsourcing companies do some of the heavy lifting for you while you main proprietary control, as well as a share of profits.
Explore licensing and alliances
These can be effective, low-cost options once you have an established brand. Look into companies providing products or services similar to yours, and align yourself with those who have similar values as you. Trying to keep all the money to yourself is actually a losing strategy; the market is big enough for everyone, so if you can give a little to get a lot, it will be worth it at the end of the day, and the sales numbers will speak for themselves.
When it comes to sales, your bottom line is defined by how well you hit the sales process on the head. It isn’t rocket science.
It takes a bit of persistence and market smarts, but with a little work, intense focus, and application of these five points (and tweaking your process in repeated iterations), your sales will be in good shape before you know it.
This article has been edited.
Pjay Shrestha is passionate about entrepreneurship and helping businesses grow. He is the recent winner of MR. Nepal Oceania and loves writing articles about business development, marketing, and productivity Hhacks. A version of this article originally appeared on the authors blog. Connect with @pjay_shrestha on Twitter.