Sales functions are struggling in the internet led world. Approaches that have worked for decades are no longer effective and many businesses have seen their digital investments fail to deliver expected results.
The importance of a sales strategy was discussed at a recent meeting of the Business Exposure Group and it led to a lively discussion with lots of questions being posed.
Do you have a sales strategy? – You can’t sell here and there, or pick up the phone when you have a spare minute. Strategy is about making choices, about where we play and where we don’t. Unless you have a solid strategy you are essentially flying blind.
Do you understand the sales process? – It’s not about money, you need to focus on the positive impact the product or service has on your customer. Forget about hitting the numbers, make sure the right message gets through.
Your CRM system maybe hurting your cause. Seeing the top 3 products your customer is interested in is far better than looking at the customer history. Will your customer benefit from doing business with you rather than your competitor? Explain to them why you are the best, why your product/service is better and try to create a bond so they will stay loyal.
Do you find yourself trying to get business without understanding the specific growth opportunities? – Define your ideal customer, know your USP, analyse your territory, know your competition and have realistic sales expectations.
Many companies think they have a sales strategy but they don’t.
One of our members got it very wrong. He has a machine tool business selling to the automotive trade and he decided he wanted to break into the medical market where there was more business at higher profits. The strategy was to bring in a new line for the medical industry. He revamped the website, had new brochures printed and then nothing happened. They hadn’t worked out how they were going to be accepted into the medical market, how they would train staff and what exactly they were selling, who to, which companies, etc.
One of our other members got it right. They are an accountancy practice who wanted to target independent haulage contractors for business. They found it was no good expecting hauliers to come into the office during the day as they were busy working. The company defined a sales strategy offering home visits accounts preparation for hauliers and they now have 420 new clients from that niche industry sector.
How much time should you spend on planning a sales strategy? You need to consider some of the following points
How do you move from being pretty good to very good at generating sales growth
- Take time to analyse problems then work out what your strategy needs to address
- Change your mind-set to ensure you are better than your competitors
- Ensure you are persuasive, but not arrogant or pushy
- Always talk to the decision maker and build a relationship, get in early
- Create a sense of urgency for their order, what can you offer them as an incentive to commit early
Management Consultants McKinseys have researched the SME market place and concluded the top 5 strategies for SME businesses:
1 Find growth where your competitors could not – practice micro segmentation of the market and find a pond where no one is fishing
2 Sell the way customers want to buy – focus on prospects for which you have something original to offer
3 Free up your sales people to sell – get rid of excess admin
4 Focus on developing staff
5 Expect exceptional performance – set stretching targets
Members who attended the Business Exposure Group Meeting left feeling energised and with lots of thoughts to focus on.