Discover the secret behind a great sales strategy and learn how to develop it for your own business. Get the right answer to the question “what is a sales strategy?”
You would be surprised to find out how many people run their businesses without a strategy. Every day they struggle to get customers buying their stuff without bothering to ask themselves questions like:
- What are the short-term and long-term goals of my business?
- Why would these people want to buy something from me?
- Is this the right audience for my product/service?
- Am I using the right ways to reach out to them?
- What are my competitors doing?
- Is there a flaw, a potential weak spot in my current business process? If yes, how can I rectify it?
- What is a sales strategy and do I really need one?
The list goes on and on. Some of these businesses even manage to stay profitable somehow, but most barely break even or counting losses.
If you don’t want to be one of them, you’d better start developing sales strategy today, and I just happen to have some good advice for you.
- In less than 15 minutes of thoughtful reading you will:
- get an answer to the question “What is a sales strategy?”
- understand the basics of a successful sales strategy
learn how to create a sales strategy for your business
Are you up for it? If yes, let’s proceed with the definition.
What Is a Sales Strategy?
There are many definitions of the sales strategy, ranging from the MBA-ish fancy wordplay to some common terms. I prefer the latter (courtesy of Smallbusiness.chron.com).
A sales strategy is a plan by a business or an individual on how to go about selling products and services and increasing profits. Sales strategies are typically developed by the company’s administration, along with its sales, marketing, and advertising managers.
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? It is, in fact, simple, but it turns out that the simplest things in life are often the hardest to comprehend and embrace.
Chances are you’re not running a huge organization with countless departments and multiple levels of management. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to create a strategy for your own business. Take it seriously, yet try to stay relaxed at the same time.
After all, business is just another form of art, where you have to experiment and constantly challenge yourself in order to become successful. Of course, there will be fails along the way and guess what – the more you try, the more you might fail. But it’s the risk you should be willing to take as there is no other way to the top.
Why Do You Need a Strategy?
It’s simple: if you don’t know where to go, how do you know you’re there? Life is all about setting goals and reaching goals and your business is no exception. Every action you make, every step you undertake should pursue a certain goal, otherwise, you risk getting caught up in the Brownian motion.
When you have a sales strategy:
- it’s easier for you to run your business processes and adjust your activities on the market
- you have a clear vision of your current position and where you want to be
- you get the full picture of your customer flow
- it’s easier for you to position your company on the market
Think of it in this way: how can you run something that’s out of your control? By creating and implementing a strategy you’re getting the situation under your control. It means that you can influence the way things are going, depending on your current goals. You don’t have to look up to what the others are doing because you’re in charge.
If you read into any successful company’s bio, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that it started with a firm strategy for sales. iPhone didn’t just sell by itself or because it was something special – its success had become possible due to the brilliant sales strategy conceived by the legendary Steve Jobs and his managers.
These people have always been a step ahead of everyone else, and this is what you should do too.
Therefore, you need a sales strategy to have a firm control of your business and manage it effectively.
Where to Start?
Before you even start writing a strategy, you need to figure out where you are now. If you got lost in a forest, you don’t just go straight forward in the hope of an exit. You need to:
- locate your position
- create a plan of action
- act accordingly to the plan
So this is what we’ll do first.
Aim for the Future, Not the Present
It’s something that most young soccer (and not only soccer) players are taught by their coach.
“Don’t look at where the ball is now. See where it might go and anticipate the action.”
This is exactly what you should do with your business – don’t aim for the present, because today is already a history. Tomorrow is where your possibilities lie.
Another smart thought for you that any major company in the world can set as its motto.
“Good businesses satisfy the existing demand. Great businesses create a demand.”
So, how do you go about it all? By creating a sales strategy, moving step by step, as explained below.
Tips for Developing Sales Strategy for Your Own Business
I’ll attempt to give you the full cycle of developing a business strategy. If some of the points are not applicable to you, you may skip them but I strongly suggest you read through all of them.
1. Analyze Your Current Results – Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Take your past business cycle (year, 6 months, 3 months etc) and put it under scrutiny. Run reports on all relevant metrics – gross revenue, net profit, fixed costs, variable costs, market share, conversion on each step of the customer funnel etc.
Don’t forget about such important metrics as customer satisfaction – it can also be gauged. “How?” you might ask. Most companies use what they call Net Promoter Score (NPS). Basically, it’s when you’re asking your customers a question “On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” The higher your result, the better.
If your Net Promoter Score is over 50, there’s nothing to worry about. If less – you’ve got to rethink some of your decisions and engage in a heavy dialogue with your customers to find out what’s wrong.
In other words, run a full diagnostics of your business to define its current state.
2. Map Out Your Client Journey – From Start to Finish, Pre- and Post-Sale
Yes, you’ve just heard it. Take a pencil and a sheet of paper and physically draw your client journey on it. Start with the obvious facts, not missing a single thing no matter how stupid it may seem. Later you may add your personal comments.
Here are some of the questions that may help:
- how do my potential clients find out about my product/service?
- how many steps do have to go through before they see the actual landing page? What are these steps?
- what is the first impression that they get of my product/service (before even trying/buying it)?
- how does their initial impression correlate with the one that they get of the actual product/service when they try/buy it?
- how many customers go away before even trying/buying my product/service? What are the reasons for this?
- how many customers abandon my product/service after actually using it? What are the reasons for this?
Take it slow and do each step thoroughly. I bet you will start getting new ideas on how to improve your business immediately after you start doing this.
You can also utilize some of the techniques described in this article “How to Create Buyer Persona for Your Business and Get More Clients.” It’s the good stuff – read it.
3. Analyze the Market to See Where It Is Going
Read news and analytical articles about the market you’re in. Consult with influencers who may possess the latest insider information. Study the statistical reports to see what the current trends are and where they might go.
This information is mostly public and is quite available on the Internet, yet it doesn’t usually lie on the surface so please invest some time in your search, and you’ll be rewarded.
Based on this information, try to define a few upcoming trends that might be useful for your business.
For example, in case you didn’t know, Google is about to release its virtual reality platform for mobile phones. If you’re savvy enough, you could develop an application that makes use of these virtual reality features and get the chance to be one of the pioneers of the new huge market.
4. Analyze Your Competition
It’s always nice to spy on your competitors. 😉 First, define your competitors. Then, run a quick report on them, outlining their advantages and disadvantages. You may use the template I’ve provided here in the article on “How to Set Up and Launch Successful Email Marketing Campaign.”
Be a spy to the end – make sure you’ve gone all the way through your competitors’ customer flows and used their products/services. After that, take a look at their weak and strong points to see where you’re missing out.
Don’t be afraid to steal a nice idea if you see one – huge and respectable companies do it all the time, so why hesitate? After all, it’s nothing personal, just business. 😉
5. Talk to Your Customers
Dog’s not your best friend. Your customers are your best friends. So go ahead and talk to them and by talking I mean IN PERSON.
There’s no need in engaging into a conversation with your happy. They’re already happy – what else do you want? Instead, try speaking to the ones who are no satisfied with your product, because that’s where your possibilities are.
Reach out to your customers via email of phone and ask them politely if they could spend a couple minutes answering some of your questions about the product/service. Make sure you’re asking open-type questions – not “Did you like my product?”, but “What exactly did you like about my product and what didn’t?” This way you can get more valuable information out of your customers.
Gather this information in a single file and see if you can get some ideas out of it.
6. Brainstorm on Various Ideas How to Increase Your Revenue
This is my personal favorite part of the sales strategy development process. Now that you’ve collected a lot of data – analytics, customer feedback, competitor reports – it’s time to brainstorm on it.
In short, just set your mind free and let your fantasy go. Create as many wild ideas as possible and try not to limit yourself – just make sure you’ve got all your ideas scribbled down.
7. Pick an Idea That, if Implemented Now, Would Give Your Business Substantial Growth Within 90 Days
That’s right – out of these ideas you’ve generated, pick the ones that may give your business a substantial growth over the short period of time.
You don’t want to wait for 3 years to see if your original strategy works out because in three years people may invent a teleport and fly away to the Moon. The progress never stops and it’s no use to look that far into the future.
If the idea’s good, it’s got to be good here and now.
8. Always Use Rough Calculations
The fact that you’ve generated a few crazy ideas doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use calculations. Business is about making money, not losing them. So you want to know how much money you will be making exactly if you implement a certain idea.
There are ways to do quick, rough calculations for any idea just to see if it’s worth trying. I’ve described one of such ways in this article on “What is PPC? Learn How to Set Up Successful Pay Per Click Campaign.”
These calculations play a great role in your strategy development as they save you time, energy and, most importantly, money.
9. Find a Way to Validate This Idea Quickly, Without Investing Much Money
Once you’ve calculated the main batch of ideas, try to pick the most promising one and make an MVP. MVP stands for minimum viable product and this is something that you can call a prototype. Yet, it resembles all the functionality of the real product.
MVPs are great because you can actually test out your initial idea without investing much money and time.
For example, if your business is SEO services and your prospective market is India, try creating a landing page offering your services to your customer from this country. Run a quick PPC campaign and see what conversion rate you get. Chances are that this market is oversaturated and no one is going to sign up for your stuff.
With MVP, you can always reject the ideas that are not profitable in the first place.
10. If the Idea Has Been Validated, Plan It Out in Details and Personalities – Stage by Stage
Let’s say you have validated one of the ideas and it looks like it might work out. What’s next?
Next, you should plan out all the activities related to its implementation. Call it “the plan of action.”
Don’t limit yourself to the regular to-do list. Go beyond that and create a detailed plan of action which involves different stages with complete description answering the following questions:
- what is the goal for this certain stage and what should the outcome be?
- who is responsible for each stage?
- what is the timeline for the whole project and each stage?
11. Implement the Idea According to the Plan
Then, just do it, as Nike says. Implement the idea step by step according to the plan you’ve created.
ake sure everything goes smoothly and make adjustments along the way if necessary.
12. Analyze Each Step to See if It Needs Adjustment
When you get the first results, analyze them immediately to see how they correlate with your initial calculations. Based on this information, tweaks some parts of your sales strategy in order to reach the intermittent and overall goals.
That’s it for today! We talked about sales strategy and gave full and detailed answers to the questions that you had in the beginning.
Be sure to use this guide and your own common sense – this way your business will become successful and stay such for many years. Good luck!
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If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.