We talk a lot about the emphasis on branding and marketing as pillars of your business success. But in the end, if you can’t sell or don’t have a strong sales strategy in place, relying on these other parts of your business won’t sustain you. If you’re afraid to make a sales call or get anxious about speaking to a group of decision makers, it’s ok. There are ways around those obstacles. And it starts with really understanding what sales is and how you can use a great sales plan to increase your bottom-line results.
You could be confident that you have a solid handle on your sales or know pretty much everything there is to know about presenting your product or service. At the very least, you’re fairly comfortable with your ability to describe to others what it is that you do. But winging it won’t generate the long-term results you need. You can’t track sales results or metrics if you’re flying by the seat of your pants with every engagement, either. And good luck trying to train anyone else on your winging-it technique.
What you need is a process. You need a sales plan and a road map of your strategy so you can keep your business on track with growth.
Meet Frank: Frank has opened a dry cleaning shop in his hometown. And while he’s confident that he can bring in the local foot traffic and neighborhood customers on convenience alone, he knows he needs to explore other options. What he really wants to do is target the many office buildings and corporate environment businesses with his pickup/delivery service for dry cleaning. But he needs a more robust sales strategy. And he also needs to take a closer look at how he’s doing with this target audience now, to, in turn, develop a better plan for growing his client base.
Meet Abby: Abby is incredibly proud of her pizzeria, bearing her family name. After all, she’s the third generation to offer smoldering melty cheese and mouth-watering pies out of this building. But Abby realizes there is an opportunity to expand her brand and introduce her family story beyond the local families who pop in for Thursday night pizza. She has a vision for growth beyond the sit-down restaurant. She created a corporate lunch and catering side to the business that she now needs to sell to area businesses. She needs a completely different sales strategy than she’s been using for lunch and evening foot traffic. But she’s not entirely sure where to start with developing her pitch effectively.
What Frank and Abby (and you) need to understand first are the primary pillars of the sales process. This is where everyone should start when developing a sales strategy that will work now and later.
Revert back to your Buyer Personas. Who are your target customers? Remember that when devising your elevator pitch, it needs to resonate with these personas as actual people. The goal is to build relationships with humans who will, in turn, buy from you. Therefore, the first aspect of your sales conversation needs to be relatable to these targets.
Your target audience won’t give two shits about what you’re offering if they don’t need it. So go back and determine what your product or solution will do for them specifically and what problem you can solve. This will help you be precise about your sales strategy positioning.
Don’t assume you can sell everything you offer to everyone you encounter. Instead, know which of your products or services solve each unique customer pain point. Then you can create sales messaging that will allow you to deliver precisely the solution for the problem at hand. Remember, a doctor who prescribes everything without proper diagnosis is essentially performing malpractice. Don’t make the same mistake with your sales strategy.
Your business model allows you to offer certain advantages or benefits to those who purchase from you. Make sure you elaborate on those unique perks, as they will help differentiate you from the competition and provide added value for potential prospects.
Once you feel confident that you understand what your company sales pillars really are, you can start aligning them into an easy-to-follow process. Here are the stages of sales, for which you’ll need to outline an action plan for each.
Prospecting is the hunting phase of sales. It’s the first step in the sales process officially. In the prospecting stage, this is where you will identify potential customers. Your goal is to develop a key group or even a database of potential leads. Prospecting is necessary and ongoing since your target audience might change over time with buying trends or innovations.
Planning and preparation in sales can mean different things, but it more or less means doing the appropriate homework about your intended prospects. This is the opportunity you have to uncover everything there is to know about who your client is, what they need and what pertinent information they value most. Not doing this sales preparation step means running the risk of calling your contact person by the wrong name or not having key details at your disposal.
When the so-called experts talk about the sales approach, they mean the step-by-step proposition developed by a salesperson to make the selling experience more effective. In other words, you don’t charge into a quiet library with a Wrestle Mania announcer tone, nor would an undertaker make use of an inflatable, waving tubeman windsock to engage clientele. The sales approach and outreach process are the HOW of your sales strategy. And it’s this aspect of sales that separates the amateurs from the top sellers.
A sales presentation is generally understood as the step in the sales process when the seller details to a potential buyer about the goods and services in question. A presentation can be a conversation about benefits or advantages. And it should outline what problem the seller is intending to solve for the buyer. A proposal might offer more official details about the pricing or investment required for the transaction. It can also serve as the introduction of a service or product in a more formal meeting or engagement.
A sales objection is what most consider to be an explicit expression by a potential buyer that there is a barrier between the current situation and what needs to happen before they officially buy from you. In other words, it’s a clear signal that you have more work to do in the selling process.
Closing the deal is a sales phrase that refers to the process of making a sale. The term itself hails from the real estate market, where the “closing” is the final step of a transaction. In sales, it is the definitive word used to describe the achievement of a desired transaction or outcome. In business, it’s the step of the process when buying decisions are made, signatures and money are exchanged, and a new business relationship is formed.
A sales follow-up engagement is what you do after your initial pitch, the presentation or the sale to encourage the prospective customer to take action or provide feedback on the next steps. Maybe the time for a conversion isn’t right now, but perhaps requires a follow-up later. Or once a sale transaction is complete, it’s the follow-up that will allow you to check in on your new customer to ensure he or she is still completely satisfied with the purchase.
To create a sales strategy that realistically works, you’ll want to take the best of what you’re doing now and remove any current mistakes. Take the time to evaluate what you’ve been doing to know what parts of your method work and which do not.
Start by asking yourself these questions and collecting the following data:
- How many new qualified leads are you currently getting each week?
- How many new sales opportunities are you engaging in every week?
- How many new sales meetings (virtual or otherwise) are you booking weekly?
- How many sales are you closing each week?
- Do you know your lead-opportunity conversion rate?
- What is your win rate percentage?
- What are the reasons you’re losing sales right now?
- What is your average sales cycle, size and velocity?
Every sales guru from here to Tibet will say success lies in your ability to tell your story. But what those experts always forget to mention is just how to incorporate your story into your sales pitch and standardized process. So, as usual, we’re here to save the day and provide the actual info you need to carve out a sales strategy that produces results.
Remember your WHY when you do this next step. The story you tell your prospects needs to align with your core company vision. Do it well, and you can differentiate yourself from the pack and authentically resonate with your audience.
To mesh your vision and story with your sales strategy, you can start by crafting a message in accordance with these pivotal topics.
What are their pain points your business addresses?
Your customer pain points need a solution that matters. Use your story to sell how you came to recognize those pain points and why your company understands those pain points better than anyone else.
How does your story help solve customer problems?
Use your story to help solve the customer problems, just as much as your direct product or service does. It can be about how you have a broader knowledge of their needs or understanding of their preferences, as well.
What opportunities are you presenting to them?
Your company story can be woven into your sales pitch in a way that allows you to offer more than one opportunity or unique solution.
How can you help them succeed?
How does your vision and your compelling story help them succeed or come out ahead? Storytelling in sales can be a great way to signify partnerships, not sales pitches.
Connect your story to your product or service. Essentially, you’ll marry the WHY to the WHAT of your business.
When you create the part of your sales pitch that showcases what makes your business different from the competition, it’s time to include your story. For example, maybe you came into a segment where everyone else was doing it all wrong, which is what inspired you to find a better, bigger, more efficient, more valuable and relevant way to do it. Use your story to share your WHY and inspire the customer to believe you’re the best choice.
If you need help with these critical first steps of developing a sales strategy, let us help! If you’re caught up to this point in your process, stay tuned. We’ll dive into the next critical step in developing a productive sales plan in our next blog, where we share everything you need to know about the sales funnel.