Creating a funnel of successful selling is way harder for smaller companies than large organizations. This is because they do not yet represent a popular brand in the market, and only a handful of potential buyers would know about their products or offerings. This however, does not demean the requirement of creating a successful sales strategy for small organizations as a deliberate, thoughtful activity.
25% of buying decisions depends on the interaction with the sales professional.
~ McKinsey & Co.
Leaders in small businesses need to create a process that can be measured, monitored and initiated over and over again. Research has shown that the only reason for SMB’s or salespeople to be unable to meet their sales goals is the presence of an ineffective strategy. Defining an effective sales strategy requires a lot of persistence and focus in the beginning, but can reap significant long term benefits for small businesses. Here are some of the top tips for carving out an effective sales strategy.
1. Narrow down your target market
As per Charles Bernard, CEO of Criteria for Success Inc., organizations should rather focus on being found, rather than focusing on claiming to the world how great they are.
Since small businesses need more and more prospect closes, sales people are asked to get as many numbers as possible. This is why they approach anyone and everyone, without knowing if they would be genuinely interested or not. However, the fact remains that you are not going to do business with everyone. Prospects or clients need to be targeted and cannot remain as broad entities. Many companies have a disconnect between their intended market or customer type and their actual client base. If a majority of clients being targeted are not within the desired profile, it means that the strategy being followed is not the right one. Businesses need to choose only those target markets and customer types that will place the highest value on their offering. Acquiring the right clients is key here. Once this market is defined, a list needs to be created. You need to ask what is that one activity that could have the largest impact on sales, if applied consistently for the next three months to come.
2. Start with immediate networks
One of the greatest benefits of being in the profession of sales is networks. Once the market is identified, the next step should be to reach out to existing networks if your sales people are connected to any person or organization they could potentially seek. Such an outreach could be direct via emails or calls or exploring LinkedIn contacts. The objective here is just to be able to get an introduction with potential clients through existing relationships.This also works the other way around, as the probability of prospects meeting you increases if you are referred by a source already known to them and a source that they can trust.
3. Do in-depth research
Before meeting with the prospect, do your own research and understand your own business value. Sales people need to spend time getting to know the business needs of prospects and see how they can align their solutions and offer value around those specific needs. Your potential customers measure value based on lowest prices.
It’s unfortunate that people still get to hear old school sales pitching, rather than having in-depth discussions about client needs. Sales people need to do much more than just plainly communicating the advantages of business products and services. This would require understanding of the client’s objectives, exploring the clients they have worked with and trying to understand their exact requirements.
4. Arm yourself with questions
Asking questions is an extremely critical, yet mostly ignored sales technique. Before going for a sales meeting, salespeople should be prepared with a list of questions for the prospect. This is one of the rare chances where they can get to know their client in and out and offer them solutions according to their unique needs and business practices.This is the time when instead of straight away jumping into pitching about your products or services, you should ask questions that reveal your interest in the clients problem, rather than you just plainly burdening them with a dry sales pitch. Also, buyers are inherently aware of the obvious and the common, and boring and ‘sales’y presentations could be the fastest way for them to lose interest from you. Instead, focus on telling your buyers how well you know them, and what significant impact you can have on their business.
5. Deliver on your promises and carve way for long term relationships
Most sales people focus on overselling, or promising to deliver something they cannot. This does not work as clients are also people who deal with a lot of salespeople making prospective speeches. Long lasting relationships are built on trust and you the only way to gain your client’s trust is by delivering nothing less than what you promise. Constant assistance at every step of the process is what will get your clients to stick by you. Once you get a client, do everything that is needed to start building a relationship.
Just closing a deal is not enough, once the delivery process actually begins, your sales people need to keep track of how well the plan is working. One way of doing this is to relook at the way sales has behaved in the previous months. If there was any lag, the void needs to be analyzed and proper action be taken to cover it in the coming months.
Creation of a strategy is hence, definitely critical. But it is not an end in itself. You also need to train your sales force to effectively translate your sales strategy into their sales approach. If you want your team to bring your sales strategy to life, work closely with sales leaders and their teams to help them see how their decisions, focus and specific behaviors make the strategy succeed or fail.