No matter what business you work in, a “business as usual” mindset will insure your competitors are making more money than you are. Here are eight tips to help you stand out from the competition so you won’t find yourself stood up by your customers.
Jumping into selling your product or service without planning how you will go about it is likely to yield far poorer results than if you adopt a strategic approach to your sales. Use your sales strategy as part of your business plan to help you convince your bank manager or potential investors, and make sure you update and review your sales strategy regularly.
What is a sales strategy?
- A sales strategy sets out in detail how you will get your product or service in front of people who need it. Looking at it strategically will give you a comprehensive, methodical approach to ensuring you marketing your business correctly and you are approaching the right clients.
- A sales strategy can be based on your business and marketing plans.
- A sales strategy is not the same as a marketing strategy.
- In order to build a comprehensive strategy for your entire business, you will need to sit down and come up with a different sales strategy for each of your product lines.
Whether you offer goods or services, selling is the foundation of your business. Without the generation of sales, your business will fail. Your selling technique and your sales strategy are just a few of the tools used in creating a successful start-up business. Whether you are the only salesperson, you have a sales manager or even a sales team, the business must develop an effective sales strategy:
Pre-Planning the Plan
In order to create a plan for an effective sales strategy, you must first determine what your sales goals and objectives are for your business. Once the objectives are solidified and defined, you will then need to determine a timeline in which you will launch and implement each goal. You also need to use your market research to understand who your customers are, the best way your company can meet the need of the consumer and the best way in which you can reach your target customer in order to develop your sales technique. During the pre-planning stage is the best time to become exhaustively familiar with the products you sell or the service you provide, your sales quotas and your sales territory. You will also need to determine how much of your working capital you will need to devote to developing and implementing your sales strategies.
Creating the Plan
Once you have your objectives and timeline in place and you understand your market, you can then begin to create your sales strategy plan. You will need to determine your weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly sales goals. From there you can create sales action plans that will help you hit each goal. You will also need to decide if you want one sales strategy for everybody that works for you or if each position has their own unique technique. If you have a small start up business, you can usually get away with having one overall strategy; however, if you have multiple departments or have employers that work off commission, you may want different sales strategies for each position.
Implementing the Plan
Now that you have your sales strategy developed and tailored to meet the specific needs of your business, it is time to put it into action. The first step in implementing your plan for generating sales is knowing your customer and their needs which will allow you to build a rapport with them and lay the foundation for a good business relationship. The cost of your product or service should be explained clearly within your strategy with no hidden costs that are going to surprise the customer later on down the road which is one of the fastest ways to lose return customers. Selling a customer your product or service is always easier when the one doing the selling has confidence in what they are selling.
Developing an effective sales strategy is crucial for a startup business. This lays the ground work for repeat customers and an on-going and growing generation of sales. Continue satisfying the needs of your customers and they will continue buying from you.
How do you come up with a sales focus which drives the most amount of growth to your business and profit to your bottom line?
Some strategy tips are:
Strategy 1. Think big and audit your time. No matter the size of your business, place a mental image in your mind as if you are the largest and most successful person in your industry. How much time is consumed by routine office work someone else should be doing? Spend more time with more important tasks such as marketing strategies, improving customer relations, and implementing new strategies to expand your services.
Strategy 2. Be different and stand out from the competition. Jordan Furniture sells more furniture per square foot than any other furniture store in the nation. They transformed their family-owned business into a multi-million dollar corporation by
following a principle called “shoppertainment.” To surprise employees and customers, Barry and Eliot Tatleman dressed up like the Lone Ranger and Tonto and rode horses in their parking lot. They built an IMax theater inside one store to entertain children while their parents shopped. When you drive around the back to pick up your furniture they provide you free hotdogs and wash your car windows.
Strategy 3. Build relationships with your customers. For each month that goes by, customers lose 10% of their buying power. Create a customer database and contact them on a regular basis. Mail them a postcard, birthday card, sales flyer, newsletter etc. to keep your name, phone number, and service on their mind.
Strategy 4. Collect E-Mail Addresses. Get permission from your customers to use their E-mail address. Periodically send updates and notices to your client list. As long as you have their permission and avoid overuse, E-mail can be a powerful and inexpensive marketing tool.
Strategy 5. Hire top sales people. Successful businesses realize the quality of their sales staff is critical to sustaining their growth in the marketplace. A top salesperson can outsell an average one 4 to 1. Sales people must understand their strengths and have a well-defined plan to reach their potential. Many companies can provide you sales assessments to both identify top candidates and develop currently employed sales people.
Strategy 6. Put a shopping cart on your website. Online sales are still growing at a dramatic pace. This is coming from people who want to save time, avoid crowded stores, convenience, and the ability to shop outside of store hours. Just consider E-Bay for example, which generates millions of dollars of sales each year. It does not cost anything to set up an account on E-Bay, and you pay a proportion based on the cost of the item you are trying to sell. If you don’t want to use E-bay, consider using your own shopping cart system on your website.
Strategy 7. Pay-per-click advertising. Many business owners are finding classified advertising is not an effective use of their marketing dollars. Others are finding pay-per-click advertising is an easier and cheaper way to reach a larger market. Pay-per-click will insure you receive top visibility on websites driving more customers to your door. Advertisers bid on keywords and the more popular the keyword, the more expensive each click is. Prices vary between ten cents to many dollars depending on the popularity of the word. The most popular pay-per-click advertisers are Google, Business.com, and Yahoo.
Strategy 8. Use customer service commandments to create good habits. Bates Ace Hardware store located in Atlanta created “Twenty Customer Service Commandments” modeled after the Ritz-Carlton hotels outlining specific behaviors employees are to demonstrate when dealing with customers and fellow employees. For example, “Accompany a customer to the correct aisle instead of pointing to another area of the store.” They print the commandments on a small card and employees carry it with them at work.
Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?