Developing a winning sales strategy can be a daunting process. Whether you're starting from scratch or updating your current plan, it can be difficult to know where to start and how to ensure you're covering everything you and your sales team need to know in order to come up with realistic goals.
With this in mind, we've put together this list of questions that will make it easier to ensure your sales strategy provides all of the answers you and your team need to win more sales.
Having a complete grasp of the bigger picture is incredibly important. By putting your long-term aims down on paper, you'll make it easier to determine the steps you need to take in the short-term to reach them. It will also help you to focus on what's really important for your sales strategy, and ensure you remain on the right track.
Sharing your long-term vision with your sales team is also a good idea. It helps them to understand how they as an individual can make the changes needed to bring about these overall goals. If you're planning to enter a market for the first time, or hoping to expand your product portfolio over time, tell your salespeople. They'll appreciate being involved in the bigger picture, and may even have contacts or experience that could prove extremely valuable.
No product or service is right for everyone, so it's important to have your target audience clearly defined. Without doing so, you'll waste time and money trying to sell to people or companies that simply have no want or need for what you're offering.
Look at your previous customers to see which types of customers are buying from you; e.g. their gender, age, job, salary, lifestyle etc. If you're in B2B, this will cover things like turnover, industry, and years in operation.
Knowing where your customers are most likely to be based is also a crucial factor for the success of your sales strategy. Are you selling worldwide, in a specific region or maybe just locally? There maybe practical considerations, for example shipping costs or certain rules and regulations to follow, so you need to take these into account before committing to selling in different places.
You'll then need to plan exactly how you're going to sell in each market. For example, if you decide that Spain could be a potentially lucrative market for you, you'll probably want to have a Spanish version of your website and social media pages. You'll probably need to make sure that you're targeting the Spanish google site as well, and you might want to use a third-party resource such as a Spanish business directory to research your potential competition and find new leads.
It's extremely important for your sales people to know which types of leads they should be focusing on. You need to arm them with the specific factors for each lead to be qualified on, so they're aware who the idea buyer is, and which prospects do not fit with this profile and therefore they shouldn't waste time pursuing.
While it may seem counterproductive to be weeding out leads from your sales and marketing lists, this will save you time and money in the long run. It's also important for salespeople to know which leads to prioritise over the others, so they need to know how to recognise a potentially high-value client and then focus more on that account.
In order for your sales team to be able to sell your products or services successfully, they need to have a good understanding of your market position. To determine yours, you should look at factors such as how strong your market currently is, how much competition you have and how big their market share is, and how well-known your brand is.
Your sales efforts will be useless unless you identify the thing that will make people want to buy your product or service. What problem does it solve, or benefit does it give them? This is important because your sales team will need to emphasise this point to your prospects in order to have any hope of moving them further along the sales funnel.
Ultimately you need to convince prospects to buy from you instead of your competitors - whom they may already know and trust - so you need to explain how doing so will be of benefit to them.
If your product or service already has a price attached to it, it's a good idea to review it and ensure there was a thorough thought process behind it. Check out how your rivals are pricing their similar products, and carry out market research to see how much customers are actually willing to pay.
While you obviously don't want to be overcharging and losing out to the competition, you also shouldn't be charging too little. If your price point is higher than others in the market, make sure you emphasise why this is the case. Is your product of superior quality? Is your brand more trusted and/or well known? Show your prospects that your products are worth the extra expense.
Ask yourself if the answers to the above questions are likely to change within the next few months. If the answer is yes, you need to make sure that there is enough flexibility in your strategy to make it easier to enact changes whenever you need to.
While no one can predict the future, having a good understanding of your customer base, and what's currently happening in your industry will allow you to have some foresight when it comes to possible trends, fluctuations and disruptions - and what you need to do about them.
Putting together an effective sales strategy can be difficult - so hopefully by answering these questions you'll be able to get the ball rolling more easily. It's important that every member of the sales team has a clear understanding of the company's goals, both long and short-term, so they're able to see the role they play in your success.