You may be researching into what a sales strategy is because you are writing a business plan for a new venture, you feel like your businesses sales have stagnated or perhaps not gone in the direction you had hoped. Well, creating or updating your sales strategy may be what your business needs to reinvigorate itself and get to the next level.
What is a Sales Strategy?
When you are running a business it is easy to make appointments, meet people and carry out random sales tasks without truly taking a methodical sales approach which focuses on the outcome your business needs. A sales strategy sets out details of your exact product(s) or service(s) that you sell, behaves as a guide to ensure your sales team are reaching out to the right customers, details your sales process to close the deal and corresponding sales targets.
Developing your sales plan may involve more than just the sales department. You may need to include:
- Those that deliver your service or product to understand how the market you sell to is changing or operates;
- Your finance department to review historic sales figures, customers and profit margins. As well as ensuring the sales plan meets the financial requirements of the business;
- Sales & marketing who will need to the backup desired sales activities to help achieve the overall outcome;
- Operations to understand the current capacity of your business and how an increase or change in service lines may impact the current business profile or where additional staff members may need to be added.
Strategic Planning for Success
Developing your sales strategy will more than likely firstly involve a deep dive into your sales history prompting you to analyse what you have sold, who you have sold it to and profit margin analysis across customers and service lines. With this information, it will be easier to set out your sales objectives which includes what you want to sell and who to with real life information to aid your decision making. There is no point focussing effort in selling a service or product that has a low margin and simply won’t make sufficient margin to make the money the business needs to run.
Analysing your market is key to understanding which and how many customers truly want to buy your product or service. This will include looking at your existing client base and understanding what more you may be able to sell to them as well as how you intend to reach them – upselling and taking advantage ‘low hanging fruit’ is commonly overlooked in a sales process.
Once you considered historic sales, objectives (sales/financial/business) and analysed the market you will be able to decide on the right sales channels to pursue. You can now decide on the best way to reach the right customers who want to buy what you have to offer as well as the sales process you feel is right to guide your customer to the desired end result – making a sale. You may even find you need to develop several different sales strategies unique to particular sales channels or customers but selling alongside a focussed sales plan may become much easier than spreading your sales efforts too thinly and not focussing on selling the right products to the right people.
It is, however, really important that you periodically measure your actual success against your plan to keep the relevant people accountable and that your intended plan is viable.