by Jon Edmondo
Thomas Watson, founder of IBM is attributed with saying “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” It’s safe to say that if you’re going into business, you’ll need a sales strategy.
Whether focused on B2B, B2C, inbound, outbound, small-to-medium business (SMB) or enterprise, the company needs a dependable source of income to survive.
A sales strategy plan is a company’s roadmap for securing dependable, long-term revenue by growing new business and retaining existing accounts.
Developing your sales strategy
There are several steps you need to take in order to develop a sound sales strategy.
First, you need to determine how your brand is seen by your customers. If you’re new to the market, you’ll need to benchmark against other similar businesses or products.
A SWOT analysis is a good place to start.
Go to Market Plan
Next, you’ll want to determine how you’re going to sell your products and/or services. This is called a go-to-market strategy/plan. There are myriad ways you can take your products or services to market and you need to decide which is best for your business.
David Brock came up with three questions to help analyze core issues within the customer-go-market strategy:
- How do we find and engage all our target customers?
- What’s the most effective method in engaging them?
- How can we achieve this at the lowest possible cost/risk?
1. What is your company the absolute best at doing, and who benefits from it? What is your sweet spot? You can have several based on different markets you service; however, generally you’ll have a product or service that sells to a specific type of customer across a host of different industries, or a specific type of customer within a specific industry.
2. How do your best customers want to buy from you. Is the first touch via phone, outside sales or online? How does your competition reach these customers? Is there a new way to reach them that your competition isn’t using?
3. Determine the best possible combination of communication strategies that works for you and your customer. Ask them how they want to be contacted and sold. Is it a mix of online and in person visits? Is it strictly by phone? Again, it depends on your product/service and your customers wants.
It’s expensive and time consuming to determine all the different ways your customers want to be contacted. There are various ways with varying levels of cost, so do your homework to understand which methods are best. Here are some of the go to market components you need to review to build a sound strategy.
- Field sales
- Inside sales
- Channel partners
- What are your competitors doing and not doing? Do you see an opportunity the others don’t? Can you learn from how another industry handles sales?
Work with a public relations or marketing firm to create a messaging plan that best describes your products/services to your existing and potential customers. Everyone in your organization is selling your company, so make sure everyone in your business reads and understands your messaging strategy. If your customers don’t know why they should buy from you, they won’t.
The dollars you spend in this area will return many times their value!
Goals for Salespeople
First and foremost, make sure your goals are achievable. Make them a bit of a stretch, but you don’t want to disincentivizes your salespeople with goals that are unattainable.
This is why all sales goals should follow the SMART principle:
Search online to see how SMART goals are used by other organizations and determine the best way to structure sales goals to help your salespeople succeed.
To many businesses set to low a sales budget and suffer in the end. It doesn’t make sense to invest all of your money in facilities, inventory and people without considering sales costs.
Hubspot.com has a great template for building your sales strategy. Here is an excerpt from their budget section outline.
Describe the costs associated with hitting your sales goals. That usually includes:
- Pay (salary and commission)
- Sales training
- Sales tools and resources
- Contest prizes
- Team bonding activities
- Travel costs
Bringing it together
Now that you’ve answered all your questions about what you’re best at, who your best customers are and how best to reach those customers, put it in a tangible form that you can refer back to often – a sales plan. This is a moving document that you should review on an annual basis at minimum. Quarterly reviews are better.
Jon Edmondo is Director of Sales for iGraphics LLC and VP of Tech Wednesdays for NCET. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that helps people explore business and technology.