Sales strategy is the fundamental element of any business plan, in the same way as strategy is fundamental to achieving anything. Even to get from one side of the room you need a strategy – will you walk,, crawl or slither on your belly. Depending on the circumstances each could be the most appropriate way of getting there, and the choice you make becomes a strategy.
Most advice on business planning misses it out, focusing on revenue, costs and cash instead. Presumably because the people giving that advice know nothing about selling and wouldn’t recognise a sales strategy if it bit them in the behind. But knowing how we’re going to turn prospects into satisfied customers is more important than anything else. Without that concept built into our operating model the business plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
Spending our limited resource chasing deals from prospects who won’t buy is the fastest route to failure. There is no Return on Investment from failed sales campaigns. The cost of sale is spent – gone forever. The same is true for spending time and money on bad deals – the ones we can’t profit from, or the ones we can’t satisfy the customer in. Our limited cost of sale budget simply has to be invested on deals we can win and then satisfy the customer, turning the prospect into a testimonial. Otherwise our business is going south at the speed of light.
This is true whichever the type of our business. And the reverse is true. When we invest in deals we can win and satisfy the customer the result is added value – profit, testimonials and fun. There aren’t many more rewarding experiences than the happy customer referring her friends.
Knowing which kind of customer will buy, how they’ll make that decision and how we’ll satisfy them makes the whole process more simple. That’s a sales strategy and it’s as much a business asset as our products or services. No matter what we’re selling, just how we’ll sell it is as important as what we’re selling.
Here’s how I’ll develop a sales strategy for any business. Let me know if you don’t agree.
1 – Define the ideal customer.
What is s/he looking to buy? How will the selection of a vendor work? What will be the measure of success?
2 – Define our sales process
How will we engage the prospect? Which process will we follow to make sure we can get an acceptable contract? When will we close the deal?
3 – Define our risks
What could go wrong in the buy/sell process and how will we respond?
4 – Define our success criteria
How will we know we’ve done a great job in delivery, and how will we persuade the customer that’s true?
5 – Define when we’ll walk away
How will we know when this deal isn’t worth chasing. At which point will we decide our efforts are wasted? When will CLICK HERE
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.