Have you been dragging your feet when it comes to selling for your business?
Sure, you may have earned your revenue from word-of-mouth client referrals, contacts in your network, or maybe even a few well-placed updates on social media.
But you’ve never taken the time to develop a legit sales process for your company.
And now that you’re growing, you’re taking on more responsibility and liability.
Your awesome staff, your Instagram-worthy office with the incredible downtown views, even those yummy snacks you keep in the break room all rely on your business having a steady stream of well-paying clients.
When the natural flow of referrals, walk-ins, or social media leads slows down, it’s up to you to get the ball rolling and start taking your sales seriously.
But if the thought of cold-calling and the sting of rejection makes you sweaty and queasy enough to put off sales forever, don’t worry.
You’re not alone.
Selling can be tricky, frustrating, and nerve-wracking.
That’s why today we’re going to cover everything you need to know about developing a sales strategy to make the process as easy and painless as possible.
Every Business Needs a Sales Process (including yours)
As we mentioned earlier, businesses in their startup don’t often create a sales strategy off the bat because they’re usually working with a small set of clients they already know.
But when it’s time to finally grow your business and take it up a notch, you’ll need to reach out to your target audience and let them know about the products and services they needed yesterday.
Whether you choose to take on the entire sales process on your own or plan to recruit a few team members for your sales and marketing department, it’s critical that you develop a roadmap to follow.
This will make it easier to implement your process when you actually sit down to sell.
You’ll no longer have to figure out what you’re going to do each time — you’ll have a set of steps to follow so you can dive right into the actual process.
Plus, having one agreed-upon strategy means everyone on your team will be able to copy your form and (hopefully) produce the same results. At the very least it will mean everyone’s selling the way you would want them to sell.
A standardized process works more efficiently than everyone doing their own thing.
So let’s talk about how to create one.
7 Basic Components of a Business Sales Strategy
There are plenty of articles online from leading sales experts about how to sell your services or products best for your market and niche.
While we can’t cover all the different and specialized plans of attack, we can say that every sales strategy relies on the same building blocks and puzzle pieces.
When you have these 7 basic components lined up, you’ll have a winning sales strategy almost figured out for you:
1. Sales Goals and Targets to Reach
Are you trying to increase brand awareness or sell more products? Are you looking to upsell your existing customer base or branch out into new territory?
You can’t create a plan without knowing the end goal.
Every sales strategy should consider both potential and current customers, but the routes you’ll need to take to sell to these segments is vastly different.
When you outline the sales goals you want to reach, you’ll not only have a roadmap to follow, you’ll have a way to stay on track and monitor how you’re progressing to reach your targets.
That’s why you can’t create any ol’ goals — you need S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals for your sales endeavor means they need to be:
You know you need to sell more to increase profits, but that’s not a SMART goal.
A goal like selling to 10 to new customers by the end of the month is SMART.
That’s because it gives you a specific action (sell to new customers) that’s measurable (10 of them), realistic (you sold 8 new customers last month), tied to your larger goal of increasing profits, and time-bound (one month).
Breaking down your broader goals into these manageable chunks helps you and your team visualize exactly where they need to focus their energy.
A large part of SMART goals is the time-sensitive nature of them, which is why every goal needs a deadline.
2. Specific Deadlines to Reach Your Goals
Deadlines not only light a fire under your efforts, they give you a way to plan your moves, monitor your progress, and then measure your results after a specific span of time.
Because let’s face it, Parkinson’s law is 100% true: work will take as long to complete as the time we give it.
Even though you have a deadline in a week, how many of us take the entire week to finish what could have been done in the first 12 hours?
Attaching deadlines to your sales goals means you’ll be more likely to start them sooner than later.
3. An Outbound/Inbound Marketing and Sales Strategy
How are you actually going to sell your products or services?
When people think of sales, they often imagine the traditional route of cold calling, sending out paper mailers, commercials and ads, and knocking on doors.
This is what’s known as outbound marketing.
There’s a time and a place for outbound marketing in your campaign, but inbound marketing is definitely the hotter trend in sales now.
Inbound marketing relies on organic search and social media traffic to attract leads and potential customers to your brand on their own time.
This tactic appeals to how most of us naturally shop; we don’t like to be pitched or sold to with commercials, spam, and junk mail.
However, most of us will gladly peruse a company’s About page and scroll through their social media feeds to learn more about brands that appeal to us, which we’ll eventually buy from later.
It’s up to you and your business to decide which tactic or combination will work best to reach your goals.
This guide from Zac Gregg will help you learn more about the pros and cons of both outbound and inbound marketing if you need a bit more advice.
4. Detailed Buyer Personas
Who is your ideal customer?
Novice salespeople often think everyone and anyone should be one of their customers, but that’s just not true.
While your product may certainly help a wide variety of people, if you don’t target your messages to a specific audience, you’ll wind up resonating with no one.
Broad, generalized sales tactics won’t help you truly connect with your potential customers.
Instead, you’ll need to understand everything about your customer — from their demographics, buying habits, and income level to their communication preferences and favorite social media accounts.
Only when you know everything about your ideal customer will you know how to speak their language and show them why they specifically need your product or service.
Check out this guide from HubSpot about how to create detailed buyer personas for your business and meet your target audience for real.
5. Solid Understanding of Your Unique Selling Proposition (and Your Customer Pain Points)
When you understand your target audience, you’ll quickly discover what they’re having the most trouble with. These are known as pain points.
Your products and services should ease or resolve those pain points in the unique way only your brand can.
That’s your unique selling proposition.
It should emphasize all your product or service features and benefits and highlight all the ways it plans to make your customers’ work or home life so much easier/better/more efficient, etc.
Without knowing exactly why someone needs to pay for your products or services, you’ll never be able to convince them to. Find out your why ASAP.
6. A Sales Funnel / Buyer’s Journey
Do you know the steps a potential customer must take with your company before they become an actual customer?
This process, known as the buyer’s journey, details every stage of your sales process from your customer’s end so you know exactly where they are in relation to completing a sale.
Once you segment your buying process, you’ll know how to target messages to potential customers in every stage.
For example, the first stage of your sales funnel may be capturing a new email subscriber. You know leads in this part of their journey are more interested in learning about your brand than making a sale.
So offering a 20% off coupon for following your brand on Instagram, Facebook, etc. will go a lot further to work your lead down the sales funnel than just giving them 10% off their next purchase.
Similarly, you wouldn’t offer the same “Get to know us” coupon to your existing customers because they already follow you.
That’s why it pays to learn about the difference between your sales funnel and your customer journey and figure out how to take advantage of them.
7. A Plan to Identify, Measure, and Track Your Progress
Identify a few key performance indicators (KPIs) you’re going to use to help you track your progress and show you when you’ve hit your goals.
Using our goal from earlier, if you want to sell to 10 new customers, for example, a good way to measure your progress would be tracking the number of new leads, checking your email open rates to these potential customers, etc.
You want to make sure your tactics are working.
You don’t want to spend too much time or money marketing to potential customers that may never become warm leads.
Brainstorm a few different KPIs to measure for every stage of your sales funnel and you’ll always be able to check on your campaign’s effectiveness.
Time to Create Your Sales Strategy Today
Sales can be scary before you actually break it down into realistic goals and a solid plan of attack.
The trick to developing an effective sales plan is taking the time and effort to analyze and understand your goals and the goals of your customers.
Working through your strategy will give you a roadmap to follow to help you connect with your leads and achieve success — as long as you stick with your plan.
You’ll need to tweak your strategy as you find what’s working and what needs to be scrapped, but then you’ll have a fully replicable and scalable framework for others on your team to follow.
Soon you and your sales and marketing team will be a selling, money-making machine. Seriously.