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A sales strategy consists of a plan that positions the brand of a company or product to obtain a competitive advantage. Successful strategies that help the sales force focus on customers in the target market and communicate with them in relevant and meaningful ways. Sales representatives need to know how their products or services can solve customer problems. A successful sales strategy conveys in this way that the sales force spends time targeting the right customers at the right time.
Planning and creating an effective sales strategy requires looking at long-term sales goals and analyzing the sales business cycle, in addition to meeting vendors about their personal professional goals. Going through these exercises helps business owners and managers gain a more intimate knowledge of sales intervals, seasonal changes and what motivates the sales team. After creating the long-term sales strategy based on long-term objectives, sales managers must create monthly and weekly sales strategies based on the long-term strategy. This allows the measurement of the short-term results of the sales team.
Companies employ one of two basic types of sales strategies to their general plan: direct or indirect. With the direct sales strategy, sales people attack the head of the competition when talking to the customer. They talk about each product feature of the competition and compare it with theirs. The term “negative sale” refers to the direct sales approach. Indirect sales approaches apply more subtle techniques by demonstrating the features and benefits that are not available with competing products without even mentioning their name. This more sophisticated positive sales strategy requires research and competition analysis.
A successful sales strategy includes product placement, promotion and testimonials, in addition to the main sales strategies for the sales force. Product placement and promotion creates brand awareness through the use of marketing channels available today. Social media networks offer a free platform to increase brand awareness. Business owners can use these tools effectively by spending time each day to communicate with fans and followers on their social media pages. Clients readily available for prospects of reading or viewing give authority to a small business and the products and services it offers.
Regardless of whether a company uses a direct or indirect sales strategy, or a combination of the two, sales managers must work with sales people on techniques. The acquisition of new customers and customer retention require two approaches. A sales strategy establishes the steps and methods necessary for customers at different stages. Potential customers need a communication that introduces the brand and the product or service in order to show how they can solve their problems with it. Current customers require more personal communication about new features or benefits to keep them engaged. Promotions and referral discounts work to motivate current customers to spend their money and spread the word among others.
The creation of an effective sales strategy requires knowledge of the market, knowledge of competing activities, knowledge of current trends and a detailed business analysis. Small business owners who wish to create and implement a sales strategy for the first time, may wish to hire a professional business consultant to help guide the process.