Develop a sales strategy
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Jumping into selling your product or service without planning
how you will go about it is likely to yield far poorer results than
if you adopt a strategic approach to your sales. Use your sales
strategy as part of your business plan to help you convince your
bank manager or potential investors, and make sure you update and
review your sales strategy regularly.
What is a sales strategy?
- A sales strategy sets out in detail how you will get your
product or service in front of people who need it. Looking
at it strategically will give you a comprehensive, methodical
approach to ensuring you marketing your business correctly and you
are approaching the right clients.
- A sales strategy can be based on your business and
marketing plans. It looks at how you will deliver objectives
set out in your marketing plan, as well as how you have chosen to
segment your target market and how you will fund you marketing
- A sales strategy is not the same as a marketing
strategy. Whereas marketing is about getting your name out
there and tempting new customers or rekindling interest in your
business, a sales strategy is more about how you close the
- In order to build a comprehensive strategy for your entire
business, you will need to sit down and come up with a
different sales strategy for each of your product
lines. While they may all end up looking very similar, but
it's important to be aware of subtle differences between your
products and the customers who pay for them.
Set out your sales objectives
- Start by setting out sales objectives for each of your
products. What do you want to sell, who is your target
market and what are the timescales involved? Decide where your
focus will lie - whether that's on a specific product or a client
base, and what needs to change for you to meet these
- For each sales objective, list the steps you will have to
take in order to meet them. There should be five or six
steps for each objective. Think SMART when you are coming up with
- Consider how you will remove barriers to sales
rather than asking how you will make sales when you're coming up
with your objectives. Barriers can be anything from not making
enough calls or customer visits to the need to give your sales team
better training or the need to recruit another sales person.
- Look at the marketing and sales activities your business has
undertaken and try to work out what your most profitable
activities have been. This could be over the course of the
last month, three months or year.
Analyse your market
- Find out why your clients need your company. Find
out who they are and the problem they needed to solve when they
first approached your business. Identifying why your customers use
your business will help you to approach new customers.
- Make a list of five or six reasons why customers are
better off using your business. Differentiate between your
business' features (what it has) and benefits (what it does). Put
yourself in your customer's shoes and try to work out what they are
looking for, and then try to match your proposition to their needs.
Make sure you emphasise the benefits as well as the features in
your promotional material.
- List your clients' similarities and differences to
help you create profiles for each type of client. If you are
starting a new business, try to find out about competitors'
clients: who are your existing, potential and key customers? Rank
the groups in order of profitability to give you an idea of where
you should be aiming to spend money.
- If a client is costing you more than you are making from them,
make sure you have a good reason for selling to them.
For example, if you are selling to a large company, it might be
that they are providing you with regular revenue or drawing
attention to your business in their promotional activities.
- Analyse your sales costs and try to cut down on your
sales costs to unprofitable customers. This might be
by using an alternative distribution method or cheaper sales
Decide on your sales channels
- Reaching the right customers is easier said than down. Once you
have worked out what your market is and how it's broken down, you
need to decide which sales channels to use:
- Direct or on-site sales are face-to-face, and is
the model used by most retailers
- The internet is a versatile way to sell
- Telesales can be effective for
business-to-business and repeat sales, but generally has a low
- Direct mail also has quite a low conversion rate
but is less intrusive than telesales
- If you are a manufacturer, you might want to sell through an
agent or intermediary. This could be a retailer, or it
could be an agent abroad.
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