A sales strategy consists of a plan that positions a company’s brand or product to gain a competitive advantage. Successful strategies help the sales force focus on target market customers and communicate with them in relevant, meaningful ways. Sales representatives need to know how their products or services can solve customer problems. A successful sales strategy conveys this so that the sales force spends time targeting the correct customers at the right time.
Planning and creating an effective sales strategy requires looking at long-term sales goals and analyzing the business sales cycle, as well as meeting with sales people about their personal career goals. Going through these exercises helps business owners and managers gain a more intimate knowledge of the sales intervals, seasonal changes and what motivates the sales team. After creating the long-term sales strategy based on long-term goals, sales managers should create monthly and weekly sales strategies based on the long-term strategy. This allows for short-term performance measurement of the sales team.
Businesses employ one of two basic types of sales strategies to their overall plan: direct or indirect. With the direct sales strategy, sales people attack the competition head on when talking to the customer. They talk about each feature of the competition’s product and compare it to theirs. The term “negative selling” refers to the direct sales approach. Indirect sales approaches apply more subtle techniques by demonstrating features and benefits not available with the competition’s products or services without ever mentioning them by name. This more sophisticated, positive sales strategy requires research and analysis of the competition.
A successful sales strategy includes product placement, promotion and testimonials in addition to the core selling strategies for the sales force. Product placement and promotion create brand awareness by using the various marketing channels available today. Social media networks offer a free platform for increasing brand awareness. Business owners can utilize these tools effectively by spending time each day to communicate with fans and followers on their social network pages. Customer testimonials readily available for prospects to read or watch lend authority to a small business and the products and services it offers.
Regardless of whether a business uses a direct or indirect sales strategy, or a combination of the two, sales managers need to work with sales people on techniques. New customer acquisition and customer retention require two approaches. A sales strategy lays out the steps and methods necessary for customers in different stages. Potential customers need communication that introduces the brand and product or service in ways that show how it can solve his or her problems. 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 to spread the word to others.
Creating an effective sales strategy requires market knowledge, awareness of competitor activities, awareness of current trends and detailed business analysis. Small business owners wishing to create and implement a sales strategy for the first time may want to hire a professional business consultant to help guide the process.