Selling is the process of promoting the benefits to potential customers and converting those leads into sales. To that end, sales is a critical business activity to either maintaining your market share or achieving your revenue targets.
Having a deliberate, systematic approach to your sales function, when executed effectively, enables businesses ability to more accurately predict results, provides clarity of what works and increases customer satisfaction. On the other hand, a poorly executed sales function can create confusion, loss of opportunity as customers drop out of the process and stalled growth as businesses are unable to move past current performance levels.
With that in mind, our series on ‘Boosting Your Business Performance Through Sales’ is designed to help business owners build a sales engine that delivers reliable financial results upon which you can build your platform for growth. Through our work across multiple industries and disciplines, we have developed a simple, clear yet powerful approach to sales that can be applied to all businesses, at any size. Most importantly, we believe it can help you achieve the sales results you want.
Everyday Sales Challenges and Implications
Today’s business environment is very different. The mind sets of customers have shifted – they want more for less, are more cautious and take longer to make decisions. Business no longer walks through the door or calls you on the phone – you have to go out and find it. We see more competition and significant pressure on pricing.
All of this means that it takes longer to close a sale. You have to work twice as hard to make half the profit you did 10 years ago. There are more people involved in making the decision and more ‘leads’ lost due to ‘no sale’.
One of the most common challenges that businesses face is getting caught in the feast-famine sales cycle. When the sales pipeline is low (famine), you go out to hunt for sales. After a period of time, you generate significant sales (feast) – more than your business can handle – so you switch your focus on delivering on these orders. Unfortunately, in this example your focus is on production and not on sales – a few months later you are back in the famine cycle and needing to re-focus on generating sales again.
We want businesses to work smarter, not harder. We have found that those that have successfully grown over the past five years have achieved sustainable revenue growth by focusing on building a reliable sales engine. One that is independent of any one person and can be adjusted, based on achieving either production or financial forecasts.
Building a Successful Sales Strategy
The process of building a successful sales strategy enables you to connect your revenue goals to specific sales activities. The key is having a roadmap to help turn your goals into reality.
The real secret with executing a successful sales strategy is to remember that not every prospect is equal. You will have sales leads with ideal customer who have problems that all of your products and services help solve. Similarly, you will have accidential customers, those leads that come in that don’t quite fit your business model but you make them fit in anyway – despite that they buy less, take up more time or may be less satisfied than your ideal customers. Knowing that not all customers are equal, allows you to better focus your time and resources on those that give you the biggest return.
We see your sales process as a cycle, one that you continue to move through and adjust or refine as your circumstances change. The more defined your cycle, the quicker you will be able to accelerate and leverage to achieve your sales goals faster. Here is what you should consider when you start your strategic sales planning process.
Over time, you will be able to measure and monitor what works and continue to fine tune your approach to achieving a better return on investment. You will be able to see where your sales process is performing and focus your attention on where it is not. The other main advantage is that you save valuable time (for both your sales team and the customer) because you know what deliverables are needed to be accomplished in order to step your customers through each stage.
Defining Your Own Roadmap
A good sales strategy does requires some time to sit down and plan out the year in detail. We suggest focusing on each of your key profit streams and creating a step-by-step written action plan. Providing the focus for your business and individuals within your team will ensure you keep your business on track and maximise your chances of success.
As a final check, remember that your sales strategy really is your customer acquistion process. When you review your sales strategy, make sure it helps your potential customers answer the following questions:
- Who you are going to sell to?
- What problems are they looking to solve?
- What are you going to tell them?
- How are you going to reach them?
- Why should they choose you?
- How do you want them to engage with you?
Taking time to clearly define and answer each of these key questions will help you determine what you offer potential customers at each stage of your sales process. The more targeted you are with your communication and activity, the more success you will have in capturing the attention and interest of your potential leads.
Get The Basics Right
Businesses who are sales focused are still thriving in the current market. Executing the sales basics well is still key. Winners are those that have a strong focus on finding ways to strengthen relationships and loyalty with their customers and ensure that their communication is clear. If you are new to sales, see this as an experiment in identifying what sales formula will fit your business and customers. Failure is encourgaed because it will get you to your success formula faster.
Now that we know what a successful sales strategy looks like, we will focus the next few blog posts in the series on boosting your business and sales performance in specific areas.
Related Article Links
- About Us
- Our Services
- Leadership Community
- Boosting Business Performance Through Sales – Part 2: The Sales Goals
- Boosting Business Performance Through Sales – Part 3: The Strategy
About The Author
Tim has vast experience in the strategic and financial management of businesses with a particular focus on cash flow and profit improvement, strategic thinking and performance reporting. He has extensive knowledge of business start-ups and acquisitions as well as exit and succession planning. Tim is an adviser with Supertrac, a corporate advisory firm specialising in business divestments, mergers and acquisitions.
Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).
If you have any specific questions or would like to suggest future blog topics, please do not hesitate to contact Tim on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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