Every business has a sales strategy, whether you know it or not – it’s not an approach that’s only reserved for well-established businesses.
Every founder has once sat at a table and thought about how best to sell his product or service in the market, and how best to ensure its success.
…Was that just a definition for ‘sales strategy’?
Yes, but we’ll dive deeper into sales strategy and how it can boost small business sales.
What is a Sales Strategy?
A sales strategy is a plan for selling a product or service in the market and to maximize profits in the selling process. An effective sales strategy focuses on your value proposition from the customers’ perspective.
A sales strategy isn’t decided only when launching a new product or service, but is something that’s continually worked on by the people involved – usually the Sales Head and Sales Manager, with the CEO.
Why Small Businesses Need an Airtight Sales Strategy
Because you can’t control consumers and consumer behavior, strategies rarely go according to plan.
The only way to have a successful strategy is to start with a strong base and then continue to hone it along the way, based on customer response and brand performance.
That is why, as a small business, you need a sales strategy that’s as foolproof as it can get – so that you can better utilize the resources and time needed along the way when you optimize.
Start the Prep: What You Need for a Great Sales Strategy
Like we said earlier, the only way to a successful sales strategy is to start with a strong base. That includes:
1. Great Customer Understanding
“Know your target audience” is the most common mantra you’ll hear when it comes to sales, and that’s for a reason. To be able to successfully sell a product to your intended customers, you need to understand them inside and out…as well as you know friends and family.
One great way to do this is to create different buyer personas that represent the different types of buyers you’d like to focus on.
Keep in mind that when we say “know your target audience” we don’t just mean how old they are, where they come from, what they do for a living and how much they earn.
Those are the demographic basics upon which you might segregate your audience, but the real magic of sales lies in knowing their aspirations, their pain points and motivators, why they could benefit from your product, how they conduct research when they buy anything, etc.
When you understand who you’re truly selling to, your strategy will be a lot stronger and, when they respond or don’t respond to your sales pitch, you’ll likely know the exact reason why.
2. Knowledge of the Market
You need to know the ins and outs of the market you’re selling your product in. This is true when you’re launching your product and formulating your go-to-market strategy, but also true with a product that’s already selling in the market.
When launching a product/service, you need to know what’s worked and what’s not in the past for other brands.
- How has the market reacted to similar ventures?
- How did consumers respond to other products in similar solutions?
- How many other players are there like you?
And with a product that’s already in the market, you need to make sure you have a feel of the market at all times–
Are there any new players? Any new policies or economic changes that might affect your sales?
It’s important to constantly stay updated with what’s happening in the market so you can react quickly in time and pivot your sales strategy accordingly.
3. A Complete Understanding of the Product
You might think this is an obvious one – especially if you’ve found the company and product you’re currently thinking about – but you’d be surprised by how many people simply wing it when it comes to product knowledge.
Understanding the product doesn’t mean knowing its features and benefits as you’d put them in a brochure.
It means truly understanding the aim of the product, which makes it different, what makes it so potentially valuable to its particular target audience, where does it surpass the competition and so on.
This knowledge, combined with customer understanding, is exactly what sales teams need when they’re making their pitch and prospecting.
4. An Eye on the Competition
Just as you should know your product/service in and out, you need to know what the competition has to offer too.
You might think you have no direct competitors but, if the customer problem existed before you came in, they were most likely turning to someone for a solution – that brings in your indirect competitors.
You need to know everything your direct and indirect competitors do by way of a sales strategy–
What are the markets they target, how do they pitch their products, what channels do they use and which channels work for them?
One way to do this is to simply observe and make a note, another is to conduct firsthand research.
When you have a thorough understanding of your competitors, you’ll know exactly what to do and what not to do.
It doesn’t work if you simply copy what everyone else is doing – you need a differentiated reason why customers should choose your product, so you need a unique element in your sales strategy.
You just also need to keep one eye on what everyone else is doing.
12 Different Sales Strategies to Boost Small Business Sales
Google “sales strategies” and you’ll get a mixed bag of techniques and approaches to help boost your sales.
When it came to writing this blog post, we wanted to ensure we got you exactly what you need when it comes to formulating a sales strategy – whether that’s a selling technique, a whole approach or just a tip.
So, here’s our mixed bag of sales strategies for small businesses-
1. Demand Generation
Demand generation involves the sales team taking an active role in the generation of qualified leads.
Rather than having a marketing team generate leads which your sales team then qualifies before trying to close into sales, demand generation takes a cohesive approach to generating leads that are qualified from the get-go.
One of the typical challenges faced by small businesses is that, you’re probably equipped with a lean team that’s used to carrying multiple responsibilities and looking at the bigger picture – that makes this strategy ideal for you.
While it might take a bit longer than the traditional lead generation, it’ll save you the time and effort of lead qualification as a step in between marketing and sales.
2. Content Marketing
Inbound sales are a very real way to approach sales today. There’s no lack of information on the internet, so today’s customers start their research – from awareness to consideration – well before they even get in touch with your company.
Rather than waiting for them to reach out to you (will they, won’t they?) halfway through their buying journey, you need to be visible to them right from when they start conducting their research.
Content marketing will help you reach your customers at that point – social media, blog posts, videos, reviews & testimonials and many more such channels and content types that customers are likely to consume when looking for a solution.
3. Referral Sales
Your customers – and even prospects in your pipeline who are genuinely your target audience but don’t have a pressing need – are great sources of referrals.
Referral sales are all the more powerful because chances are that the referrer has thought about someone who could greatly benefit from your product and is likely to buy it.
The straight and fastest way to get a referral is to simply ask for it.
There’s no point in being shy or beating around the bush – simply reach out to customers and ask if there’s anyone they know who could also benefit from your product/service, and provide them an incentive if you can, framed as a limited period promotion.
If you’ve got a satisfied prospect, take a minute towards the end of a call to ask them if they know someone who might benefit from your product/service.
Referral sales cut down on a lot of the time you spend prospecting or qualifying leads and it’s rooted deeply in customer relationships, which makes it one of the most lucrative approaches for small businesses.
4. Account Based Sales
This is an effective way to approach your sales strategy if you operate in a B2B domain.
In account based sales, you create a list of companies that would be ideal customers for your product or service. Then, you identify one or more stakeholders from the company to reach out to and prospect.
Usually, in the case of multiple stakeholders, each one comes from a different department and is treated as an independent prospect, handled by different salespersons.
For successful account-based selling, you need to understand the prospective business thoroughly – their needs, challenges, current solutions they might be using, and how they can benefit exactly from your solution.
You then need to make sure that your pitch is targeted to each stakeholder you may be talking to, and their department’s needs.
In general, account-based sales is considered a lengthier process but, in most cases, more successful – especially where the buying journey is long.
Sales Techniques to Boost Small Business Sales
5. Selling the Solution Rather Than the Product
The golden rule of selling anything to anyone, anywhere.
When you truly understand your customer and your product, you know that talking about features and benefits is not going to get you anywhere…talking about why the person on the other end of the call really needs to address X problem in X way and possibly use your product to achieve it, you have a higher chance of getting somewhere.
6. Start Strong, End Strong
The way you hold a call makes all the difference to prospects, because 9 out of 10 times they really aren’t planning on giving you the time of the day.
When you start strong (by talking about a personalized benefit, perhaps, or a question to create intrigue), you have higher chances of engaging your prospect.
To end a call strong means to end it by asking for a sale – more difficult that it sounds, as any salesperson will tell you!
7. Focusing on Prospects With Urgency
Urgency is a more important element than you’re probably giving it credit for, and this is something most salespersons learn the hard way.
When your product/service is not an urgent buy for your prospect, you’re going to have a tough time getting them to commit and end with a strong ‘yes’.
You’ll more often than not find yourself not closing sales. One way of identifying the buying urgency is asking about how the problem is affecting the customers’ company and how many people its currently affecting.
8. Using Active Listening to Sell Your Product
When prospecting, listen to cues from your prospects about what they’re looking for and what they need.
A lot of what they’re saying will also come across in their tonality and mannerisms during the call – use active listening to identify how interested they are, what part of your pitch is resonating with them and what will keep them engaged.
Sales Practices to Boost Small Business Sales
9. Using Technology
You need more than a great sales team to close more prospects in a shorter amount of time – you need technology.
A sales CRM software is an ideal solution (and not at all meant only for enterprises!) to help keep track of incoming leads, manage your sales team, prioritize leads and automate communication.
Plug- You’ll love the Kylas Growth Engine, our sales CRM software (free CRM!) that is built specifically for small businesses and comes with business expertise for you to boost your growth.
It’s free for 3 months, with no additional costs and free end-to-end support!
10. Nurturing Your Leads
Lead nurturing is an extremely important part of every company’s sales process.
When you get in touch with a lead and your product has a lengthy buying cycle, chances are they forget about your conversation soon after a call…and remember they’re also talking to other brands (your competitors) at the same time.
Nurturing them by sending them engaging emails and messages is a great way to keep them interested and to keep your brand at the top of their mind until your next call.
11. Upselling to Existing Customers
Your customers are a great source of additional revenue but, unfortunately, most sales teams forget about customers once the first conversion takes place.
When you stay in touch with customers and try to ensure that they’re satisfied with your product and service, you develop a relationship and trust with them.
This will stand you in good stead when you try to upsell to them a more expensive version of your product or pricing plan.
12. Cross-selling to Customers
As we said earlier, your customers are a very viable source of additional revenue.
Cross-selling different products (perhaps a new product you’ve launched or just another one that customers might find appealing) is an inexpensive and quick way to boost revenue by offering different solutions.
A good way to do this is to segment customers by the benefit they derive from the product they originally bought, and then identify other products/services you offer that could also benefit them.
Do you feel ready to take your sales strategy by storm?
Here are a few tips on using the above strategies to formulate one cohesive plan-
- Don’t feel compelled to use ALL the sales approaches – only pick and choose what works for you
- Definitely apply all the sales techniques and practices. That isn’t an either/or situation – they’re all important!
- Put an analytical system in place – sales CRM-automated reports and sheets that will do the bulk of the sales results analyses so you can save time (small businesses = no time to spare!)
- Hold CEO – Sales Head – Sales Manager meetings every week to analyze what’s working for you and what’s not, so you can optimize on the go
- When you want to try something new, such as cross-selling or nurturing, create a timeline rather than doing it all at once and use A/B testing to identify if there is a direct impact.
We hope this helps you in creating a sales strategy for your business! Remember that no one thing or one mix of things works for everyone – once you have your basics in place, it’s all about taking informed decisions and then constantly analyzing results.
Have any other strategies that you’ve tried or would like to try? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!