Sales Strategies

Knowing what not to do, is as important as unearthing those secrets to success. Sometimes we tend to go on selling the same way, avoiding the flaws that are not taking us to our destination. As the adage goes “what is the use of running if you are not on the right road?” For staying on the right track, you need smart tactics and effective sales strategies.

Sales strategy is a thoughtful activity that helps businesses in ameliorating their sales. It acquaints you with your problem areas and shows you the route you need to take for achieving the desired outcome. The right sales strategies can support your sales efforts and ease your journey to reach your sales goals quickly.

With the evolution of technology and rise of business players in the industry, each year you will see a new sales strategy stepping into the field of sales. However, some sales strategies have been in this field since ages and worked for many companies.

Proven sales strategies from top entrepreneurs and startups

Here are few of the sales strategies implemented by successful entrepreneurs and sales experts that can even help you in achieving your desired sales numbers:

1. Set specific goals

Set specific goals

In sales, you need to have a bullseye to target, or else you will wander in the wilderness. Just saying my objective is to “increase sales” is not enough. You need to define this goal more clearly. It is not possible to track the progress of such vague goals. Without evaluating the progress, you won’t know if the effort you are putting, is reaping fruitful results or not.

As John Doerr, an American venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers writesSalespeople who live by goals- Know where they’re headed

He further says “If you’re searching for your destination, contrary to what you might read in others’ writings about goals, you don’t have to sort out your entire life purpose in order to achieve in sales. All you need to do is set a target for yourself – that can be as simple as an annual sales target – and to have a good answer for the question, “Does my entire being scream with a desire to achieve this goal? Will I be in agony and turmoil until I do?

If the answer is yes, then you’re in great shape to get started. (Perhaps you don’t need all the angst and agony, but salespeople who are not dissatisfied with where they are don’t often make it to the next level).”

When you have a specific goal, you will know where exactly you want to go and what you need to. This is one of the most effective sales strategies that can increase your sales. Don’t be hasty with your goals; think, strategize and then create a goal.

For example, instead of saying that we want to increase our business revenue, be more specific that our business goal is to achieve $100000 by 31st, December 2018. Let’s assume the average deal size is $50,000, so you will have to close 20 deals until 31st December 2018 to achieve your goal.

Such clear goals give you a direction and help you in staying focused. They are measurable, so you can evaluate its progress to understand how far are you from your goals and what more do you need to do to reach there.

2. Analyzing past sales

Analyzing past sales

Your historical sales records are a useful source of vital information that you shouldn’t ignore while setting your goals. Using various reporting tools, you can easily analyze your past sales and determine the areas of improvement.

“At Metal Mafia, I start the goal-setting process by looking at the company’s overall business from the year before.  First, I check the increase of total sales over the prior year and account for where it came from month by month.  Did I add a sales rep in a certain month? Did I change the number of trade show or industry appearances in a specific season? Did I change the frequency or type of customer communications, and–if so–when? Once I gather that information, I project any changes I expect to make to those areas in the coming year. Because I can see approximately how much each source increased or changed our business, I can predict fairly accurately how much I expect the business to grow this year.” –  says Vanessa Merit Nornberg, president of Metal Mafia

Examining last year’s goals and results is equally important for setting realistic and achievable goals. Evaluate the previous year’s goals and understand if you had achieved them or not. If not, then dig into reasons and find out what went wrong. This will help in building strategies for performing better in the future.

3. Commence by targeting small markets

Commence by targeting small markets

Targeting different business verticals and the market might seem appealing. Wider the market better the reach. Isn’t it? Well, this doesn’t always work. Having a finger in every pie, adds to the complications. When you target a wider market, it becomes difficult to understand and address their business challenges.

As Steve Davis, Principal and Founder of The CXO Advisory Group writesThe other problem that companies have is they focus on too big of a market. They focus on the whole universe. Business schools simply will say you might want to pick best market with the biggest market segment that you can go after. In many cases, that’s wrong – the bigger market segments typically have the most competitors in it. What you want to do is take that big market and segment it. I don’t care what market you’re looking at, you can segment it a thousand different ways. You want to pick your target market as your beachhead, it’s your beachhead into the marketplace. You want to pick the beachhead, just like they did on D-Day, that’s going to give them their best chance for success. You want to get into the market, you want to hit the beach, you want to consolidate it, get a cash flow going, get positive cash flow going, and then branch out to other market segments after that’s done and not before.”

So, don’t directly aim for big, use this sales strategy and take baby steps by concentrating on a specific market and business size. Study this market audience and understand the problems they are facing. Try to relate how your product will help them in resolving their issues.

4. Research, understand and help your customers

Research, understand and help your customers

Most of the sales professionals call just to present a brighter picture of their product and company. Your knowledge about your product won’t help in capturing your prospect’s interest. It will work if you know about their business issues. Companies want a solution to their problem, they are not interested in knowing about your product’s excellent features.

As Joanna Moretti, senior vice president and sales enablement at Jabil says in her conversation with Corporate Visions “If I get a call and a salesperson tells me that they have the best marketing tool on the planet, I hang up. But if a salesperson calls and says they understand that “Jabil is looking to improve share of wallet, and that we can help you transform an organization from a reactive organization to proactively positioning value propositions to improve share of wallet,” then they have my full attention. You see? They are speaking my language at that point and will get a meeting with me. I expect salespeople to do their homework and have the willingness to spend the time sitting down with my team and fleshing out the details. If someone can quantify the value and clarify how it will help my business, that’s how they can earn my support.”

“you sell more when you stop selling”David Meerman Scott, marketing and sales strategist and a bestselling author

Research about your prospects before calling and amass vital information to understand them.

Try to find out-

  • What are your prospect’s business goals?
  • Since when are they in the industry?
  • What obstacles are hindering their growth?
  • What steps have they taken to overcome the obstacles? How successful has it been?
  • What areas would they like to improve?
  • Are they working with any of your competitors?

Wondering where you will get answers to these questions?

Fright not, the below points will help-

  • Explore your prospect’s company website
  • Browse their pages on social media sites
  • If they are working with your competitors, then view the case studies published by them
  • Use Google Alerts, Mention or Talkwalker alerts to learn about your prospect’s interest and activities.

Only when you know about them, you will be able to strike a meaningful conversation. Personalizing the conversation helps in earning their trust. Be client-centric and try to ensure that you are here to genuinely help them in finding a solution to their business issue.

5. Listen to your prospects

Listen to your prospects

Master the art of listening if you wish to succeed in sales. Keep your ears open to your prospect needs to understand what they want. Active listening introduces you to a wealth of information that can help you in closing the deal.

You have two ears and one mouth, so use it in the correct proportion. Spend more time in listening to the prospect rather than just going on with your product’s tale. Ask open-ended questions and be attentive to the answers instead of thinking what to ask next.

“In my 40+ years as an entrepreneur, and heavily involved in the entrepreneurial community, I have observed the wild success of many businesses, and the fast failure of others. All had a superior product or service, so why did some fail? Many companies tend to focus too much on that product or service and forget to listen to what customers are telling them. This inevitably resulted in declining revenue and profit.

The goal of any business is to make money, but that objective is easier to reach when we listen to customers and understand their needs. The best way to do this is by listening to what they tell us.”Says Alan Hall, founder of Grow America

Respect your prospects and their time by being patient and attentive. Listening can not only help in understanding the prospects but also aid in building a good rapport with them.

However, with sales target hovering over the mind, most of the sales professionals focus on pitching their product to maximum companies. Prospects tend to feel ignored when you concentrate on selling a product, and thus they lose interest in your offerings.

“It’s very easy in sales to want to pitch your product offering and explain your solution right away to your prospects. Don’t let this be the case, and ask questions first to uncover THEIR business and THEIR needs. You will get more customers and referrals when you take the time to understand their landscape and make the selling process as easy as possible for them to do business with you.” Says Brooke Botros, Dir. of Sales, Spanning.

6. Differentiate your company from your competitors

Differentiate your company from your competitors

How are you better from your competitors? The answer to this question can help you in expanding your customer base. Raise your standards and focus on being different to outshine your competitors. This is one of the sales strategies that most of the big brands also use to excel.

For example, Nike offers customer-tailored solutions to be different from its competitors. NikeiD allows the customers to customize some of the product they buy. It even carries the name of professional athletes to capture the attention of youngsters like Nike Air Jordan Retro XI sneakers were modeled after the 1996 originals designed for Michael Jordan.

Companies always prefer to work with the best. They compare the products to find out what’s better and what will be beneficial for their business. So, it is essential to find out and display your competitive advantages impactfully.

“Doing what everyone else does is comfortable and “safe,” but stir some controversy and do something drastically different! It takes courage, but focus on one thing you think others are doing incorrectly, or not doing at all, and consistently demonstrate how you’re bucking the trend. Then, shout it from the rooftops in all of your marketing and communication.” Says Dan Pickett co-founder of Launch Academy.

7. Embrace storytelling to sell

Storytelling is an impactful sales strategy if used wisely. Prospects can easily digest the complex details of a product when it comes through this creative medium. Stories give meaning to your product and sets you apart from the competitors.  As per a study, a painting became 11% more valuable when the artist’s story was featured below it. A good story evokes interest and stimulates emotions. It gives prospects a reason to invest as they can connect with your product.

“Top salespeople tell stories because it engages customers and puts the sales message in a context that captures the prospect’s attention, perhaps even tugs at the prospect’s emotions. A story provides a structure that makes it easier to understand your pitch, and to remember it, so your prospect can recommend and defend your property when you are not in the room” –  says Daniel Ambrose, sales consultant for strategy, tactics and training

Storytelling is sales strategy that can be used in each part of your sales process. Like while giving a product demo you can tell your prospects the story of how one of your uncertain prospect turned into your satisfied customer and show their testimonial to add credibility.

8. Be patient and negotiate

Be patient and negotiate

Negotiation is the most crucial stage of a sales process where a deal can end. This is the point where you need to be extra careful while communicating with the client. Being patient while negotiating is a sales strategy that can help you in saving a deal.

DR Karrass, Founder of Karrass Limited believes ‘Patience is one the most powerful negotiation tactics”

The prospect might get aggressive but you need to stay calm as you might end up losing a deal. Moreover, there are chances that in the heat of the moment you might give discounts or agree to terms that could get you in trouble. So, think and take your step. Prospects might seem reluctant initially but you need to convert the no into a yes smartly.

9. Use the free trial

‘Free Trial’ is one of the most common sales strategies used to attract new customers. Renowned names like Skype, Dropbox, Netflix and Buffer app offer free trials to allow customers experience the benefits of using their service.

Free Trial  is the best way to show your prospects the true value of the product as companies don’t easily invest in an unknown product. However, you need to ensure that your free trial period isn’t stretched for too long. Moreover, you need to make the most of the time when the prospect is using your product or service. As everything is fresh in their head, it is the best time to call and share a little more information to get a positive response once the trial period ends.

Customers who don’t choose to buy from you after the free trial can still be valuable resources for feedback. Learning why your trial offer wasn’t convincing to them may help you craft a future offer that will be convincing to them, or it may make you aware of changes you need to make to your product to make it more appealing to customers. — by  J.B. Maverick on intuit.com

Closing thoughts

There is always something to learn from others experiences. No matter whether you are new in the sales domain or are an established player, these tested sales strategies might come to your aid while selling. Just having a powerful sales strategy is not enough you need to use it smartly.

Sales performance gets better when these sales strategies are used along with smart technology like Salesmate CRM that is exclusively designed for sales professional. It helps in managing your sales pipeline, streamlining your customer data, analyzing your past performance with insightful reports, forecasting future opportunities, tracking emails and automating various sales processes.