Like all aspects of business, sales, needs a plan. Businesses don’t get started on a whim. Ideas need to be stress tested. Markets need to be marketed. Finance needs to be financed. Sales needs to be planned.
Like any other strategy, your sales strategy needs to be effective. It also needs to be fluid. By fluid, I mean that it is imperative that you can react fast to situations that you cannot control. External forces on your business typically happen at 3:30 on an idle Tuesday afternoon. (Or any other day, at any other time.) A sound sales strategy needs to be ready to react to these forces. A competitor may go out of business, or may have a fire-sale. Legislation may change to make your top selling product suddenly illegal, or indeed the only legal product.
A Sales Strategy needs to make sense. A businesses target market needs to be researched.
I firmly believe that when selling, salespeople need to forget about the product, and sell the solution. The solution is what makes customers buy. Sales people naturally have a persuasive attitude. It is up to the individual to use this “power” for good or evil. In a perfect world it will be the solution that drives the sale.
All too often in this digital age, our experience with sales people can be spread to the masses. There is an increasing pressure on sales people to successes. They are expected to exceed targets set for them month after month, year after year.
One of the biggest problems with this, in my experience, is the business manager’s attitude towards the sales person. Rarely, if ever, does the sales person receive any form of training (outside of product training).
The direct managers of the sales people do not understand them on an individual, personal basis. The things that drove those 5 years ago, when they first joined the company, may not drive them today.
The time taken to invest in sales teams by offering sales training, social media training, personal development incentives etc. will be paid back in spades to the business. Sales people who feel appreciated, respected, and valued work harder. Full Stop.
Depending on what product or service you company offers will, and should determine your verticals. A vertical market is the types of business, or person that benefits most from your company. Be it the owners of private swimming pools, if you sell the chemicals needed to keep the water clean, to hospitals, if you launder bed linen.
Identifying your verticals and selling your solution to them should be the absolute core of your company’s business development. Being able to sell ice in a snow storm is an admirable quality, but it’s clearly a waste of valuable time and resources.
Clearly defined verticals, and the reasons you sell to them will determine your success in a sales environment. Should you discover that your company’s most successful vertical is vets, then you have little or no business in convents.
Once a business can clearly define its vertical markets, it can gain experience selling into these markets. The more experience, the better one can understand the needs of this vertical. Once we better understand the needs of the vertical, the sales process gets easier. (Not the sale, but the sales process).
Company A is in the business of commercial insurance. The company is very successful in insurance for churches. It understands the needs and risks associated with the religious orders. From dangers associated with flooding to the danger of lighted candles. It makes sense to expand into mosques, temples, and meeting houses.
It is important to note that if there is no vertical the will be no business.
Company B is in the business of personalised number plates. This has been a very lucrative business in the past. The company seeks to expand outside of the UK, into Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. The business begins to get traction in Northern Ireland, but not in Ireland. No matter how good the sales process, the sales team, or the value add to the sale will this be a successful venture. A vehicle owner in Ireland cannot own a personalised number plate, therefor there is no vertical there.
Streams of Business
Business comes from many places. It is important to note that it is fundamentally easier to get repeat business from a client, than to find a new one.
This been said, we need to consider where we get our business
- Current Clients
- Net New Business
- Business Development
- Social Media
The list goes on. A business needs a strategy on each stream of business it is dealing with. The same strategy will not work on each stream.
For a business to be successful, we should plan an effective sales strategy. It is worth making the point that sales alone will not make a business successful.
Everything from finance to operations needs to be effective in order for the business as a whole to succeed. It is also vital for success to be measured. A business should, from the outset agree and document what success looks like. The business needs to agree this, because what looks like success for one, may not constitute success for another.
At Ghost Consultancy we have a passion seeing professionals and businesses operate at their full potential. We go into businesses and give them the tools to do just this. We work in the background changing poor habits in to good habits. Once the business is equipped and ready, we leave.
If you would like to improve your business, we would love to hear from you.