A key part of any business development goal is creating an efficient sales strategy that gets your products or services in front of the right people and invites them to make a purchase.
Successful business leaders understand that the sales process is the lifeblood of the company. Without an efficient, productive means of making sales, even brilliant ideas will fail, so it’s vital for every business owner to find the sales process that work bests for their company.
The quicker you can do this, the better your chances of growing your business, and the more likely you are to succeed. With so much at stake, William Buist reveals the sales strategy secrets that will help you make sustainable sales.
Look where your brand needs to go
Too many brands develop a sales process backwards. They set goals based on current performance, such as increasing profit by 10 percent in the next quarter. They try to improve the stages of their process by modifying existing structures and making small changes here and there.
As good business leaders know, however, true progress is seen when visionaries are able to look towards the end goal and map a clear path to get there.
For example, I recently worked with a technology provider exploring their sales process. The brand had experienced recent success and the company had to revamp their sales process to meet the new demand.
Working with a consulting team, they were able to create a clear picture of where they wanted to be in 12 months and then created a map to get there. By looking at each part of the sales process, including their tools, types of automation and areas of potential slowdowns and bottlenecks, they were able to create an effective plan to improve their processes.
This outline saw tremendous success, including a 30% projected cost reduction in what was needed to support their dramatic increase in sales. There was also a more than ten-fold increase in workflow automation.
By looking at the whole picture up front, this brand was able to completely turn around their sales process in one year and so properly prepare to handle the huge increase in customers.
Leaders know not to waste time with small changes when big adjustments are needed. Look at the long term picture, plot goals and work backwards to determine exactly how to achieve them.
Business model clarity
The key here is clarity. Clarity about the core purpose of the business, who you seek to work with, how you reach them, and the problems that you solve.
In my experience, sales success is almost perfectly correlated with the level of clarity everyone in the business has for the business model.
Pinpoint exact prospects (and build personas)
Sales efforts fall flat when the professional working to engage prospects lacks clarity about the perfect prospect. A successful sales approach knows exactly who is buying the product and what motivates them to purchase.
Sales professionals should be intimately familiar with the pain points of different personas (the problems you solve) and they should be able to give a detailed pitch that explains precisely how the product, or service, meets those needs.
Sales are rarely made by people who memorise the specifications of the product and can quickly recite them to prospects. Instead, they are made when the sales team can form a relationship with the prospect and present the product as the answer to their problems.
Understand where a particular prospect falls and tailor the approach
Once the sales professional has a good idea of the persona of a particular prospect, they will be able to customise their approach to selling the item.
For example, a security software company should have a different approach for a company that recently experienced a devastating security breach versus a start-up company looking for basic security for their equipment. The customer’s persona should then guide the questions that the sales professional uses throughout the initial phases of the conversion.
The sales professional should be ready to ask plenty of questions, and listen to the answers, building a real understanding of the client and their needs. The sales presentation can then be driven to explain exactly how the product answers the needs of the customer.
Take precise measurements of the process
The sales process should always be measured regularly. According to a survey conducted by Vantage Point, only 40% of sales enablement programmes are properly measured. This leaves a big gap in the understanding of how well sales efforts are performing.
To gauge sales team success, there are a few criteria that should be noted:
Track sales measures to see how well sales representatives are reaching their goals. Measures are the things you record and analyse in order to judge progress. So when you are measuring sales success a measure might be the number of calls, the number of appointments, etc.
Each of those aspects is a ‘measure’. Helping under performing representatives can help boost the bottom line for the entire company. It is a good way to also track how well sales tactics are helping the sales team connect with prospects.
If numerous established sales professionals are falling short, for example, this is a clear signal that the team needs to reexamine their approach.
2. Conversion rates at each stage of the funnel
The sales funnel describes how people progress from being leads to closed sales. The process includes all of the key phases you require to move customers through in order to make the transition from first contact to delivery of the product or service and sometimes even beyond that.
By looking at the rates of conversion from one state of the sales funnel to the next, companies can find even more opportunities for improvement. Small improvements at each stage can lead to a massive difference in sales success.
3. Time spent on core selling vs. time spent in aggregate
Monitor how much time is spent on core selling. This will tell you where the priorities of the sales team lie. It can help eliminate sales waste and improve efficiency among the team.
Although other responsibilities, such as expense reports, might be important, they are not selling and should not be the focal point of the time. Consider carefully what the right balance is and consider the design of the team and whether the tasks that are blocking success could be done by others.
Clarity, the key to sustainable sales
Linking the brand to customers, through the right channels, and in the right way makes sure that the customer buys with clarity as well as ensuring that you sell with clarity.
When that’s done the sale is powerfully sustainable. Customers get what they bought, delivered properly, on time and at a cost that they value, whilst the brand can make long term profits. That’s why sales processes have the power to make or break a brand.
Taking the time to perfect this system can increase sales, boost the bottom line and even reduce costs. The steps described above can help companies improve their sales systems from the top down to help them reach goals and grow the brand.
About the author
This article has been written by ByteStart’s regular business management contributor, William Buist. William is a Business Strategist, Speaker, and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club – an annual program that helps business owners to accelerate growth, harness opportunity and build their business. He is also author of two books: ‘At your fingertips’ and ‘The little book of mentoring’. Other articles William has written for ByteStart, include;
- How reverse mentorship can help drive fresh ideas, develop staff and help your business succeed
- The risks and rewards of being a unique business
- How to build a strong, powerful, strategic network
- Start up by listening your way to a better business
- How a collaborative mindset can help your startup succeed
- Why the chain of accountability is essential to your business success
- Why your start-up needs to slow down
- How One-to-One marketing can help start-ups to promote, pitch and sell more effectively
And for more on generating sales, try these other ByteStart guides;
- The 7 steps of selling – understand the sales process and close more deals
- How to turn your customers into your best sales force
- Sealing the deal – How to close a sale
- The 10 business development truths that will give you an edge over your competitors
- How to build rapport with customers
- Why every business needs to give its staff autonomy
- Wisdom of Crowds: 4 ways customers can improve your company