What Every Sales Professional Ought to Know About Sales Strategy

What’s the difference between a sales strategy and a sales tactic?  The difference is the sales strategy is your plan to acquire the business and the sales tactics are the methods you will use to implement the plan.

Sales tactics include such things as how to open a call, how to handle objections, and how to gain agreement.  The sales skills needed to implement these tactics need to be continually honed and developed.Sales Strategy pic

The sales strategy involves determining what approach you are taking to the sale.  This would include such things as: taking the quality approach or the low price approach, consultative selling, your unique selling proposition, and determining your competitive advantage.

To be successful and win the sale game you need to have a sound strategy and effective tactics.  One without the other will not allow you to consistently sell a high volume of business and high margin business.

Because the sales strategy comes before the sales tactics, let’s look at some of the key pieces of a sound sales strategy.

The first step in developing your sales strategy is to conduct pre-sale research.  The pre-sale research gives you the information you need to formulate your plan.

What you are looking for in pre-sale research is information about your prospect’s industry.  Who are the major players in the industry?  What challenges does the industry face?

Then you want to find information about the company.  How long in business?  Who are the members of the executive team?  How do they create value in the marketplace when they sell their products or services?  What is their current situation regarding the products and services you offer?

In the pre-sale research you want to uncover as much information about your prospect as possible.

It is a proven fact that decision makers are “turned off” by sales people that ask them questions that they should already know the answer to.  The decision maker sees this as a waste of time and lack of quality on the sales person’s part.  Do good pre-sale research and you will set yourself apart from a lot of sales people out there.

Deciding on a sales strategy will depend a lot on what you discover in your pre-sale research.  In determining your sales strategy you want to take into consideration such things as: Is your prospect a value purchase or are they a price purchaser?  How many people will be involved in the sales process?  Who will be your competition on the sale?

Your sales plan will include:

Pricing strategy –

Develop your pricing strategy based on your anticipation of your prospect perceiving the value for your product or service.  Their perception could be shaped by what they are currently doing, competition, or the philosophy of the company.  Your pricing strategy is not the price you plan to charge, but how you are going to position your pricing.

Buying influence strategy –

Your pre-sale research should give you an indication of who will be involved in the buying decision.  Your strategy should be to make sure you take into consideration all of the buying influencers needs and wants.  In addition, you want to identify who will be willing to assist you (your coach) in working with the other buying influencers to help you get the business.

Resource strategy –

How much/many resources will it take to get the business.  Resources can be items and tools such as: data, reports, demonstrations, site visits, entertainment, etc that will be needed to acquire the sale.  Knowing the amount of resources helps you to gauge the cost of getting the sale.

Relationship strategy –

What relationships inside and outside your company could you leverage to advance the sale.  Customer testimonials from current clients can be utilized to create value.  Who do you know that knows your prospect (whether a current client or not) that could endorse you.  Part of your relationship strategy is to leverage the people in your company.  Relationships in your company that could move a sale forward could include the owner or president, support staff, etc.

Developing a sales strategy for each sales campaign is essential to keep you on track to acquire the sale.  By having a sound plan you can always see where you are and where you need to make adjustments in you tactics.

Of course there will be times when you need to change your sales plan altogether to get a sale.  That’s OK!  What is not OK is not having a good plan to start with.

Happy Selling

Do You Know The Real Secret To Sales Success?

Sales professionals ask all the time what really works in sales?  The answer is quite simple.  What works in sales is understanding your prospects needs and wants and then showing in a very compelling way how your product or service satisfies those needs and wants better than any other alternative.

Many times there is the thinking that there is some “magic bullet” that can be used and every prospect will do business with you.  Well, there is no “magic bullet.”    What there is though, is to use a sales system that will consistently allow you to be successful in selling business.

You always want to be improving your sales close ratio, but you will never close 100% of the business you propose.  Therefore, you’re playing the percentages and stacking them in your favor.

You need to know how many calls it takes to get a prospect and how many prospects it takes to get a customer.  It’s just that simple.  Then, you need to have a sales system that supports your efforts.

What do you need to have two main things in your sales system?  You need a way to get qualified prospects and a sales process.

Prospecting funnel – you need to have a way to keep plenty of fresh qualified prospects in your pipeline.  When you don’t have enough qualified prospects, you enter into what I refer to as the “begging cycle.”  The begging cycle is when you are so desperate to have a prospect do business with you literally beg.   It goes like this: “please, please, please, Mr./Ms. Prospect.  Do business with me!  Please!, please!, please!.”  Not only do you sound like an old James Brown record (comment on the blog if you get that one), it just doesn’t work.  After all, would you want to do business with someone who’s desperate?

When you have a pipeline full of qualified prospects and you have a sales system that yields results, you are never desperate.

There are so many ways to build your prospecting funnel.  You have networking, referrals, direct mail, webinars, etc.  The list is endless.  Use your imagination to come up with ways to increase your pipeline.

Try to think in terms of activities that leverage you time.  For example if you have a webinar you could talk to many more potential prospects at one time than you could cold calling.

Sales Process – it is a proven fact that sales people who follow a linked sequential sales process have more success than those that don’t.  A sales process basically has six steps.

  • Open – The introduction to your prospect.  Your goal here is to establish rapport
  • Gain Creditability – This is where you earn the right to continue with the sales process.  You are establishing trust here.
  • Discovery – Understanding your prospect’s needs and wants.  Here is where you find out as much about your prospect as you possibly can.  Be sure to understand the needs and wants of all the people that could influence the buying decision.
  • Presentation – Present a unique solution that satisfies the needs and wants of your prospect.  The key here is to make your solution unique from all alternatives being considered.  That also means you address the alternative of your prospect doing nothing.
  • Gain Agreement – This is where you agree to do business.  Notice I did not say close.  Gaining agreement is a natural outcome of completing the first four steps of the sales process.
  • Implement & Follow-up – Ensure that what you promised in your proposal is delivered.  Be sure to ask for referrals at this step.  Your new prospect is never going to be more excited about your relationship than now.  Capitalize on that by asking for referrals.  Make sure you have a way to review your performance for the life of the customer.  That’s the only way to ensure you will have a customer for life.

At the end of the day or even the beginning of the day, you have to have a sales system to be successful in sales.  You need a way to find ’em and then sell ’em.

Happy Selling

Become A Master Of Persuasion

When I first started selling it was a complete disaster.  I thought if I just got enough people to like me they would buy my products and services.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

I actually learned how to sell from a master salesperson named Mark.  Mark was simply able to move people beyond where they originally thought they could go.

Mark and I were making blitz calls (that’s how we did it back in the day).  The funny thing today is that you back then you could actually get in to see people and have a conversation with them today.  Even with all this technology we seem to have less time than we did 30 years ago.  Go figure that one out!

Anyway, Mark and I called on this business and the Owner came out and immediately said he did not have time to talk.  He stated that he appreciated us coming by, but we caught him at the wrong time.

Mark asked him a question about what was keeping him so busy and the man went on to talk for about four or five minutes about what he had to do.  Mark asked him another question about that was related to what he wanted to accomplish.  Our conversation with this guy who originally had no time to talk lasted for thirty minutes.

He invited us back and ultimately became a customer.  What would have happened if Mark had simply said: “Ok, we’ll come back later”?

I asked Mark how did he take a guy who wanted no part of use and move him to wanting to have a conversation with us.  He told me about persuasion and how people say things initially because they are programmed to say them.  He went on to say that what people say is often not what they mean.

The ability to persuade people is a key skill for sales people.  If you want to win the sales game you have to be able to create value, differentiate yourself from the competition, and gain agreement.  But what facilitates you being successful in the sales process is your ability to persuade.

One of the best courses on persuasion was put together by a guy named Kevin Hogan.  He is a master a persuasion and teaching persuasion.  If you want to check out his stuff go to kevinhogan.winningthesalesgame.com.

To start practicing and developing your skill of persuasion, begin to notice what words and actions that cause people to connect with you.  If you observe yourself you will see when conversations and attitudes shift in a positive way towards your message.

When you take notes of those instances, use them over and over again until you have mastered them.

Mastering persuasion in sales in not like a con game.  You are helping your prospects get what they need to meet their objectives.  And, because you helped them you benefit too.

Happy Selling