How to Develop a Strategic Sales Plan
Last Updated: Apr 10, 2013
Want to see your small business sales skyrocket? A strategic sales plan is your map to more sales and profits.
There’s nothing more important to your business than sales. Revenue is what keeps your doors (virtual or physical) open. Do you have a strategic plan to drive sales? Just like your business plan, you should have a detailed plan to communicate to your sales staff. How do you put it together? Address each of these points in your sales strategy.
What do you offer your customers? Do you offer products and services that appeal to a wide range of customers or is your business confined to one demographic? High-end products for high-end customers may be working now but how about in the future?
You need diversification in your product offerings. Do you cater to the lower end customer? Both men and women? Examine your product and service offerings to assure that all of your revenue doesn’t come from one product or one type of customer.
What Do Your Customers Want?
Now that you’ve identified the weaknesses or holes in your product or service offerings, ask another basic question: What do your customers want? If you’re a consultant, are you developing the skills that are most sought after by your customers? If you’re a restaurant, are you offering food that fits the palette of the customers who visit?
How about their communication preferences? How often do they want to hear from you? Do they prefer email, a personal visit, phone call, or a text message?
New business owners make the mistake of building and growing their business around their likes and preferences. Put your likes aside and concentrate on your customers. They may want something drastically different.
How Will You Build Relationships?
Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Effective sales professionals know that building relationships and rapport are how to create ongoing business.
How will you or your sales staff build those relationships? Take potential customers to lunch? Offer free training? Refer them to your other clients? Don’t think so much about selling. Think about building the relationship. The sale will happen naturally once a relationship built on sincerity is established.
Before you build the relationship, you have to find potential customers. That’s where your advertising strategy becomes important. There’s no one advertising plan that works for all businesses.
You should use social media as a customer outreach, right? That might be an effective strategy for some businesses but not all. Does your plumbing business need a website? It won’t hurt your business but is it worth the time to post on a blog every day? Maybe not.
Read trade magazines, ask others in your field, and keep accurate and detailed records that measure the effectiveness of your advertising. The Internet gives you the ability to reach many people for little cost, but don’t forget that your time has value. If a strategy isn’t producing customers, abandon it even if it’s free.
Do you have Incentives?
If you have a sales staff, how are you motivating them to sell your product? They believe in your product, but ultimately they’re selling to make money and the more they can make through commission and other incentives, the harder they’ll work to meet those sales goals.
Keep the Mood Positive
Commission and other incentives are nice, but your sales staff is rejected every day. It’s a fact of life for anybody in sales, but if their boss (you) is constantly negative, there will come a time when money no longer makes up for a negative work environment.
Keeping sales statistics is important and when somebody is underperforming, talking to them is a necessity, but resist the urge to send out the constant, “We have to do better,” e-mails. Do you respond to threats? Neither do your employees.
Instead, ask for feedback. Maybe your product or service needs refining—a lower price, larger quantity, or better service. Keep your office positive and be open to suggestions from those who hear the opinions of customers each day.
Put together your plan and be open to refining it as your company evolves. Constantly revisit it and set short and long-term sales goals to avoid complacency.
Do not listen to those who say you don’t need a written plan. Very few of the most successful people achieved great things by chance. More likely, they executed the plan they put together.
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