Businesses and markets are in a constant state of evolution, and that’s without a global pandemic to complicate things!
You need to be able to answer these questions:
WHO are you selling to? Who is experiencing the problem you solve, right now?
WHAT are the numbers? How much do you need to earn and how many sales calls do you need to make?
HOW will you achieve your sales goals? What does your sales process look like?
Your sales strategy will help inform your marketing strategy too. Once you’ve committed to your financial goals and you can clearly identify your ideal client, you can begin outlining the marketing and selling activities you’ll use to achieve those goals.
Let’s break those down.
There are two ways to look at this.
Even if you’ve been in business for a while, it’s important to re-evaluate the needs-solution match for the coming year.
Especially after major market shifts, the people you used to sell to may no longer be a good fit, or you may have identified new market opportunities.
Your ideal paying client (IPC) description should be very specific so you can speak directly to their needs. Note the ‘P’ part of this description. As content writing coach Deb Ager says, it’s important that they pay you!
Your sales strategy should also include some hard financial numbers – target revenue or other sales goals, and an understanding of the volume of activity required to reach them.
What kind of growth is reasonable to aim for? How does that break down throughout the year?
If you have revenue numbers, do you know how many clients that equates to? How many totally new clients will you need to bring on board? How long is your sales cycle?
It gets more complicated when you add in conversion rates and start calculating how many prospects you’ll need in your target list to meet your financial goals. We can help you with that – contact us.
If you’ve worked out that you need to have 50 sales conversations per month to meet your revenue targets, how many of those will result from marketing activities or referrals? The remainder will need to be cold outreaches to your identified target list.
What we’re aiming for here is a tightly defined list of prospects that meet your ideal client description and is both large enough to yield the financial results you need and small enough to be manageable with your existing sales resources. If not, you may need to revise your targets or hire additional resources!
Which leads nicely into how you’re going to make this happen.
Now you know who you’re going to sell to, and you’ve worked out how many sales calls you need to make. What will your selling activities actually look like?
You’ll need a sales process that you can follow consistently. Who will make the actual calls and what sort of support will be required?
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it definitely needs to be consistent.
If you know you need to have 50 sales conversations per month and 25% of those will be warm calls from marketing leads and referrals and 75% will be cold outreach, you’ll need to find time to have 12 to 13 warm conversations per month.
Depending on your industry, your cold outreach may require between four and eight ‘touches’ before you have those 37-38 sales conversations. (Remember that not all of these will convert!) Most likely this will be a combination of calls and emails, but in any case, you’ll need to find time to make between 150 and 300 cold ‘touches’ each month.
Will you commit to 12-15 ‘touches’ per day, or will you find it easier to bundle your activity into one morning and one afternoon selling session each week?
Whichever you choose, it’s important that you consistently put in the time and sales effort. You already know how long your sales cycle is, if you don’t continually feed more potential prospects into the top of your sales funnel you run the risk of a period of that length with no new revenue. Can you afford to do that?
Next, you’ll need to think a little bit like your potential customer and what he or she expects to help you work out what your actual process will entail.
I’m a fan of direct outreach – a phone call enquiring whether the prospect is indeed experiencing the issue that you solve. Then I usually follow a process that looks like this:
Week 1 – initial call, followed up with an email.
Week 2 – another call with a different message of how you’ve helped a client just like them. Followed by an email.
Week 3 – where no connection has been made, a third call with a different value proposition and example, followed up with an email.
Week 4 – where no connection has been made, a ‘break up’ call and email.
Then I schedule a follow up call for three or six months later, or other appropriate end point (budgetary, end of year etc). Depending on how valuable the prospect is to me and what insight I’ve gained along this process I may continue to follow up periodically.
Perhaps you’re thinking that you can’t possibly spend this much time on sales activities, even if you can automate some of your email touches. That’s the thing about selling consistently. It takes time and it can be somewhat tedious. But it’s also the lifeblood of your business!
You’ll want to use some sort of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to help you keep track of who you’ve in contact with and to help you manage your sales workflow. You may also want to consider whether it makes sense to delegate or automate some of your selling activity.
Everything can be outsourced, including the components of selling. You can hire someone to help you identify prospects that meet your ideal paying client description. You can hire someone to write the engaging emails to support your cold calling efforts. You can even hire someone like us to make the cold calls for you.
What’s important is that someone is doing the selling regularly and consistently.
Crafting your sales strategy is like many other business strategies – it isn’t that difficult, but you do need to consider each of the elements from an objective view. Ideally before you’re in the thick of things!
I advise my clients to think seriously about what they want to achieve in the next financial year, put some hard numbers against that, and then work out the actual plan to make it happen.
When you have a sales strategy in place AND you consistently take the action directed by your strategy you should easily be able to reach your sales goals.
Here’s to a fantastic year!
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