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Sales strategy tips: How to develop a successful plan to grow your business

Results’ owner and director, Dave Rainbow, spoke at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ event in October last year. Here, he summarises the key points of his presentation, which focused on the important elements of a successful sales strategy.

Whether you’re a product manufacturer, a service provider, a contractor or a consultant, you need to have a proactive, targeted sales and business development strategy to succeed.

I’ve worked in this industry for over 12 years, and encounter the same issues time and time again. Do any of these scenarios strike a chord with you?

  • Our sales people aren’t proactive and don’t try to expand their networks
  • We want to diversify into new markets and sell other products and services, but our sales people don’t drive this activity
  • Getting in front of the right person is an issue for us – but once we achieve that, we’re successful

To succeed, you need to be proactive. In other words, you need to target the right people, with the right message, in the right way, and at the right time.

Take these 3 steps to ensure that you’re on the right path for developing a successful plan to grow your business.

1. Clearly define the ideal opportunity

Part of the research we carry out when we take on a new client focuses on defining their ideal opportunity. In doing so, we’re able to pin down whether they’re targeting the right people in the right organisations at the right time in the process.

Our research always includes the following questions:

  • What does the ideal opportunity look like? Once you’re clear on this, it’s far easier to develop a strategy to achieve this type of opportunity, time after time
  • What routes to market can you exploit? For example, if your main point of differentiation is speed of delivery or lowest cost, you’re wasting your efforts if you’re trying to get specified
  • Are you leveraging credibility to gain business? If you deal with multi-site organisations but are currently only engaged with one office, you need to exploit this success
  • Are you effectively profiling your customers? If you’re the preferred flooring manufacturer for Tesco, Asda and Morrisons but don’t work with Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, you’re missing out
  • Are you taking advantages of opportunities to diversify and grow? For example, ostensibly different industries such as hospitals and universities actually make decisions in similar ways – so if you’re successful in one, you could replicate this in the other

Understanding what drives your ideal customer, and ensuring that your proposition appeals to them, is a great place to start. I would also recommend looking at where you’re already strong and building on that.

2. Qualify every opportunity, even before first contact

Good sales people should be qualifying opportunities throughout the sales process, even before the first contact is made.

Qualifying opportunities effectively involves a dialogue, and asking questions that might result in a ‘no’. But the right ‘no’ is a good thing. It means that you can focus your efforts on the right opportunity rather than wasting your time on something that isn’t going to be profitable.

Don’t forget: you need to qualify for the long term, and not just the immediate sale. Many of our clients have a sales cycle of 18 months or more.

Bear in mind that the wider ongoing process can often involve other third party influencers – specifiers, contractors, sub contractors, FMs etc – and if you don’t have relationships with them you could lose out down the line.

3. Adapt and evolve to succeed

The market is constantly changing. To keep pace, you need to ensure that you’re prepared to change too. Keep doing things the way you’ve always done them (Einstein’s definition of insanity), and your business will suffer in the long term.

Questions you need to ask yourself include

  • Who are your ideal customers? What are their goals and challenges? How do you help them solve their problems?
  • How are you different from everyone else? What sets you apart?
  • How do your sales people work? Are they encouraged to focus on quality rather than quantity of appointment? Are they informed and passionate about what they’re selling?

Building strong relationships with the right people – the key decisions makers – will help your business now, and in the medium and long term.

To succeed, you need to be willing to adapt your approach. It might not need a radical change, but tweaking it in small ways can have huge positive impact for your business. What’s more, in order to stay ahead of the curve, you need to be constantly reviewing and refining your tactics.

Build a strategy for success

When it comes to targeted planning, there’s one question that you need to always have in mind: Where can you win?

To answer this in the right way, you need to look at your business, your proposition and where you’ve had success in the past. You’re then in a strong position to build a strategy that focuses on that.

You also need to ensure that your sales people all understand and buy into your strategy, and that they have the support to deliver your objectives.

With effective planning and the right people, you’ll build a pipeline of business for the short, medium and long term.

Want more information about how Results can help you develop a successful sales strategy? Get in touch.