Any successful business magnate will tell you that sales (when done effectively) requires a strategy. It is not a case of indiscriminately ‘selling’, here there and everywhere, but an ongoing commitment that needs to be measured and monitored.
Getting started is the hardest part, so that’s why we’ve condensed a very simple, 5-step model to give you the momentum to begin and then develop a sophisticated sales flow to suit the requirements of your own small business.
Know your market
Having a clear understanding of your target market is critical to your sales success. Once you know who you’re selling to, you can begin to design a personalised plan around marketing to them. Trying to sell to everyone will result in you losing most of your audience, simply because it doesn’t apply to them. Specifying will also reduce the amount you’re unnecessarily investing in overly vague marketing, and encourage a greater return.
On the other hand, you should also be careful not to make your target market too small, as this will decrease your odds of success. You may have to merge two similar target markets in order to have the numbers working in your favour.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you want to sell?
- Who do you want to sell to?
- What is your timescale?
Set out your sales objectives
Once you’ve established your target market, you can put some work into deciding on your key objectives.
For each sales objective, list the steps you will have to take in order to meet them. There should be five or six steps for each objective. Think SMART when you are coming up with them:
You will need to consider two things:
- How will you increase CURRENT sales – for example by making more calls or customer visits.
- How will you generate NEW sales – this could include planning a new campaign, or setting up a business website.
Now you have a clear plan of the direction of your sales strategy, it’s time to reach out through your sales channels.
Before the internet, there were only two different types of sales channel; direct and indirect. But these days the Web has opened up a whole host of different ways to connect with your desired audience. From social media to pay per click ads, the possibilities are endless.
Have a look at our guide to social media for SMEs.
You should also be constantly looking for opportunities to make introductions with prospective customers. This may be setting up a meeting through an associate or friend, or sending an introductory letter.
Don’t make promises to the prospective client that you can’t keep. The sales process doesn’t end with the sale, it begins. Taking a client for granted once they’ve signed on the dotted line is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a small business owner.
Positive relationships with your consumers will lead to an increased number of referrals, as well as a significant augmentation in the reputation of your brand image. In order to make your clients feel valued there are several things you can do, here are a few:
- Go the extra mile: have they got a birthday coming up? Send them a card. Let them know they’re more than just an email address.
- Respond promptly and solve all issues as early as possible: don’t let them think you’re putting them on the back burner whilst you chase bigger fish.
- Use feedback: always follow up with your clients to make sure they’re satisfied. This shows you care, and also gives you the opportunity to continually improve your service.
As you move through each stage of your sales plan, it’s crucial to constantly keep track of how well it’s working, and whether or not there are any areas you may need to improve.
On a monthly (or weekly) basis, ask yourself
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- Did I reach my targets?
Once you’ve answered these simple questions, you’ll be in a better position to adjust your targets for the next week or month. Did you hit your numbers? Then aim higher. Was there one area of your plan that completely failed? Then make the most of the experience and try another approach.
Repeating this process will give you structure, keep you focused and give you a model that can be continually improved and amended to suit every business transaction. Try it yourself and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.