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23rd January 2012
Sales Strategy, countless books have covered the topic, as well as a great number of courses and colleges discuss it when covering Marketing and Business Management. But, what are the ways to practically apply it in the context of the Irish SME trading in 2012. I think the first important point to make on this topic is, that there is no ONE sales strategy that can be applied generically across all industries/company sizes. A workable/reliable/effective sales strategy for your business must be just that, designed for your business specifically.
Put simply, a sales strategy is a planned approach of how your business will promote and transact its business/service with its customers. Using the right strategy it will help you focus on your marketplace opportunity and reduce wasted time spent on the wrong target customer/profile. The first port of call is to refine your company’s sales message. Fully understanding your target market, its buying motives and your proposition are going to be the “key-stone” to your strategy. Without understanding these essentials points, your strategy will not yield long-term results.
The second element to consider before deciding your company’ strategy is your “route to market”. Will you be selling directly to your customers or will you be selling to your customer through a partner/reseller/agent/retailer? If you are selling directly you are going to have to build a sales model (the step by step approach to finding/communicating/transacting with customers). If selling indirectly, you will need to consider what level of support your partner will need to successfully sell your product/service. Whichever model is right for your company, you will still need to support with Marketing to reinforce the sales strategy.
Once you have considered all of the above, it’s time to start developing the sales approach. You need to have a clear plan on how to engage with your target market. How do you get their attention, how do you let them know about your product/service? Now a days, the majority of companies are using Online Marketing as a first port of call. Done right, Online Marketing can be cost effective and yield fast results. Irrespective of how you get customers (you reach out them / they reach out to you), you must consider your online company profile. Meaning, if your potential customers look online for your product/service, what will they find/learn about you and your competition?
One thing I always try to discuss with our clients is the importance of reviewing your sales strategy on a regular basis. Established companies who sell successfully through the traditional Offline Marketing channels can sometimes be slow in revisiting their models to see if there are complementary Online Marketing strategies. The most effective strategies I have observed are very much a combination of the traditional (Offline) and the New Era (Online) Marketing approaches. Also another point to consider is the stage of your growth, typically (but not always) the earlier you are in your growth stage the higher the cost to acquire new customers. The more marketplace traction/credibility your company has can sometimes influence the amount of sales effort required. So again, this reinforces the necessity to revisit your sales strategy frequently.