Are You In Training for a Winning Sales Strategy?
As the runners lined up at the start line for the London Marathon this weekend, they all knew they had a long and arduous task ahead. A marathon is not a quick win and it’s certainly not for quitters. I’m not a runner and I have the greatest admiration for those who are prepared to attempt the training for a marathon, let alone finish the race. I do know a thing or two about putting in the effort to get results though.
When it comes to sales, many businesses seem to think that a little bit of leg work will be enough to seal the deal. In some cases, that may be true. But, often, a successful sale has more to do with it being the right time for the customer to buy rather than the right time for you to sell. It’s not about making your pitch and waiting for them to bite: you need to ensure that you are still front of mind when they’re hungry to buy.
Just like training for a marathon, it’s a balancing act. Train too much and you’ll be too exhausted to finish the race; train too little and you won’t have the stamina to complete the course. With sales, too much contact with target customers risks annoying and alienating them, while making contact and sitting back to wait for the sale allows them to forget you and enables your competition to jump in and steal the sale while you’re not looking.
Successful sales needs to be sustained and strategic, with a clear plan in place to define, identify and prioritise your targets.
The ideal process is to:
- Research your market to ensure you understand current market conditions and your targets’ ‘reasons to buy’ – they may not be the same now as they have been historically
- Research your targets carefully, ensure you have the right contact within the organisation and understand any special procurement requirements
- Segment your targets and focus on a specific group or groups at a time
- Communicate your sales messages to your targets - ideally through a multi-channel approach, for example, e-shots, newsletters, telesales – as a sustained and planned process
- Ensure your activity is monitored through a CRM system: whether this is a sophisticated software package or a spreadsheet, it’s essential to update it in real time so that you can focus on the targets with the greatest potential
For the hardened sales professional, all of this might seem a bit like telling Mo Farrow how to put one foot in front of the other. Unlike marathon running, however, sales is a team game that needs to be closely aligned with marketing and operational strategy if it’s going to achieve wining results.