Entrepreneurs are all out to make profit thus when they produce, their goods have to reach the other end of the chain before they can earn anything. For these goods to move to the other end, the sales manager is expected to conceive new strategies as well as make use of existing ones to boost the sales process using proper sales techniques. Over the years, business men and women have been working hard to bring necessary adjustments in their sales process in order to thrive in whatever activity they have adopted.
Nevertheless, one might ask the professional definition of sales management. It is simply the process of developing a strong sales force, implementing sales techniques and coordinating sales operations that permeate the business not only to hit but to surpass its sales targets. Worth noting is that the secret to boosting the sales performance of any business no matter the industry is the proper implementation of a strategic planning process and effective use of sales techniques. Sales managers often evaluate and gain visibility in the current sales force thus being able to see what should and should not be modified. By so doing, they figure out what processes should constantly be monitored and adjusted. They also quickly coach the sales team before it is too late.
If you happen to be a sales agent, herein is a complete guide to lead you to success in your activity. It provides details on how to design a strategic sales process for your company. It will assist you in creating a better relationship with your manager and team members.
For the past years, I have always been amazed when chatting with a salesman who did not build a solid sales plan, yet is wondering why they did not hit their sales targets. It’s just evident that they were bound to fail. Running a business without designing a proper strategic sales plan is just like covering your eyes and casting an arrow to kill a lion who is about to attack you. There is great possibility that the arrow ends up putting down your colleague and leaving you at the mercy of the lion.
The sales plan can be represented in 5 words which are ‘’who, when, where, what, and how’’. It represents a month-to-month forecast of your desired sales objective and indicates what must be done. The plan encloses past market sales and concerns, who your customers are, your market concerns, how you are going to find your customers, how you will engage with them, and how you will sale to them. In addition, it also includes your specific niches. When planned correctly, all these will empower you to spend additional time on developing and growing your startup instead of responding to day-to-day advancements in sales.
For sure, any salesman with a sales plan will quickly figure out any upcoming sales issues, opportunities, sales drought and do something about them before is too late. Although it sounds challenging to accomplish, it won’t be a great deal anymore after you must have answered the above questions. At this time you’ll find it very easy to take your company to the next step in terms of success. Let’s now move to what you were waiting for, ways on how to design a strategic sales process for your business.
Recruit the right personnel at the right time
Designing a strategic sales process for your business is one of the most challenging but not an impossible step in the business’s cycle. In its development, several sales representatives are asked for suggestions which they believe can make a change or improve the company’s profit margin. So we can see that if such employees are not competent enough to give the right suggestions, the company will end up at the same spot even after several attempts. This is why great attention should be attributed to the recruitment process. There are two famous questions which are often asked during the recruitment process of sales reps; that is run me through your sales process and/or what makes you really successful in sales? These questions are asked by employers because they absolutely know how you go about making a sale.
Unfortunately these are the two questions that often hold several aspiring sales managers back because they give unqualified answers like ‘’Because I am a relationship seller, I often establish excellent relationships with my customers. In addition several customers often purchase from me because of this quality’’ Another funny answer often forwarded is that ‘’ I am a competitive seller so I often reach the market with a competitive price which often attract customers’’. Such answers only reveal that you are not a master of your craft. So you need to take some few sales courses to make it up to level. Employers who are out for recruiting highly crafted sales managers expect the following answer in 5 steps whenever they ask the above questions.
- Qualify the prospect and understand their business;
- Conduct cost/benefit and needs assessment analysis;
- In order to advance the sales, you have to first identify logistics;
- Present the value proposition; and
- Implement the cycling process and account management.
Goal-setting for a better sale process
Over the centuries, goal-setting has always been a vital point in the success of every activity. So it is not strange that we find it as one of the effective sales techniques to be considered in a strategic planning process. Moreover, it is not only the question of setting sales goals but setting realistic sales goals. Each successful strategic plan has to possess an end goal in its sales plan. This could be a number in terms of customers or sales that will permeate you at the end to figure out whether you succeeded or not. Realistic sales goals are a function of the size of the market, the resource available to your sales team, experience and company’s goals. In order to set a realistic goal which is achievable, it is very important to start by looking at last year’s goals and finding out the level of their achievement. Check if the set goals of the previous years were reached if not then you might have overestimated and aimed too high above the realistic level. It’s just normal but worth avoiding since you are a business owner and want to be over-optimistic. If you notice that for the previous years, you were not realistic, then make sure that adjustments are made; this time around, be realistic. It is recommended that in new businesses, one should not workout out the level of sales without giving the business some time to operate otherwise you might end up being contradicted. In setting realistic goals, make sure that you ignore your own personal assumptions. If you believe that there shall be a fall in the market or you shall lose some market share, it does not make any sense that you decide and forecast increased sales. This will only hurt you later for not attaining the number as you were not being realistic. After setting your goals, make sure you do not adjust them along the way because you realize you might not make it up to the required figure. Let this figure be there to judge your success or failure. However you can adjust other sales techniques in order to move toward the figure that you previously fixed.
Consulting your sales team
It is painful but several sales managers often do not consult their sales team in order to get their suggestions for a better sales figure. It should be noted that one’s sales team is in possession of the best knowledge about their customers. And consulting the sales team on how to increase the sales figure is one of the sales techniques never to be ignored in any sales process. Even in writing down a strategic planning process, suggestions should be gotten from those who are in the field with the customers that is the sales team. Get all their opinions and think twice. Give them the time to discuss with customers and bring back feedback. After writing your strategic planning process, it is absolutely wrong to refuse setting aside time for feedback. Call a qualified friend, senior salesperson, or an accountant to review the document before you decide to take it company. Accept all criticisms and approvals, if there are adjustments make them before implementing the plan.
Perfectly understand your customers and the buying process
Any sales manager who has tried it will attest with me that a sales plan used in company X might likely not work in company Y. This is because each company has a special way of approach towards her customers. Thus a special strategic sales plan should be put in place for each company after interviewing her customers and figuring out their buying process. Interview the majority of buyers to understand the steps they take to make a purchase. Get their likes and dislikes of the product. Get their suggestions for the modification of the product to its best. Ask of their expected quality level. After collecting this information, write detail information of the buying process – it should provide information ons key buyer activities, decisions, and milestones. Make sure that you also account for the different steps that a buyer will take in your absence.
Make a detailed strategic planning process
A strategic sales process is one that takes into consideration how customers purchase. Once you have understood how these customers purchase, you can then create a step-by-step sales process that supports that buying process. A perfect strategic planning can be referred to as a road map to closing all deals and should tell sales people the following for each stage. It should be able to let them know where they are in the process, what they need to do at that particular moment and the actions they need to take for the next step. In order to meet these qualities, the key stages in the sales should be designed while paying great attention to the key activities that often take place in every stage of the plan. All requirements that each opportunity must exhibit before moving to the next stage should be specified. Great focus should be put in place so that all stages should be as simple as possible to easily understand by everyone. Pay attention not to make use of words that the average sales representative won’t be able to make a meaning out of.
Figure out your ideal customers
An effective strategic sales plan has as first objective acquiring new customers while maintaining the existing ones. There is a famous question that each sales manager should ask in a sale process; what do my ideal clients look like? This question can easily be answered merely by looking at your current customers and studying them. In addition, find out your margin clients and the type of industry that they are in. If you happen to notice that the majority is in the same business, then it is high time for you to design your strategic planner targeting that particular industry. By finding out what was the sales cycle and how they paid, you can immediately figure out your ideal customers. There are some customers that represent the low margin business and figuring them out becomes very simple when you are able to identify your best customers. At this point, develop a strategic sales plan which is targeting those that represent the best in your market.
Perfectly knowing your competition
In any sale process, it is very important to know your competitors. Knowing is not sufficient for you still need to better understand their operating strategies. Unless you have the monopoly of market, proper understanding of how your competitors operate is fundamental and essential sales technique for success. Knowing and understanding competition is not still sufficient as you have to put it down in documentation. When this is done, you are required to develop a strategic sales plan which puts you on the favorable side then explain/train your sales reps to better win the advantageous side in the market. Find out and implement strategies that will push customers to prefer purchasing from you than the competitors.
Increase client satisfaction
Here is one of the best sales techniques that focuses on increasing the happiness of clients about the product to be sold. Experience has shown that clients will turn to incline whenever they are out for purchase towards the manufacturers that optimize their satisfaction with quality products. Although making high quality products might be costly, it’s worth the price. Over the years, this has been an outstanding step in the sales process.
Budget for success
Always see on to it that you have put at hand a sufficient amount of money and people who shall be responsible in accomplishing all your business goals for that year. It is sad to find that at some point of the year, you are lacking finances to move ahead and reach the initial business’s goals. This means that you should make business goals depending on how much money and labor you have. Nevertheless, your market budget will depend fully on the amount of money that you have ready to invest and also how far you want to obtain results. Thus if you expect fast results and efficiency, you should be ready to put in a corresponding market budget otherwise your sales reps will end up being discouraged as they are never meeting your high figured goals.
Update customer information
Make sure that your strategic planning process is in such a way that continuous updates are being made concerning your best customers. Continuously figure out what really pushes them to purchase from you. Keep on making adjustments whenever need arises. Figure out why you enjoy making business with them and monitor any changes that might come later. Question why changes did arise, if it’s because of an issue, quickly resolve it before it is too late.
Monitor your process and make necessary adjustments
Whenever any sales manager sets goals, he/she absolutely wants to meet them after a period of time. This is a way to judge their failure or their success. Monitoring and finding out that you are on a successful track will quickly encourage you and boost you to keep on the track. If after the set period for your goals to reach passes and you realize that you have not yet reached them. Then you will have to change your approach or make some necessary modifications after finding out what the problem was. Make sure that regular meetings are often set to review progress level. After reviewing progress level, make sure that solutions are brought to all issues at their beginning before they grow to something else which will lead to the significant downfall of the business. Let your mistakes and victories act as a teacher from whom you learn from. Avoid repeating a mistake twice, once you’ve committed it, learn at the very moment. Always continuously evolve your tactics as needed in order to maintain your traction.
Put down in writing your sales and marketing strategy
Let your sales and strategic marketing plan be developed based on the different issues and targets that you have identified. Always prioritize the different issues that you have encountered and provide solutions to them. For each issue, make sure that you develop a tactical marketing plan to address it. Do not forget the use of social media. Whenever you successfully bring out a sales and marketing strategy, it is very important to put it in writing where you can always come back to it even after several years in cases where you are faced with the same situation at hand. By so doing you will be able to easily check if you are properly implementing the process without missing out anything.
Define clear datelines
By breaking down the several large events in your sales plan in to small and achievable ones over a period of time, you’ll be able to attest if you are succeeding or not at the end of a certain period. At such points, knowing whether you succeeded or not will enable you make decisions in order to reach the next step. This will also help you track if your sales plan is on track or not. These datelines are set to challenge and motivate your sales team towards success. It is always advisable to refer to previous date intervals if they were attained or not. This will assist you in becoming more realistic this time around.
Pick a niche to focus on
In order to properly position your business for growth, it is worth knowing the market that we are in and our occupation niche which we are going to focus around. A business niche as we all know is what your business really specializes on. In addition, a niche can be referred to as the space that your business occupies, alongside your content, products, company’s culture, message and branding. It represents the particular way that people use to identify and figure you out among several competitors.
Define your value propositions
In every strategic planning process, it is always worth knowing your customers. Also knowing their journey is of equal importance. You can know all these by merely defining your competitive advantage. The competitive advantage is what truly sets you apart from the competition. You can figure this out by merely asking yourself a series of few questions? Why do customers purchase from us? Why is it that some potential customers instead prefer purchasing from our competitors and not from us? Why is it that some other potential customers decide not to purchase from us at all? What are the steps that we can take in order to be successful in the upcoming future.
In a sales process, it should be noted that customers often turn to be inclined towards benefits and not features so instead of telling them how you made the product, instead tell them what they will gain from using the product. After implementing the different sales techniques, you’ll likely observe great changes in your business.