Sales professionals are focused on a common objective for business success: To grow the organization by selling products and services. A strong sales team, in partnership with an effective marketing team, can be key factors that foster success and growth in many organizations.
The following are some effective sales strategies and best practices that can lead to increased closed deals. We've also included some useful advice from PrimePay's Senior Vice President of Sales, Tim Beadnell.
Understanding the concept of a sales strategy.
Before we dive deeper into developing a sales strategy, it’s important to understand the concept. In short, a sales strategy is a collection of decisions, activities, and objectives that guide your sales team's actions. It places an organization in a position of growth, and serves as a road map for sales professionals, with specific goals in mind for sales methods, product innovation, and competitive analysis.
Key benefits of a successful sales strategy.
The benefits of a successful sales strategy go beyond the number of closed deals, or the amount of revenue generated. A solid sales strategy can also benefit you in the following ways:
- Gives your organization a competitive advantage.
- Improves relationships and trust with clients.
- Allows your teams to be proactive.
- Provides your teams with a road map to follow towards reaching obtainable sales goals.
- Offers insights for improvements in strategies go forward.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of a sales strategy, let’s dive into some best practices so you can implement some of your own.
Sales best practices to close the deal.
1. Understand your target audience.
No matter how long you’ve been in business, it’s important to pull all the pieces together to best understand your target audience.
When determining your target audience, you may want to consider asking yourself the following questions:
- What problem does my product or service solve?
- Which individuals or organizations commonly have these problems?
Having these initial questions answered puts you in a better position to get in front of those who can benefit from your product or service.
Additionally, when you consider your competitors, potential clients, existing clients, and the entire marketplace, you can better comprehend your value proposition: The one statement that informs the world who you are, what you provide, and why they should buy from your organization.
2. Understand your value proposition.
When identifying your value proposition, your organization may have considered the following questions:
- What about your organization’s product or service is attractive to clients?
- How does your organization deliver value to clients?
- What makes your organization stand out from the competition?
Communicating your organization’s value proposition positions your sales team to better engage with prospects. Instead of being regarded as attempting to sell something clients don't need, knowing your organization’s value propositions allows sales professionals to provide concrete answers to client concerns or issues.
Think about it this way: If you’re not selling value, you’re selling a product strictly, or a feature – a quick fix to a minor problem. When there is no value behind your product, then there is no reasonable answer to the question on a buyer’s mind: “How does this benefit me?”
3. Become an expert on the product or services you are selling.
Sharing your expertise on the product or services you are selling shows credibility and trust. It shows you’re not just trying to hit quota, but instead, trying to solve a client’s problem.
Do your research to fully understand what problems and concerns your product or service is solving. Share your insight, ideas, and perspective in a way that shifts people’s thinking. It’s important to have an understanding of how the product or service solves problems for the overall target audience, but also how it can solve a specific prospect’s problem.
Do your research on the product and service, and additional research on the specific organizations you are selling to, so you can share your knowledge and expertise on the specific issues the organization is facing.
Tim Beadnell, SVP of Sales PrimePay, has been with PrimePay for over 10 years. Tim shares, “As a sales professional, self-discipline is something that must be continually emphasized. Self-discipline refers to how you direct your own work by setting a path of self-learning, sticking to it, and adjusting along the way. What you are doing outside of business hours to educate yourself and enhance your sales skills sets you up for greater success. Become a master of your craft, don’t wait for training opportunities, and seek out ways to enhance your skillset on your own. In sales, treat the product or service you are selling as your own business. Sales professionals should be no different than business owners. If you were to run your own company, wouldn’t you know every detail of it? It’s just as important to know every detail of the product or service you are selling, as expertise builds trust with clients and prospects.”
4. Respond to inbound sales calls, web lead submissions, and all feedback immediately.
Contact your inbound sales calls and web leads immediately. A statistic notes that the vendor that answers quickest receives 35-50% of sales. Additionally, salespeople who contact prospects within an hour of receiving an inquiry are 60 times more likely to qualify the lead than those who wait 24 hours or longer to contact the prospect.
In short, the quicker you can share information about your product or service to a prospect, the quicker they can decide if your product or service is right for them. It also helps to create a lasting impression of responsiveness and helps put you closer to the top of the list among other competitors.
5. Don’t be scared to cold call & get direct dial numbers.
Don’t be scared to cold call. But keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be as cold as you think. Create a talk track that you can use to follow when cold calling so that you feel more confident and can use to look for patterns for what kind of language works, and what doesn’t work. You can also practice with coworkers to get the feel of it and ensure you are ready for showtime. Additionally, do some research to find the best time to contact prospective clients. Test your market and see which days work best for your target industry.
With cold calling, it’s common you’ll reach someone who is not in a position to make decisions for a company. Some sales professionals commonly refer to this as a gatekeeper. If you can get right to the source, you are more likely to qualify your lead. If there’s absolutely no way around them, befriend them as best you can and engage with them as a valuable resource. Gatekeepers often possess a wealth of information and can help you identify the org chart, decision-makers, and/or the best time to have a conversation.
6. Do your research and properly source qualified prospects.
Do the proper research to ensure that your prospects can truly benefit from the products or services you are selling. Going back to the topic of becoming an expert on the product or services you are selling, it’s also important to become an expert on who you are selling to.
To put it into perspective, let’s say you own a business travel company. Your business travel company’s key demographics include an age range of 25-60 which consists of 60% female, and 40% male. The common job titles in your target audience are Travel Consultants, Office Manager, Event Manager, etc. With those statistics in mind, you’d want to reach out to prospects that fit those criteria. With this example, you would not want to reach out to a front desk representative at a software company. Instead, you’d want to reach out to an office manager at a traveling agency.
7. Leverage social media.
Social selling is quickly replacing transactional selling. LinkedIn has the highest value for B2B reps with many professionals seeking industry advice from their groups and networks. Twitter provides inside representatives access to “real-time” data on prospects who are actively looking for solutions. Monitor hashtags and terms that are relevant to your industry and follow any companies or people that you are targeting. To be effective, social media needs to be a two-way conversation and you must stay engaged on the social networks.
Share not only your expertise but the company’s expertise on social media as well. This goes a long way in proving that you and your organization are thought leaders in the industry. Work with your marketing team to share branded content for recognition and other helpful, value-add resources like blogs, case studies, client testimonials, videos, and more.
8. Schedule demonstrations.
If you notice a prospect is interested in hearing more, schedule a demo or present your product or service on a deeper level. Giving the prospective client insight into how your product or service works can give them a clear idea of how it can solve their issues.
Just like practicing a sales call, practice your demo presentation with some coworkers and be open to feedback. You will want to ensure your demo is personalized to the prospect.
Tim shares, “When it comes to product demonstrations, active listening skills are critical to have. Foster an engaging discussion by asking the right combination of open, probe, and confirming questions to identify a prospect's need. A common mistake sales professionals make is a “product dump.” Try to avoid covering what you think a prospect wants to see, and instead, tune into active listening and cater the demo around the client’s pain points and unique needs. As you’re running through the demo, read the room. You can read the room virtually as well by paying attention to how prospects respond to certain items, if they are asking questions, and if they seem interested. Last, don’t underestimate the power of storytelling. Provide some examples of how you helped a current client solve a challenge or how you helped them with a certain situation and make sure it is relevant to the conversation.”
When you call an organization, it is important that you understand the executive administrators who may influence the decision-makers. Make a note of them in the account. When you call, you may learn that the person with whom you’d like to meet is on vacation that week. Make a note of this detail in your Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) and be sure to mention it the next time you speak. You can use the same personalized information in the subject line of your emails to increase the likelihood of them being opened and read.
10. Be ready to adapt.
Make sure you have the capability to adapt to clients’ needs and desires. This can be in the form of flexibility in your schedule, the pricing, the availability of the product, the time needed to get the client running on your product, etc.
When it comes to adaptability, Tim notes, “No one can argue that 2020 taught us a great deal about adaptability. The buying process has changed, a lot is done digitally, and buyer behaviors have changed along with it. As a sales professional, you need to adapt to the evolving marketplace. Make sure you run a concise, effective sales process: Ensuring a proper needs analysis is performed, build value throughout the process, and ultimately, don’t be afraid to ask for their business after some value building and a recap of your discussions.”
11. Create a lasting impression when closing the deal.
Individuals commonly view first impressions as being the most important, but only a few know the importance of building a lasting impression. In closing a deal with a prospective client, make sure to keep a log of all promises made to the client, and deliver on those promises. This may be discounted pricing, a dedicated service rep, training on the use of the product or service, etc.
Additionally, check-in on the client after they’ve been using the product or service for a significant amount of time (ex. 90 days) to see how they are enjoying it. Keeping this line of communication open provides you with future potential for add-on opportunities.
12. Don’t forget about current clients.
It’s important to keep in mind that closing a deal is not the end of the road in sales.
If your company offers multiple products and services that complement each other, you may have the opportunity to provide additional value to the client. Maintain a positive relationship with clients that you have worked with in the past and create a follow-up cadence to see how they are doing, and if any additional problems arise that you can help solve with an additional solution. You can also connect with service team members to see if any client has called with any issues.
Utilization of today’s research combined with a willingness to try a few new approaches can lead to a significant increase in sales. We hope that these effective sales strategies and best practices help your organization to grow.
Tim shares his thoughts on client satisfaction, “The primary focus on any client strategy is creating a good reputation and raving fans. Doing so builds brand recognition, which in turn increases your number of brand advocates. Happiness is contagious. When clients are happy, they will spread the news, which in turn fills your pipeline.”
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Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding the specific application of the information to your own plan.