Effective sales strategies are the foundation of every thriving business, as well as essential for your individual financial success.
Sales may be a subject you wholeheartedly dislike and have so far managed to avoid. Even so, you need to understand how sales work and how to effectively sell.
I belong to those who learned the skill of selling quite late, having previously studied cinema, TV, and literature. I regarded sales as a completely useless, unimportant area. Plus it seemed populated by presumptuous individuals focused on figures, income, and pursuing their fellow human beings with offers of frivolous commodities..
Even as a professional marketer, I avoided selling directly. I loved creating projects and planning marketing campaigns. Deep in my heart, I regarded these processes as half intellectual and scientific endeavour, and half artistic occupation.
Well, that is the domain of super-confident, pushy, and obstinate individuals whose life mission is to constantly try to persuade someone of something – as I told myself frequently.
However, I am afraid I was wrong. One day, after analyzing the reasons why some of my business projects were unsuccessful, I realized that I lacked this one essential skill: the ability to sell on a regular basis.
Determined to learn how to sell, I applied for a couple of sales jobs. As a marketer, I knew basic theories of how sales, communication, and marketing work, so I thought I could try selling straight away by applying my academic knowledge.
I persisted through a variety of obstacles, and finally, I learned how to sell, experiencing the rush of closing my first deals.
I must admit, I was often quite successful. I sold services in the new tech industry, construction, finance, media, and online education.
And here is what I learned and want to share with you.
Every successful sales management process requires you to take into account these 7 components.
#1. Sourcing perfect leads is an absolutely essential skill. When you have a proper prospective customer, there is no need to be an extremely experienced and talented sales professional to close a deal. It is enough that you know the basics of conducting a business conversation. A good prospective client is already an excellent fit for you, so you would have to really try hard not to close the deal!
To regularly source good leads you must first understand the nature of your industry, the major players and how the distribution chain works.
What is the history of your industry, and what does the future forecast? Who are your competitors? How do you position yourself, and what is your perception? With this information, you need to determine whether to use inbound strategy or outbound strategy.
Inbound strategy is everything you do to make your prospective clients come to you. It might be writing blogs, using social media, publishing regular videos, or running online events.
Outbound strategy is what you do to actively search for your customers. You are deploying outbound tactics when you cold call your prospective clients or use paid advertisements to grab their attention.
An ideal tool to discover your dream leads might be an app such as Mention. This is not sales app in the strict sense, but actually a social media and web monitoring tool. You can make great use of it if you like a more creative and experimental approach to selling.
The app allows you to choose keywords and phrases of interest and be notified about your industry trends, major events, new players, or specific names.
#2. Asking proper questions is a real art. When you are looking for specific solutions and desirable answers, you first need to ask proper questions. An example is the well-known SPIN selling method, which involves asking a chain of questions that propel a sales process.
You start with a question about the current situation in the industry, then move to specific challenges for your prospective clients. Subsequently, you question whether they are aware of the consequences of not addressing these challenges. This is a moment when even experienced and successful entrepreneurs often realize that they really MUST do something to face their current challenges.
The last sequence in the SPIN model is to adopt questions that suggest the solution you are selling. The SPIN selling technique is an example of how questions can be designed both to better understand your potential customer and to help them make faster decisions about using your solution.
#3. Pitching is the core of sales. To pitch effectively, you must be a confident, powerful communicator and thoughtful listener who understands the nature of human interactions.
A convincing pitch requires getting into your customer’s mind to understand their model of the world and how they construct reality.
I frequently use this efficient 4-stage strategy to structure my pitch, inspired by a popular AIDA model.
Start with a hook. When calling someone for the first time, you could initiate your conversation with a statement such as “I’m calling you because we have recently helped companies from your industry increase their sales by 17%”. Show your knowledge at the beginning by revealing that you have watched their newest video or read an interview in the industry magazine. This can be a very productive way to grab their attention and make them open to further conversation.
In the second phase, aim to inform the potential client about the features of your solutions. For example, if you offer smart software to help them generate more leads, explain how they can use it, where to download from, and the initial set-up, including creating a user profile and starting to generate the first leads.
In the third stage, engage your client through discussing values, such as how your product can improve the quality of their business, save time, generate more revenue or bring satisfaction to employees.
The last stage is simply a call to action. You also need to tell the client what you would expect them to do and how you can start working together.
This 4-stage structure is just an example. Depending on the specifics of your business, you may need to adjust it, determining when to ask questions and when to anticipate or handle objections or how to build values to prevent objectives.
The same model can be applied when structuring sales texts on your website, or when designing email marketing messages.
In the next part of this article you will learn how to get the best price, close deals, maintain good relationships with clients, stay motivated, and consistently improve your performance.
Part two of the article about earning money can be found here.