Tired of jumping on sales calls and feeling nervous because you don’t know what to say?
Maybe you haven’t been talking about your products or services on social media because you wouldn’t confidently know what to do if someone wanted to buy your offering.
It’s hard to expertly move people through your sales process if you don’t have a sales strategy in place.
You can try to streamline each step of your process, but if there is no strategy behind it, you’ll find yourself having to make more tweaks than you anticipated.
We want to help you take a strategy-first approach to how you sell products online.
Why your online business needs a sales strategy
A sales strategy is simply a step-by-step strategic plan that will help you accurately position your product in the marketplace so you can increase company revenue.
It isn’t something you’ll create once and forget about. Your strategy will be continually tested and updated so you can improve your sales over time.
You can’t have a successful business without sales.
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As your business performs well, you’ll see more and more sales come through. And when you are more proactive with a comprehensive strategy, you won’t have to wait until sales come to you. You can use your competitive advantage to attract more leads and convert them into sales.
With a strategy, you can unite your team under one shared mission. It will ensure that your team members stay aligned with your overall sales goals and create a great customer experience for all of your leads.
Even if you are currently a solo entrepreneur, it’s still important to put time and energy into your strategy. As you build a strong foundation of sales, you’ll be able to teach other salespeople as you grow. It will give you the tested and proven structure you’ll need to scale your company.
A strategy will also help you learn from the past.
- What closing techniques worked?
- What stage in the selling process did leads struggle with the most?
- Why do some people exit the sales process, and what do they have in common?
Answering these questions among others will help you create a stronger sales presence in the future.
The benefits of creating a sales strategy sound great, but what actually goes into it? First, we need to talk about the difference between inbound and outbound sales strategies.
Inbound sales strategy vs. outbound sales strategy
An outbound strategy is based on the seller’s actions, meaning the product seller is responsible for gathering data, marketing their product, and closing sales. Traditional companies have followed this strategy, but inbound sales strategies are based on the consumer’s actions.
Instead of sellers needing to go out and find leads, inbound sales marketing allows consumers to input their data so they can move through an automated and streamlined sales funnel.
Since buyers are often doing their own research before approaching a company to buy their product, modern technology allows sellers to use this to their advantage as they customize the sales journey for each lead.
Hubspot states that “before a seller even contacts a buyer, he or she is already 57% of the way through the sales process.”
By taking the time to qualify your leads through an inbound strategy, you’ll be able to cut extra steps from your sales process and spend your energy on converting the right leads.
Elements of a solid inbound sales strategy plan
As you create your strategy, you’ll want to ensure these essential components are reflected in it.
It can be tempting to rush through this process and start testing your sales techniques, but you need to have a strategy in place before you run with it. Here are a few things you need to have nailed down before you begin.
Without a goal, you won’t know if your sales strategy was successful. When you create sales goals, it’s good to have an idea of the revenue growth goals you want to hit.
You can set a specific number to shoot for, or you can even create different financial goal tiers for your team. Setting multiple goals can often help you gauge your level of success without getting too attached to a specific number.
You can also set goals around how many new customers you want to convert or how many existing customers you want to stay and nurture. Your customer goals may influence your revenue goals depending on the pricing of your products, so it’s good to keep your sales growth in mind as you set realistic goals.
Here are a few other areas you can set sales goals in:
- Sales goals for specific team members to hit
- Sales goals for a new subset of your audience
- Sales goals around a new product you are offering
- Sales goals to differentiate your income with multiple streams
It doesn’t matter if your sales growth is great if you are constantly in the red because of your expenses. Before you start selling, it’s important to set a budget for your sales team. Without a budget in place, you may unwisely spend resources without knowing it.
If you have a team of people helping you with sales, run the numbers to see how much on average you are spending on their labor per converted customer lead. The lower you can get this number, the better. It will take time to optimize this, but it will help you create a more lean budget in the long run.
Maybe you don’t need a team of people to sell your product. Instead, it might be helpful to invest in a sales CRM tool (like Hubspot, Smartsheet, or freshsales) that can automate parts of the sales process for you. Before you hire someone, this may be an attractive alternative.
You need to know who you want to attract before you invest your time and energy into them. One of the most proactive ways to do this is to create a buyer persona. Inside the profile, you’ll be able to determine your ideal buyer’s demographics (like their location, age range, and other factors) along with their purchasing habits and overall motivations.
Getting inside your ideal customer’s head will help you create better sales and marketing messaging. Once you know their pain points, you can simplify and streamline your strategy so it includes only the most crucial steps for your leads.
Your strategy can’t go anywhere until you understand how leads will move through your customer journey. When you redesign a website, you consider how you want to navigate users through the overall experience of your website. It’s the same principle with your customer journey.Your customer journey will likely look like this:
- Awareness: This is the stage where your prospect has just heard about your product and is conducting their research. This is an important phase that will set them up as a lead in your sales funnel if they are interested in learning more.
- Consideration: Now that they are aware of your product and have researched more about it, they are ready to explore purchasing opportunities. You can also qualify leads based on their urgency, their needs, or other characteristics.
- Decision: As your qualified leads move through the sales process, you will be able to present various buying opportunities. This is the most hands-on part of the sales funnel that often requires the most interaction between the salesperson and the prospect. Once they make a purchase, it’s time to celebrate because the lead has now become a customer!
It’s important to remember that moving a lead through the customer journey takes time. Time is money in business, but it’s important to nurture your leads because they have a better likelihood of becoming customers. And once they become a customer, it’s typically easier for them to stay because they are five times more likely to buy than a new customer.
Your competitive advantage sums up the unique value you bring to the marketplace with your product or experience. What is your value proposition, and how are you using it to enhance your strategy? That’s what you want to focus on in this phase.
There are multiple factors that could go into your competitive advantage, including:
- Unique product feature (proprietary or not)
- Convenient way to buy and have it delivered
- Quality product selection or curated collections
- Streamlined unpacking experience
- Prompt service (faster response time, faster shipping rates, etc.)
These are just examples to help you uncover what you bring to the table that’s different from your competitors. By knowing how your competitors market their products, you can find a competitive advantage that positions your product as the better choice. This is a crucial part of your strategy!
Marketing and selling your product are two different things. Before you can sell your product, people often need to hear about it. Marketing is one of the best vehicles to increase the visibility and awareness of your product.
When you create a marketing strategy, you’ll want to make sure it goes hand-in-hand with your strategy so the same messaging is used throughout each channel. When everything is consistent, it will build trust with your audience.
Your marketing strategy should help you determine what marketing channels you intend to use and what your content goals are for each one. You can market your product on social media, through email marketing, or even through traditional media sources. Once you have your marketing strategy in place, you can create an action plan to help you carry it out along with your strategy.
Now it’s time to put all of these strategies into action! You can start by breaking down each of your sales goals into action steps. If you group similar tasks together, you’ll be able to work smarter instead of harder.
You can then put deadlines on each of your tasks so you stay up-to-date with everything that’s on your plate. You can assign tasks to different team members through a project management app like Trello or Asana as you move through your to-do list.
Your action plan should include how you are going to measure the success of each strategy and your methods of performance tracking. What goals are most important for you to hit? What does success look like for your strategy? This will help you accurately measure the work you’re doing.
Looks like you have some homework to do!
There are quite a few steps involved with crafting a successful sales strategy, but once you create it, you’ll be able to test it and tweak it over time to fit your needs. Your upfront time investment will literally pay off when the sales start to come in. You can do it!