October 22, 2014

5 Keys to Successful Sales Strategies

Successful sales is a deliberate, thoughtful activity. You need a process that you initiate over and over again. Whenever I talk with small business owners or salespeople who aren’t realizing the results they desire, the cause is usually the same: They don’t have a sales strategy.

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You can’t sell here and there. You can’t pick up the phone when you have a minute. Sales requires a strategy, a process, a way to proceed that you can measure and monitor. Sales is something you have to commit to on an ongoing basis. You can’t just try it for 30 days! It takes persistence, energy and focus.

Think of the sales process in terms of bike riding. When you ride a bike you have to gain momentum. When you first start to pedal, it takes extra energy to get the bike to move. Once you’ve been riding you develop a flow; you can even glide at times. As you ride you build up steam. And when you hit a hill it is easier to climb it because you already have that momentum going.

That’s what an effective sales process is like. Starting out takes extra energy. You have to put the plan in place and start the ride. Once you get that energy going, it becomes easier to maintain. You still have to pay attention to what you are doing, but sticking with it and realizing results becomes easier the more you pedal. However, if you start and stop, and start and stop, you’ll be exhausted … and have nothing to show for it.

There are 5 steps to a successful sales strategy:

1. Define your target market. Knowing this is critical to your sales success. You aren’t going to do business with everyone. And even if you were, you have to start somewhere. You have to have a place where you can focus in order to build up that momentum we talked about.

Once you have the market defined, create a list. This list should be large enough to give you the opportunity to really delve in and repeat the process a couple of times. If your target market is too small your odds of success decrease. You may have to merge two similar target markets in order to have the numbers working in your favor.

2. Determine your outreach. Will you cold call or network or both? I have a system that works really well for my clients. It goes like this:

Once you’ve defined your target and created the list, reach out to your networks to see if you are connected in any way to the person or organization you seek. This includes direct outreach – emailing or calling them – and exploring your LinkedIn contacts. Remember, you are looking for an introduction. That’s it! You want the opportunity to meet with the prospect. When your friend or associate introduces you to the prospect, follow up and set up the meeting.

Next, take the ones on the list you don’t have a connection to and cold call them. This could mean sending them an introductory letter or postcard, or picking up the phone and calling them. If you send an introductory letter or postcard, you must tell them that you will call to follow up – and then follow up! You can’t leave the action in their hands. The process is yours to conduct, not theirs.

3. Know your questions. Before you go on a sales appointment, create a list of questions to ask the prospect. This is the time for you to really get to know them, their needs, their business practices. It is not the time for you to talk endlessly about your product or service. If they look like a qualified prospect, provide them with a quote. If they don’t, walk away.

4. Deliver and build. Deliver on what you said you were going to do for the prospect. Then make sure you build the relationship. Don’t expect them to stay with you or use you for other needs if you aren’t taking the time to build the relationship with them. The sales process doesn’t end with the sale.

5. Monitor. This is one of the most critical aspects of a successful sales strategy. As you move forward with your plan you must keep track of how well it is working. On the first day of each month, take a look back at the previous month. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How did it go?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • Did I hit my numbers?

Knowing what works and what doesn’t gives you the opportunity to tweak your process. Adjust or get rid of what doesn’t work, and keep what does. If you hit your numbers, celebrate! Then prepare for the coming month. What’s the goal? What’s the plan?

If you didn’t hit your numbers, determine what might need to be changed and change it. Then add the missed amount to the coming month’s goal. You don’t want to give up on the overall goal by just letting the past month drop. You want to take the sales dollars you didn’t get and add them to your goal for the coming month. Now plan for how you are going to achieve that – and get going.

Repeat.

This is a process that will work over and over and over again. You’ll find that the momentum builds with each step, so it becomes easier to do. Moreover, you’ll realize results from this sort of structure. Implementing a sales strategy keeps you focused and succeeding. And it makes the whole sales process easier to do. So do yourself a favor and give it a whirl! I’m sure you’ll notice the difference.


Image from 3DProfi/Shutterstock

37 Comments ▼

Diane Helbig


Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day Coaching. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

37 Reactions

  1. I’m consistently surprised how few businesses have a firm grasp on #1. Every time I start a PPC campaign I start by asking the business owner or marketing team to describe their client profiles and I often have to pull the information out of them. This information needs to be so well known it’s top-of-mind.

  2. Good point Robert, a lot of people really miss the point on defining a target market. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, how can you do anything at all?

  3. Thanks for the info. I’m at a brand new company, and what you’re saying about momentum is something I’ve been trying to explain to the inventor and the investor. We officially launched on the sixth of may, and our sales have been on a steady increase. The people really running the show are wanting an overnight success, and it’s hard to explain that that’s exactly what we’re experiencing, it’s just that it turns out that overnight success happens after a long, arduous journey.

    I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants here, and have been so focused on visibility that I haven’t been looking directly into our sales funnel and how it works. While I’m a statistical monitoring junkie, my overall strategic thinking has been so focused on web promotion and product production that I’ve been forgetting about the thing that’s actually going to keep us afloat: sales!

    Thank you again, I appreciate the info.

  4. I think it’s because they don’t want to count out any group. they’re afraid they’ll miss out on business if they narrow their focus. Or they think their ideal client is every client they have. They have a hard time painting a picture of the ‘ideal.’ It is a shame for sure!

  5. Nice job, Diane,

    I like what you wrote about building relationships. The days of the quick sale, and just moving on to the next one seem to be over.

    The Franchise King®

  6. Diane, I like how you outlined these steps in a drop dead simple way and I think that the challenge here is on the ‘deliver’ part. When you fail to deliver something you’ve promised, no matter how big or small, you break that trust which is the ultimate driver in pushing someone to make that buying decision. Thanks for keeping us reminded of these baby steps.

  7. Thanks Aaron.
    Adam – we support you. If there’s anything else you need, reach out. You are in an exciting time (which can be challenging at times). You are so right about the journey of overnight success!

  8. Great points Diane! Knowing how to generate leads and increase sales is critical for businesses. Good thing you discussed the factors for a successful sales strategies.

    Looking forward to more of your articles.

  9. Thanks, this is awesome, I tried this strategy on my client, life insurance company. The agents created sales process based on this I tried it on flyers and facebook page. It worked like magic. They now have leads chasing them.

  10. Thanks everyone. For those of you in the states, happy thanksgiving! I am grateful for the opportunity to share with all of you.

  11. I am a new business and don’t have a sales person. I know my market. I have made 2 calls to them and they say they should know soon. I am afraid. I have everything I need but guts. I don’t have money for a salesman. Only commision right now but no takers to even ask what my business is. They want money and I don’t have it. Even if I got the leads. Any suggestions

  12. Lots of questions there Mary. Many business owners find they are their own sales force and struggle with it. Gaining a deeper understanding of sales might help you get over your fear. There are many great sales coaches and training programs out there. I’d be happy to talk with you about this to see what direction you can go in.

  13. The best strategy any salesperson can employ is to maintain good contact with leads to nurture them to become conversions. This can be difficult unless you are hyper-organized and never forget anything. For the rest of us, I recommend a cloud based customer relationship management tool like SalesOptima.

  14. Crisologo C. Jumao-as

    This is great!!! the bicycle analogy in the intro is perfect very clear….every sales person can relate. Thanks Diane, looking forward for more sales tips…Godbless.

    Chris C. Jumao-as

  15. I enjoyed reading and will use this as a guideline for my personal Sales as a Salesman.

  16. Thanks Chris and Angel. I’m glad you found value in the article.

  17. daniel gebregiorgies

    what is the best strategy for voucher card

  18. Hi Daniel. Can you give me more information on what you are asking?

  19. Great point!! Thanks, Diane. m just come back form the interview of Fedex for the international sales position. What you mentioned are really helpful for the fresh like me!! Thanks for the sharing!!!

  20. Glad it helped Henry! Good luck

  21. Thanks Diane, for the great sales strategy. It is always good to learn from those who are out there doing it.

  22. Don’t forget that it is important to understand you customer before you build your sales strategy. One place to start is by reviewing your customer’s annual report. Here’s a quick 20 minute guide on how to read an annual report for sales insights I found yesterday by Executive Conversation http://www.conversation.com/ideas-and-insights/post/how-to-read-an-annual-report-in-20-minutes/

  23. Hi Diane.

    Ive just started in the sales position at my company, and ive got to admit its difficult. Ive found that ive used your tips but the results im getting are disappointing to put it mildly.
    I like to think its gonna take time but im not sure my company will give me the time.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  24. Hi Gerard. Might I suggest scheduling a complimentary 30 minute phone consultation between you and me? That way I could better understand what you have been doing so I could provide some suggestions. Sales can be a difficult thing to take on when you haven’t done anything like it before. I remember being new at sales. I do, however believe you can master it with a plan that works for you. If you’d like to schedule that call please email me at diane@seizethisdaycoaching.com

  25. Great advice, especially on the subject of monitoring.

  26. Good information. I’m sure you talk more in depth regarding goal setting in your consultations. It is a huge part of successful sales strategy. Thank you and keep up the great work!

  27. Hello Diane
    very much useful information . I have mailed you some information on your pvt inbox. Hope to hear from you .

  28. it was a good example to explain about how sales in reality goes for a beginner and for runner. but minimizing the explanation of sales process to just only 5 basic points is not enough for me. cause i expected and needed a little more data regarding this sales to add and include it to my college presentation :) thank you madam

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