Strategy is important in any organization, so there should also be a policy for marketing strategy and sales. Sales and marketing are used to develop opportunities and to enhance the growth of companies. Strategy formulation is done by companies or business owners to get their growth and promotion. A good marketing strategy increases the performance of salespeople and helps them achieve the goals of the company. In this article, we are going to discuss the significance and role of sales & marketing strategies in a business.
In the business world, a sales and marketing strategy can be defined simply as the process of reaching more consumers. It is the backbone of any organization and plays an important role in improving sales and profits. One of the best ways to generate leads (potential customers) is through a good marketing strategy. More leads mean better sales, which ultimately results in higher profits for your business, too.
Think of a strategy as three things:
- A clear vision that your team can agree on
- A revenue goal for your sales and marketing teams to achieve
- And, activity goals to help achieve your revenue goal
This approach will help give your staff an understanding of what they need to achieve. Your goals should be challenging but not unrealistic. I’ve worked with companies that pick numbers out of the air and that just leaves staff demotivated and feeling that ‘management’ doesn’t understand the business or the market.
I’ve also worked with companies that have a clear goal and when asked ‘is that based on market research I get a ‘no, it’s what we can sell’. I’d say that’s also the wrong approach. It doesn’t matter what capacity your business is as if there isn’t the right level of demand in the market.
Sales & Marketing Strategy Points of Emphasis
With a finite sales and marketing budget, you can’t be everything to everyone. To achieve success, you have to have an understanding of the following:
- Which companies are most likely to work with you?
- Which people within those companies can make or influence buying decisions?
- What are the buyers’ purchasing goals, and why do they make the decisions they do?
- Where do they go to make decisions, and what are they looking for?
If you can answer those questions, your sales and marketing results will greatly improve because you aren’t guessing. You will know necessary to target the right person at the right company with the right message utilizing the right marketing channel. And if your company utilizes a marketing agency, make sure they are helping you answer those questions before implementing tactics. If they’re not, they’re doing you a disservice.
what is a sales strategy?
A sales strategy is defined as a documented plan for positioning and selling your product or service to qualified buyers in a way that differentiates your solution from your competitors.
Sales strategies are meant to provide clear objectives and guidance to your sales organization. They typically include key information like growth goals, KPIs, buyer personas, sales processes, team structure, competitive analysis, product positioning, and specific selling methodologies.
Most of these guidelines help communicate goals and keep your sales reps on the same page. Where most sales strategies fall short, however, is that they’re too focused on the internal workings of your organization. The actual skills needed to have winning conversations with buyers—along with the messages reps need to be successful—are merely an afterthought.
When you boil it down, the goal of every sales strategy is to make sure your salespeople hit their quota, right? And it’s the messaging element—what salespeople say, do, and write to create perceived value—that wins or loses the deal.
To truly be effective, your organization’s sales strategy needs to focus on customer conversations. These skillfully delivered conversations are what create a distinctive purchase experience, demonstrate value for your buyers, and separate your company from the competition.
With that in mind, here are 10 things to keep in mind when creating a sales strategy.
10 keys to developing a successful sales strategy
1. build a powerful value proposition in your messaging
Most prospects either don’t recognize or can’t articulate the root challenges they struggle with daily. So, even if you sell a truly remarkable product, your buyers probably won’t recognize the real value you offer to their organization. That’s why you need to create a powerful and persuasive message.
This isn’t just about touting your product’s features, hoping that your buyer chooses you over your competition. That approach only puts you at value parity with similar solutions, and it forces a competitive bake-off.
Instead of talking about what you do and why you think you can do it better, create a buying vision that defines a new set of challenges that align with your distinct strengths. This powerful value proposition will uncover previously Unconsidered Needs for your prospect, create contrast, and drive the urgency to change using stories and insights.
2. create the urgency to change
Most companies unknowingly position themselves for a competitive bake-off of features and benefits. They answer the “why should I choose you?” question for their prospects. But in doing so, they miss a critical first step.
The truth is that the majority of buyers prefer to do nothing instead of change. 60 percent of deals in the pipeline are lost to “no decision” rather than to competitors.
Staying the same is safe and comfortable, while change is associated with threat and risk. To break through Status Quo Bias and get prospects to leave their current situation, you need to tell a story that makes a compelling case for why they should change, and why they should change now.
Successful sales strategy requires you to understand your real competitor—the status quo. Help your prospects decide to change before you try and convince them to choose you. Answering these questions is what differentiates your solution and sets the tone for your buyer’s entire Deciding Journey.
3. tell a compelling and memorable story
When salespeople prepare for conversations with prospects, they usually focus on getting all the facts straight about their offerings. But the most accurate information in the world won’t resonate if you can’t memorably connect with your customers.
Telling personal stories and using metaphors and analogies helps bring your message alive in a more compelling way than simply reciting facts and data. Storytelling paints a vivid picture for your buyers, illustrating the contrast between their current situation versus what’s possible, and connecting what you offer directly to their unique situation.
Once you start sharing stories in your sales conversations, your customer relationships will become deeper and more rewarding.
4. speak to the customer deciding journey, not your sales process
A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that a salesperson uses to lead a prospect to purchase. Typically, the sales process involves several steps like prospecting, qualifying, discovering needs, negotiating, and closing. This would be an ideal checklist to follow if all your buyers were robots being taken through an assembly line. But that’s just not the reality.
Selling today isn’t a predictable progression that you’ve decided is how your prospects and customers should buy. What you’re really up against today is a Customer Deciding Journey—a series of key questions your buyers are asking as they look to address specific business goals.
Instead of being “program-centric” with a one-size-fits-all sales strategy, you need to be problem-centric, addressing the specific needs of your buyers as they arise with situationally relevant messages, content, and the skills to deliver them.
5. don’t rely on buyer personas in your sales strategy
Customer profiles and buyer personas sound good in theory. The idea is to collect common demographic attributes, attitudes, and behaviors of your target audience to help frame and target your messages. But when used as a superficial profiling approach, personas can lead your messaging astray.
Persona-based selling assumes that the behaviors or actions of your target buyer are motivated by their internal characteristics. In reality, buyers are motivated by outside influences that challenge their status quo and convince them to change. These outside influences might include rapid growth within the company, inefficient or unsustainable processes, or broader changes that affect their industry as a whole.
The real drivers behind behaviors and behavior change are the challenges within your buyer’s situation, not their professional disposition. So, instead of focusing your sales strategy on a lot of inconsequential attributes, speak to your buyer’s situation and why their current approach is putting their business at risk.
6. avoid the “commodity trap” in your sales strategy
Too often, salespeople base their messages on the needs that prospects tell them they have. Then, they connect those identified needs to corresponding capabilities, in standard “solution selling” fashion.
The problem with this approach? You fall into the trap of commodity messaging along with your competitors, who are likely constructing their value message in response to the same set of inputs. As a result, you sound just like everyone else, leaving your prospects indecisive and without any real urgency to change.
Instead, you need to introduce Unconsidered Needs that extend beyond the identified, known needs and solve for those. Introduce prospects to problems or missed opportunities they’ve underappreciated or don’t even know about. Then, connect the Unconsidered Needs you’ve identified to your differentiated strengths, which are uniquely suited to resolve those risks.
7. lead with insights, not discovery questions
Many salespeople try to be a “trusted advisor”—asking their buyers discovery questions, diagnosing the customer’s needs, and then presenting a solution that fits the criteria. But this approach does you and your customer a disservice.
To be of real value to your buyers, it’s not enough to say, “Tell me what you want; I’ll get it for you.” Buyers want salespeople who will tell them what they should want. They want you to sift through all the information that’s out there and deliver insight into what they’re missing that will improve their performance.
This means more than just finding data and statistics online. A fact without a story is just a data point. To make it real for your buyer, wrap your insights in a story that connects the dots for them and provides the context within their world.
8. align sales and marketing
Too often, sales and marketing are siloed departments, each with individual goals that appear compatible. Marketing creates sales messaging and tools and generates leads for the sales team. Sales teams use the messaging and tools to transform those leads into revenue. But a lack of alignment and gaps in your process can sabotage your efforts.
You might hear the following complaint from both sides: “We’re doing our job, but they just don’t get it.” The problem with these goals is that they foster an us-versus-them attitude and miss the big picture. Sales is a design point for better marketing. If Sales is the storyteller of your organization, then Marketing is the story builder.
Ultimately, these two teams share—and must be aligned to achieve—one purpose: to persuade buyers to choose you.
9. tailor your sales strategy for customer expansion
Most sales and marketing teams spend the majority of their budgets and effort on customer acquisition and demand generation. Meanwhile, the majority of your annual revenue likely comes from your existing customers, through renewals and upsells.
Nearly half of the companies surveyed by Corporate Visions invest less than 10 percent of their marketing budgets in customer retention and expansion. Your customers are highly underrated yet powerful growth engines within your company. And you shouldn’t overlook the potential of this untapped revenue stream.
The challenge is, retention and expansion require a distinct messaging and customer conversation approach. Existing customers are in a different position than your prospects—one that carries a unique buying psychology.
While customer acquisition is all about challenging the status quo to highlight the benefits of switching to your solution, customer retention and expansion require you to reinforce your position as their status quo. Research shows that using a provocative, challenging message when you’re trying to renew or expand business with your customers will increase the likelihood that they’ll shop around by at least 10-16 percent.
10. enable ongoing situational training
Most training and learning efforts are based on a collection of competencies, supported by a curriculum and catalog that gets scheduled on calendar-based interest and availability. But what does that have to do with helping the company’s business strategy, responding to shifting market demands, and intervening to fix emergent needs when they arise?
To be as effective and efficient as you need to be today, your sales training has to rise to a new level of flexibility, customization, and situational relevance. Using a flexible, on-demand training model enables you to deploy it at a moment’s notice to solve problems as they occur, and tackle initiatives as they arise. Training your sales team for situational agility equips them with the messaging and skills they need relative to the customer conversations they’re having.
Powerful Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Business Faster
All small businesses want a low-budget marketing plan. The problem, however, is determining which of the successful small business marketing strategies offer the highest ROI.
That’s why we are sharing a list of high-ROI marketing strategies that you can and should steal from the industry today.
#1. Set a Goal and a Budget
Every business needs a direction. Every marketing campaign needs to start with a goal and a budget.
This is perhaps the only free marketing strategy in the world.
Without a goal and a budget, it becomes exceptionally difficult to determine whether or not your campaign was successful.
Plus, according to CoSchedule’s roundup of 2018 marketing statistics, marketers that set goals for their campaigns are 429% more likely to report success.
As Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers says, this makes sense because:
Let’s take a look at a few tips for setting your marketing campaign goal and budget:
- Choose 1-5 KPIs to measure. The most popular KPIs to measure include qualified leads, traffic, and direct revenue.
- Set a realistic budget. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that you spend 7-8% of total revenue on your marketing campaigns.
- Focus on the process, not the goal. Once your goal is set, create a process for achieving it and use your KPIs to measure and continually improve that process.
#2. Build Your Influence
The most successful marketing campaigns help you achieve the highest ROI. Once you build your influence, you can use many more powerful marketing strategies.
This explains why influencers are finding their way into many social media promotional strategies used by small businesses.
To create a successful influencer marketing campaign, Entrepreneur contributor Murray Newlands recommends the following steps:
- Select your KPIs
- Focus on the social media channels where your target market is most present
- Find a credible influencer
- Plan your publishing schedule
- Consistently improve and measure your outcomes
#3. Champion One Social Channel
With the undeniable potential of social media marketing as a small business marketing strategy, it can be tempting to try and find success on as many social platforms as possible.
But, as marketing guru Neil Patel tells us, it’s best to focus on one social channel at a time:
To become a champion of one social channel, the team at Social Media Marketo recommends a 12-step process:
#4. Build Rapport through Email
With 59% of marketers claiming that email is their most effective marketing channel for revenue generation, this is one strategy that you don’t want to ignore.
If you haven’t started building your email list, Social Triggers founder Derek Halpern recommends a few tips for getting started:
- Create a long-term content strategy to drive organic traffic to your website
- Create multiple opt-in offers
- Utilize an email list popup form
- Add a banner with an invitation to subscribe to your email list to your business signature.
You can use tools like the Designhill email signature generator to create a professional email sign-off with links, banners, and call-to-actions.
#5. Blog Strategically
When done correctly, starting a blog is one of the absolute best ways to drive targeted traffic to your website.
Marketers that effectively utilize blogs tend to get 67% more leads than those that do not. But that’s only if you’re doing it right.
To succeed with blogging, you should:
- Find your niche. Choosing a niche is one of the hardest, but most important, considerations before you start a blog.
- Focus on quality over quantity. One long-form, comprehensive post (1,500+ words) is worth 5x a brief, non-informative post.
- Develop a promotion strategy before writing. Many expert content marketers recommend spending 20% of your time on content creation and 80% on promotion.
- Create evergreen content. When you create evergreen content (and update that content when necessary), your content assets compound their impact over time.
- Use photo editing tools like Instasize to curate your content.
#6. Conduct Research That Impacts Your SEO
With 70-80% of modern-day consumers ignoring ads altogether, ranking for targeted keywords has never been more important.
To rank in SERPs for keywords that can drive high-quality leads, there are a few simple tips that you should follow:
- Focus on low-competition, long-tail keywords. If you own a wedding business, you’re not going to compete with David’s Bridal for the keyword “wedding dress.” Instead, you should focus your efforts on low-competition, long-tail keywords that are relevant to your audience.
- Utilize tools like SEMRush or KWFinder. While it may be tempting to use Google’s Keyword Planner, it’s been proven that they hide many low-competition keywords in an effort to increase ad spend. Tools like SEMRush and/or KWFinder make it incredibly easy to find high-ROI keywords that can drive high-quality leads to your website.
#7. Teach Others
As Forbes contributor Brian Sutter says, “Teach, don’t sell…”
This is a concept that far too many modern-day marketers misunderstand.
And it’s why many businesses struggle to differentiate their message through content marketing.
To ensure you’re teaching your audience the right way, Sutter recommends that you:
- Don’t include CTAs that ask readers to buy something in every piece of content
- Focus on your customer and what they want to know, not what you want to tell them
- Be generous with the content you offer
#8. Survey, Listen, and Learn
Marketing research plays a crucial role in the success of your small business marketing strategies.
One of the best ways to perform market research is through the use of surveys. To get the most out of this strategy, Survey Monkey recommends that you:
- Define your objective for the research
- Set timelines
- Segment your audience to determine who receives which survey
- Use proven tools that allow you to collect and analyze data
#9. Reexamine Your Landing Pages
One small business marketing strategy that can have an immediate impact on conversions is the focus of your landing pages.
While most conversion experts are quick to recommend that you should always start your marketing campaign with a dedicated landing page, many fail to mention the importance of focusing on a single goal.
For your landing page to succeed, your focus should be on getting your readers to take a single action.
After all, if you have 20 links on your landing page, your attention ratio is 5%. With one link, that ratio is 100%.
This simple act of focusing on getting your readers to take one action on each page can do wonders for your conversion rates.
Sales and marketing is important aspect of any successful business venture. The mindset that sales and marketing need to be separate things or one is more important than the other is both wrong. In reality, sales and marketing are inexplicably intertwined and should be thought about at all times by a company’s leadership.