Our tips to coming up with an effective sales strategy that will help your small business win customers and grow

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First and foremost, your own commitment and enthusiasm to what you are selling is invaluable in presenting it to the marketplace. The next step is to develop a sales strategy, deciding how and who to sell to. The more work you put into planning, the easier it will be to close a deal and develop a loyal customer base.

Identify your product’s features and benefits

What makes it unique and how can it enhance the life or work of your customer? Differentiate between a feature and a benefit and look at the product from your customer’s perspective.

Look at your competition

What are others in your market doing? Evaluate your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Analyse what methods they use to sell.

Define your target market

Who are you selling to? The more research you put into profiling your potential customers the more effective your sales strategy will be. Put yourself in their position by asking: “What benefit is there for me?”

Sales method

Once you’ve identified your target market and assessed the benefits your products can potentially bring your customers, the next step is to plan what method to use in selling your products. These include:

  • Personal contact (direct selling, retail)
  • Telesales
  • Direct mail (special offers, catalogues)
  • Internet

The nature of what you are selling, and the geographical catchment area, will help you to determine the best sales methods for your business. Personal contact and to a lesser extent telesales, are the best way of gathering direct feedback from your customers and addressing any concerns that they may have. However, this will obviously not always be possible when selling to international customers.

Trying to sell your goods and services by direct mail or the internet is a scatter-gun approach, and much more initial research should be done to determine the target market before implementing these sales methods. Also, make sure you have the logistical systems in place to deliver on time to your catchment area.

Presenting

Your sales strategy should also include your company’s approach to making a sales presentation. For example, you could create a PowerPoint presentation template that includes key data on your company’s approach and capabilities, that can still be tailored to each customer’s unique needs. This will help you to develop a strong, professional and consistent image throughout your presentations.

Negotiating

Be prepared to negotiate, but know your bottom line and don’t go below – there’s no point selling something if you lose money, even if you think it’s worth it in the short term to snare a customer for the long term.

Closing the deal

This is the toughest part. You’ve persuaded your customer that they need/want what you have to offer. Now you have to get a firm commitment to the sale. Keep focused on your customer and capitalise on the rapport developed during the negotiations.

Follow up

The sale is just the beginning. Following up the deal will strengthen the relationship with your new customer, and could provide opportunities for additional sales.