The lack of an effective sales strategy might be the one thing holding your company back from moving to the next level.
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Although sales strategies vary by company and industry, the most successful ones share several important characteristics.
When it comes to sales, many people mistakenly think about goals in terms of quotas. But a sales quota is really little more than a target sales figure - selling "X" amount of product by a certain date. Sometimes quotas are determined by other factors, but more often than not they are driven by budgetary income requirements, i.e. how much money needs to come in to make payroll and keep the lights on.
Sales goals, on the other hand, have more to do with achieving specific objectives that lead to the long-term growth and vitality of the business. This may or may not involve increasing the company's bottom line sales. In some cases, it might make more sense to realize lower sales for a time if it allows the company to break into a new market or expand its line.
The important thing is that your sales goals make sense and reflect the larger goals of the business, not the goals of this month's bottom line expenses.
New Customer Acquisition
Growing small businesses have sharpened their ability to acquire new customers and clientele on a regular basis. Advertising and marketing only go so far. Eventually, it's going to come down to the sales staff to identify new prospects and convert them into satisfied customers.
Identifying new customers happens in a number of ways. One way is to develop a list of potential customers based on need. For example, if your company sells beauty supplies your list would contain the names of salons and spas - places who regularly buy beauty supplies.
Another strategy to acquire new customers is to ask for referrals from existing customers. Happy customers are almost always willing to give you the names of others who might benefit from your products and services.
Existing Customer Retention
Successful sales strategies not only target new customers, but work to retain existing customers as well. However, retaining customers requires the sales staff to play a dual role.
First, they need to assume the role of a customer service representative, particularly for businesses that operate in a non-retail setting. By periodically checking in on existing customers, sales reps maintain relationships and ensure that the customer is happy with the products or services your business provides. More importantly, a little time spent with existing clients reminds them that you still care after the sale - something you'll want them to remember when your competitor's sales reps come knocking on their door.
The other role sales reps play with existing customers is the role of, well, sales reps. Existing customers are future customers who are already familiar with your products and services, and are often willing to increase the amount of business they do with your company.