Knowledge Library

10 ways to put strategy back into the sales cycle

Retail Marketing and Sales

Cobus van Graan, MD of sales
solutions company Tracer
As retailers gear up for the festive season, it's worth taking some time to evaluate your sales strategy and ensure it is in line with the goals and objectives you have set for your organisation. COBUS VAN GRAAN, MD of sales solutions company Tracer, says there are 10 strategic steps that will ensure sales success.
1. Determine your sales target
This may sound logical, but few companies always know exactly what target they are aiming for. To put a sales strategy in place, you need to be able to determine those figures up-front.

2. Invest your resources wisely
Be selective about where and how you choose to invest your time, money and energy. Make sure that your marketing methods are appropriate to your audience. Don't target the wrong people in a company - when you want people to buy, focus on the decision makers as they are the ones who seal the deal.

3. Target the right customers for you and your company
When you have identified your target figures, sit down with your team and have an in-depth discussion about what your ideal customer looks like so that you know who your target market is. Some require a lot of effort for very little return; others bring in additional business; and there are those who are responsible for the biggest percentage of your profits.

4. Develop a system for lead generation
You need a system to generate leads, whether that's through a network of people or companies. Ensure that your website is optimised for search engines. Use Twitter and Facebook to remind people about who and what you are. Send out regular e-newsletters. The key is to maintain regular contact with customers and prospective customers.

5. Make sure you have enough potential to reach your targets
Many businesses fail to calculate how much their pipeline is worth. To give an example, we had one client whose salespeople each had a target of R10 million, yet they were bringing in only R4 million each. We then discovered that each person's pipeline was worth R7 million. There was no way they were ever going to achieve their targets. Your pipeline must be at least two to three times the value of the set target.

6. Have different strategies for different customers
Some customers have high potential, but you may not get any business from them. There are others who give you little business, but offer the opportunity for you to up-sell and cross-sell to them. Then there are those who give you much regular business. These are your most important customers, and while you may focus on acquiring new business, don't forget about these high-value customers.

7. Plan for the big five business influencers
There are five main business influencers to plan for in any sales situation. First, there is the gatekeeper, typically a PA who tries to keep you away from the contact. Next, there is your guide in the organisation, who will give you background information about the company. The decision makers are those who actually make the buying decision. Then there are those who have veto power - they don't make daily sales decisions, but they can stymie the process if they choose to, so make sure you establish a relationship with them. Lastly, there is the curve ball - it could be virtually anything, from the decision maker's golfing buddy who does not want anyone to do business with you, to your own internal delivery department which is not going a good job. Pay attention to these influencers and work out ways to deal with them.

8. High frequency of contact works
Your relationship with your customer depends on regular contact - not just when you want to present a proposal or are closing the deal. Ongoing contact will enable you to add value every time you see the client. Take them for coffee or for lunch, show them that you care about the relationship, and be sure that you mean it. Complacency leads to the breakdown of communication and ultimately the loss of business.

9. Add value, both business and personal
Every time you make contact with clients, add value - both on business and personal levels. In addition to the business value you offer, ensure that you send a birthday message, an anniversary card, or a congratulatory message for a family member's achievement.

10. Do not mix business and personal calls
If your objective is to cultivate and nurture a personalised relationship, do not make the mistake of calling someone to congratulate them on their daughter winning the school swimming trophy and then reminding them to pay your invoice.
Cobus van Graan, MD,
Tracer CQM,
083 628 3084,

Michelle Oelschig,
Predictive Communications,
011 452 2923,

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