Sales Strategy – The #1 Factor in Small Business Success

Small Business Sales Strategy

Choosing The Right Sales Strategy

Your sales strategy plan should match the pace at which your customers want to buy. Defining the proper sales rhythm is often the difference between success and failure. So, learn where, how and how fast your customers want to buy to choose the sales process that makes them want to buy from you.

Consultative Versus Transactional Sales

Trying to “transact” government contracts will not provide great results, while not offering the fastest path to transaction will limit the success of a website. So using the right sales strategy will provide the best results. And choosing the best sales strategy is about your customers not corporate goals.

As a tip, it is often helpful to look at successful companies as a sales strategy example. Considering successful models can accelerate your sales speed.

Transactional Sales Model

The most common and over-used sales strategy is a transactional sales method. A transactional sales model fits best when you are working with a very short sales cycles and simple products. The ideal use of this is for products and services with non-recurring billing, where buyer gratification is instant and/or the need is high and fleeting.

The best example of a transactional sales strategy are online sales. where the best opportunity is when the customer first contacts your web site. So having a process to generate leads and close transactions is key to success. A good web vendor is highly skilled at measuring and maximizing the customer from first click to final sale.

Consultative Selling

Consultative selling is best for large contracts and b2b buyers where building a relationship is the key to success. This process works best for outside sales teams, and can also be applied to inside sales teams in the right circumstances.

Consultative selling is best for products and services where customers have diverse needs, high dollar contracts and b2b sales. For example, if you are pursuing an automaker contract, there will be a formal request for proposal process with legal reviews, steering committees, and a series of approvals that make a short-term sales cycle ineffective.

And just as not asking for the sale in a transactional strategy limits your success, demanding the sale can be detrimental to your sales process.  So, build your sales pitch around your customer needs and be patient, a relationship sale is often awarded to the company that takes the time to form a strong relationship with the client.

Hybrid Sales Strategy

Most companies need a hybrid sales strategy to serve their customers. For example, a plumber sales rep will need to use both methods depending on the circumstances. For example, a customer with a clogged drain is a transaction while a bid to plumb a housing tract is a consultative sale.

The key to a hybrid sales model is to teach your sales team to quickly identify the buyer persona of your customer. And build your commission structure to incent your sales team to manage the customer properly.

Startup Companies

Plan a startup company sales process can be tricky. When starting a company, it may be a matter of survival to have a transactional sales strategy to keep your company going. However, once you establish an ongoing customer base you should transition to the sales strategy that fits your customer base.

Be patient when transitioning from a transactional model to a relationship model, it is likely that you will see a short-term sales dips while your team builds their pipeline. Spending the time to understand your customer base and plan for this transitional valley can help you get off the ground fast, enjoy long term success and keep your sales team engaged.

Building a Sales Process

Once you’ve identified the Right Sales Process for your Business, it’s time to build a lead generation and sales process. This is critical for collecting opportunities and aligning your sales team’s goals with your company goals.

Setting Sales Goals

Good salespeople will behave in a way that maximizes their commissions. So If you are selling into a transactional model, your sales people should earn initial sales commissions and have their close rate measured in a rapid interval. On the other hand if you have a relationship process, incentives should reward employees for their close rate over a longer time period. And for a hybrid model, employees should receive bonuses for both fast transactions and longer-term sales.

Generate Qualified Leads

Sales efficiency and volume will go up if sales and marketing strategy are aligned. There are tremendous advertising tools and agencies available that can help you build a balanced program that includes search engine marketing, direct mail, advertising, and traditional marketing. And don’t be afraid to use social media advertising to generate qualified leads.

Create a Selling Proposition

Learn out how your products helps your customers and tell them about it.  So instead of listing your product features in your sales materials, build your marketing strategies around how your product will make your customer feel better. Advertising that sparks an emotional response is more likely to gain interest than advertising that discusses your product and company history.

Train Your Team

Sales is not easy, and sales training helps increases your team’s success. So send your salespeople to external training and hire a Sales Manager who can motivate and mentor your team. Many smaller companies are concerned about investing in training only have their team members leave where they should be more concerned about retaining untrained employees.

Set a Commission Structure

Sales people will work to maximize their paychecks. So make sure your commission structure is built to incent your sales people to sell the way your customers want to buy and don’t reward bad behavior.

  • Transactional Sales Models: Pay commissions on closed sales and measure performance as the percent of sales versus inbound/outbound calls.
  • Pipeline Sales Models: Pay commissions as a percent of the total contract and measure close rate over a period of months.
  • Hybrid Sales Models: Sales people should be commissioned for inbound sales calls and offered bonuses for their quarterly or 6 month close rate.

The Right Sales Strategy for Your Business

Knowing Your Customers

Building a customer feedback loop is key to long-term sales success, the 3NG Consulting market research whitepaper can help get you started on a quality feedback loop.  And if you still need support, 3NG Consulting Market Research Services can help guide you on your journey.  

Picture of Karl Krug

Karl Krug

Karl Krug is the Chief Strategy Officer of 3NG Consulting and specializes in automotive parts and service solutions and marketing. 

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