Sales strategies that small businesses can use

What exactly is a sales strategy? What do you need?

A sales strategy is a company’s game plan to connect its product or service with its target customer. That might sound simple enough, but there are a few nuances to acknowledge.

For one thing, you can’t simply make a target customer aware of your product—you need to present your product in a way that makes it meaningful to them.

For example, if you sell cloud storage and your target customers are businesses who work with large amounts of data, it’s not enough for you to send them a targeted ad saying you sell a cloud service. It would be more powerful for you to say, “We have somewhere to store all your data to make your life easier and your systems run faster,” immediately making a direct connection between your service and their business needs.

A second thing to remember is a sales strategy plan is not a static document. It’s an ever-evolving approach to the way you sell your product at a given time. Keep that in mind when reading through the 10 sales strategies later in this post.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into what it means to develop a sales strategy plan.

How to develop a sales strategy plan for your small business

There are tons of tips out there on how to make sales, but not all of them are going to work for any business. To have an effective sales strategy plan, you need to understand what will work and what won’t for your unique business model.

Below we’re going to cover different sales strategies, including what they are and when to use them so you can pick the right ones to make up your own sales strategy plan.

Remember: a sales strategy plan is an ever-evolving concept. When developing yours, just focus on what your business needs right now. You can (and should) develop this plan as your business changes and grows.

Build a pipeline of quality leads

Best for: small businesses struggling to get (good) leads.

Get this: on average, sales reps spend up to 40%1 of their time just searching for people to try and sell to. Not exactly the most efficient use of time.

That’s where building a pipeline to generate leads for you comes in.

Investing in lead generation will eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) the time you spend searching for leads and instead bring them to you, saving precious time and already limited resources.

Here are some examples of lead generation tactics:

  • Have a contact form on your website that captures leads’ names and email addresses.
  • Advertise online (e.g., Facebook, Google, LinkedIn).
  • Run a coupon deal.
  • Host a webinar.
  • Invest in content marketing (like a blog or email newsletter).

Sell to existing customers

Best for: small businesses with a large number of existing customers who they can upsell or cross-sell.

Studies have shown that, on average, it’s about five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell additional services to an existing customer.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean only sell to existing customers. To grow, you’ll always need to gain new customers. The key is not to forget about the customers you already have.

Say you’re releasing a new product, piloting a new service or feature, or just planning some sort of business switch. Your existing customer base is an excellent place to test it. Not only is it less expensive to sell to existing customers, but it’ll also show them you’re still interested in doing business together. Plus, because you’ve already established a relationship of mutual trust and value with them, it’s often easier to sell to your existing customers as well.

Here are some examples of what this could look like:

  • You sell gaming hard drives and run a promo just for your existing customer base offering them $10 off the latest version to upgrade.
  • You sell project management software and are about to introduce a more premium tier to your product model. Take a look at your existing customer base, choose the highest-spending ones, and shoot them an email or phone call asking if they’d be interested in switching to your newest plan, which could be more fitting to their team.
  • You sell cloud storage. Reach out to your existing customers who frequently reach or exceed their storage limit and offer them more capacity at a good rate.

Set a goal for each contact

Best for: small businesses who try to close too hard, too fast with little success.

Maybe you have a beautifully polished leads list. Before you call or email any of them, you’re going to want to have a goal for that interaction. And then repeat this process for every interaction after that.

When you’re coming up with these goals, think of them as incremental steps towards your ultimate goal of closing the sale. A good goal will benefit both you and your prospect, making both of you want to continue the sales process. Just what this goal is should depend on where your prospect is in the sales cycle.

For example, say your prospect is in the initial contact stage of the sales cycle. Your goal at this point could be to get them to agree to set up a time for a call. If they’re in the qualifying stage, your goal could be to confirm they have the purchasing power to buy from you.

This strategy will make the overall sales process less intimidating for both you and your prospect as you’ll be gradually warming them up versus hitting them with a sales pitch and trying to close them out the gate—which will make them that much more likely to seal the deal.

Think win-win

Win-win scenarios happen when two goal-oriented people work together to accomplish more than what they could’ve done alone and both parties benefit from it. To do this, you need to think not only about what you want in a given situation but also about what the other person wants—in this case, the other person is your prospect.

If you’re qualifying your leads properly, your product is truly beneficial to them and likewise to your business. So instead of it being salesperson versus customer, which insinuates a win-lose outcome, it becomes a win-win; you and your prospect have a mutual problem and are on the same team. How can you work together to solve it?

Use a communication tool that manages itself

Best for: small businesses without a dedicated IT team or spend too much time managing their communication tools.

Imagine not having to switch between multiple applications to grab your customers’ contact information, send an email, or make a phone call. We can make that happen.

Make signing paperwork easy

Best for: small businesses that require their customers to sign documents (e.g., contracts or other paperwork).

PSA: No one—and we mean no one—likes printing out physical pieces of paper, signing them, scanning them, and emailing them back to the sender. Hardly, anyone has a printer anymore. No one has time anymore. And that includes you.

Make life easier for both of you and your customers by adding electronic document signing software like HelloSign or DocuSign to your sales arsenal.

A huge benefit of electronic documents is many of them integrate with your existing sales tools, which means less manual work, less time wasted, and less friction that could cause customer drop-off—all signs of a great sales strategy.

Keep your contact list up to date

Best for small businesses that don’t have a system in place to keep their leads list fresh.

Earlier we touched on the importance of lead quality over quantity to put your micro sales team’s limited time and energy to best use. It’s important to keep your list of leads up to date for the same reason.

If you’ve sent several (at least five) follow-up emails and/or phone calls to a prospect and have yet to hear back, it’s safe to assume the lead is stale and either let them go or move them to the end of your contact list in terms of priority. The time spent calling that lead with a track record of being unresponsive could be put to better use by calling a different qualified lead or even an existing customer—someone who wants to hear what you have to say. Keeping your contact list fresh like this will maximize the effectiveness of your sales efforts.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
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