Regardless of whether you are active in the B2B or B2C sector – in the end, you always need paying customers so that your investments pay off and lead to economic success in the medium term. However, the definition of a sound sales strategy for customer acquisition before actual marketing is often neglected. Many founders fail because of this.
In the following, we will help you to define a sales strategy and to derive your sales concept. So, you can actively pursue sales from the start and successfully win customers.
Definition: What is a Sales Strategy?
With the sales strategy, you determine how you can bring your product or service to the customer individually and successfully. In this respect, you should determine the right sales strategy long before the actual marketing – ideally as part of the development of your business model. Your strategic sales orientation is always determined by various factors such as costs, lead times and response times, employee qualifications as well as customer proximity and degree of marketing.
The sales concept derived from the sales strategy includes implementation in the form of a concrete definition of the main products and prices or the practical definition of your market activities. Even if two companies offer very similar products, their sales concepts can differ in principle due to the different business models, the range of products, and financial strength.
As a founder, you have to work as a sales manager from the outset and plan, implement, and control sales based on the sales strategy to achieve your targeted sales, earnings, and marketing goals. When choosing an executive sales employee, you should proceed with caution, as this is always the direct link between your company and the customer and should practice the sales strategy you have developed.
Specify Realistic Sales Goals
The most important question for your sales strategy should be: “What do you want to achieve?”. Sales cannot achieve unrealistic goals. This creates frustration and demotivation one differentiates between qualitative and quantitative goals.
Quantitative Sales Goals
Quantitative sales targets are measurable targets that should be implemented in a certain period, such as:
Number of customer visits or customer contacts
Number of products or services sold
The number of new customers or reactivated existing customers.
Without a specific definition of the relevant period for goal achievement, your target will fizzle out as quickly as it was defined. In addition to the period, the conditions under which the specified goals are to be achieved must also be defined. In addition to the measurand, clear rules must also be agreed on and corresponding capacities given to sales. An example of an optimally formulated, the quantitative goal is:
In the next 12 months, 300 customers will be contacted by phone – the goal is to generate 15 new customers (5%) from this measure. The possibility of evaluating or evaluating the quantitative targets only results from the definition of the target, the measure, and the period.
The use of a suitable CRM system offers qualified evaluation options and allows you to take well-founded measures if the specified goals are not achieved.
Qualitative Sales Goals
Qualitative sales targets, on the other hand, are more difficult to formulate, observe, and measure, since the focus is on the quality of the sales activities of the employees. Examples of qualitative goals are the quality of advice, increasing customer satisfaction, or the corporate image. Although these parameters are more difficult to define and measure than quantitative specifications, they are just as important for long-term success. There are several important points when defining:
It has to be formulated what exactly is meant by the qualitative goal – measures have to be derived in concrete terms and the last step criteria have to be defined which make it possible to measure the goal achievement at all.
In the long term, successful sales are only possible if the quantitative and qualitative sales goals are clearly and realistically defined as part of the sales strategy and can thus be evaluated. Without concrete goals and measures, business errors are almost inevitable. Example: If only sales or the number of deals serves as an indicator of success for your sales, this can lead to sales discounts – the sales goals are then met, but the lack of earnings endangers your company in the medium term.
Define Your Target Group
As a founder, it is particularly important to define the customer segments that should be the focus of your sales strategy. The better you know your target group, the more successful your sales strategy will be. Define your potential customers as precisely as possible – also use the creation of personas. Segmentation of your target customers helps you to tailor your product or service range as well as your sales activities to them. This is the only way to use your limited resources such as personnel or budget in the best possible way within your sales strategy.
Take the illusion of being able to attract all potential customers, because experience has shown that customer requirements are too different and hardly any company is unrivalled.
Serious differences already result from the general division of customers into B2B or B2C customers. In B2B sales technical knowledge and a high level of service and reliability are paramount. The sales process is very time-consuming. However, business relationships are usually long-term. In B2C sales, on the other hand, customers are mostly influenced by emotions or the price. The amount of time spent on sales is less.
B2B and B2C customers already provide their own, specific features, and different challenges for sales. On the company side, aspects such as order volume, the growth potential of the target group, and price sensitivity play a role.
There are two central questions about your target group within the definition of your sales strategy:
- Which customers can you gain as permanent customers based on your strengths and advantages as well as market potential?
- Which customers should you focus your sales activities on?
When answering the second question, take into account that you cannot achieve the same margins for every customer group. You should, therefore, focus your sales activities on the customers you value.
Choose exactly the target customers whose needs you can ideally meet with your offer. Develop your knowledge of your valuable customers’ step by step. In the form of a target group analysis and market research or in the B2B area also through a partnership discussion in which you ask your potential customers about their wishes and problems. You can use the results to derive specific customer profiles and tailor your sales tools to your desired customer.
Determine Your Market Strategy
A successful sales strategy can only be set up if you know your potential market. Therefore, divide your potential market into individual segments – for example, according to regions, industries, prices, competitive situations, or company sizes. In this phase, it is usually sufficient to work with publicly accessible sources such as marktforschung.de or destatis.de. Based on this, identify your market potential and development opportunities or even localize market deficits that you could cover with your product or service offering.
Another factor for the development of your market strategy is the assessment of the market potential. Important factors that influence the market potential are trends and the product life cycle. We provide you with a free tool for calculating the market potential and the resulting sales potential.
Concentrate on your strengths when setting up your sales strategy and derive corresponding potential benefits. Existing problems with customers could be performance potential, which you can cover with your offer. Based on the quantitative analysis of the available market data, one automatically encounters a competitive environment. Localize your competitors and create a strength and weakness analysis (SWOT analysis) in comparison to your offer. Your advantages or your solutions for the market can be derived from this analysis. These advantages should provide the main arguments for aligning your sales strategy and should be the central content of your sales strategy.
Highlight Unique Selling Points
As a founder, you rarely dive into a completely new market in which you are unrivalled. After you have defined and analysed your target group, you should consider your strengths and weaknesses. What differentiates your product or service from the offers of your competitors? What does the competition communicate on the market?
In the next part of your sales strategy, work out your distinguishing features from the competition, and derive your individual sales concept for the correct positioning. Title your core competencies and highlight your advantages over your competitors. Define your customer benefits, unique selling propositions, your USP (Unique Selling Proposition), and align your sales accordingly.
Communicate to your potential customers in clear sales messages why they should take advantage of your offer. These messages are then incorporated into your day-to-day acquisition, for example in a sales meeting at the customer’s site or in the telephone acquisition guide.
Align your corporate design and all of your communication content within your sales strategy accordingly and underline the presentation of your unique selling points. This will make you even more interesting for your target group.
Derive Communication Strategy
After you have defined your market, your target customers, and your unique selling proposition, the market must also learn from you. The development of your sales strategy, therefore, concludes with the development of your marketing and sales plan in the form of the derivation of the communication strategy. A basic rule applies here: Before starting communication, the correct content must be worked out. Even if your product or service is unique, the target customer still has to be reached and convinced. But with what sales arguments do you convince your target customers?
By focusing on your product or performance, it is often forgotten that the advantages for the customer are not always immediately obvious. The customer must find out why it is worth buying a product or service from you instead of the competition. Here you should take these aspects into account:
Have you derived the right sales arguments by analysing the market and your potential customers sufficiently?
Do your sales arguments match the customer’s needs?
Do your sales arguments also reach the decision-makers?
The last point is one of the biggest challenges, especially in the B2B area.
Now there is a close link between marketing and sales. Targeted communication and thus an effective sales concept can only be achieved through close cooperation between the two areas. What do you want to say to your potential target group so that you can achieve your defined corporate goals? Which corporate values do you want to convey and which core messages communicate?
Customers are exposed to a high flood of information every day. It will be all the more difficult for you to get this attention. In addition to the actual product competition, communication competition has developed. An efficient communication strategy is becoming increasingly important. Your sales and marketing concept is therefore one of the most important building blocks of your sales strategy. You can only draw your potential customers’ attention to yourself strategically and in terms of content and survive in the market in the long term.
Define Sales Channels
Choosing the right sales channels is crucial for the successful implementation of your sales strategy. A distinction is made here in the first step between direct sales and indirect sales:
In direct sales, the purchase is made directly between the customer and the manufacturer or service provider.
With indirect sales, the purchase is made indirectly through a dealer.
Different sales instruments are available to you as a synonym for the numerous customer acquisition measures. However, when choosing the appropriate sales channels, always pay attention to the specific requirements of your potential customers.
It depends on the goals of your sales strategy whether you want to diversify across numerous sales channels or focus on certain instruments. Both variants have advantages. In B2C, however, broad-based advertising for new customers is more common and more useful than in B2B. Do not arbitrarily define your sales channels. Many classic instruments reach a large audience, but this is – if you sell in the B2B area – less likely to be interested in supplier products.
Based on your target customer analysis, you know whom you want to address and where and how you can reach your customers and what interests them. So, you don’t need just any sales channel. You need the right sales channels. Determine individually in your marketing mix which instruments suit your company as part of your sales strategy. Your budget also decides which measures you can afford as part of your sales activities.
Draw from the entire spectrum of sales opportunities. In particular, digital sales channels, such as Google Ads or online platforms such as Amazon, offer the opportunity to test relatively quickly and cheaply and measure success or failure relatively precisely. Newsletter campaigns or mailings can be evaluated precisely, which optimally fulfills the controlling component of your sales strategy.
Check the Sales Concept
Based on the definition of your quantitative sales goals, you have measurable targets. To be able to act in a structured manner and build a reliable database right from the start, it is worth implementing a CRM system. Based on data development, your sales activities become visible and assessable. The results derived from this not only help to continuously improve your products and services but also ensure, in terms of sales, that suitable sales strategies and the measures derived from them are developed over time.
For start-ups, in particular, the challenge lies in the start and end process of the sales organization. In addition to defining the sales goals and the sales team, it is important to generate key figures for the ongoing development of the processes. This is the only way to assess which customers you should pay more attention to and where resources may be wasted.
Document your sales talks in as much detail as possible in a CRM system. This is the only way to learn something about your customer contacts (leads) and future customers. Precisely formulated goals, as well as conscientiously maintained data and analyzes, will enable you to make a very precise assessment of the expected sales in the future.
Stay realistic when planning your sales goals and ensure measurable goal formulations. Only those who know their market, their target groups, and thus the sales channels relevant to their target customers can successfully set up their sales strategy as founders. Without concrete goals and measures, business errors are almost inevitable. Use suitable CRM software right from the start as part of your sales activities.
Define your unique selling propositions and align your sales strategy with them. Communicate to your potential customers in clear sales messages why they should take advantage of your offer. Your sales and marketing concept is one of the most important building blocks of your sales strategy. You can only draw your potential customers’ attention to yourself strategically and in terms of content and survive in the market in the long term. Choosing the right sales channels is critical to the success of your sales strategy. In general, take your financial options into account and consider the volume that is available to you in terms of personnel and sales. Determine a real need in the market – because the best sales strategy will not help you if there is no need.