We all know creating great sales strategies is hard. But successfully implementing them to achieve growth can feel like an insurmountable task, especially in today’s fast-changing digital environment.
Sales strategies that were hot back in 2014 might no longer work for some business sectors any longer. Let’s take the example of Facebook ‘likes’, that was once considered as the all important factor behind successful conversion, has lost its weight.
You get the point. It’s evolution and both you and I need to keep pace with it. So let’s see what’s working well for companies that are outperforming their peers.
Number One – Strengthen and deepen relationship with your customer
Remember, without customers, you wouldn’t have a business. So it’s worth every penny in investing time knowing them and finding out to how to bond with them.
In addition, when you create a bonding with your customers, they’ll do a bulk of your marketing, by spreading the word and telling people how great your company is.
This is really worth it and a lot more, especially when you think that 92% of buyers trust recommendations from friends and family than any other marketing form. Put your customers at the center of your business and start caring, genuinely.
First and foremost, you should not fake it. Customers will sniff you out from a mile and this will result in losing trust and business. Authenticity is key and the stats speak for themselves. 63% of people buy from authentic brands.
Communicate with customers during key moments, it’s best done over the phone. It’s a lot more personal. This communication works best from the perspective of the CEO, or at least someone high up in the rank.
Keep in touch regularly. It’s important that you’re are constantly in touch with your customer and not just key moments. This can be in the form of a newsletter.
Survey Monkey does this extremely well. Below is a great example.
Number Two – Focus on connecting customers
We are in a “connecting economy” according to industry leaders like Seth Godin. What this really means is that today’s businesses’ true assets are built by building relations and creating connections. The biggest companies connect buyer to seller or consumer to content. See for yourself.
Uber has taken the taxi industry by storm, right? They do this without owning any vehicle but simply by connecting commuters with drivers.
AirBnB – One of the largest provider of accommodation does not own any real-estate. Again they excel at connecting.
Facebook, the largest media platform, and yet they do not create content.
Crowdfunding business like Kickstarter will surely surpass venture capital for funding and yet again, they themselves have no funds to invest.
Today’s trend shows that customers want to connect with like-minded individuals or communities to get the most value in the long run.
In a nutshell, if you want to build a sustainable business, start connecting your customers to each other and to other valuable resources beyond your own sale.
Number Three – Sell it the customer’s way, not to what they say
You sit with your sales and marketing team and come with a plan for your customers to enjoy an amazing sales experience. Next, your sales executive spends a ton of time and money on product features and pricing. Great!
But what do you find in your research (your most trusted source)?
Research shows ‘sales experience’ might be the last thing to influence a customer’s purchase decision. Plus, evaluation of this experience does not always give a correct picture. What customers say may not always match what they do. In both B2B and B2C markets, customers tend to state that price is more important and not sales experience, but they do not act accordingly.
A recent survey with 1,200 B2B purchasers shows “overall sales experience” as the least important category.
The same customers were asked to rate their suppliers’ performance, and also asked for each supplier’s share of their business. Correlating supplier performance with actual purchases revealed a startlingly different picture. It showed sales experience was three times more important than stated.
Infotech reported that customers in 2016 expected VIP treatment in both online and in-store shopping experiences.
Giving customers a personalized experience while shopping online, same as they receive in a branded store, will encourage repeat business. An amazing way of injecting a personal shopping experience is by offering video chat when they need assistance. Amazon introduced the “Mayday button” on Kindle to allow customers to have live video session with a customer rep. And guess what? Amazon reported a profit of $857 million for the second fiscal quarter of 2016.
Important: Sales experience is more important than customers tell you. It matters, but to figure out what will make it satisfying is far from simple. Do your research and find out what they really want.
Number Four – Build, review and update buyer persons
Buyer personas are fictional figures who represent our ideal customers. It is of vital importance to have a deep understanding of buyer personas. It helps driving content creation, product development, sales and almost anything related to customer acquisition.
This fictional figure will help you better understand your existing customers as well as prospective ones. This, in turn, will make it easier for you to tailor to the specific needs, behaviors and concerns of different groups.
The best and strongest buyer personas are built on thorough market research and insights gathered from surveys from your actual client base. Depending upon your customer segment you can have one or 20 of them.
Procter & Gamble does this really well. They produce thousands of household products and one of their buyer personas is the person in charge of buying these items.
British Airways took this sales strategy onboard and uses it extremely effectively. Grab some tissues and check out their new campaign here.
If you are new to this, best start with one persona. Make sure to review and update your personas from time to time using further research and surveys.
Number Five – Map your buyer’s journey
Once you are done with creating and updating your persona(s), map the journey each of them will take towards becoming a customer.
In brief, a ‘buyer journey’ as the name suggests is the course a person or company takes while purchasing a product or service. It can be a 30-minute shopping spree in Amazon or a car purchased after 2 months of research.
Make notes of every interaction point your persona(s) will have with your company. This is your buyer’s journey. Every persona has their own unique journey.
Start right at the end. What will they do right before making a purchase? And then ask “what are the steps before that? And before that?” And so on till you come all the way to the beginning.
Use the answers to develop your product and service to better meet their needs. This will also drive you to identify the right content you’ll need to create to meet them at each point of their journey.
The buyer journey is an invaluable tool for inbound marketing to identify gaps in an existing strategy.
The bottom line – As time goes the sales trend is getting more and more inclined on customer-centric approach. Remember your customers are armed with an arsenal of information. 2016 clearly shows customers want to be educated, not sold.
They will come to you and when they do, it’s your job to start building a relationship with them. Try to understand their needs, make sure they feel special.
To create a water tight sales strategy for a sustainable business we need to put customers right at the heart of our business and have a deep understanding of them and their needs.
Need help with growing your sales? Contact us for a free consultation.