Selling is hard. I wish I could tell you the opposite.
That is why I’m not surprised that salespeople, like so much motivational quotes, speeches, and self-help books.
When I first resigned as a financial analyst in my previous life; I figured that I’d build a digital business which in a couple of months would start making six figures until I realized how hard it was to push sales and distribution.
A few years into it and a few things are now clear to me.
Many people associate sales with tricking, manipulating, or lying.
There are out there many fake gurus claiming to make you the most talented salesperson in the world.
In reality, selling is hard work, which requires consistency, organization, and planning.
Once you have these qualities, the rest is about perspective.
Finding the right angle which makes your offering compelling.
Thus, in this article, I want to highlight a few critical elements that can enhance your sales strategy.
It took me years to internalize the fact that sales and distribution are key elements to make your business successful.
And tweaking your product so that it fits your customers’ need is actually one of those things that make a huge difference.
The first two things might sound basic, but you might be surprised of how many people miss these.
Let’s get into that!
Work on volume
There is no such thing as a full pipeline.
One of the things that most madden me (as a business person, as in life I’m usually quite calm) is when I hear at company’s meetings “our pipeline is doing well!.”
An experienced sales professional knows that things are pretty volatile. And the more you manage complex deals and contracts, with higher budgets and more people involved. The more the dates to close that same contract might vary from a few weeks to a few months.
Therefore, the smart salesperson is always working through the pipeline.
When the time arrives to focus on closing and pushing in critical contracts, that is the number one priority.
However, the top of the funnel should never stop. There should always be a continuous flow of leads ready to be processed.
Sales is also number game. You can work on becoming the most fascinating, charming person in the world.
But if your timing is wrong, the person on the other side doesn’t like you, your company’s value proposition is not aligned with the potential customer or partner, there is no charm that will work in that moment.
The timing will come for you to close the deal. And when it does you better be fast. But for the moment, you need to work on having your pipeline always full.
Once you have your pipeline full, make sure to follow-up.
Closing a large contract might take a few months, but if you make sure to have your contacts organized so that you won’t miss them in a few months, that is an excellent advantage.
That’s because, in the short-term, your offering might not align with the potential client due to timing, short-term budget constraints, internal misalignment, which require time to pass through.
In that period rather than see that as an obstacle, you can organize your agenda to make sure you update your contacts by time to time.
You don’t need sophisticated tools or particular automation, a simple agenda, and a change in perspective will do.
You need to see the time it takes to close the deal as a way to build a relationship with the future customer.
Tip: Make sure to follow-up periodically with potential customers. Don’t be boring. You can use simple tools like Streak to remind you and set follow-ups at specific dates. When you do follow-up you might want to update the person on the other side about current development which might interest to them (for instance product updates that make in the past, they showed interest for). But also to keep up to date with what they are working next.
Now that we’ve seen two essential things that will improve your sales but imply a lot of pushing and hard work.
Let’s see some other elements that do require hard work, but over time will pay off.
Let your name resonate
If the person on the other hand already knows and appreciates the company you work for, or she heard about your work (for instance if you published an interesting update) that makes it easy to kick off the conversation.
This is the most important element which we’ll see from several perspectives.
In general, I think there are two kinds of sales strategies you can implement.
You either position your product and service as the top of the line, thus limiting options, creating real scarcity (unlike fake gurus who say this is for a few people and they try to sell it to anyone) thus reducing the number of people you accept or by creating limited editions.
However, for how large those companies might get, a luxury giant like Prada made about three billion euros in revenues in 2017 (about $3.3 billion), H&M in 2018 made twenty-one billion, so almost ten times that.
If you want to build a brand which is closer to a luxury company, you want to look at limiting options.
But if you want to build a business that scales, you need to create options.
One way to enhance your sales is to have more products. Just like on Amazon, you can find any item you might desire, making sure to have a variety of products can help you bring in different types of customers.
Beware, it doesn’t mean a lack of focus. If you have a specific niche, you want to make sure you’re among the shops in the world where people can find the greatest variety of products around that niche.
That will work not only as a sales hack that will bring more customers.
But it will also work as a brand enhancer, as you might be seen as the top and most comprehensive shop on that vertical.
That also applies to digital businesses.
Pricing models and tiers
People have different priorities.
Some like to spend more but also want to be sure to get the best and all the features and characteristics that a product and service might offer.
Some others like having things which are less expensive even if that implies missing out on other aspects of your product.
Think of the case of software, where a customer is willing to buy it without any support.
And think in the opposite case where a customer wants to buy only if continuous support is provided.
Having pricing tiers that differentiate the product and service can make a big difference.
The most important thing is to make the pricing tier as clear as possible. And make sure that your product and service basic functionalities can be worked on also without any support.
In case they don’t this strategy might backlash, as those customers purchasing at a lower pricing tier, but without support, might be disappointed about the service.
In that scenario, limiting the pricing tiers make more sense.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi might be sugary waters (that is what presumably Steve Jobs called Pepsi when speaking to former Pepsi CEO, Sculley to convince him to join Apple) but they know how to distribute their products.
In the last decade, you might have noticed that in the markets around the world, you might have noticed how Coca-Cola and Pepsi cans got smaller and smaller.
That is not by chance; they make more money by doing that.
Not only they can reduce the serving, thus attracting more customers, especially those with dietary concerns. But they can charge more for the same volume of the drink.
You can apply this principle to any product or service, be it physical or digital.
Going back to software offered as a service, make sure to create several tiers that break down the essential components of your service.
Tip: Whether you have a physical or digital product, make sure to repackage it and test what tiers and package types work best. That works with anything, also content. Don’t assume that people like to read shorter or longer form of content. Test them out and give them options.
Selling is hard, and it is mostly a mixture of push and pull strategies.
For those that are trying to teach you how to become the master closer or the next Wolf of Wall Street, I’ll leave it up to Martin Scorsese.
Sales require a lot of repetition, consistency, and organization.
All things which might sound boring (they are) but are the bare minimum to succeed at sales.
The rest is about amplifying your brand and creating options.
Of course, there are many sales strategies you can implement.
In this article, we’ve seen my perspective on the topic.
Other business resources:
- What Is a Business Model? 30 Successful Types of Business Models You Need to Know
- The Complete Guide To Business Development
- Business Strategy: Definition, Examples, And Case Studies
- What Is a Business Model Canvas? Business Model Canvas Explained
- Blitzscaling Business Model Innovation Canvas In A Nutshell
- What Is a Value Proposition? Value Proposition Canvas Explained
- What Is a Lean Startup Canvas? Lean Startup Canvas Explained
- What Is Market Segmentation? the Ultimate Guide to Market Segmentation
- Marketing Strategy: Definition, Types, And Examples
- Marketing vs. Sales: How to Use Sales Processes to Grow Your Business
- How To Write A Mission Statement
- What is Growth Hacking?
- Growth Hacking Canvas: A Glance At The Tools To Generate Growth Ideas