An effective sales and marketing plan can really be a struggle,
especially when you feel it isn’t an area of strength for your company.
We are here to tell you that you can improve your selling results
by faithfully following the right process.
We would like to present 8 steps to designing a selling plan
that will produce more sales.
Step 1: Define your Ideal Customer
Who is most likely to buy your product?
The very first thing you must do is clearly understand who you are selling to. Don’t make this difficult. Just answer these questions:
Who needs or wants your product (be specific)? This may be a person or an organization.
What are the characteristics of this person or organization that are directly related to why they would buy from you? There are many factors to consider, but here are a few to critical elements you can use to better define your ideal customer:
You will likely have more than one kind of ideal customer. Go through this process for each and you'll be able to tailor your marketing message and selling plan to best meet each customer's needs.
Who is the decision maker for this purchase?
Sample of an ‘ideal customer’ statement:
My ideal customer is an already in-business organization with annual revenues between $10-$50M, located in OH, KY or IN. This organization is looking to grow (or sell), but knows that they have to solve a few process problems first. They need assistance in determining their best practices and then in documenting them. My ideal contact at that organization is the owner/president.
Step 2: Organize the Territory
Where and to whom are you most likely to sell your products/services?
What are your geographic boundaries? Don’t say the world. Just because you are online, it doesn’t mean that everyone, everywhere can/will/should buy from you.
Where within your geographic areas are these potential customers located?
Do you need help documenting your Selling Plan?
Do you have any other documentation needs?
Within the above parameters, where are the areas in which you are most likely to have success? Easiest to deliver to? Already have brand recognition there? What other advantageous factors apply in certain areas?
Step 3: Organize the Work
How can you most efficiently and effectively accomplish the selling tasks?
Chose a CRM system. Get the one that is right for the size and complexity of your business. Don’t pay for Salesforce if you really just need Insightly. Google ‘CRMs’ to learn more.
Build a database. You probably already have some customers and/or prospects. Start your database with them. The Reference Librarian at your local library is a wizard. You will be shocked at how helpful this free resource is in building a database of prospects. You can also check out:
- Your prospects professional organizations
- Buying leads/information from data services such as data.com
- Local Chambers of Commerce
Manage your time. Schedule a certain amount of time on your calendar each week for the sales/marketing function. Prioritize what you need to do and then consistently follow the schedule. No excuses!
Step 4: Perform a Competitive Analysis
Who and what are you selling against?
What products are you selling against?
Who are you selling against?
Review your own product from your customer’s viewpoint – how does it compare to its competition in every detail?
How does the pricing compare?
What are your competitive advantages?
What are your competitive disadvantages?
Step 5: Create Awareness
They can’t buy from you, if they don’t know about you.
Develop a simple marketing plan to get the word out. We mean simple. Don’t overcomplicate it, just think about what has brought you customers in the past and replicate that.
Hint: satisfied customers providing referrals is ALWAYS the most effective marketing plan.
Find the right tools for your marketing plan. Is it a very robust website or just a well-developed Facebook page? Do you need an email service that makes it easy to send group emails or do you need one that has marketing automation for drip campaigns? Don’t get stuck on this bullet point. Start with the simplest tools that will be effective, then move on to more complicated ones as your needs become clearer.
Execute the marketing plan consistently. Give it enough time to see what is working.
Collect data from marketing results and use it to guide selling actions.
Revise the plan. Consistent execution on your plan, adjusting for what you see is working, will bring you new customers --- guaranteed.
Step 6: Build Confidence
They won’t buy from you unless they believe you have the right product/service at the right price for them.
Give before you get. How can you sample your product? It works.
Collect testimonials. If people are happy with your product, collect the reviews and make sure your prospects see them.
Build referrals. It bears repeating - satisfied customers providing referrals is ALWAYS the most effective marketing plan. How can you unleash the power of referrals?
Build a personal brand. Be the best possible version of your business self, in everything you do, write and say. People notice and will trust you.
Step 7: Take advantage of the Motivating Event
They won’t buy from you unless they have a need for your product/service.
Understand the ebb and flow of your prospects’ requirements. At what time of year is your product/service most likely to be needed? Backing up from there, when and by whom is the buying decision made for that product or service?
For example, not much point in selling tax services to consumers in August. Buying time for that begins in January.
Time your marketing/selling efforts to reach their peak right when your prospect needs the product and is ready to make the buying decision. It’s a smart strategy and remarkably effective.
Step 8: Close the Deal
They won’t buy from you if you don’t follow up.
Ask for the sale. Make sure they know that you want and appreciate their business.
Don’t assume that just because you haven’t heard back from a prospect that they don’t want to buy. That might be true, but it might NOT be true. Prospects are busy. They have lots of things vying for their attention. Follow up in ways that make it very easy for them to buy.
Persistent pays. As Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat someone who never gives up.” Be very polite, but also be very persistent.
Keep contacting your prospect until you receive a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Sounds obvious, but most salespeople don’t follow this rule. There is absolutely no substitute for this very simple strategy.
It is so important to stay focused on executing through these steps.
Realizing that the first cold call won’t sell a new account helps the salesperson avoid dejection when it doesn’t.
Rather, the goal of the first cold call is to create awareness.
Dropping off samples builds confidence in the product.
Knowing when the product is needed & when the decision to purchase it will be made plugs the salesperson into the motivating event.
Following up by scheduling dates to offer further helpful information creates a sense of urgency which will lead to closing the deal.
The salesperson should feel a sense of accomplishment as each step is taken, not just when the deal is done.
That’s what will make your marketing/selling process very successful.