2020 is likely to be marked in history as one of the most challenging years to have been in business, with the UK plummeting into the worst recession since records began.
With lockdown measures forcing the majority of industry sectors to suffer a significant downturn during the last quarter, this comes as no real surprise. The true test, however, will come during Q3, Q4 and 2021 as business leaders surpass ‘survival mode’ and work on rebuilding lost revenue.
This, of course, isn’t possible without implementing a comprehensive and effective sales strategy, where the following will be key to success:
With Marketing comes Sales
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders divided into two camps. Those who completely paused and retracted out of fear and those who utilised the opportunity to evaluate and improve existing operations, dominate their industry sector and drive growth.
Those in the latter ‘camp’ are the ones who continued to market their business, maximising the opportunity of reduced competition online to engage with potential customers and convert new leads into much needed revenue.
With marketing, comes sales. Your customers are out there and looking for your product and/or service online. If you don’t market your business, they will find a competitor who does – it’s that simple.
Know your Value
All too often business owners undermine the value of their product or service by charging too little, which means they squeeze their margin and fail to drive any tangible level of growth.
There is no value in promoting the fact you are cheaper than your competitors if you aren’t making any money. Not only does it undervalue the market, but potential customers will be skeptical, automatically believing your service to worse if drastically lower in cost.
Know your value and stick to it, whilst having a ‘minimum’ price point in mind to ensure you can be flexible to different budget requirements without undermining the value your product or service offers.
Ultimately, if you aren’t making profit, you don’t have a business.
Be consistent and persistent
Time and time again, business leaders will commence a new sales strategy and, although they have positive intentions, will quickly lose interest and momentum if they fail to convert anything within the first few weeks.
The truth is developing a strong pipeline of sales is difficult, but you will find it so much harder with a ‘stop and start’ approach.
When building and developing Climb Online one of my first hires was a salesperson. Many business leaders would deem this strategy as flawed due to the fact I had limited resource to undertake the work once secured, but fast forward nearly 6 years and my sales team now accounts for a nearly a quarter of my headcount and we, as a business, faced no difficulty in securing new revenue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a result.
When building a strong pipeline of sales, you need to cast your net wide and make it as full as possible. The leads you believe will convert often won’t, and those you are unsure of tend to surprise you.
If you don’t have a salesperson and currently can’t afford one, you as the business owner need to drive a sales strategy forwards until you are in a position to hire. Be diligent and remain accountable by booking time out in your calendar each day to dedicate to sales, and thereafter measuring your success on a weekly or monthly basis to evaluate what has and hasn’t worked and why.
If you find yourself submitting lots of quotes and proposals but aren’t converting potential leads into sales, you need to look at your follow up process.
80% of all sales are actually confirmed between the 5th and 12th follow up, so one chaser email isn’t likely to cut it. In addition, it’s important to look at how you are engaging with potential clients, as there is a fine line between persistence and pi**ing people off and an art to ensuring you don’t cross it.
Instead of always calling potential clients or sending short chaser emails, send them something of value that will not only benefit them and their business, but will ensure you stand out against industry competitors when it comes to decision making time.
There is no doubt that the next year will be incredibly challenging for business leaders, but those who dig their heels in and establish a new, focused and proactive sales strategy are those who will inevitably survive. Remember, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” – Winston Churchill.
Mark Wright, BBC Apprentice Winner and Managing Director of Digital Marketing Agency, Climb Onlinewww.climb-online.co.uk