Strategic selling is a method of making sales in the most effective way possible. No more trying to sell everything to everyone – the targets are carefully chosen and evaluated.
Think of it in terms of archery. The idea in an archery competition is to hit the bullseye, and if you don’t score a direct hit, the nearest person to the bullseye wins.
In an organized contest, each competitor will take turns in shooting an arrow towards the target. There are a set number of arrows that can be fired, and after that, the match is over.
Of course, if you had an unlimited number of arrows, you could keep on going until you hit the bullseye. Arrow after arrow would fly through the air, some landing in the ground, some going past the target, some clipping the target, some hitting it and bouncing off.
Some would eventually hit the target and stick, and finally, you might just hit the bullseye dead center.
Unfortunately, it’s taken you fifteen months and half a million shots. The person you were competing against left over a year ago and has subsequently won 22 tournaments as they spent time researching the weaknesses of their opponents, and went into each match well-prepared.
They’re considered to be one of the top archers in the country, but they rarely hit the bullseye. You’re a laughing stock because of how much time and effort you wasted on a pointless exercise.
Selling to everyone
It’s a common fallacy that everyone in the world is a potential customer. If your market is everyone then you are like the archer firing thousands of arrows in the hope of hitting a bullseye – the one customer that wants to buy.
It is a much more effective strategy to target the potential customers who are most likely to purchase your products and services – but how do you find them?
Gaining and Scoring Leads
To begin with, you will need to build awareness of your brand and what you do. This can be done through a number of methods including online advertising, word-of-mouth, and so on. The important step is when an individual first makes contact with you.
This immediately puts them in your market as they have expressed an interest, but what happens next is equally as important. The details of their query and how they found out about you are recorded in your customer management system. Every step they take through your sales process is also subsequently recorded allowing you to build a complete picture of them as a customer.
You’ll see how they like to make contact, and how they like to be contacted. You can establish the type of products they are interested in, and the products they don’t want to touch (and the reason why).
Every time they come into contact with a member of your sales team, whether in-person, by email, or by phone, that salesperson will have access to all this information and be able to deal with them accordingly.
You might find that a prospect contacts you looking for a particular product that they want, but after building a relationship with them, you discover it isn’t the product they actually need. By using this knowledge you can steer them to the right product and show them how it does everything that is required.
Because you will have experience of a large number of customers within your market, you will be able to identify the signs that mark out individuals as ready to buy. They can be scored based on their response to different kinds of contact, and you can easily work out which is the most likely to make a purchase.
Knowing who to follow up with and exactly what they need will bring you a lot closer to making the sale – and that is a large part of strategic selling. You target only those customers who you believe are ready to make a purchase, and you only try to sell them the products you have established that they need.
If you don’t keep track of this information, you won’t be able to make decisions like this.
Other Factors in Strategic Selling
When you are dealing with other businesses, you may find that it’s like being part of a military campaign. Instead of storming in and getting what they need, the other company will first send out scouts to check out the lay of the land.
These scouts will make all of the right noises, and ask all the right questions. They’ll find out what they need to know and report back to their superiors. The problem is, you’ll never make a sale to them as they are not authorized to make any purchases!
Using your system for tracking customer data, you can build a profile of a business as well as an individual. If someone can’t make decisions related to purchases, you can find out who is authorized, and target them instead of the scout.
The business needs your products, but if you only ever deal with the scout, you’ll end up being like an archer who turns his back on the target and hopes for the best. You stand very little chance of making a sale, and if you do, you might not understand how it happened!
Put Strategic Selling into Action
It can be an appealing notion to consider everybody as a potential customer, but it just doesn’t work in practice. Learning everything you can about the ones you come into contact with and being able to share this information with your team is a much more effective method of driving sales than hoping for the best with a random sales strategy.
You won’t hit the bullseye every time, but your hit rate will be a lot higher than it has ever been before. You’ll save time, effort, and energy by aiming in the right direction to begin with, and your sales figures will improve greatly when you pick and choose the customers who you know are ready to make a purchase.