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sales strategy

All Marketing Tactics Begin with Sales Strategy

Entrepreneurs must learn to tackle many tactics when marketing their businesses, including website design, social media and other offline and online marketing methods. But the foundation for building all those elements and tactics is strategy.  Your marketing and sales strategy is the plan to drive your business growth. It’s the cement that holds those elements and tactics together.

Strategic Building Blocks

Strategy is not only planning on what you are going to do, it’s also knowing what you are NOT going to do. In the hundreds of clients I and my colleagues have served, none of them have ever had the resources (time, staff, money, focus, etc.) to do everything. If the Fortune 500 must pick and choose what and how they go to market, entrepreneurs need to be even more thoughtful about it.

Here are seven things you should consider when creating your sales strategy:

  1. Who is your audience and what motivates them?
  2. What is your positioning, unique selling proposition and point of difference?
  3. What is your business best at doing? What are its best products or services that provide the best margins with opportunities for growth and success?
  4. What is your current state? And where do you want to be in one, three and five years?
  5. What are your company values? Know who you are and who you are not. Being able to say “no” when something doesn’t fit your strategic plan is a key component of staying focused.
  6. How are you going to hold yourself and others accountable for the plan outcomes?
  7. How will you measure your success from beginning to end?

For any sales strategy to be effective, it should be specific, measurable and have a deadline.

Creating your Custom Marketing Plan

Once you understand your business’s unique building blocks, it’s time to create your strategic plan. There is no such thing as an off-the-shelf or one-size-fits-all plan. It needs to be customized to each specific business and its goals, target audience, company values and available resources.

If you are like most small to medium companies that don’t have a person dedicated to strategy, you may be thinking, “This is great, but how and where do I start?”

A classic place to start is in market data collection and review. Use this data to help you create your SWOT Analysis, a.k.a. the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then use the results of your SWOT analysis to help develop the goals for your business. Note: You should not be doing this alone or in a vacuum. You should be engaging others for diverse and outside perspectives (e.g., buyers, customers, people who decided not to buy from you, other departments within your business, etc.).

Selling Gourmet Coffee: A Case Study

Take my company’s gourmet coffee client as an example. When we finished our market research, we had a good understanding of the current coffee market and where it was headed. We had a handle on our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. In this case, the market basically breaks down into two main groups: coffee made at home or coffee made in a shop.

We chose to target the home coffee brewer, which then further segments into several subcategories.

Additionally, why we chose this market is just as important as how we chose the market. That decision came down to the fact that selling directly to the consumer to brew at home has better margins, it is easier to reach and has a much less complicated sale. The brew-it-for-me market requires working with restaurants and coffee shops and supplying them with coffee equipment and maintenance, all for a lower margin. Knowing what we didn’t want to do became just as important as where we actually wanted to focus.

Key Takeaways of Sales Strategy

No marketing tactic is effective without a sound strategy. Here are some final takeaways to consider when creating a plan:

  1. Having a strategy helps you make decisions along your business path.
  2. No sales strategy can be successful with wrong or poorly executed tactics. Execution is often the biggest hurdle to success. So, keep it simple, remain focused and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  3. Executing tactics without a strategy is like playing darts blindfolded. You might hit the board, but it’s easier to win when you can see where you are aiming.

[Editor’s Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following webinars: SEO/Social Media & Other PR 101 and Turning an Idea Product Into a Business.]

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About Scott Steer

Scott Steer is a Marketing Strategy, Branding, Advertising, Promotion & Business Development Consultant with 25+ years working on iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Kraft, Anheuser-Busch, Gillette, and Texaco, as well as dozens of smaller niche brands. Scott helps small and medium sized companies use data and the resources available to them to optimize their sales and…

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