We've all been there - that date that we were really hoping would turn into something more, but it just didn't quite work out. Maybe you just didn’t click, or maybe both of you were looking for something different. You think to yourself, "What am I doing wrong?"
Well, we can say the same about sales. Sometimes you think you have qualified leads, but they just don’t go anywhere.
Having a great product is only half the battle — you will struggle to meet your sales targets if your sales team does not have the right strategy.
So, what is a sales strategy?
A sales strategy, like any strategy, means having a game plan so that you can win. You can't just wing it if you want to improve your conversion rate.
The key ingredients of a successful sales strategy are a thorough understanding of your customer’s needs and struggles and an in-depth understanding of your product, complete with its value proposition. Your sales strategy will consider your target market, your product, and the resources available to you.
Fortunately, for you, there are a lot of sales strategies out there, which means that it is easy for sales managers to zero in on the right one (or a combination of strategies) that will be most effective for you. In fact, there are so many that there are several categories of sales strategies. In this blog, we’re going to look at nine types of sale strategies across three categories.
The first two categories (and the four sales strategies within these) look at the logistics of the sales process in developing the sales strategy. These are:
- Channel sales
- Direct sales
- Inbound sales
- Outbound sales
The third category – which includes six strategies – delves into the types of arguments that salespersons can make in favor of their products as part of developing the sales strategy. These are:
- Value-based selling
- Consultative selling
- SPIN selling
- Solution selling
- Challenger selling
- Social selling
You would ideally pick one strategy from each category and build an effective sales strategy that suits your unique situation.
For example, you might decide to go for inbound value-based selling using either direct sales or channel partners.
Let’s dive right in:
9 sales strategies you should consider
Planning your sales network: Direct sales and channel sales strategies
This category of sales strategies focuses on the logistics of the sales process, such as available budgets and sales network reach.
Strategy # 1: Direct sales
In the direct selling strategy, as the name implies, you're selling your product or service directly to the consumer without any middlemen. If you visit the Quickbooks website and subscribe to their accounting software, Quickbooks has made a direct sale to you.
Why sell directly?
The main advantage of direct selling is that it's usually the most cost-effective way to reach your target market. After all, with no middlemen to take a cut off the profits, you can keep your prices low and still make a healthy profit. You also have more control over the sale and the customer relationship. However, company size is a factor in whether direct sales will work for you because smaller companies might not have the sales network to meet revenue growth goals.
Strategy # 2: Channel sales
Channel selling involves working with a middleman or indirect partner to reach potential customers.
Channel selling can be done through retailers, wholesalers, distributors, or other types of partners. The goal of channel selling is to reach a larger number of buying process decision-makers with less effort.
Why partner up?
Partnering with another company can help you reach a wider audience without breaking the bank to set up your own sales network. It works especially if you are a startup. You can tap into your partner’s resources, relationships, and expertise. However, it's important to remember that you'll be giving up a percentage of your earnings. You’ll also be giving up some amount of control. Additionally, your partner’s actions will reflect strongly on you. Choose a reputable and trustworthy partner who will be proactive about new initiatives. For more on channel selling, read our ultimate guide!
Choosing an approach: Inbound and outbound sales strategies
This category of sales strategies, like its counterpart above, also focuses on the logistics of selling, but in this case, you need to decide whether you’ll be drawing prospects in or chasing them.
Strategy # 3: Inbound sales
In inbound selling, prospective customers come to you. These inbound leads are already interested in your product or service and are looking for more information.
A good example of this is when an existing customer uses your referral program and sends a friend your way. Once they're on your site, you have the opportunity to convert them from a prospect into a paying customer.
Inbound selling is all about attracting your customers to you with engaging content or tactical moves (like a referral program or a limited-period offer or by offering useful content and positioning yourself as a reliable solutions provider). By working with marketing teams to put more useful content for your target market out there, you can attract potential customers who are already interested in what you offer and are, therefore, more likely to convert.
Strategy # 4: Outbound sales
Outbound selling is the opposite of inbound selling – instead of waiting for new customers to come to you, you go out and find them. This type of selling is often used when trying to reach new markets or when selling products that require more explanation. Everyone indulges in outbound selling at some point, you know, cold-calling, emailing… shamelessly catching hold of prospects at the bar during a networking event. Your outreach efforts could even include social media marketing or LinkedIn InMails.
It's important to use outbound selling techniques sparingly, as too much can come across as pushy and turn customers off.
You need to have a well-oiled machine if you want to make outbound sales work for you. One of the strategies in the next category might help.
Taking the shot: Sales strategies around various sales arguments
Once you've figured out the logistical and approach components of your sales strategy, it's time to get down to figuring out your sales pitch. This category of sales strategies focuses on how you position your product when you finally get that pitch meeting.
The majority of our decision-making is subconscious and driven by emotions. You might have the hottest new product on the block, but that won’t matter if you cannot convince people that the hottest new product on the block is the solution to their problems. Or the shortcut to achieving their goals. These strategies tell you how to word your sales pitch.
Strategy # 5: Value-based selling
Your pitch will centre on how the product supports your customer’s operations. Your pitch is worded to convey that you're trying to make their life better in some way.
Value-based selling is all about building trust and showing that you understand the customer's needs. Once you've established that rapport, closing the deal will be much easier.
For example, imagine you're selling work management software (WMS) to a medium-sized construction business. You start by discussing the issues they face and show how the WMS system can help them increase workplace safety management, track tenders, automate workflows, and keep track of equipment.
Strategy # 6: Consultative selling
As the name implies, consultative selling requires your salespersons to position themselves as experts who can help the customer solve their problems. You're not just trying to sell them something – you're going to help them achieve their goals.
Consultative selling is similar to value-based selling in focusing on the customer and their pain points. However, with consultative selling, the focus is on providing a service rather than a product.
Let's say you're selling a project management tool to a small business. The owner struggles to keep track of customer data, manage follow-ups, and close more deals. You offer to show them how to use the tool, integrate it with their systems, and help them get started.
Both value-based selling and consultative selling might also be referred to as SPIN selling where you ask questions about your prospect’s current Situation, understand their Problems and the Implications of their problems, and then display the Need-payoff, that is how your product or service will benefit them.
Strategy # 7: Solution selling
You start by showing the customer how your product or service can help them before talking to them about the details of their problem.
Solution selling is all about the show, don’t tell – you need to be able to show the customer how your product or service will benefit them.
To do this, you need to understand your customer and what they're struggling with. Your potential customers might not be able to vocalize a specific need or problem, or a product that can solve it – you need to figure all that out. No one asked for an iPhone before it was invented.
For example, imagine you're selling a CRM system to a small business. You know the owner has trouble keeping track of customer data, managing follow-ups, and closing deals. You position your CRM system as an integrated solution that will automate tracking, save time, and make it easy to manage their sales process.
Strategy # 8: Challenger sale
The challenger sale is a type of solution selling developed by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, who are also the authors of The Challenger Sale.
The focus is less on solving problems and more on getting prospects to rethink their business processes. With the challenger sale, you start by challenging the prospective customer's current way of thinking. You need to show them that there's a better way to do things – and that your product or service can help them innovate.
There are 5 steps involved in the challenger sale:
1) The warm up: Get to know the potential customer and establish rapport
2) Reframe the conversation: Find the root of the problem and reframe it into a growth opportunity
3) Use emotions: Nothing sticks harder than making prospective customers feel like they’re personally invested in the product
4) The value proposition: Show potential customers there's a better way
5) The product: The only thing left is to showcase your product
Wingman is here – for all your sales woes
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So how does Wingman help you meet – and exceed – all your sales KPIs?
Wingman is an AI-powered sales platform that records and analyzes your customer conversations to provide real-time guidance to help your close more deals. It's almost like putting a sales coach in their pockets.
Here’s how Wingman empowers your sales team with a robust sales intelligence stack:
On-call live assistance: Wingman helps your reps battle sales objections with live, contextual cues right when they’re on the sales call. This makes challenging tasks like cold calling much easier for your salesforce.
AI-powered call library: Wingman also lets you develop a call library where you can access recorded calls to go over the finer details with reps, especially those who need personalized coaching.
Games tapes for quick onboarding: New hires can take off to a running start simply by listening to game tapes, which are recordings of exemplary sales calls that are mimic-worthy.
Smart deal central: You also get at-risk deal alerts so you can rush to a sales rep’s rescue when they are struggling and need your help. Scoreboards tell you who your best performers are. Sales metrics tell you where each rep stands and help you set goals that are more realistic.
Seamless app/platform integration: Wingman easily integrates with your CRM, dialer, emailer, and video conferencing tools - means that your reps spend less time on data entry and more time selling.
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