Sales is the heartbeat of any business. Most business experts will say that cash flow is the lifeblood of business, and this is true, but without sales (the heart) there can be no cash flow.
In order to maximise your sales potential, you need to identify who your ideal target audience is, establish your value and why customers will care about you, create customer-centric messaging, and then track your results.
Here’s how you can get started.
1. Identify your best opportunity to win
It’s called your BOTW, your best opportunity to win, and it’s the art of determining who you should be focusing the majority of your time on.
There are two ways to sell to clients. You can try and sell to anyone and everyone, hoping that you get lucky, or you can strategically determine who is most likely to buy from you.
Developing your ideal customer profile requires you to step into your customer’s shoes: Who are they, what do they care about, what are their pain points and how does your solution solve them? If you don’t have a clear answer for each of these points – particularly the last one – you can’t be sure that you are focused on the right target audience.
Key questions to consider:
- Have you made the customer the hero in this story? If you haven’t, you might be looking at the problem and solution from your angle, instead of theirs
- Do they need what you’re selling? And we mean really, really need it?
- Are they willing to pay for it? And at the price you’re asking?
- Do they have other priorities that take precedence over your solution?
- Are they geographically within your reach? A great target audience isn’t a good opportunity to win if you can’t access your customers or service them easily and cost-effectively.
Ideal customer profiles take into account the entire market, and then narrow down on who your absolutely best customer would be.
In many cases, customers that would buy from you aren’t ideal customers – perhaps they take too long to pay, or are difficult to work with, or will always ask for discounts. These are all factors to take into consideration when you are determining your best opportunity to win.
2. Establish your value
Value is in the eye of the beholder. In order to prove value, you need to really understand who your customer is and what they care about. But you also need to understand who you are.
What is your reason for being?
This is a key step before you can market your business or really succeed in sales. You need to understand what you are delivering to customers.
For example, a beauty chain wants to be the biggest beauty chain in the US. As far as reasons for being go, most customers won’t care either way if it’s the biggest chain or not.
However, a beauty chain whose reason for being is making sure every single person walks out of their salons feeling relaxed and cared for has a completely different reason for being – one that isn’t linked to money or size or even status, but the customer and how they feel. This is a reason for being that transcends the product or service and focuses on the customer instead.
Take the ‘who cares’ test
Using our beauty salon example, when the salon said its mission was to be the biggest chain in the country, the marketing team challenged this value, asking the key question: who cares? And the answer was, ‘no one outside of the business’.
Ask this question and be critical – if your customers won’t care, you haven’t articulated a reason for being that takes them and their needs into consideration – which means you will struggle to demonstrate value.
3. Develop customer-centric messaging
Once you have identified your BOTW, your reason for being and have tested that reason with the ‘who cares’ test, you need to create a message that resonates with your target audience. This is where customer-centric messaging becomes so important. We’ve mentioned that the customer should be the hero in the story.
To achieve this:
- Look at the problem from their point pf view, as well as the value of the right solution. Don’t look at the solution and how you provide it from your point of view – that’s placing you at the centre of the story
- Always consider every interaction from the customer’s perspective. What do they care about? Are you addressing all of those points?
- Don’t talk features and benefits. As an entrepreneur, you are justifiably proud of your solution, but that’s your story. Your customer doesn’t care what your solution does. They care how it will impact their lives.
The drill, hole and painting scenario
There is a famous marketing analogy that says customers don’t buy drills – they buy the hole that the drill makes. To take this a step further, and truly into territory where your customer is the hero of the story, we would argue that what the customer is really buying is a painting on the wall, or shelves, or a hanging plant.
That’s where your story should be focused, and that’s what your messaging should touch on.
4. Track activities and outcomes
Whether you are marketing your message or actively calling on clients to make the sale, you need to track your activities and the outcomes of your different activities and messaging.
Split testing, or A/B testing, tests two different messages in the market and tracks the results to determine what resonates with a target audience.
This could be social media posts, advertising, cold calling scripts or even the story you tell in a sales call. Track how people engage with you and what matters to them most and take not of it. This will help you find the messaging that really taps into your customers and speaks to their stories.
Metrics and outcomes
Keep track of each step in your sales cycles, including all sales activities. This will help you achieve three key results:
- It will help you build a formalised sales process that each new sales person in your organisation will follow. You can build it based on best practice that you have developed within your business and based on successful sales.
- With a formalised sales process, you can measure how well the process is adhered to, and track each sales person’s results based on their adherence to your system and metrics
- You can use this data to coach your sales team and to determine where what key activities lead to success. For example, if you know that on average one sales results from every six client meetings held, and you know that each sales person needs to make one sale a week in order for you to achieve your company targets, you can work backwards. How many calls that connect with clients need to be made in order to secure a sales meeting? How many people and businesses need to be dialled in order to connect with a person? These are key metrics that will help your organisation win more deals.
Mistakes to avoid
Marketing and sales sound simple, but there are many simple yet avoidable mistakes that businesses make.
Don’t push products and features. While this is traditional sales and marketing practice, customers today are faced with more choices than ever before – not just in terms of your competitors, but in terms of what they will spend their money on. Focusing on yourself doesn’t tap into your customer’s core needs and values.
Don’t speak too much during a sales meeting. Speak for a maximum of 20 minutes in a 60-minute meeting. Your goal should be to find out as much as possible about your customer – their needs, challenges and concerns. The more you know and the greater your understanding of their world, the better you can co-create a solution.
Don’t forget to ask, ‘who cares’. Ask this frequently and be brutal with yourself. You might have the most incredible solution on the market, but if your messaging isn’t speaking directly to customer needs, or if you aren’t properly proving your value, you’ll lose great opportunities.