A proper sales and marketing strategy involves more than just running some ads and cold-calling a list of prospects. Developing the right strategy is a process that requires research to discover who your prime sales prospects are, what motivates their purchasing, and how your firm fits in the marketplace. The data your research provides is what will drive your sales and marketing strategy. With the right plan, growth and profitability are predictable and controllable.
Effective sales and marketing requires talent, expertise, effort, and consistency. If that doesn't exist inside your organization, then it's important that you find an outside resource that can help you develop and implement your strategy.
Whether your sales and marketing strategy is developed internally or externally, these 5 tips will help ensure that it is both effective and efficient:
5 Tips for Developing Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
- See your marketplace and prospects as they really are—not how you'd like them to be.
The best strategies take into account the marketplace as it really is, not the way we think it is or wish it were. The same holds true for potential clients—we may think we know what they want, but reality may be quite different. In the absence of objective information, it is too easy to fall into a pattern of wishful thinking.
Your strategy should start by taking an objective look at your target client and the marketplace in which you operate. Don't make the mistake of focusing at first on the services you offer or what you think your target audience might want. Do the research necessary to understand what your ideal client really wants or needs and tailor your offerings accordingly. Hinge's own research has revealed firms that do regular research on their target client groups grow faster and are more profitable than those that don't.
Done correctly, this research will give you a clear idea of client needs and priorities, their buying process, the competitive landscape, how your firm's brand is perceived, and the real benefits clients receive from working with you. This knowledge can dramatically reduce your risk and lead to a much better strategy.
- Take a hard look at your own firm: what are your goals and what do you offer of value?
Once you know how your firm measures up in the marketplace, it's time to take a look at your organization’s internal situation. For example:
- What does your firm want to accomplish?
- What valuable product or service do you have that your target client wants?
- Do you want to add new or different products or services or expand into new markets?
- Are you interested in growth? If so, what kind, and how much?
Answers to questions like these provide the business context for your sales and marketing strategy. They reveal what your strategy will need to accomplish and how it should be evaluated as you implement it. Internal and external research will help ground your plan in reality and make success more likely.
- Assess your current resources.
The best sales and marketing strategy in the world is useless if you don't have the resources to successfully execute it. What sort of talent is already on board? What level of training do they have? Do your sellers have the skills and knowledge they need? Does the marketing staff understand the services you offer?
How about tools? Do you have the marketing infrastructure you need to pull off an inbound strategy? How about sales tools such as marketing collateral or case study videos?
We've found that answering questions like these will give you real insight into what is both possible and practical. Without this information, strategies are often under-resourced or simply not feasible because they are not based in reality.
- Settle on a strategy that aligns with your abilities.
After researching your target client and marketplace, determining what you want your strategy to accomplish, and assessing your resources, it's time to settle on how you're going to implement your strategy:
- Are you a sole proprietor? If you are, then you'll most likely employ the "seller-doer" model in which you are the brand—selling your hands-on expertise and its value, while building a personal rapport and trust with the client.
- Does your firm have a dedicated sales staff selling services performed by others who are the experts? If so, the "seller-expert" model aligns better with your business to make your doers visible experts and thought leaders in the marketplace.
- How will you position your firm in the marketplace?
- What are your key messages?
- Will you use inbound or outbound marketing or both?
- Develop an implementation plan to ensure strategy execution and follow-up.
A good sales and marketing strategy is not a one-time thing. It requires ongoing commitment, effort, and follow-up to analyze its effectiveness. An implementation plan outlines everything needed to make your strategy a reality. Some key considerations include:
- Strategy implementation schedule, budget, and responsibilities
- Talent—either internal or outsourced
- Sales and marketing tools, such as sales collateral, videos, and webinars
- Infrastructure, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation system
- Training, if needed
- Marketing calendar for scheduling and coordinating advertising and marketing activities
- Metrics that will enable you to evaluate and adjust your strategy
An effective sales and marketing strategy is a major element of your overall business strategy. It requires a major commitment, which is why, in larger firms, it's important that senior management fully buy into the strategy. No strategy will be successful without full management support. But with a proper investment of time, money, and effort, your carefully developed and implemented sales and marketing strategy will yield big results.
About the Author: Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.