We previously discussed the importance of having a well thought out strategy and focusing on the right products or services to deliver that strategy. Now let’s discuss the importance of having an efficient Marketing & Sales program to generate revenue for your business.
Importance of Sales
Most successful business owners realize, no matter how efficient your operations are, if you don’t have sales, you won’t survive. This means time and effort must be spent creating awareness and interest in your products or services. And enough sales generated to support your operations and earn a profit. Spending time developing and growing your marketing and sales programs is time well spent.
Marketing vs. Sales
A simple way to think of marketing and sales efforts is like a funnel, as shown below.
You want the funnel to be large at the beginning. Because as potential customers go through the process, many will drop off for various reasons. Your objective is to have a large enough funnel that gathers sufficient sales. Moreover, to support your business and make it thrive. As you get more advanced, you will focus on narrowing the funnel. So more of your early prospects become paying customers (a higher closing rate)
It starts on the left hand side with external marketing, where a company generates broad awareness of their business and expertise. This lets people know your business is there, and includes things like:
- Website – to provide an online presence
- Blogs – to share your expertise / products with the world
- Social Media – to generate awareness with your target customers
- Community associations and events – to increase local exposure
- Trade shows – increase awareness to targeted customers
External marketing also includes strategic relationships with partners, affiliate companies, and others that might refer or send customers to you. These are critical relationships for every business to form, and help “fill the funnel” in terms of introducing potential new customers to your business.
As a company, your goal should be to maximize the size of the external marketing “funnel” so as to reach the largest possible audience of potential customers.
Sales processes start when a customer has contacted your business and has expressed some interest in what you are offering. Your goal is to help a customer through the process of selecting the right product or service, and leading them to purchase from you. In some companies, this will entail writing proposals and bids outlining why you are the best supplier. Other companies will have a more direct to customer process where the sales process is quick and ends with a single purchase (such as retail shopping). Regardless of how simple or complex your sales process is, it should include some form of the following elements:
- Qualifying – determining if a potential customer is actually a potential customer and worth spending additional time with (hint: some customers are bad for you, and you should know who they are)
- Assessment – through asking questions about the customer, find out what they really need
- Proposal – present the best solution to the customer, based on their needs and your best fit product or service
- Sale – close the transaction with a signed agreement, or financial transaction
- Follow-up – in most industries, you want to follow up after the sale to ensure the customer is happy and possibly offer additional products or services
It is important to remember that existing customers are much cheaper to sell to than new ones. Leverage your existing customer base by communicating with them about your products/services and remind them of how much they like being your customer . A simple monthly newsletter or promotion highlighting a new product, a sale, or valuable expertise will greatly enhance the likelihood of that customer coming back to you when they need something else.
Customer newsletter, promotions and loyalty sales – expand the likelihood of a customer coming back to you when they are considering another purchase.
Feedback survey – ask your customers how you did, where you can improve, and if they will refer you to their friends. It’s amazing what can happen when you simply ask them to spread the word.
Employee training – ensure your employees know all your products and can speak about them when a customer calls.
From this high-level overview, how confident are you that your business has an effective Marketing & Sales program? If you’d like to discuss further, give our Business Improvement team a call and we would be happy to discuss solutions. We are experts at this, can determine the best solution for your unique situation. Based on the results drawn from marketing and sales activity operations and processes ensure sold products and services get delivered on time and on budget.