The Path to an Effective Sales Strategy

The sales process can be lengthy, complicated, and fraught with problems. But selling to another business can also be very profitable.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we take a diligent, but also creative approach to sales. Our strategies revolve around customer needs, with an ongoing effort to fully understand the challenges they face and the solutions we can provide. As part of our strategy, we try to incorporate the following principles, whenever possible: 

Know your value proposition. It’s imperative that your sales team fully grasp your company’s value proposition. Each member must know how to articulate that value proposition in clear, easy-to-understand language—and be ready to do so at a moment’s notice.  DSC6639

Get in front of decision-makers. The initial sales call might be to a particular department or representative, but a key element of effective sales strategy is identifying the decision-maker in the sale. Anyone else lacks the authority to close the deal. 

Sell outcomes. Bluntly speaking, businesses “aren’t interested in your product or service,” notes Hubspot. What interests the customer are “the results and outcomes you can help them achieve.” Sales training should emphasize this approach, while of course helping each team member be ready to describe features or benefits if customers wish to learn more.  

Understand the customer’s business. Gone are the days when a salesperson could breeze into a prospect’s office without preparation. Thanks to available online resources, it’s both possible and necessary to conduct thorough research well ahead of actually reaching out to potential customers. This saves time that would be wasted in unnecessary preliminary chat.  

Remember, if you think you’re busy, your customers are doubly so. You’re doing them a genuine favor by coming well-prepared to the sales meeting. 

Avoid a “high pressure” approach. The hard sell isn’t an effective strategy these days. This is particularly true in a B2B sales environment, where decisions sometimes take a while to happen. You and your sales team must devise a strategy for qualifying a sale, which focuses on understanding the prospect’s goals, “how your product solves their problems, and what’s stopping them from achieving what they want to achieve,” notes Forbes. 

Make sure salespeople talk less, listen more. This isn’t just a sales training principle, it’s a wise standard by which to measure all customer interactions. The salesperson’s verbal contribution to a customer meeting should be far less than 50%. Instead, he or she should ask questions (not those requiring only a “yes” or “no” reply) that get to the heart of the customer’s needs and goals. Be sure each salesperson refrains from engaging in a monologue that makes the other party feel shut out, or resentful. Your team is there to hear the customer out. 

Finally, your sales strategy should include options for declining to pursue a sale if the conditions aren’t right. If you know internally that you don’t have the resources or materials to deliver on time, don’t hesitate to say so. Instead, as part of your commitment to customer service, suggest a working alternative that benefits the prospect (if not your own business). This demonstrates your company’s willingness to put the prospect’s interests first and could position your business for a big sale down the road.

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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