Sell what customers value mostThrough channels that make you the safe choice
One of the key ingredients of the “Low Risk Recipe” is your distribution channel and sales strategy. The more familiar your channel is to the buyer, the lower their perceived risk.
Sales strategy is not about selling products
While most leaders recognize the importance of aligning their sales strategy with the customer, few have discovered the methodology for getting it done. It begins with understanding the key steps in your customer’s decision-making process and aligning your proposed plan of action to their perspective. From there you do the following:
1. analyze their actual business problem
2. understand how they’ve attempted to solve it in the past
3. clarify why their previous attempts have failed or only partly succeeded
4. present a point-of-view that describes how your solution will finally bring success
Selling is really value alignment. There are five potential buyers of your product: innovators, early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and laggards. You can effectively manage your selling activities by aligning your sales strategy with the unique needs of each audience.
Formulas that fail
Every person has specific strengths and weaknesses when it comes to selling. Entrepreneurs are often great at selling a dream. Senior business people have a natural, consulting style of selling. Others are very methodical and excel at transactional selling.
A common fallacy is one person can provide any type of selling skill that is needed in your company, which is a recipe for failure. The sales people who help launch your company with consulting-style direct selling, will probably not be able to transition to mainstream transactional selling when it is time to scale.
Sales strategy is really category alignment
Customers have become more global, digital, and sophisticated. And the customer has more knowledge and power now than ever. Therefore, you must constantly reconfigure your sales channels to maintain alignment with the unique preferences of each buyer type. To maximize value for your customers, your selling style and capabilities will need to evolve. Remember each type of customer in the adoption lifecycle values something different, and has unique buying preferences. Here are the key implications of four popular methods of selling:
- requires a resource plan for growing the sales organization
- gives you the flexibility to change the selling process to address the uneven adoption rates of business techniques in the your specific industry
- requires in-depth understanding of market segments and strategies for reaching those segments
- the company must maintain focus on other priorities during the set-up phase of the direct sales force
Manufacturers Reps or Agents
- must have top-flight sales VP or leader that guides account or market development and can introduce reps to key buyers
- involves a component of policing
- the company must not allow erosion of corporate image/position
- requires a unified delivery of marketing messages within the framework of the position occupied by the rep organization.
- agent or rep usually requires your company to provide complete product/service documentation and marketing materials.
- commitment to selling may not begin immediately
Alliances/Selling Through Partners
- the company must be easy to do business with
- partners and allies must have links to all of your business systems for pricing, availability, policy and procedural information
- proactive management of conflict with other channels (e.g. master distributors or dealers) is required
- requires negotiation of a balanced contract or agreement including safeguards that protect both parties
- requires a commitment to training and standards
- internal group must be easily accessible and easy to do business with
- excellent strategic and tactical communications skills are required