Entrepreneurship26 May 20214 min

#StartitSavvy: how to craft a proactive sales strategy

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Today’s shifting business landscape being reshaped by digitisation demands a rethink of classic approaches to sales. That doesn’t mean merely incorporating technology or picking up some new techniques. It is about preparing, anticipating, and listening to customer needs in a more proactive way. You can start with these basics we picked up from inbound sales and marketing experts, our partner HubSpot for Startups:

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Be a (wo-)man with a plan

Like everything in business, ensuring sales success means starting with a plan. A sales plan lays out your goals and targets, as well as breaking down the strategies and tactics you’ll use to get you there. It’s basically like a business plan, but then dedicated to your sales strategy.

An effective sales plan should do the following:

· Communicate your company’s goals and objectives

· Provide strategic direction for your sales team

· Outline roles and responsibilities for your sales team and leadership

· Monitor your sales team’s progress in line with overall business goals

Of course this document shouldn’t be a type of wish list that gathers dust on a shelf. It must be well-researched and reflect trends gathered from past sales data, sales targets in line with revenue goals, and a clear idea of what metrics should be used to evaluate success. It’s important to look not only at what you want to achieve, but also at the obstacles and weaknesses that may stand in the way. This requires proactively generating ideas about how to fill gaps and seize on opportunities.

Ready to get down to the nitty gritty of writing a sales plan? Hubspot will help you get it all on paper with this free sales plan template.

Take charge of the conversation

Sales methods and techniques differ with every business and industry. But there are some universal basics that every company should have down to an art. First of all, it’s important to do your homework. Prepare to meet with a prospect by knowing their strengths, weaknesses, and place in their industry. Know who their competitors are doing, and how your competitors are doing with them. Know how their business works so you can identify where your product or service can fill any gaps. Get what issues they are facing and be able to explain how your business is going to handle them.

One crucial aspect of preparation is knowing what common sales objections are and being ready to respond to them. Process the feedback from each sales interaction and look for patterns. Don’t wait for the customer to come up with issues either: get ahead of them by integrating these into your presentation or storytelling approach. Don’t dominate, but be an active force in the conversation. Give prospects a sense of confidence by explaining how you are going to help them take on their business challenges instead of just listing benefits and answering questions.

Know their needs better than they do

The world of sales has changed, and customers are doing a good part of the prep work for making a purchasing decision before even speaking to a sales professional: they’ve often researched different solutions, set criteria, ranked options, and benchmarked prices. Sales reps still have an important role to play, but they’ve got to step up their game to make a difference. That means engaging customers to uncover their needs.

Don’t just rely on what the customer says about their needs and pain points. Your product or service may be able to address needs they aren’t discussing. Taking the time in advance to consider underappreciated issues and touching on these organically builds the case for why your solution provides more value than the customer could have even thought of.

Determining the customer’s openness to change puts you in the position to meet emerging, instead of established needs. Explore these by asking them specific, probing questions about the way they work and the challenges they face. Most importantly, don’t forget to carefully listen to their responses. Remember, the most successful sales people don’t just leverage answers to the questions they asked, but also the answers to the questions they didn’t.

Want more solid advice on sales? You’ll find tons of resources and specific tips onHubSpot’s sales blog!