Sales Strategies – 16 Most Powerful Techniques [For 2019]
Why Do Businesses Need Sales Strategies:
Everything that a business does, which has a direct or indirect incremental impact on sales, qualifies as sales strategies. The ultimate goal for any business is to make profit, which can be achieved only through sales. A business is considered as ‘running’ only when it generates profits through sales. Health of a business is measured through it’s sales figures. Sales is the prime concern for every business, whether its small, mid-size or large. No matter how great product is manufactured or how noble is the service delivered by a business, it would survive, sustain and grow only when it makes sales.
Sales strategies are step by step processes which can help a business to achieve its financial goals faster within predefined budgets.
Sales Strategies – Art or Science?
All sales strategies spin around human psychology of buying. The end customer for any business is always a human, no matter whether it’s a B2B, B2C or B2B2C model. Even if you sell or manufacture dog food, your end customer is a human and not a dog. The ultimate decision maker who decides to buy a product or service is necessarily a human mind. So here is the key: Once you understand the need, behavior and buying patterns of your end customer, it becomes fairly easy to make sales.
Sales is an art and science both at the same time. Sales can be improved at any point of time in any geography by using the right sales strategies. I am going to give you the most powerful and fundamental sales strategies that work for every business. These sales strategies are based on human psychology of buying.
1. Target Your Customers
To hit the target, first you need to have one. Targeting customers is first and the foremost sales strategy. Remember, entire world can’t be the prospect customer for any business. Every business has to target its potential customers by understanding the correlation between the solution provided by their product or service and it’s actual need in the market. Every single business has to spend a good amount of time and efforts to research and define its target customers very carefully. Clarity of customer profile makes the sales easier for a business.
How to Target Customers
Target customer for each product-line may vary so before actual sales, focus on getting clarity on different characteristic parameters of your target customers.
The types of target customers are often segmented by characteristics such as:
- Psychographics: beliefs, values, interests, personality, lifestyle etc.
- Demographics: gender, education, age, marital status, race, religion etc.
- Geographic Areas: country, neighborhood, region, area code, city etc.
- Business Industry: business vertical or business industry
Targeting customers is one of those sales strategies that gives you greater results with minimum efforts on ground, within tight budgets for promotion. It is like sharpening your axe before chopping the wood.
Example: If you manufacture or sell adult diapers, your majority of customers would be within the age range of 50 years and above or adults with various conditions, such as incontinence, mobility impairment, severe diarrhoea or dementia. You can find your target customers’ data with the help of health care centres, hospitals and pharmacy stores.
Price is the most influential psychological driver among all the others that affects sales. We always look at the price before buying anything. Buying decision of ‘average customers’ who form the largest part of any customer base is highly affected by the price of a product or service.
(Image: Central Area in The Normal Curve represents the Average Customers)
Average Customers are those who buy products within the average price band. In the above bell curve, it is approximately 68% of the total population of your target customers.
Strategic Pricing is the killer one among all the other sales strategies that gives instant results. Make the price look affordable or justified to the ‘average customers‘ and your sales will grow exponentially. Price is always seen in comparison with other similar products. Your product can not stand in silo, unless it provides a unique and innovative solution which is not available in the market.
How strategic pricing works
Sales has a strong co-relation with price. Various researches have shown that displaying a lower price even with a minute difference from your nearest competitors, gives an instant boost in sales. A lot of manufacturers slightly reduce the quantity per unit product (which they clearly display on the product) to offset the overall loss caused by the price reduction. Average customers rarely notice the exact quantity while comparing with other products, especially when the difference in quantity is minute and tricky which makes it difficult to calculate. This is not cheating, rather its “taking advantage” of customer’s diverted focus.
Example: Various soap manufacturers reduce the weight of a soap bar from 100 grams to 90 or 75 grams, which is hardly noticed by any customer. An average customer is focused more on the reduced price and ignores the reduced quantity completely, resulting in significant increases in sales.
3. Build up Brand Image
Sales strategies are meant to get direct impact on sales. Branding of your product or service has a direct impact on sales. Branding and Promotion go hand in hand.
Remember: To promote a product or service you have to have a brand in the first place and then you need promotion to establish it in the market.
Everyone loves branded products but only elite class can afford the price of top brands. Buying a branded product works psychologically as an assurance of quality and it gives us a feel of superiority. People tend to buy branded products even at exorbitantly high prices to be able to ‘show-off’ in their social circles or to maintain their image of an affluent-class. Brand image of a product affects a customer’s buying decision more than its quality and features.
Average customers also want to enjoy branded products and services which are meant for elite class. Price works as a barrier for the average customers which compels them to compromise with non-branded products or settle down with other less popular brands that offer a lower price. Hypothetically if you remove the price barrier, every buyer would like to go for the most popular brands only.
Here is the key: An average customer is ready to settle down with any less popular brand, based on his buying capacity, just to fulfil his psychological need of being associated with a known name / brand. A customer feels secure and comfortable buying a known product.
How Does Branding Improve Sales?
Create a brand image of your product and keep uplifting it by continuous promotion within the target consumer landscape. Use social media platforms to reach out to your exact real consumers. Every aspect of your business should reflect the same brand image through your advertisements, packaging, communication, display boards, dressing of your employees etc. It creates a powerful synergistic effect.
Over a period of time it creates a strong image of your brand in the buyers’ mind which ultimately influences their buying decisions. A well promoted brand always creates a stronger image and performs better than any unknown or weakly promoted names in the market. This sales strategy pulls the huge crowd of ‘average customers‘ and the sales increases consistently.
Related: Inspiration Vs Motivation
3. Variety / Range of Products
If you offer a range of products or services, it satisfies a hidden psychological need of customers. We all want the power to choose and select. Normally people don’t want to buy from a seller who he is unable to offer a range of products. In other words we like ‘freedom of choice’. A range of products gives us a chance to compare things, which strengthens our decision making. It helps a customer to choose and pick, based on his buying capacity and specific needs.
Strategically you must create variants of your products with different price, design, quantity, quality, features etc. This sales strategy helps you to hold your customers. It becomes difficult for them to go to other sellers because you are satisfying their psychological need by offering a wide range of products to select from.
Example: If you manufacture snacks, then introduce all possible flavors and variety in taste. Customers would like to try these varieties and thus your sales will increases. Also because different people have different choices, so when you provide a wide range of different tastes, you are potentially covering a larger customer base. This strategy pulls variety of customers and gives your business an edge over others.
4. Up Selling
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Up selling is a sales strategy by which a business sells premium or high value products to a customer who was intending to buy a low price product of the same brand. Actually many companies strategically launch low end or low price products just to attract customers. Once the customer makes up his mind to finally buy, he is then made aware of the high-end product by the sales people. High end products are superior in terms of features and overall user experience. In the final moments of buying decision the customer psychologically gets influenced and decides to buy the High-End product.
High end products or premium products, which are sold at a high price point and involves greater margins.
Example: Car manufacturers always promote and display the price of their base models of petrol versions which are at the lowest price. When the customer feels confident after looking at this price and makes up his mid to buy a car their sales representatives then showcase the features of the higher variants.
Majority of customers get convinced to stretch their budgets a bit and they buy a higher variant because the difference in price does not look big when it is compared with the price of the car. In fact base models of any car company are minimum sold variants. Major sales happens due to the mid and top range variants.
5. Cross Selling
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Cross Selling involves offering the customer a related product or service. Selling something that complements the main product or service which is being purchased is called cross selling. It is one of those proven sales strategies that improves the overall sales by extracting some extra bucks from the same customer. Mobile phone companies sell memory cards, cell phone covers, mobile insurance, extended warranties etc. with their phones. Car companies offer a variety of car accessories.
Customer who is buying a cell phone or a car, compares the price of the accessories with the price of the main purchase. Psychologically it seems very affordable deal in view of the overall expenditure. Also it makes sense to every customer to buy these accessories together. Today accessories market is creating a great opportunity for cross selling with various products and services.
How to Cross Sell
Look at your product or service and introduce every possible product that complements your main product which can cross sell along with it. If you don’t sell these products, other businesses will start doing it. And a major portion of your sales would be lost.
A shoe seller must sell socks, shoe polish, shoe shiner etc. A garment seller must also sell perfumes. A personality development coaching business can additionally tie-up with sellers of smart suits, footwear and other fashion accessory and have their commission fix with the seller.
6. Down Selling
Down selling is when the customer for some reason decides to drop the idea of purchase then you offer him a cheaper product. This is highly likely that the customer will accept it. This is called down selling. The goal here is to acquire a customer, even if you will not profit as much as possible right away.
Another way is, launching a product at a very high price point just to set a benchmark. You actually don’t intend to sell it. This product is only used as a ploy to mentally prepare a customer to spend. Customer starts feeling comfortable when he finds the other low priced products within your range of products. And then you sell him other products which are substantially priced low. This strategy is called down selling.
How to Down Sell
Keep at least one or two premium products and keep them at very high price. They must be high end product in terms of features, packaging etc. It should be always at display so that people inquire about it but after knowing the price they mostly drop the idea to buy it. Researches have shown that such customers will most definitely buy something from you if you can offer them a low price product instantly.
Psychologically it sets up a benchmark of price in customers mind so when he looks at other cheaper products, he quickly wants to grab it. At the same time he wants to show that he has the buying capacity and the intent, so he ends up buying from you.
7. Value Creation
Products that create value, sustain in the long run. After price and brand-image, people look at the value that a product creates in their lives. People love to buy products that are superior in quality and features i.e. durable, provides better user experience, cost effective and give real value for their money.
Anything that comes as a delight to the customer is bound to create value. Something extra which customers did not expect with your product can leave a never forgettable experience. Creating value by giving something extra is one of the most impactful sales strategies that has a profound impact on sales.
Example: Kinder Joy is a chocolate, produced by Ferrero SpA an Italian company which was founded in 1946. They put a small toy inside the chocolate pack which is always a surprise for the children as there is mostly a different toy inside. This strategy keep the real consumer (i.e. children) eager to by Kinder Joy.
8. Design or Packaging
We are hard wired to believe in what we see. We can’t remain unaffected by a great design. Our brains are tuned to identify symmetry and beauty. We naturally get attracted to beautiful designs and certain color combinations. Products that stand out in the crowd and grab attention of people, tend to perform better in terms of sales.
Using bright colors and unique designs is one of those classic sales strategies that never fails. So spend good amount of time and effort to come up with unique and innovative designs and combination of colors for packaging to be able to get the customer attention.
Car manufactures come up with new and better designs every couple of years to keep attracting new customers and keep the sales growing.
Various newly launched products in the shopping malls only out perform due to their superior packaging. You can still remember when last time you unwrapped a product that was packed phenomenally well.
9. Customization as per Customer Need
Customization word was derives from the word customer. Customization literally means: “As Your Customer Wants”. Offer flexibility to the customer. Every customer likes to have something specially customized for him. It makes the customer feel empowered. En empowered customer is a happy customer. There can be variety of flexible options that can be offered.
Example: Subway Sandwich is an example where they ask the customer for his choice of sandwich. They ask about customers’ choice for the type of bread, cheese, sauce etc. This strategy works well with products that are not pre-built.
Leave a scope for final touch in your product or service, which should be completed after asking your customer’s need and choice just to make him feel empowered.
10. After Sales Customer Service
Once your product or service is sold, customer wants a channel where he can address the issues he faced with the product or service. If you provide after sales service, it would become your key strength to sell. Every customer feels secure if there is an assured after sales service available.
This happens with all the products that are going to be used for long time.
Example: There are various brands in the market which are selling water purifiers these days. These machines are manufactured to be used for very long time hence they go through various service / technical issues. Very few companies have a strong after sales service and provide you a prompt service. When customers get quick response for his complaints, it builds up the image of the company in their minds.
No company can produce a product that won’t pose any technical / commercial problems in future. So after sales service is very important aspect. This is a support system for a customer which builds up confidence in customer to buy your products.
11. Product Development
Every product or service has a life span. Once your product goes through all four stages of product life cycle i.e. Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline, it needs key critical changes to survive.
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Product development is a continuous process that ensures product’s extended life in the market. When the growth stabilizes before the decline phase, you need to introduce a new version of your product.
Customers don’t want to use outdated stuff, psychologically it makes them feel outdated. Feeling of being outdated creates an insecurity which comes from our evolutionary past and it is similar to getting out of the tribe or group.
12. Placement / Availability in the Market
Placement of your product in the market should always be a strategic move. Product should be placed in its right market. Find out where your product would get the maximum demand.
If you deal with health drinks, then your perfect market place would be the places where health conscious people mostly hang out. Gym or Fitness Centers would be an ideal market. Sometimes a new potential market shows resistance while placing a new product, however this is temporary. If the product is exceptionally well, it occupies it’s place quickly.
Placement of your products on all e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Indiamart, Flipkart etc. is extremely important. Apart from this your own website should be capable of selling and delivering your products to the customer.
Availability of your product has to be controlled. Sometimes shortage of a product creates greater demand in the market. Strategically many companies create shortage of their product by decreasing the production. Some companies intentionally put a waiting period before delivery of their products. This strategy is known for increasing demand and sales dramatically.
Be Careful: This strategy of decreasing availability works only with very popular products. Startups which have newly launched a product, should refrain from trying this strategy until their product becomes popular.
13. Recommendation / Testimonials
Nothing can promote a product or service better than word of mouth. New customers are pulled miraculously, when your existing customers start recommending your product. Recommendations or testimonials from a real customer are way more powerful than any paid advertisement.
All e-commerce platforms use customer reviews for all listed products. You must request your happy customers to put their valuable reviews on these platforms. A little card with such request should be part of your product packaging for online customers. Its highly likely that this small step will boost up the number of positive reviews of your product on these websites. Every positive review will increase the likelihood of your future selling.
14. Creating Demand
Popular brands can increase their demand in the market by creating scarcity or artificially reducing the availability of their brands. But for less popular or new brands its a difficult task.
Demand is inversely proportional to the availability. The law of demand states that, if all other factors remain equal, the higher the price of a good, the less people will demand that good.
When the availability is low, price can go higher and thereby the demand increases.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org
Best way to create demand is to deal in a Niche Product or Niche Service. Something that is not offered by other businesses will create demand and that too at a better price.
15. Hire Right Attitude People
Sales executives are the extension of an organization in the market, they have to carry the right attitude that reflects the values of the organization. People can be trained on anything if they have the right attitude. Hire sales executives with the following key skills:
- Positive and goal oriented: Always focused on the end result
- Mentally Strong: Doesn’t give up in tough situations
- Street Smart: Finds instant solutions to unforeseen problems
- Talkative and outspoken: Should not be a shy or introvert person
16. Train Your Sales Team Consistently
Researches have shown that consistent training boosts up the confidence and empowers the sales force to get results.
Your sales team should be consistently trained and updated not only on the product-information but also on the sales techniques to turn a prospect into a buyer.
Your sales team must get frequent training on the following areas:
- Communication and regular follow-up
- Scheduling and prioritizing activities
- Effective time management
- Anger management
Apart from these you must ensure that your sales persons are able to maintain work life balance. Their physical fitness is important for the sales growth, provide them with a gym membership or some sort of physical fitness program.
Every business operates within competitive markets. Goals need to be achieved within stringent deadlines. The prime motive of a business is to generate profit within the budgetary constraints. Sales strategies can maximize the results by focusing all the efforts in the right direction. Time is critical in business and every penny invested is at stake. These strategies will help you achieve results faster. Start implementing these strategies in your business without any delay.
Which strategy are you already using and which one you would implement next?
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Wish you all the best..!!