(This article was originally published on entreprenuer.com and has been edited for content and style.)
A strong sales strategy is critically important to any organization. Whether you are in the payments industry or peddling vacuums, no business can thrive without a quality sales team.
Successful sales strategies accrue an invaluable asset: Client trust. Strong client relationships will ensure an organization’s longevity and success well beyond a good earnings quarter. But trust isn’t easily acquired; rather, it is earned over time through listening and engaging with customers and by gaining a deep understanding of their objectives, concerns and constraints. Above all, a company’s sales strategy should communicate solutions that add meaningful value for the customer.
For this reason, we like to think of a sale as the start of an enduring relationship, not a single transaction and that creates an opportunity to invest in and earn recurring business from existing customers. This new world approach to sales is a marketplace differentiator. Here are the key elements of a successful sales strategy that will win and keep customers in today’s constantly evolving and increasingly competitive market.
Lead with customer engagement
Customer engagement should be considered the cornerstone of quality sales practices in 2022 and beyond. It is foundational to building a client relationship and supporting future business. Engagement in this framework invites the client to participate in defining objectives and providing feedback throughout their relationship with the company, as well as sharing in successes. Technology can advance this experience by easing communication with customers, providing a tool to measure and evaluate performance and delivering routine updates.
For the brand, leveraging technology to advance the customer experience maximizes every sales opportunity. When well executed, the client becomes a partner in the project and both parties have a vested interest in a positive outcome.
Make balanced value the goal
When you sit at the bargaining table, the customer on the other side immediately knows your underlying motive: You want to close the deal. But the best deals are struck when both parties’ needs have been met without exploiting the other.
This concept is known as balanced value and it happens when both the organization and the client feel like they are walking away with a win. It’s an important stepping stone to building a strong and lasting relationship with a client and those relationships can be among the most valuable to a company. It’s generally easier and more fruitful to sell products to an existing customer than acquiring a new one. If you deliver value throughout the lifecycle of the relationship, customers will be keen to work with you again.
Locate the problem
Every sale should be considered an opportunity to solve a problem for the customer. That process starts by listening to the client’s needs and challenges and then identifying product solutions that are the best fit to address those issues.
Take care, however, not to put the cart before the horse by promoting the product and features without understanding the implementation. Instead, focus on the client’s unique pain points and then tailor a solution that will most effectively address those needs. Tailored solutions ensure that customers will receive the most relevant products and realize greater value through their partnership with the company.
There is a difference between landing a customer and keeping a customer. The former solves the customer’s initial pain points; the latter is solving evolving needs and maintaining a long-term relationship with the client and that is where you can find and extract real value. This strategy can sometimes be antagonistic to sales compensation structures, which reward professionals for new customers and growth, but this approach often comes at a cost.
By focusing on the next deal, you risk losing existing clients, which are a company’s biggest resource and should be protected. When a company focuses on servicing existing customers and client satisfaction, it drives growth and revenues from internal resources. Successful sales strategies should foster long-term client trust and loyalty by working more on existing customers than acquiring new ones.
Customers want collaboration, transparency and engagement and most of all—tangible results. Relationships are important, but they will only get you so far. In the end, you have to deliver value. This begins with a great product that can meet business objectives and produce long-term results, but that’s just the beginning.
Demonstrating those results to customers is an opportunity to build the relationship beyond the initial transaction and retain customers for the long term and that is essential to operating a platform that views a sale as an ongoing relationship. When a company is around to celebrate the success of the transaction, they are extending the lifecycle of the sale, and that is the gold standard in client retention.
The best sales teams have the mindset that you start losing a client the day that you sign them. Developing a relationship that meets the needs of the client today and tomorrow is the definition of success.