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Smart tips to boost your sales strategies in a challenging economy

Bradley Elliott, 22 October 2016

A sales strategy should incorporate three key elements: your company’s differentiators, marketing those differentiators and securing ongoing work/revenue. Here’s why.

Entrepreneurs face a number of challenges in the early years of growing a business, but none cause more anxiety than creating a sales pipeline. It can be a daunting process for many business leaders, but here are a few tips on how to create a sales strategy that works, even in the toughest of economic circumstances:

Identifying your business’ differentiators

Before developing a strategy, it is important to be clear on what makes your business different to that of your competitors: your unique selling points (USP). It’s best to try make these quantifiable; terms like ‘good quality’ may be too subjective and open-ended.

A good starting point is to conduct an analysis of your industry, your top competitors, and potential customers. This will inform you of the issues and trends faced by the industry, what your rivals are doing, and how their customers experience them. Once completed, compare your business to the information you’ve gathered and determine, in clear terms, those aspects of your venture that offer ‘something different’.

  • Industry analysis: Review news on media channels that cover your specific industry. Also, find and review any research papers published online that cover your industry.
  • Competitor analysis: Identify your top three competitors and review their websites, online profiles on social media, and any company news that provides you with insight into their business, including their product/service range, the types of customers they service, any common customer complaints, and the marketing strategies they use. Another idea is to actually experience their business/service as a customer. For instance, if you’re a restaurant owner why not eat at their restaurant?
  • Customer analysis: This might involve cold-calling customers of your competitors to understand the extent to which they use your competitor, any gaps in the service or gripes they have with the products used, the marketing strategies that have worked best for them, and their openness to considering a new supplier. You could also use your social media channels to conduct polls/surveys.

Marketing your business on a budget

New businesses often struggle with budget constraints, but with the traction and reach of new marketing channels, like online and social media, marketing doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. For instance, Betty Givan of Kentucky was an assistant professor before starting Betty’s Kitchen, a food-related YouTube channel. Since January 2009 she’s amassed more than 110 000 subscribers.

Partnering with bigger companies

Regarding jobs that you can secure, consider not only your wish list of customers but also those that influence potential customers. Companies with established relationships with ‘wish-list’ clients have already built up credibility and trust with those clients, so a referral from them holds more weight than a cold call.

Make sure these partner companies understand your USPs and expertise. It may also be worthwhile putting formal referral agreements in place that carry financial incentives for the referring company. Using these tips, you can create a watertight sales strategy that will lead to a strong sales pipeline, which will make it easier for you to grow your revenue.

About the author

About the author Since 2009, Bradley Elliott has been Managing Director of digital company, Platinum Seed. The company designs digital products, services and experiences that aim to connect consumers and brands in new ways. He also founded the social media and CRM analysis tool Continuon that was launched in 2014. In 2012, Bradley founded one of South Africa’s first mobile payment solutions, CheqOut, which facilitated transactions of over R50 000 per month, for 3 years. It was also won Mobile Monday’s App of the Year.

This article based on content originally published 22 October 2016