Any hard-working salesperson can tell you closing a sale is their ultimate goal. Short-term sale strategies emphasize the value of a clean, efficient transaction with a customer, particularly those that come to a successful (and profitable) conclusion.
But since virtually all organizations depend upon sales for their livelihood, it’s crucial to come up with a sales strategy that takes the “long view”—not just what happens in sales today and tomorrow, but one year, two years, even five years from now.
Does your company have a viable long-term sales strategy? If so, that strategy can always use some fine-tuning. If no such strategy exists, now is the time to start formulating one—or risk losing valuable sales leads to competitors down the road.
Here are five tips to help you devise the strategy that’s best for you:
1. Believe in what you sell.
When a sales team focuses primarily on quick sales, it may be sacrificing further sales down the road. The first step in creating a “long-term” attitude among your sales team is their absolute belief in the products or services your company offers.
Customers are savvy when it comes to being on the receiving end of sales pitch. If it sounds like the salesperson wavers in their commitment to what they’re selling or otherwise lacks faith in the company’s offerings, this can be enough to drive prospects away.
2. Always put the customer first.
Of course, attaining sales quotas is a desirable goal, but not if it comes at the customer’s expense.
“Make your clients’ needs the priority and be honest about your services,” notes Raybec. By strengthening customer relationships, “even if it doesn’t result in a transaction now,” a solid relationship “will help build your sales success in the future.”
3. Train your sales team to prepare for the future.
The business landscape is constantly changing, so every sales team must keep pace through professional learning and development. To help ensure your team is up for future challenges, look at ways to extend their range of sales expertise, through online sales classes, webinars, presentations, etc.
Offering resources that focus on long-term sales means salespeople “can hone their skills and develop fresh insights into the sales process,” insights that can pay off over the long term.
4. Focus on referrals.
If sales leads are the holy grail, a key component is word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers.
“Speak to your customers about who they think might also benefit from your products,” advises Mann & Co. With each recommendation, “you have cut the lead nurturing time down, especially if you can get an introduction” from a loyal customer.
5. Leverage social media for long-term benefits.
Even if your business has a vibrant social media presence, there’s always room for improvement. Whatever the situation, leveraging social media for long-term sales should be a key component in any broader strategy.
Have you considered incorporating more video content in your social media ads and postings? “Captivating and entertaining videos provide customers with visual stimulation,” notes Forbes, “making you more likely to be remembered and making customers more likely to engage.”
Social media isn’t going away. On the contrary, new platforms seem to spring up every day. Look closely at sites that directly target your desired audience. Comment on posts you see there, and be prepared to contribute fresh content of your own (including, for example, a how-to video about your product or service.) From there, you can always post video testimonials from satisfied customers and/or video of company-sponsored employee events—demonstrating the value you place on your workforce and appealing to qualified job candidates.
To learn more about managing your sales efforts both now and in years to come, register for our free TAB Boss Webinar, “Building a High-Performance Sales Team.”