Successful sales strategies aren’t born overnight and carved in stone the next day; they are the product of trial and error, and must constantly evolve to better meet the needs of the consumer. Organizations that are willing to try new and unconventional tactics have the opportunity to stand out in an increasingly-competitive marketplace. However, success for these organizations depends upon the ability to recognize sales strategy defects and quickly fix them.; If sales have fallen flat in your organization, here are six questions you need to ask to identify flaws in your strategy.

1. Is the sales strategy centered on meeting specific customer needs?

In today’s world of the modern buyer, old sayings like, “The customer is always right” and “The customer comes first” still have merit. But a more effective way to put it might be: “Meeting the customer’s needs should always be top priority.”

Thanks to social media, online comparison-shopping, and a vast assortment of choices, today’s customers have more power than ever before. They are also becoming increasingly diverse, which makes it all the more important to gain critical insights about them. However, many sales strategies are too generalized, as they focus too much on all of the wonderful products and services the company has to offer and too little on providing solutions to customers that meet their specific needs. If your sales force is not seeing clear engagement with customers, chances are it’s because the approach being used makes customers feel that they are being sold to instead of being offered real solutions to their problems.

Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities over non-nurtured leads . This is because tracking customers as they journey through the sales funnel, and noting where they become disengaged will help you to identify areas where customer needs are not being met and fix the problem.

2. Is the sales force spending too much time prospecting?

Keeping the sales pipeline flowing is important for any sales organization. That being said, many organizations fall into the trap of devoting too much time, energy and resources to prospecting. To identify this flaw in your organization’s sales strategy you need only to compare your B2C or B2B lead generation numbers with the number of leads that are actually being closed. If those figures prove problematic, you can focus on better sales training, along with implementing marketing automation tools that will not only bring in more qualified leads, but also can dramatically reduce the time and resources spent prospecting. In fact, companies that automate lead management experience an increase of 10% or greater in revenue within 6–9 months.

3. Is the sales force getting enough customer referrals?

Another indicator that your sales strategy is flawed may be a lack of customer referrals. Warm referrals are far more qualified than cold leads generated by prospecting. If your referral numbers are anemic, you need to examine your current sales strategy to see why it is failing to provide customers with the incentive and desire to refer your organization to others in their network. It may be as simple as your sales staff asking new and existing customers if they know of others who would benefit from the products and service your company provides.

4. Is customer retention a problem?

On the surface it may not seem that customer retention rates have anything to do with your sales strategy. After all, the fact that you are converting leads to customers shows that your strategy is working, right? The answer to that question is “yes” and “no.” A successful sales strategy doesn’t just churn out customers who soon fall by the wayside. It establishes relationships built on trust, mutual respect, and an exemplary customer experience—the kind of relationships that lead to long-term customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

If you’ve been experiencing a decline in customer retention rates, that’s a sure indication that, somewhere down the line, your sales strategy is producing a less than stellar customer experience. Maybe the customer service department isn’t as prompt and courteous as it could be. Or maybe the sales staff is dropping the follow-up ball once the sale is made. Whatever the problem is, you need to find it and fix it fast. Otherwise you’ll find your hard earned customers fleeing to your competitors.

5. Do we fully understand our competition?

Knowing and understanding your competition is a key factor in formulating a successful sales strategy. Unless your company has somehow monopolized the market, you and your sales force need to understand how your competition functions and operates if you are going to gain a competitive edge. Once you have identified your competitor’s strengths and weakness, you need to share this information throughout the organization and incorporate it into the employee training processes. Arming sales personnel with information about the competition’s products, services, and pricing structures will better equip them to better serve potential customers, all of whom are shopping around.

Plus, knowing what the competition is all about will help your organization to identify and promote within the sales force the unique selling proposition (USP) that will ultimately set your organization apart from the competition. Good internal communication is necessary to make sure that all within the organization understand the USP and can effectively communicate it to prospective customers.

6. Once flaws are found in our sales strategy, are we willing to make necessary changes?

The world of business is constantly changing and in order to remain competitive your sales strategy needs to be able to change with it. However, for many companies that is easier said than done, because change is never easy. After all, a sales strategy is the product of significant time, effort and ego. Subsequently, when flaws are found and old methods that were once tried and true are clearly no longer working, it can be difficult to admit that change is needed. To move forward you need to embrace change for what it is, an opportunity to improve your sales strategy and set your organization even further apart from the competition.

At any given time, approximately 3% of your market is actively buying, 56% are not ready, 40% are poised to begin. With such a small percentage providing all of your current profit, it is absolutely imperative that your organization perfect the strategies that are in place to help ensure that new clients are being created. Ensuring that your strategy is laid on a solid foundation is key. Use the questions that were asked above as a guide to help you fix any flaws in your current strategy.

The only way to overcome obstacles such as, customer prospecting or knowing the competition, is to stop, observe, and modify. Testing multiple methods will shed light on what works best for the team and the particular situation. By building up your sales strategy you will continue to move your business in the right direction, through increasing ROI, productivity, or improving your bottom line.

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