When it comes to sales strategy, it’s important to keep it simple. I like to think of it as an equation. I’m not really sure why, because math wasn’t my strong suit post-grade 10. But – let’s roll with it, because it seems to make sense.
SALES = OFFER + PEOPLE + PIPELINE
If I had to put it into a sentence, I’d say that in order to make sales, you need an offer, people who could potentially buy it, and a pipeline to connect the two.
When I say an offer, I mean the program, product, or service you plan to sell.
And by people, I mean prospective buyers. People that have the problem you solve or the need you meet.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a pipeline, take a minute and catch up, because I’m about to share some tips to help you strengthen your sales strategy equation.
9 Tips to strengthen your sales strategy equation
You can read the whole post, or click on the tips that interest you most.
Tips for the offer part of the sales strategy equation
1⎮ Convey the benefits of your offer
Many purpose-driven entrepreneurs get hung up on listing out all the features of their offer.
Features are the details about the format of your offer. Or how it’s delivered. They’re things like the:
– number of modules in a course
– length of a coaching program
– number of cards in an oracle deck
While sharing features is practical, your prospective buyers want to know how they’ll benefit if they take you up on your offer. They need to know the answers to questions like:
What will be different for them if they purchase from you?
How will their life (or business) be better as a result of the work they do with you?
How will they feel once they’ve bought your program, product, or service?
When you communicate about your offer, be sure to clearly and explicitly state what prospective buyers will gain from buying into it. But be realistic, and don’t make any promises you can’t keep.
2⎮ Identify the purpose of your offer
Yes, this is another opportunity to understand WHY you’re making a choice in your business. Aside from helping people solve a problem, meeting their need and earning income, there is an assortment of other reasons to create and make an offer. Your offer could be designed to:
– prepare people with the skills or knowledge they need to move onto your next higher level offer
– help people self-identify if they’re ready to commit to take a bigger step with you
– generate a one-time cash injection
– introduce yourself and your work in a way that’s really easy for people to say yes
It’s possible that what you’re selling is a “stand alone” offer.
But it doesn’t need to be. The strategist in me would like to encourage you to consider that it’s likely to your benefit if your offers were to feed into one another.
With some thought and care, one offer could naturally lead to another one of your offers. You can create a nice flow of people through a series of offers. Or it could provide you with a pool of people with a certain knowledge, skill, or appreciation for you that you could market other offers to later on.
3⎮ Remember there’s more to the equation than just creating the offer
It might seem obvious, but you might be surprised at how often purpose-driven entrepreneurs create an offer and then consider their work to be done.
Pulling an offer together is really exciting. Especially when you know it has the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. Or, when it can make a huge impact in an industry or community. Something magical happens when you finally translate an idea into something tangible, no?
Sometimes, the work that goes into creating the offer itself uses up a lot of your energy (there’s a lot of moving parts and things to consider.) It’s entirely possible that you run out of steam before you get to the rest of the equation (the people and the pipeline.)
Just remember – an offer without people or a pipeline that connects the two isn’t going to help anyone. Not you. And not the people who need it.
Once your program, product, or service is ready, you need to map out a way to let people know it’s available, and help them make a decision as to whether or not it’s for them – or not.
Tips for the people part of the sales strategy equation
4⎮ Forget the avatar and focus on how your prospective buyer feels
I haven’t used an ideal client avatar – complete with demographics and psychographics – ever since I heard Polly Hearsey explain that it actually limits your potential reach. Here’s an example to illustrate her point.
Let’s say you’re a divorce coach.
Thinking off the top of my head, your client avatar might be: Jane is a childless 52 year old corporate executive who’s been married for 30 years, earns $100,000+, drives a BMW and vacations in Europe twice a year.
Now, if instead, you looked at how your prospective clients feel, you might see that they’re shocked to learn that their partner wants a divorce. It feels like they’re been blind-sided because as they’ll tell you, “I thought everything between us was fine.” They oscillate between being distraught that their marriage is over and hopeful the relationship can be repaired. And, they’re afraid to be on their own.
The “feelings approach” means you can authentically connect to people where they’re at. You can show them that you “get” them. It also means you can work with anyone who feels like this, regardless of their age, gender, income, occupation, how long they’ve been married, where they vacation and what car they drive.
It opens up so many more possibilities for you, while still being specific enough to attract buyers who need what you have to offer.
5⎮ Attract the right buyer and repel the wrong ones
As you prepare to share about your offer, think about what prospective buyers need to know that will help them make an informed decision. How can you help them decide if it’s a good choice for them. Or not.
Sure, you want people to say yes and buy what you’re selling. But more importantly, you want the right people to say yes. And the wrong people to walk away. If you skip this step, you will likely end up with some customer service issues, like refund requests and demanding clients.
If you’re the divorce coach from the example above and you’re offering a program to help your clients get their thoughts organized about what they want to get out of the divorce, then you’d want to attract people who can think clearly.
You’re definitely going to feel frustrated if you spend your time together listening to them crying on the other end of Zoom.
Help them discern it your offer is a good fit for them.
What could you say in your messaging that would help them see if your offer is a good fit for them? And vice versa?
Maybe you could explain the different stages of emotions people go through when they’re getting a divorce. You could let them know what stage they need to be in order to get the most out of your program.
If you use a screening questionnaire, pre-discovery call (highly recommend this) you could easily include a question that helps them – and you – get some clarity around what stage they’re at. You can explore it further when you talk.
If it turns out they aren’t where you need them to be, and you have a better option for them, you can always offer it to them. If you don’t, try to refer them to someone who can give them the support and guidance they need.
It’s very empowering to have people self-select in or out. And, it means less work for you.
6⎮ Think about the kind of info you’d like to gather along the way
As you connect people to your offer, it’s often helpful to collect information about them along the way. It can be practical facts, like where they live. Or, you can choose to gather information that can help you better understand them as a whole.
It’s important to think about what you need to know about your people in advance. That way you can plan out how you’ll actually capture it. What this looks like really depends on you and your offer.
Maybe as a divorce coach, you’ve noticed that the clients who get the best results working with you have already consulted and retained a lawyer. You’ve realized more often than not, it’s a sign that they’ve accepted that the divorce is real and is happening. Whether they like it or not. So you’ll want to get a read on whether or not prospective buyers have taken that step.
Or, if divorce proceedings are different in various regions, and you only know what’s pertinent to where you live, then you might want the ability to screen potential clients based on location.
Tips for the pipeline part of the sales strategy equation
7⎮ Show up as the real you from start to finish
Now more than ever, people can spot a fake a mile away. They also sense when you’re uncomfortable trying to be something you’re not. So save yourself the trouble and consistently show up as the real you.
If doing Facebook Lives makes you break out in hives, choose another way to share what you have to say. Just be sure to share.
If you love shooting videos but your roots are showing – don’t let that stop you.
Swear like a trucker? Swear on. There’s no point pretending you don’t. Because one day, you’ll let it rip and the people who thought you were wholesome will be sorely disappointed.
Showing up as the real you is more than honouring how you work best and letting your personality show through. It’s also about presenting yourself according to your natural style of offering a solution. To learn more about the 4 different natural styles and find yours, download the Find My Alignment Kit.
8⎮ Build trust and engage people along the way
Rather than just tell people information and give them stuff (like PDF’s, etc.) think about how you can build trust with them. You’ll also want to engage them so it’s not just a one-way street.
If you aren’t sure how to build trust with prospective buyers, put yourself in their shoes. Honesty goes a long way. You can also think about ways other people have built trust with you as a buyer. What made you consider someone else to be trustworthy?
Sharing your own story is just one way you can build trust along the way. Refrain from using FOMO or false scarcity. Use social proof in the form of testimonials or reviews to show who you are and what you’re about.
As far as engaging with people along your pipeline, asking questions and inviting an answer is always an option. You can also host an event where people get to experience you “in person” – even if it’s online.
Another way to build trust and engage is to leverage your personal persuasion power – that’s the natural way you influence others. Download the Find My Alignment Kit to discover yours.
9⎮ Choose measurements to see where your pipeline needs tweaking
Once your pipeline is up and running, you’ll want to monitor it to see if it’s in tip top working condition. An easy way to do this is to set up measurements at each of the gateways in your pipeline – ahead of time. Again, if you aren’t familiar with the idea of a gateway, check out what I have to say here.
If you choose to host a webinar where you’ll introduce an opportunity for people to work with you in your XYZ program, but you want to talk to them first to make sure they’re a good fit, then your pipeline would look like this:
webinar opt-in page >> webinar >> discovery call >> offer to work together
Next, you’ll need to invite people into the pipeline.
Let’s say you extend an invitation to your email list to come to the webinar. That’s just one way, of course. But now your pipeline looks like this:
invitation to email list >> webinar opt-in page >> webinar >> discovery call >> offer to work together
You can see if the pipeline works well by measuring the number of people who:
– click on the link to your opt-in page out of the number of people on your list
– register for the webinar out of the number that click over to the opt-in page
– attend the webinar live out of the people who registered
– watch the recording that didn’t attend live
– book discovery calls out of the total number who attended live or watched the recording
– buy from you out of the number of discovery calls you have
Keep in mind that the numbers naturally decrease as people go through the pipeline. However, you want to keep an eye out for any gaps that need to be filled or sticky spots that need smoothed out in order for the pipeline to do its job.
And there you have it. 9 tips to strengthen your sales strategy equation.
Got questions about something I’ve shared? Send them to marymstrachan.com