Some business decisions just aren’t easy, like which markets to go after and which customers to say no to. But they can become easier when made in the proper context.
Context matters. In this case, the context I’m referring to is a strategy. Many business owners believe they can operate without a clear strategy. While it’s possible, in many cases it doesn’t drive sufficient sales. Your strategy is a critical filter for the constant barrage of decisions your sales and marketing teams need to make every day.
How does that work? You have to have the critical components of your strategy clearly defined.
The critical components of strategies that drive sales are:
- Ideal Customer
Your vision is your story about what you are building and why. It is a detailed description of the product, service or technology. It includes the size; including the number of people, locations, units, revenue or anything else that will define your size. It details what it will look like including the product, the packaging, and the locations.
- Is it Apple slick or Google fun?
- Does it include your long-term plan including your exit strategy?
- Are you selling a company, a product or a license?
- Who uses what you are buying?
- What is their world like when they have what you are selling?
Without this clear vision, it becomes difficult to drive sales.
[bctt tweet=”Without a clear vision, it becomes difficult to drive sales @LizRHeiman” username=”AliceHeiman”]
Values are built, in part, on your “why”. If you understand why you are doing something, you can figure out how you want to do it. I think about values as your “how”.
- Will you do things in ways that are environmentally friendly?
- Will you do things with integrity?
- Will you have fun while we are doing it?
- Will you be changing the world?
- Will you be helping people?
It also helps you understand what kinds of people you want to hire and what kinds of people you want your clients to be. If integrity is your highest value, then don’t hire someone who talks big and changes their story during an interview. If customer service is your first priority, then hire people who care about other people more than they care about being cutting edge or fun.
When you have problems, your values help you decide how to solve them. Do you fire staff to cut costs or do you focus on revenue generation?
When you know why you are doing things and how you want your company to work, decisions become easier. Decisions like firing a customer or changing your market focus.
The mission is a simple sentence that tells you what we do and who you do it for. It may include why you do it.
If your mission is clear, it is easy to see when you have gone off mission. If your mission is to provide better fencing to pig farmers, then you will quickly know when you are off mission. Sometimes, you will decide that your mission needs to change or expand and so too, may your vision. At least you can explain that and bring the whole team along with you. Salespeople need to be clear on the mission. This guides them to bring in the right types of customers.
Once you know where you are going, why you are doing it and how you want to do things, you can think about the specific path you want to take to get there. Your goals become your benchmarks for your journey. Like when you see the sign that says 500 miles to Cincinnati. Goals let you know you are making progress in the right direction. A good strategy includes goals around:
- Market position
These goals help you establish priorities in a world where we are constantly inundated with external demands. It’s difficult to set reasonable sales goals when the larger company-wide goals are not clear.
[bctt tweet=”The clearer you are about who you are selling to, the better your results will be @LizRHeiman” username=”AliceHeiman”]
The clearer you are about who you are selling to, the better your results will be. Your product is a good fit for certain people. Your company culture and values narrow that definition. Look at your products and think about who will get the most benefit from them, can afford to pay for them, will close without too many hurdles, will be a satisfied customer and will buy from us again in the future. That will help to narrow down who you should be targeting. Both marketing and sales need to be clear on what the ideal customer looks like so they can target them.
Positioning is about how you want to be perceived in the market.
- Are we the low-price leader?
- The environmental option?
- The latest technology?
It’s the story you tell about your company. Your values will help you think about what story you tell about yourselves and your solutions. That story or positioning will help you attract the buyers most likely to be interested in your offer.
Now that you understand the critical pieces of your strategy, I hope you can begin to see how they can be a filter. If your team doesn’t understand your strategy, they may not be able to make good decisions about resource investment, partnerships, product development or even sales strategy.
Values become a filter for solving problems every day. Goals become a filter for resource allocation. Ideal Customer Profile helps focus your marketing and sales teams on the clients you want most. Positioning determines the story you are telling and impact decision making from marketing to ops. All of these things affect decision making in every part of your organization, including sales.