It’s time to re-examine your sales strategy and identify what you are doing wrong (or could be doing better). Here are 10 common sales problems:
Have you taken a look at your marketing plans and sales strategy lately to check what hasn’t been going so well and figure out what you can do better?
How do you identify your marketing weak spots?
Sometimes, your ROI just doesn’t seem proportionate to the amount of effort you put into your campaigns. That’s the point where you start to wonder if you’re really doing everything right, or if you’re approaching your sales strategy the wrong way entirely.
Well, you’re not alone. Based on my experience in the industry, I can definitely say that so many business owners struggle with their sales approaches, due to a combination of lack of knowledge and unwillingness to change.
I’ve listed down 10 of the most common problems you encounter over the course of your business’s lifespan. Incidentally, these also tend to be the most serious ones, as they indicate that there’s something inherently inefficient — or worse, broken — in your current system.
10 Problems that Plague Your Overall Sales Strategy
1. You have an ineffective content marketing campaign — or plain ineffective content.
Right off the bat, this is one of the typical reasons why marketing campaigns fail: Either you’re not pushing your content enough, or your content simply isn’t enough.
Remember that your content, first and foremost, needs to provide value to your customer. It also needs to have a solid messaging strategy behind it — the kind that can make your prospective clients understand and absorb your message in 20 seconds flat.
Now, this is where most marketers fall flat when it comes to content. They make the mistake of thinking that self-promotion is the way to go. In fact, this achieves the opposite, because if more than 20% of your content is about you, your target audience is more likely to get turned off and go away!
Crafting your content marketing strategy is related to how your shape your brand identity, but it should not hinge on that alone. Instead, make sure that the message behind your content is addressed to your customers, about your customers, and for your customers.
Provide them with content that enriches them — such as informative eBooks, instructional guides in blog format, or case studies about the best solutions for whatever their problems are — and touches them on an emotional level. Your content also needs to be guided by a single, quantifiable objective, one that will shape your overall marketing and sales strategy.
Accomplish this, and you’ll see how much your CTR (and ROI) will improve.
2. Your sales and marketing teams continue to work independently of each other.
There’s this cute but ultimately misguided notion about sales and marketing that has been floating around for as long as I can remember. Apparently, some believe that sales and marketing teams are unable to work together, due to their different approaches and goals.
Partially, that’s true. Marketing does differ from sales, and as your business evolves, their roles become more specific and grow further apart. Marketing focuses on developing styles to sell a product or service, improve your relationship with your client, and identify what you’ll need in the future. Sales, on the other hand, are essentially the numbers, and the primary concern of this department is the actual sale of your products and/or services.
Ultimately, though, marketing and sales are after the same thing: More revenue. In fact, they’re actually more connected than people may realize — and this is most evident in the fact that you have people wearing both the marketing and the sales hats in small businesses.
In other words, a bit of coordination between your sales and marketing teams wouldn’t hurt.
3. You haven’t incorporated social media marketing (or social media ads) enough into your sales strategy.
It’s sad how a lot of professionals still seem to be unaware of the massive sales potential of social media. Far from being just modern-day forms of entertainment and communication, platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are actually viable channels for marketing. That’s exactly why the concept of social media marketing was born — a strategy that any business owner should adapt and master, lest they get left behind.
Earlier, we talked about crafting the right message for your target audience. That’s just one part of the equation, though, because another key element here is making sure that your message actually reaches your intended targets. This is where social media steps in. Social media becomes your gateway to all your potential customers, regardless of their geographical location. You’ll have a wider reach — one that transcends literal and figurative boundaries — and a larger audience for what you want to say.
Social media also enables you to do customer support and advertising in remarkably revolutionary ways. A simple example is how it lets you respond to customer inquiries immediately. In fact, you can even prepare a list of message templates you can use for inquiries, making your work much easier.
Social media ads have proven to be quite effective as well. When you do try your hand at advertising on Facebook, for instance, pay attention to your impression rate, as that tells you how many people have seen your ad. Social media’s rise has also paved the way for thought leadership and influencer marketing — partnering up with social media users with a large following and good social clout and credibility to boost and promote your brand.
You can even strengthen ties with your followers by sharing user-generated content (UGC) such as fan art, posts, or testimonials, making them feel that your brand actually cares about them.
A word about virality, though — while it’s nice to see your content go viral, I wouldn’t advise putting too much stock into it. It has been observed that virality doesn’t always translate to better sales, anyway, and it’s hard to predict what makes content go viral in the first place.
4. You still have a limited idea of what social selling actually means (and what it involves).
We talk about social selling here all the time, but it helps to make sure that there’s a clear understanding of what this entails. For starters, social selling is NOT promoting yourself endlessly on social media.
In a nutshell, social selling means using your social connections to obtain leads, build loyalty among your audience and customers, and ultimately improve your bottom line. It’s the process of finding and nurturing your prospective customers, and a natural way of strengthening your relationship with your followers. The objective here, of course, is to make sure that your brand is the first thing they think of when they need a product or service that you offer.
5. You do not know your target audience well enough.
Are you sure you know what your target audience wants and needs — and are you prepared to step up to the challenge and invest in new technologies and processes to be able to keep up?
For instance, today’s consumers are practically glued to their phones, with the younger, “millennial” generation more so than their Generation X and Generation Y counterparts. This means that they’re also more likely to view content and make purchasing decisions using their mobile phones.
Thus, you would have a competitive advantage with mobile optimization — the capability of websites and product pages to adapt to the display specifications and loading times of whatever devices are being used to view them. Not bothering to incorporate this feature into your online materials will certainly spell doom for you and your marketing efforts, especially if your target audience is primarily comprised of young mobile phone users.
6. You have yet to combine traditional sales methodologies and modern digital sales strategies.
Are you still stuck with archaic sales practices, or have you learned to embrace digital disruption — changes in technology that affect the value of your products and services — and incorporate these disruptors into your overall strategy?
I’m sure you already include analytics when you measure the success of your advertising campaigns. Monitoring that data allows you to identify ways to improve your performance. But what about other new ideas?
For example, the freemium business model has gained tremendous popularity, having become a staple for most mobile apps (specifically games) and online services. Freemiums follow a pricing model that offers the basic product at no cost, allowing the user to experience the benefits it brings while also whetting their appetite enough to want to invest in the full/premium version with all the bells and whistles.
Don’t resist change, but don’t discard “oldie but goodie” practices, either. Come up with a winning strategy by figuring out what works and putting it all together in a neat package.
7. You are not making the most out of email marketing.
If you think that email marketing is obsolete, it’s time to get rid of that notion. Like, right now.
Email marketing plays a crucial role in engagement marketing. If you want to connect with your audience and get them to interact with your brand or respond to your advertising, you will want to allocate sufficient time and budget to your email marketing campaign. Emails are still highly effective forms of marketing, with many users revealing that they still make purchasing decisions that are influenced by email.
Social media can’t replace email. Think of them as just two overlapping tools that are individually effective in their own right.
8. You still need to put more work into your personal branding.
Remember how I said that your content shouldn’t all be about you? That’s a proven fact — but it helps to remember that as far as your remaining 20% of content for self-promotion is concerned, you have to make sure that your brand identity (the overall characteristics of your brand) will remain consistent throughout your content. Practice brand compliance in all of your brand assets, from your logo and slogan to your signs and ads.
Perfecting your personal branding is connected to creating high-quality content, in the sense that both require mastering the art of storytelling. When you are able to weave your brand message into an engaging narrative and translate that into content, you’ll be able to spread your message to a wide audience and improve your overall online presence.
You can use visual storytelling (videos, images, designs, and the like) to tell your brand story and stir up emotions in your audience. Talk about what drives you, what your ultimate objective is, and what you had to do to get your business up and running.
Most importantly, storytelling humanizes your brand. It builds trust among your target market by assuring them that behind the brand are people, just like them.
Here’s a tip: create snackable content for your audience — content that can be consumed and absorbed in a short period of time, such as quick instructional videos and infographics, like this one — to help them make decisions that are aligned with your goals in a snap.
9. You are having trouble with lead generation (and identifying the right leads).
While it’s good to develop lead generation strategies to help move your customers towards eventual conversion, you also need to consider whether you’re getting the right leads in the first place. To do this, you need to understand your sales funnel, and the approach you should take for your leads depending on which level of the funnel they’re in.
For example, top of the funnel (TOFU) and middle of the funnel (MOFU) leads need more nurturing to get them to make the decision to purchase, while bottom of the funnel (BOFU) leads are almost at the point where they’re ready to decide, requiring only a nudge in the right direction (read: your direction) from an efficient salesperson.
10. You are not getting the responses you want from your prospects.
Sometimes, it all boils down to the little things you’re missing. If you believe that you’ve covered everything, but are still not getting the results you want, take a step back and look at your sales strategy as a whole, and then look closer at the individual gears in your marketing machine to see which ones need a bit of grease.
Maybe your message needs adjusting, or your social media presence is lacking, or you’re simply not doing enough to get your target audience’s attention. Basically, compare your plan to your method of execution, and work towards weeding out the mistakes in your marketing style.
Having identified these 10 typical sales strategy problems, you are now ready to begin the process of finding the holes in your strategy and taking care of them promptly. This may seem like a lot of work at first — especially if you’re largely alone in doing this — but with expert guidance and counsel, you’ll be able to build up both your customer relationships and your baseline in no time at all.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.