Developing a sound marketing and sales strategy is a logical step once you have decided what products or services your new business will offer.
Just as research and market analysis played an important role in defining what your business will offer and the niche areas that hold greatest potential, research will also serve you well as you embark on developing your overall marketing and sales strategy, the blueprint to attracting and retaining customers.
Regardless of your process, you will likely find your overall marketing strategy depends on a number of “sub-strategies” that specifically define areas like communications, growth, distribution and market penetration.
Communications strategy. This sub-strategy will explain how you will reach clients with your sales messages, and which communications tools–such as paid advertising, catalogs or product brochures–you will utilize.
Growth strategy. It may seem premature, but it is important to have a strategy for growth at the onset as part of an overall business plan. Consider such growth strategies as internal growth via additional staff or growth through acquisition of other businesses. You will also want to define whether you grow your product line and client base via a vertical or horizontal product strategy.
Distribution strategy. In addressing this sub-strategy, consider the best route for getting your product or service to customers. For example, an internal sales force is a different distribution strategy than relying on retailers.
Market penetration strategy. This sub-strategy defines the various means for growing market share and will likely make use of a number of activities related to some of the other sub-strategies for marketing, such as paid advertising. But strategies for market penetration may also pull together some additional tools, such as volume discounts or bundling.
With your marketing strategy clearly spelled out, you can then turn to development of your sales strategy, which should include both a sales force strategy as well as defining the specifics of your sales activities. This is the area of the plan where you determine whether you will hire sales staff or use outside representatives. Also, include how you plan to compensate your sales force. Will your sales representatives be salaried, work on a commission basis or be compensated using a combination of these two approaches?
Your sales activities should provide a comprehensive outline of your sales process, from identifying prospects to prioritizing to identifying the number of sales calls that should be completed over a given period of time. Each of these goals should be clearly measurable. Also, include measures for the anticipated number of sales calls necessary per actual sale and other financial factors, expected net profit per sale and similar financial factors.
Defining your marketing and sales strategies will put you well on the way to building a successful business plan. But just as importantly, your marketing and sales strategy provides an important playbook for success of your business.