Let’s face it, growing your business is not an easy task. Business growth strategies are complicated and take expertise far beyond what was once needed. Today, a fully functioning, lead-generating, growth-producing strategy requires the integration of multiple departments sharing information in real time. It is imperative, today, to begin your sales and marketing strategy with the understanding that technology must be integral to the plan. In order to implement your sales and marketing strategy, you must review your digital communication and delivery systems. Once your digital infrastructure is in place and you have established clear intercompany communication channels, you are ready to explore your long-term sales and marketing strategy.
Consider these five key concepts for building a long-term sustainable sales and marketing strategy, and then use them to help guide you on your journey and incorporate your ideas and insights as you go.
Invest in your digital messaging. It’s very difficult to hire a single employee with the knowledge and bandwidth to understand all the facets of social media marketing. Consider investing in a social media marketing firm to help you define and deliver your message effectively through the right platforms—not all social media channels are alike. Be aware of your social media analytics. Analytics are gold when trying to understand your marketing effectiveness and reach. If your budget is tight, consider trading your services for theirs. You never know until you ask! Nothing should be off the table.
What do you want people to think about when they think about your brand? Associate your brand with worthwhile causes and get yourself seen in the community. Partner with others. Write blogs and share with your community. Join civic organizations. Identify your top 10 prospects and find ways to get in front of them. Offer free seminars and webinars on specific topics of interest. Join organizations associated with your prospects. Have your elevator pitch down cold. Anyone in your company should be able to tell any prospect what you do in a couple of sentences. Create a shared vision inside your company, the “why” behind your brand. Everyone should understand the importance of your brand and what it stands for. Your brand integrity is critical in your search for new customers.
It’s time to set goals and targets. Who are your target customers? Are they in a vertical niche? Who is the decision maker? Do they have the budget for your services? How many touches will it take to get interest? Does your sales team need technical sales support? Do you have a CRM system so you can begin to build a database of prospects? And finally, are all your contracts, collateral, and sales materials concise and on message? Contact your partner vendors and set up trainings for your salespeople. Encourage your salespeople to get certified in various products and/or services. Enroll them in sales training classes. Make sure your salespeople are always networking. New prospects should be added daily and follow-up schedules should be enforced.
Your partners should help drive your sales and marketing efforts. Always leverage your relationships with vendor partners. See what resources your vendor partners have to help you. Do they offer custom-branding collateral or engineering services to help you close an opportunity? Position your brand with larger, more well-known brands. Associations offer legitimacy. Look for publication opportunities. Magazines, Ezines, online columns, etc., all need new content almost daily. Find a niche and make yourself an expert. Associate yourself with a local TV station or newspaper as an expert, so if they have a related story, they can use you as a source. Join your local chambers. Network with other members. Get involved!
Remember, everyone that works for your company represents your brand. Professional, engaging, courteous customer service builds long-lasting relationships, increases referrals, and empowers your brand. Develop customer service policies and procedures. Make sure your customer is at the center of your process. They are the reason you are in business and the only way you will stay in business. A difficult customer is your best opportunity to practice your customer service skills.
Finally, if building a marketing and sales strategy and the infrastructure required to power it is beyond your knowledge set, consider hiring a consultant to help you. Many times, hiring a consultant in the beginning offers a better return on investment than making critical mistakes that lead to lost capital and opportunity. Building a technically sound and strategic sales and marketing plan is a must for those companies that seek to push their company to the next level.
Rick Miller is COO and Partner of The Tek, an MSSP specializing in risk assessment, risk mitigation, protection, and education to SMBs. Rick is a long-term veteran in the IT industry. His success has been founded in propelling start-ups and turnarounds to success and profitability. His experience has helped to grow multiple companies from start-up to profitability.
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