Sales Strategy: How a Targeted Sales and Marketing Focus can help Manufacturers Beat Forecasts

Though some economic forecasts indicate improving conditions, the future is still unpredictable. But for manufacturers willing to put aside the marketing methods of the past, there’s bigger hope on the horizon than that offered by economists. And it all starts with thinking small – at least in regard to target markets.

The key to beating a weak economic forecast is to reconsider the amount of time and money you spend courting some of your current customers and prospects. Why? Because chances are good that you’re overreaching, diluting your sales and marketing resources, and underperforming as a result. Instead, why not direct the bulk of your selling toward customers and prospects whose fit with your offerings is likely to provide the greatest return? Though it’s a counterintuitive idea, narrowing your focus does not diminish profit potential. In fact, a concentrated focus on your ideal target market allows you to sell more – and more profitably – than you did in previously.

To Fatten the Bottom Line, First Narrow Your Market Focus

To get started with a profitable targeted sales approach, you’ll first need to identify your best-fit market and client. While the specific techniques involved in pinpointing your ideal target market are too involved for a space this short, in broad strokes, you’ll need to:

Look for triggers and enabling conditions that signal emerging/changing markets. Analyze trends to uncover enabling conditions and triggers that point to emerging markets that might be good fits for you. Look for profitability/productivity issues, likely or recently completed mergers, new regulatory requirements, and so on – basically, any change that will alter a market’s needs or create an entirely new one.

Understand why competitors are successful in existing markets that interest you. While it’s best to get into a market early, it’s not always feasible. To break into a more competitive market, first analyze the key players’ offerings, organizational strengths, and the benefits they offer their customers. Then ask how you compare: are there areas of weakness – product, organizational, marketing, etc. – that you can exploit?

Segment the markets under consideration. Once you’ve got a list of new and/or existing candidate markets, it’s time to segment them according to factors such as geographic location, distribution methods, technological sophistication, and developmental stage. In so doing, you’ll find that some of your candidates don’t look as promising as they did, but some will look even better.

By now, you should have a short list of target markets that you can refer to as you examine and refine your sales process in the next step.

Streamline Your Sales Process to Suit Your Market

With your list of candidate markets in hand, find the one that your current sales process is most likely to convert. Now, ask yourself what would have to change about your sales process in order to extract maximum ROI from that market. Does its demographic and psychographic makeup indicate a different approach to following up leads? Would your prospect qualification process change? What’s the shortest possible process that doesn’t let opportunity slip by? Keep asking questions and identifying sales process tweaks until you come up with a profitable match.

Focus on the Emotional Buyer, but Keep a Hard-Headed Focus on Sales Results

Once you know who your target market is and how best to sell to it, devise a "phrase that pays," a message expressly designed to slip past the hypercritical intellect and hook the emotional buyer, to whom all sales are ultimately made.

In developing this short marketing message, stop thinking in terms of left-brain features and start concentrating on right-brain, what’s-in-it-for-me benefits that appeal to the emotional decision makers inside your prospects. Get past the brain and go for the heart. Sure, your prospects’ intellects will still be involved, but mainly to justify the purchase that the emotional buyer will have already made.

Finally, define precise sales performance metrics and monitor them ruthlessly. To avoid straying from a profitable path, be sure to develop a course correction plan and assign personnel to nudge your sales team in the right direction as monitoring indicates.

With a targeted sales and marketing approach, it’s possible to grow in spite of dismal forecasts. So, focus on ROI-friendly customers and prospects. Find out exactly who they are, and speak directly to them. Go after them with a streamlined sales process and keep a close watch on results. Think small – and look forward to a bright future.

© Copyright 2009, Danita Bye Sales Growth Specialists, All Rights Reserved.

Author:.

Nationally recognized sales management and leadership expert Danita Bye built her reputation on building and inspiring process-oriented, no excuse, high-performance sales teams that deliver bottom line results. With her unique Fortune-100-turned-entrepreneur perspective, Danita helps CEOs and company presidents take their businesses to the next level. Her practical, no-nonsense approach to sales management, combined with her leadership acumen, enables sales leadership to increase sales, creating...

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