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The 15 Time Wasters of Inside Sales Departments – #1 – Poor Sales and Marketing Strategy

TIME WASTER SERIES #1 of 15: Poor Sales and Marketing Strategy

A poor marketing strategy will lead your company to make costly mistakes, select the wrong market, or fail to reach the right target audience. While executive management has the primary responsibility of defining the sales and marketing strategy, every VP Sales, Sales Manager and Salesperson should ask him or herself:

What battle should you be fighting? If your main competitors are well-established and several times larger than your company, you may find it impossible to gain a significant footing in the industry. You may be better served if you find a niche where your product excels and go after success in that area.

In which market segment or industry will you have the greatest chance of success? Your product may serve a large market well, but some segments will give you a greater return on investment than others. Define where you stand to make the greatest profit with the least amount of effort and focus on that segment.

What is the most effective way to target the correct market segment? Tailor your marketing to your target audience: while senior citizens watch a lot of daytime television but shy away from Internet search engines, small business owners are often the opposite.

What is your most successful and low-cost source of leads? Some businesses lend themselves well to the internet; probably more than is realized. Some businesses that are locally or regionally located who do not think the web will work for them should look closer at the new options in search engines and city directories to localize web search marketing.

Once you have defined these core issues, further define it by asking yourself:

What is your core message? If you are trying to do to many things, you will end up dissipating your energies and resources and will never hit critical mass. Keep your message simple. Focus. Boil your core message down to 30 seconds or less.

Who is the target decision maker? What title do they usually have? What department do they work in? List each possibility. Can you purchase lists of people like this with opt-in emails? Will you have to use telemarketing resources into these accounts?

What are the key features, benefits, and impact of your product? Ask yourself what pains or possibilities do you address in your target marketplace. List the top 5 of each. Survey your customer base to find out why they buy from you. It may be different than you think.

What is your advantage over the competition: price, quality, speed, or service? If you do not know these advantages take the time to compare yourself to your top five competitors. Ask your customers either informally or with a formal survey to have them rate you in these four categories.

What is unique about you: the single, coolest, most powerful (and profitable) stance you can take in the market? This is almost always the place you should focus your efforts. You should not be fighting the battle on many fronts. On the other hand, if you have cash-flow from many areas you can not immediately change your business, it has to be a slow but purposeful evolution to the areas where you have the most impact and profits.

Best Practice: Take the time to answer these questions and then make sure you and your people know the answers to these strategies and can discuss them and use them in making decisions. Review these strategies once per quarter to make sure your corporate direction is still in alignment with your strategy.

Sales and Marketing Discipline For Insurance Agencies

Every great company has a key defining concept. Something that is woven into the fabric of people, products and culture. For example, 3M strives to use innovative technology and imagination to improve the daily lives of people. This concept becomes obvious when reviewing their history and how the company operates each day. The immense challenge for businesses, or in this case insurance agents, who want to achieve tremendous success like 3M, is to define that key concept – and then to make all decisions in alignment with that concept.

Successful insurance agency sales and marketing cultures should be built the same way. A truly honest assessment of how your insurance agent sales time is spent, and the associated results, can be a very enlightening exercise for both agent and agency alike. What is your agency’s defining concept, and how is this conveyed to your agents? Who is your best client or customer? How did you find them? How much of your time are you spending trying to repeat that same process? How much time are you wasting with less productive initiatives or people who are less likely to buy?

Here are a few steps to help you complete this exercise:

  1. Define your Ideal Insurance Agency Sales Prospect – Use your best customer as an example. Who are they? How big are they? What does their industry and client base look like?
  2. Determine your Most Effective Marketing Tools – What marketing initiatives provide the best results? Where do your closes come from? What is producing the right kind of prospects?
  3. Refine your Marketing Plan- Once the above two items are clearly and honestly defined, make sure your marketing plan is directed at repeating the process. Refine the plan so that it is accurately aligned with your findings.
  4. Stop doing Everything Else – This is a hard one. But to achieve the 3M type of success mentioned earlier, it is required. Throw away everything else that does not fit, and only spend time pursuing your best prospects and executing your most effective marketing campaigns.

It sounds simple, but if it was easy everyone would already be doing it – maintain focus on your best prospects and best marketing channels. As your agency discipline increases, your results will improve dramatically. Your insurance agents will focus on ideal prospect profiles and carry your defining message to these prospects. This discipline will result in an improved agency pipeline, with better insurance agency leads and prospects.

Are Your Sales and Marketing Strategies Working For You?

Have you been missing your sales target for more than a year? Are your competitors taking away most of your potential customers? Or are you perhaps simply looking for a bigger market base to sustain your business? One of the most innovative electronic sales and marketing solutions for all types of businesses could be your answer: e-commerce.

E-commerce is a one-stop online solution where businessmen like you can sell products, check inventories, promote products and services and communicate with other companies to manage your supply chain.

  • Benefits of e-commerce

In 2012, a medium-sized media company based in Ohio reported almost double income growth from the previous year when they improved their 20 online stores. It claimed that e-commerce was now their fastest-growing business.

E-commerce provides more benefits than just accepting orders. It has all the capabilities to offer a full back office support to companies and a comprehensive shopping experience to customers. The key areas of e-commerce are customer service, operations, technical systems, online merchandising and marketing. The media company exploited all these in their websites, and because of which they were able to build and accommodate more services.

E-commerce customer support provides online assistance and tutorials anytime a customer needs them. Because of the inherently fast-paced nature of e-commerce, customers are able to have their issues addressed much quicker than traditional methods.

Shopping cart is one of the most important applications in an e-commerce site. It is what customers use to view catalogs and make their purchases. It is also what connects them to the back operations and technical systems of the website. Not a few companies compete for customers by how their shopping carts look and perform. To get the best of both worlds, many of them go for custom module development and template installation.

Successful e-commerce sites make use of other features such as online content and blogs that contain tips and stories related to their line of business. This makes them more than just a shopping site, but a destination site as well.

Additionally, innovative marketing applications such as autoresponders, ad trafficking and affiliate programs help to draw traffic to a website. Businesses that are content on just selling merchandise and using minimal marketing features may find it hard to maintain and expand their clientele.

  • E-commerce gains in 2012

E-commerce has been helping many businesses find new success by making sales and marketing activities cheaper and more efficient. As more and more customers move away from physical stores to retail websites, companies are introduced to new opportunities for growth. In 2012 e-commerce sales in North America grew by 13.9% to $364.66 billion, compared to 2011′s $301.69 billion. This was according to eMarketer.com, one of the world’s leading provider of information related to trends in e-commerce and digital marketing. Furthermore they expect growth to top $409.05 billion by the end of 2013.

ComScore, another leading e-commerce analytics firm, estimated 2013′s first quarter retail sales in the US to be at $50.2 billion. Evidently there is great potential for growth for any company in e-commerce. This is supported by the fact that more people are shifting to doing business online not only in the US, but also across the Pacific.

If you are looking for ways to amplify the results of your sales and marketing strategies, try e-commerce, one of the hottest and most effective sales and marketing solutions for any business to date.