How to create a winning sales strategy for 2021

How to set sales strategy in 2021
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After an unpredictable 12 months that was boom for some and bust for others, there’s never been a more important time to set – or reset - your sales strategy.


Creating a sales strategy isn’t just about setting revenue targets; it means taking a holistic approach to your brand and business model as well. Here are four steps to get it right.


Analyse your data


Before you look forward, you need to look back, says Brian Walker of The Retail Doctor, who recommends combing through your analytics from the past year. “Analytics are everything,” he says. “Look at analytics by period, salesperson and margins.”


Next, says Billie Cox of the Australian Marketing Institute, set targets. “Analytics will help you create achievable KPIs and growth strategy. There are a lot of free or low-cost tools SMEs can implement to help with sales funnels and pipelines.”


“You have to have targets,” adds Walker. “Then you have to use them! Without them we tend to lose focus. Look at targets around your sales mix, and margin.”


“I would expect a very similar sales pattern this year until about July, depending on your category. For example, homewares retailers had record sales last year. That will continue if COVID continues. Perform adjustments but mitigate your strategy by movement in the market and the pandemic.”


Prioritise cashflow


After the financial fluctuations of 2020, Walker says, “Never take your eye off cashflow. It’s not [lack of] profit that drives businesses out of business. It’s cashflow. Underestimate your sales forecast and overestimate your expenses.”


This year, technology costs are likely to be higher than usual, says Walker, who advises factoring this into expenses.


“As online becomes more important, businesses will need more cashflow for funding point of sale and business information systems, hardware, data, and loyalty programs to improve capability in this space.”


Evaluate your value proposition


Be clear on your value proposition (VP) as there’s a good chance this has changed, according to Cox. “Over the past year, many small businesses had to dramatically pivot to a digital sales strategy because of COVID. Suddenly, everything was online. If you weren’t already online, your customer experience needed to change – and this includes your VP.”


 In the wake of the pandemic, many shoppers are prioritising locally made products, so local retailers 


if your products are manufactured in Australia, then, post-pandemic, 


Once you’re clear on your value proposition, ensure you communicate it to your team.


“Make sure your team are great storytellers, as they’re responsible for telling the tale of your value proposition,” Cox advises. “If you haven’t already, ensure you look at sales training for your team.”


Invest in social media and email


These are also critical to your 2021 sales strategy. “Social and email proved imperative to communicate with customers during COVID-19,” Cox explains. “The world changed and everything went online. That applies to this year too for businesses to survive – and grow.”


Walker adds that brands can’t simply expect to post on social media and leave it at that. “Social media is a two-way street. You have to engage in conversations on social media. Don’t just tell everyone how good you are. Showcase products, VIP nights, and points of interest, too. Be aware, a good social media strategy well deployed can take between 10 to 40 hours per week depending on size and scale.”


Email marketing is also vital for cultivating loyal customers. This applies to all businesses because now more than ever it’s important to stay in touch with your customers so they don’t forget you, Walker says. “Email marketing means utilising your high spenders, the people who love you,” he adds. “Give them more reasons to come back to you and tell their friends. These are skilful roles in their own right. If you have the resources, get help from an expert.”


Want more tips? Here are Billie’s top 5 tips for your 2021 sales strategy:

1. Look at ways to collaborate with other brands.

2. Always keep your CRM and data up to date.

3. Look at your customer personas. Make sure your marketing channels, promotions, and advertising are servicing their needs, interests, and finances. 

4. Look at ways to up-sell, cross-sell, and package up products. Get creative on how you can increase the average spend per order. 

5. Focus on the big stuff. Don’t go down rabbit holes focusing on the little things. Detail is important but be realistic about how to best spend your time.


If you’d like more sales strategy advice, you can read more stories from this series below.

Women shopping. How to find customers

How to find your customer

Download your free retail calendar

Download your free retail calendar

5 key retail trends to know in 2021

Yvette Chegwidden is a former magazine writer who now writes for a range of corporate brands.


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