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Sales Strategy for 2021

For her final article of 2020, Ruth focuses on putting in place a practical and effective sales strategy for 2021.

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Why is a sales strategy important and why is it paramount to tailor it specifically for 2021?

A sales strategy is important in any business. It gives you a plan of action over a defined period, with set milestones, goals and triggers. In a normal year, we can often be too busy with the immediate needs of the business to step back and really assess the situation in depth. This can lead to missing out on potential opportunities or making sporadic decisions that seem great but really hold no commercial benefit. This year, we have all been forced to strategically look at our business, cutting out unnecessary overheads, streamlining processes and tasks, and maximising customer engagement. The silver lining is that most businesses will start 2021 with a much healthier business model than ever before. That makes it the perfect opportunity to really take the time to put in place a practical, realistic, strategic plan for the next 12 months that will boost your business success. 2021 is sure to bring with it an increased number of new brides. As vaccines start to get rolled out, we can expect a surge in confidence with increased brides looking for appointments, so you may need to re-consider longer opening hours, or opening on days you are typically closed to make the most of it. All the more reason to start the new year with a new outlook and a new strategy!

What should you consider when planning your sales strategy for the new year?

There are a number of key things to consider when planning your sales strategy, and it helps to break them into 4 key sections: Customer, Product, Goals, Team

Customer: really try to get into what you expect the customer of 2021 to look like, and try to understand their needs, wants and wishes. Think about what you are seeing post lockdown in terms of your typical customer. What are you seeing in terms of typical style, venue, budget and timelines? Is your messaging and marketing really targeting the right customer, and if not, how can you alter it to make it more effective? If budgets are now more considered, how can you work with your customer to propose solutions that still lets her say yes to the dress with confidence.

Product: by understanding your customer and their evolved needs and styles, you can make smart choices. Do you have the right dresses in store in terms of price point, delivery time, stylisation? Knowing that brides are choosing to visit less boutiques and are going to be coming into your shop with a much more committed buying mindset, do you have the right secondary products or services on offer to really provide an all-inclusive offering to your customer? Are there product lines or items that you are missing that could help you increase your profitability per bride next season? Or do you have products on the rails that are not selling that you can move on?

Goals: What do you want to achieve in 2021? If you do not set goals and targets for the year, it’s nearly impossible to create a sales strategy that will have any impact. Every business will have their own unique goals specific to their business. The most typically top-line goals to consider can be; Annual Volume Target, Improved Conversion Rates and Increased Referrals.

Team: A strong team can be the foundation of a company’s success. As part of your 2021 strategy consider what you can do to re-invigorate, re-energise and re-cement their confidence for the season ahead. Make sure your messaging is clearly communicated with them to ensure that not only are they performing confidently at the top of their game, but that it is in line with achieving your company goals and targets. What training might they need in terms of the Customer, the Product or the Goals. Do you have the right skillsets within your team to drive success in the season ahead, or are there any gaps that need to be addressed? Do certain team members have skillsets that could be harnessed and utilised to advance other areas the business such as social media or store merchandising etc.

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Where should a boutique start when writing their sales strategy for 2021 and can you outline in a few steps how you would approach it?

Don’t be phased by the thought of a sales strategy, it’s just a plan of action to help you manage each step towards achieving success.

Break it down into monthly bite sizes parts.
Start with your end of year targets and goals and use this to work backwards with your milestones towards achieving this. Some goals and milestones might be best judged weekly some monthly, others perhaps quarterly, either way what is important is to make sure that it suits your unique business. Then build out your strategy with achievable, practical actions in each section.

Are there certain times of the year that you run competitions or promotions to help boost a slow season or encourage an increase in bookings? Use these as markers within your 2021 strategy to help you plan a more considered and effective approach towards them in advance. Set relevant goals against them to ensure that they are actually showing a return on your investment, be it time, money or resources.

Communicate with your team the sales target for the year, and per week throughout the different seasons. When it is broken down into a weekly target for them to achieve, it becomes much more attainable. Keep track of conversion rates so that you can address any major fluctuation and use any major conversion success and learning tools for the whole team.

Considering your customer, your products, and your team, what are the actions that you can take each month focusing on these three topics that moves you closer to your goal, some may continue throughout the year, others might be monthly goals. Some examples could be;

- Think about your core customers, if budget is a concern, consider payment plans for paying off the balance, a balance of a £1,000 after 6 months can be intimidating, but weekly payments in advance of £41.66 sounds much more achievable.
- Consider specific team training each month to boost confidence, grow product knowledge and encourage better conversion rates.
- Perhaps consider additional social media activities to reach more customers and increase engagement and referrals, think live Instagram’s, a behind the scenes shoot in store, meet the team videos. Do you have a team member who would excel tasked with this?
Sometimes things just don’t happen the way we plan, but by having a sales strategy broken down with regular goals and milestones, it allows you to pivot and adjust accordingly so that you can get back on track and stay focused.

But don’t forget, as important as it is to have your strategy, your processes and your business fighting fit for 2021, it is just as important to take a moment over the Christmas break to rest, recuperate and relax. You need to be equally healthy to lead your business, so let’s use this last month to get both your businesses and yourself ready for a successful 2021 ahead.

For tailored advice to support your business, contact

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