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The Only Blueprint for Growth You Will Ever Need

Updated: Apr 24

It's no secret that growth can present challenges that often prompt business leaders to consider raising capital to drive expansion. However, this method also introduces a risk of diluting ownership, which many stakeholders prefer to avoid. Ironically, a treasure of untapped opportunities often exists right under the noses of businesses - in their existing sales strategy.  

Before turning to external funding, companies can first look inward at their sales processes. A well-oiled and efficient sales engine can do wonders to raise revenue and drive growth without additional capital injection.

Optimizing a sales engine involves direct outreach, leveraging indirect marketing efforts, and capitalizing on trust built with current customers. To make this simple, we categorized three core components of any high-performing sales department: Active, Passive, and Referral Sales strategies.

  • Active Sales: This involves engaging closely with potential customers through traditional methods of direct communication like cold calling, emailing, and visiting in person.

  • Passive Sales: Falling under the subtler category of 'soft sell', these methods entail indirect marketing strategies that encompass content marketing and social media promotions to subtly draw customers toward your business or product.

  • Referral Sales: These involve incentivizing existing customers to recommend your products or services to their network, leveraging trust and relationships to generate new leads.

By integrating Active, Passive, and Referral Sales Strategies, businesses can thrust their companies forward without diluting ownership. They can maximize all of the current opportunities on the table before giving away more equity stakes.

This article will provide a comprehensive road map for any founder, CEO, or head of sales to integrate into their company and immediately drive growth. This is the blueprint for the ultimate sales engine.

Mastering the Dance of Active Sales

Active Sales are a vital part of any sales strategy and require direct engagement with your prospects. Cold calling, sending personalized emails, and even visiting potential clients in person are only a few on our list. You can win by preparing a solid plan to connect with your customers authentically.

It would help to examine your market research to understand which strategy is best for your company. Who is your target customer? Where do they live physically? Where do they live online? How do they like to communicate? What kind of communication forms do they want to respond to? 

You may not have the answers to all of these questions, and that is okay; this is where experimentation can be paramount. Speak to your customers. Create a list of questions you can email, call or text them. Go to people who have bought from you before to learn who will buy from you in the future. We will go into deeper strategies about direct outreach, but first, have a look at the following list of direct outreach methods to see which could be best for your customers. If you don't know, you can ask your past customers if they would respond to these types of contact.

Top 10 Sales Strategies

10 Types of Active Sales Strategies:

  1. Cold Calling: Making unsolicited calls to potential customers. Effective cold calling involves research and personalization to engage the prospect from the first interaction.

  2. Email Outreach: Sending personalized emails to potential leads. This can include cold emails or follow-ups to previous interactions or inquiries.

  3. Social Selling: Leveraging social media platforms to connect with and message potential customers.

  4. Direct Mail: Sending physical mail, such as postcards, letters, or promotional materials, directly to prospects. Despite being a traditional method, it can stand out in the digital age.

  5. Networking Events: Attending industry conferences, seminars, and networking events to meet potential customers in person. Building relationships in this manner can lead to more meaningful connections.

  6. Door-to-Door Sales: Don't underestimate the power of door-knocking. It is a tried and true method of visiting potential customers at their homes or businesses. This method requires a personalized approach and can be very effective for certain products or services that are more high ticket.

  7. Trade Shows and Exhibitions: Participating in industry-specific trade shows to showcase products or services directly to interested parties.

  8. Webinars, Online Workshops, or Interactive Demos: Hosting online events that provide value to potential customers. These can be used to gather leads and establish authority in your industry. Offering potential customers the chance to experience a product or service first-hand through demos. This can be done in person or virtually.

  9. Text Message Marketing: Sending personalized text messages to potential customers. This method is growing in popularity due to high open and read rates.

  10. Video Pitching: Sending personalized video messages as part of email outreach. Videos can make your message stand out and help establish a personal connection.

How to Master Direct Outreach 

When it comes to direct outreach methods, adopting personalized communication is a must. Imagine receiving an email that addresses you by name and accurately demonstrates an understanding of your needs and interests. Wouldn't that feel more engaging than a generic email blast? The secret to successful direct outreach lies in adding value to your prospect's life or business and tailoring your communication to them. 

“If you can’t solve a problem for your customer, then there’s no basis for a sale. But if you uncover problems you can solve, then you’re potentially providing the buyer with something useful.” - Neil Rackham, SPIN Selling

Learn from the SPIN Selling Method 

For an insightful perspective on how to directly communicate with active prospects, we look to Neil Rackham's book SPIN Selling. SPIN is an acronym that means situation, problem, implication, and need-payoff, which helps us understand and address customers' problems effectively.

  • Situation Questions: Start the conversation by asking questions that help you understand the prospect’s current situation. This involves gathering basic information about their context, which can help tailor subsequent conversations.

  • Problem Questions: Once you have a good grasp of the situation, shift to asking questions that help the prospect realize they have a problem or a need that requires addressing. These questions aim to make the prospect aware of the challenges they face and consider the negative impacts of these challenges.

  • Implication Questions: After identifying the problems, implication questions delve deeper into the consequences of these problems. They help the prospect understand the urgency and impact of their issues, making them more receptive to a solution. This step is crucial in building the value proposition of your offering.

  • Need-payoff Questions: Finally, shift the focus to the solutions by asking questions that lead the prospect to articulate the benefits of solving their problem. This strategy helps the prospect visualize the positive outcome of adopting your solution, encouraging self-persuasion rather than relying on hard selling tactics.

Now that we have the direct communication strategies locked in, we can empower the sales team to take action.

Hubspot SPIN Selling

Build a High-Performing Team

A direct outreach sales team is your business's front-line, the conduit through which the company interacts directly with potential customers. When you equip your team with potent communication skills and a deep understanding of your prospects’ needs, you set the stage for more meaningful and productive conversations. 

Build a High Performing Team

Nurturing a Motivated Team 

A motivated sales team is a productive sales team. To get the best out of your people, consider the following team-building strategies to hit sales targets and keep the team's spirits high.

  1. Clear Goal Setting: Establish clear, achievable sales targets to provide direction and purpose, utilizing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals to clarify expectations.

  2. Recognition and Rewards: Implement a recognition system that acknowledges individual and team achievements, using both monetary and non-monetary rewards to incentivize performance.

  3. Continuous Training and Development: Offer ongoing training programs to enhance sales skills, product knowledge, and industry insights, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and learning.

  4. Continuous Constructive Feedback: Provide regular, constructive feedback through one-on-one meetings and performance reviews, focusing on strengths and areas for improvement.

  5. Empowerment and Autonomy: Empower sales team members with the autonomy to make decisions within their territory or domain, boosting confidence and job satisfaction.

  6. Career Path Planning: Develop clear career paths within the organization, showing team members a trajectory for advancement and personal growth.

  7. Competitive Compensation: Ensure the compensation package is competitive within the industry, including base salary, commissions, and bonuses, to attract and retain top talent.

  8. Sales Contests and Incentives: Organize sales contests and incentive programs that foster healthy competition and reward top performers, driving motivation and team spirit.

  9. Collaborative Culture: Foster a collaborative team environment that encourages sharing best practices, experiences, and successes, enhancing team cohesion and morale.

  10. Wellness and Work-Life Balance: Salespeople can experience burnout fast if they hit a rut of rejections. Promote wellness programs and a healthy work-life balance to reduce burnout and keep the team energized and focused.

Tracking Performance Metrics 

It's essential to monitor your team's performance meticulously. This involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) to gain insights into your sales process. With data-backed analysis, you can identify areas of strength and weakness, make informed decisions, and continuously enhance your team's performance. 

Sales KPIs that every company must monitor:

  1. Revenue Growth

  2. Average Revenue per Unit (ARPU)

  3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

  4. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

  5. Lead Conversion Rate

  6. Sales Cycle Length

  7. Monthly Sales Growth

  8. Churn Rate

  9. Product Performance

  10. Sales per Rep

  11. Number of Active Customers

  12. Repeat Purchase Rate

  13. Margin per Sale 

Active Sales is the dynamic dance of direct engagements with potential customers, delivered through methods such as cold calling, emails, and in-person visits. This strategy requires finely-tuned communication, a deep understanding of the customer's needs and challenges, and an invigorated, motivated sales team to drive it forward. By implementing key performance metrics, you can track and optimize your active sales efforts. It's about making every interaction count for your business and the customer's journey. Now that we have a good handle on active sales, we move to passive sales.

If you want to learn more about how we think about Active, Passive & Referral sales, check out our post on the 3 Point System.

Build Your Brand

The Silent Power of Passive Sales

Passive sales play a substantial role in your broader sales strategy. Unlike its more assertive counterpart, passive sales do not involve direct interactions with prospective customers. Instead, they revolve around indirect methods of customer engagement through brand building, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and website optimization. 

A successful passive sales strategy cements your brand as a problem-solving pillar in the market. If active sales are a dance then passive sales are an art, waiting for your admirers to be captivated by all of the ways you display your problem-solving message.

“Successful organizations and companies share the stage with their best storytellers. Brands are a collection of narratives. Unleash your best stories.” – Carmine Gallo, author and keynote speaker.

The impact of passive sales may not be immediate, strengthening them is akin to tending a garden; it might take a while for the fruit to bear, it requires patience and consistent efforts, much like nurturing the seeds of brand awareness, credibility, and trust. However, when it does bear fruit, it rewards companies with a steady influx of organic traffic, stronger brand loyalty, and a significantly increased customer base. Not to mention, it can enhance the effectiveness of your active sales strategies. 

We have broken down passive sales into three key subsections: Brand, Content, and Optimization which we will discuss in detail.

How Your Brand Drives Sales

Your brand identity is your company's profile, logo, name, tagline, mission, vision, roadmap, and how all these make your audience feel. That is only the beginning. Your brand's core focus is building a compelling story that speaks to your target customers. To understand this deeply, we look to the acclaimed Donald Miller's book Building a StoryBrand.

DaaS Design

Building the Story Brand Framework

Miller presents a framework for clarifying your brand message so customers will listen. Our friend an partner Pete Sena from Daas Good offers easy and affordable tools to support this as represented by the book. The key insights from the book revolve around the StoryBrand Framework, which uses the elements of storytelling to make brand messaging clear and compelling. The following provides key insights and some of our favorite quotes from the book:

The Customer is the Hero: Businesses should position their customers as the hero of the story, not their brand. This shifts the focus to how the brand can help customers overcome their challenges.

"Imagine your customer is a hitchhiker. You pull over to give him a ride, and the one burning question on his mind is simply Where are you going? But as he approaches, you roll down the window and start talking about your mission statement, or how your grandfather built this car with his bare hands, or how your road-trip playlist is all 1980s alternative. This person doesn’t care.”

Define a Clear Problem: Every story needs a problem. Brands must define the problem they solve in clear, relatable terms. This involves addressing both external problems (what the customer is facing) and internal problems (how it makes them feel).

"Here is [the beginning of] nearly every story you see or hear in a nutshell: A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it."

Position Your Brand as the Guide: The brand’s role is that of a guide, not the hero. The brand should demonstrate empathy and authority, showing that it understands the customer’s problem and has the expertise to solve it.

"Nearly every human being is looking for a guide (or guides) to help them win the day.”

Offer a Plan: The guide provides a plan to the hero. This means outlining the steps the customer needs to take to solve their problem. It has to be clear and inspire trust. If the plan is unclear or without integrity the customer can be lost.

"In every line of copy we write, we’re either serving the customer’s story or descending into confusion; we’re either making music or making noise." 

Call to Action: Heroes need to be called into action. Brands should make their call to action (CTA) direct and obvious, encouraging customers to take the next step, whether making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or another desired action.

"People are drawn to clarity and away from confusion. Having clear calls to action means customers aren’t confused about the actions they need to take to do business with you.”

Show the Stakes: It’s important to illustrate what’s at stake. This involves showing the potential for failure if the customer does not act but also the success that awaits them if they do.

"Simply put, we must show people the cost of not doing business with us."

End with Success: The story should outline a clear vision of what success looks like for the customer. This helps customers visualize the positive impact of using the brand’s products or services on their lives.

"Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them."

Miller emphasizes the need for clear, jargon-free messaging that speaks directly to the customer’s needs and desires. By applying the StoryBrand Framework, brands can craft compelling messages that resonate with their audience, leading to increased engagement and sales. 

One of the brand building techniques that we recommend and employ is what you are reading right now and it is called thought leadership.

Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership Builds Brand and Increases Sales

When you enter the spotlight as an industry authority, you do far more than share your knowledge. You're building a bridge of trust between your business and potential customers, cementing your reputation as a reliable resource. This all becomes a critical component of your passive sales strategy. 

Pave the path as a thought leader, and you will create a magnetic pull, drawing customers towards your business. You'll be offering valuable insights into industry dynamics and navigating through the complexities of the marketplace. But it won't just be about facts and figures. By revealing your expert perspective on trends and hurdles, you're humanizing your brand and forming bonds with your audience beyond the conventional buyer-seller relationship. 

This authenticity boosts your credibility, giving customers the reassurance they need when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money. Once earned, their trust makes them more likely to seek out your products or services when the purchase decision comes. 

Thought leadership isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of role. It takes shape across various stages and platforms—be it through educational articles, inspiring podcasts, informative webinars, or engaging speaking gigs. Each channel allows you to influence your clients and prospective customers, leaving an imprint that resonates even when they're not face-to-face with your product. 

Consider this a strategic investment in your communication and content creation activities. These gears drive a formidable passive sales engine, cultivating a loyal customer ecosystem that respects your expertise and turns to your solutions first. So go ahead and claim your place at the forefront of industry conversation because, with every thought-provoking piece of content, you're laying another brick in the path that leads customers straight to your door.

This leads us to the core passive sales strategy: content marketing.

Content Strategy

Content Marketing Works While You Work

Content marketing is an article in its own right. We will not be going into the platform specifics of how to go viral or what the latest algorithms are informing us to do. We will provide the strategy framework for why your team should invest in content creation.

Content marketing drives passive sales by establishing a foundation of trust, value, and authority with a target audience without directly pushing for sales. Here's why it's so effective:

Educate Your Audience: Content marketing enlightens potential clients by offering crucial information about their requirements, challenges, and passions. It makes a significant difference when a customer comprehends how a product or service will be beneficial or solve a complication they face. They are inclined to make a purchase.

Builds Trust: Consistently delivering high-value and relevant content cultivates a bond with your audience over a period of time. After all, consumers prefer purchasing from brands they see as dependable, and content marketing fosters this reliability by repeatedly demonstrating a brand's expertise and trustworthiness.

Social Proof and Engagement: Sharing content across social media platforms increases engagement and amplifies social proof as users share, like, and comment on your content. This visibility encourages others within their networks to trust your brand, further driving passive sales through word-of-mouth and social sharing.

Nurtures Leads: Content marketing is a crucial component of lead nurturing. You can gently guide potential customers toward purchasing by delivering targeted content that resonates with different segments of your audience at various stages of their buyer's journey.

Increases Customer Retention: Providing continuous value to existing customers through content keeps your brand top-of-mind and fosters loyalty. Satisfied customers are more likely to repeat purchases and recommend your brand to others, driving passive sales through retention and referral.

Improves SEO and Online Visibility: Content marketing helps enhance a brand's visibility on search engines. The more relevant content you produce, the higher your chances of being found by potential customers through organic search. This increased visibility leads to more passive sales opportunities as potential customers discover your brand while searching for information or solutions.

As we finish that list with the potential to improve online visibility, we need to discuss optimizing your website so that customers can seamlessly follow your brand story or content to make a purchase or opt-in for whatever you are selling.

Online Optimization to Make Passive Sales Seamless

Web design plays a crucial role in making passive sales seamless. An intuitive, user-friendly interface allows customers to navigate your site with ease, making them more likely to stay and explore rather than leave due to frustration. It's not just about aesthetics; it's about creating a smooth, enjoyable user journey that effortlessly guides your visitors to the checkout page. Your website serves as the digital storefront of your business –– make it inviting. 

Next, providing detailed product or service information is fundamental. For your audience to make an informed buying decision, they need to know exactly what they're getting. Clear, concise descriptions, high-quality images, and immediate answers to potential queries are all part of this equation. By being transparent and thorough with your information, you establish trust with potential customers. 

Effective use of Call-To-Actions (CTAs) and various engagement tools can revolutionize the way your website interacts with its visitors. Optimize your CTAs to be persuasive but not pushy, and position them strategically throughout your site for maximum impact. Using engagement tools like chatbots can create an interactive experience for visitors. This not only keeps them engaged but also provides real-time support to answer queries and guide them through your sales funnel. 

Lastly, we need to highlight conversion optimization. This involves a thorough understanding of your customer's journey, identifying the pain points that might deter a sale, and addressing them proactively. Effective conversion strategies can include compelling CTAs, a simplified checkout process, or even a retargeting campaign to bring back visitors who left without making a purchase. 

Remember, online optimization isn't a one-time initiative. Instead, it's a consistent commitment to improving your website, keeping your audience's needs at the forefront, and continually investing in that techniques streamline their journey from visitor to customer.

Passive Sales Recap

Passive sales strategies pave the way for indirect customer engagement, establishing the foundation for a stronger brand image. By leveraging strategies can foster organic traffic growth, leading to substantial passive sales. Our final installment of the ultimate blueprint will cover referral sales.

Transforming Trust into Revenue with Referral Sales

Referral sales transform satisfied customers into brand advocates, creating a powerful channel for new business acquisition. This strategy capitalizes on the trust and credibility established with existing customers, leveraging their networks to reach potential clients in a personal and direct manner. Here’s how to build and optimize a referral sales strategy, drawing on insights from industry leaders.

Understanding Referral Sales

Referral sales occur when existing customers recommend your products or services to their network. This method is highly effective because referrals come with a built-in level of trust, significantly shortening the sales cycle and increasing conversion rates. As Mark Roberge, former Chief Revenue Officer at HubSpot, suggests in “The Sales Acceleration Formula,” personal recommendations dramatically influence buying decisions, making referral sales a critical growth lever for businesses.

Key Strategies for Referral Sales

Deliver Exceptional Customer Experiences: Creating a memorable customer experience is the foundation of a successful referral program. As Jeff Bezos of Amazon says, “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” BUILD A TRIBE.

Implement a Structured Referral Program: Encourage referrals by making the process as easy as possible for your customers. Offer incentives that motivate customers to share your product with others. Dropbox, for example, significantly increased its user base by offering additional storage space for both the referrer and the referee.

Leverage Social Proof: Use testimonials and case studies from satisfied customers to demonstrate the value of your offerings. As highlighted by Robert Cialdini in “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” social proof is a powerful motivator for decision-making.

Personalize the Referral Experience: Tailor the referral process to each customer. Personalized messages and offers can make your customers feel valued and more likely to participate. Salesforce’s approach to customer success, focusing on personalized customer journeys, underscores the importance of customization in driving referrals.

Train Your Team on Asking for Referrals: Educate your sales and customer service teams on the best practices for requesting referrals. Neil Rackham’s “SPIN Selling” provides a framework for engaging in meaningful customer conversations that can naturally lead to referral opportunities.

Measure and Optimize: Track the success of your referral program and continuously look for ways to improve. Analyzing metrics such as referral rates, conversion rates, and customer lifetime value can provide insights into the effectiveness of your referral strategies.

Leveraging Technology for Referral Sales

Utilizing CRM systems can help manage and track referrals effectively. Salesforce, for instance, offers features that allow businesses to automate referral tracking and reward fulfillment, ensuring a seamless process for both the company and its customers.

Referral sales harness the power of word-of-mouth and trust-based marketing to accelerate business growth. By focusing on delivering exceptional customer experiences and leveraging the insights of sales leaders like Mark Roberge, Jeff Bezos, and Robert Cialdini, companies can develop robust referral programs that drive significant revenue.

Ultimately, adopting a well-rounded sales strategy that encapsulates active, passive, and referral sales provides businesses with the robust toolkit they need to thrive. It's about forging genuine relationships with prospects, cultivating a vibrant brand image, and tapping into the persuasive potency of referrals. Such a method enables companies to translate their market research and strategic planning into real revenue without the need for additional capital investment. With insights from leading sales and marketing literature serving as a backbone, companies have the necessary guidance to streamline their actions, building a hyper-productive sales powerhouse conducive to enduring growth. As companies, we must always encourage self-examination and adjustment of our sales pipelines, ensuring maximum efficiency before seeking external financial resources. 

If you're a growth-minded company aiming to boost sales without diluting your equity, then you'll definitely want to explore the consultative offerings of Superstruct Advisors. Our expertise can help you unleash new, untapped revenue levels for your business. Don't hesitate, take charge of your company's future, and contact Superstruct Advisors today.


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