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Out-of-the-Box Sales Strategies for Identifying Your Ideal Customers in 2023

With the recession looming, the most successful salespeople will be those who think outside the box to generate new business. The status quo will no longer suffice, and the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to level up your sales game. 

We’re not saying you should reinvent the wheel. Instead, brand yourself differently than your competitors and look for new, creative ways to generate leads.


Most importantly, highlight your unique selling proposition (USP) at every step of the customer journey. 

Getting started is the hardest part, especially for salespeople in highly competitive markets. But even so, you can still take a unique approach to the sales process and maintain a competitive edge. 


how to identify your ideal customers


Now Is the Time to Rethink Your Sales Strategy 

Millions of companies went out of business during the Covid-19 crisis and over the next few months. J. Crew, Hertz, JCPenney, GNC, Gold’s Gym, and One Web filed for bankruptcy.

Some have managed to recover, but others are gone forever. As if that wasn’t bad enough, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat due to the rising inflation rates. 


For example, a 2022 survey found 90% of small and medium-sized SaaS companies and 60% of large companies didn’t increase their prices over the past year, fearing they would lose customers.

Meanwhile, their operational costs continue to climb. More than 60% of consumers spend less on jewelry, cosmetics, and other non-essential goods than a few years ago.


For small businesses, they are cutting overhead costs and other expenses. 

In a recent survey, 40% of small business owners said they reduced their marketing spend. 


Under these circumstances, many salespeople need help to get quality leads. They may do everything by the book and still fail to hit their numbers.

But, sometimes, creativity is all it takes to fill your pipeline and drive revenue. That said, here are some out-of-the-box sales tactics to target and connect with potential customers. 


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Surprise and Delight Your Prospects

Cold selling is less effective than it was once. Consumers see hundreds of ads and promotional messages daily; the last thing they want is another cold call or sales email. 

B2B buyers are people, too, who expect a human touch when dealing with sales reps. You won’t get their attention by sending a cookie-cutter email introducing your products.


Instead, think outside the box and deliver your message in a way that resonates with their needs and sparks curiosity. 

Jamie Ratner, a successful entrepreneur and thought leader, recommends using comics, handwritten letters, or even food gifts to get customers’ attention. 


For example, you may send a gourmet gift basket to potential clients and ask for a piece of their “marketing pie.”

Another option is to send them an extra-large poster featuring a funny sales comic related to your brand or products. Ratner also suggests leaving a sales voice message on LinkedIn instead of a written message. 


These strategies may only work for some businesses, especially those targeting global customers or large audiences. But even so, you could use them to connect with the people who matter most, bringing us to the next point…


Engage with Key Decision Makers 

You could be targeting tens of thousands of potential clients depending on what you sell. But only a few will have decision-making power if you’re marketing to B2B customers. 

Let’s say you’re trying to sell accounting software. In this case, you may target corporations, accounting firms, public organizations, retail stores, service-based businesses, etc.


You start by contacting the heads of accounting departments, but you never hear back. 

These people may not have the power to decide what and when to buy. Instead, the company’s management makes these decisions, so you should reach out to those at the top. 


Before employing this strategy, research the companies you’re interested in and find some common ground with their leaders. The more you know about a potential lead, the higher your chances of picking up his interest. 

For instance, you can break the ice by mentioning an event you both attended or an article he recently published. Find someone who can refer you and take it from there.


Once you’ve found the right people, be clear about what your product can fix and how it relates to their needs.


Leverage social selling to warm up your leads

Some of the best salespeople use LinkedIn to find and engage with key decision-makers. This practice is social selling and can make turning your leads into customers easier. 

For starters, focus on improving your social selling index on LinkedIn. By monitoring and optimizing this metric, you’ll be better able to track your social selling efforts and make changes as needed. 


Next, use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find, group, save, and organize prospecting leads. With this feature, you’ll also get real-time updates on your leads and access to various sales tools.

Currently, LinkedIn Sales Navigator offers three membership options at different price points, plus a free trial for each plan. 


Once you have identified your best leads, interact with them on social media. Leave meaningful comments on their posts, ask revealing questions, and highlight how your values align with theirs.

Keep their needs in mind at every touchpoint, and spend some time building rapport before introducing your brand or products. 


Position yourself as a thought leader 

Whether you’re a salesperson or a startup founder, building trust with your target audience is crucial. At this point, you may think you need more authority or expertise to position yourself as a thought leader, but that’s not necessarily true. You know your products or services better than anyone, so why not share your insights? 


A thought leader is anyone who has specific knowledge or experience in a particular field. Simply put, you don’t have to be a successful entrepreneur or the CEO of a global company to embrace this role.

Instead, what matters most is to possess in-depth knowledge in one area or another— and be willing to share it with others. 


First, find a unique perspective on the topics you want to cover. Groupthink kills good ideas, so don’t just do what everyone else on your team is doing. Instead, gather outside opinions, engage in debates, and share your point of view. 

In a sales situation, you can act as a thought leader by providing potential clients with relevant advice for their business. 


For example, you could sell a company a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. By positioning yourself as a thought leader in CRM and sales, you could share insights into the latest industry trends and best practices.

You could also explain how the new CRM system can help the company drive customer loyalty and reduce churn. 


Also, share your insights on social media, forums, and relevant online platforms. Then, depending on your target audience, you could create meaningful posts, write whitepapers and articles, speak at events, or host webinars.


Create a Customer Community

Harley Davidson, Apple, Lego, Sephora, Red Bull, and other popular brands have built entire communities around their products.

Quickly search online, and you’ll find thriving Facebook groups, subreddits, and chat rooms filled with people talking about these brands. 


For example, Sephora features an online community on its website. Members can join groups, ask questions, leave feedback, and share beauty tips.

They also have the option to rate and review products, join challenges, and sign up for product samples. 


CMSWire says building a customer community is one of the best ways to engage with your target clients and gain insights into their needs and wants. This approach also allows you to overcome sales objections by addressing customers’ concerns. 

Moreover, an online customer community can be valuable for generating sales, driving brand awareness, and fostering meaningful relationships.


In the long run, it may reduce the workload on your customer support team and boost brand loyalty. 

For starters, create a Facebook or LinkedIn group and invite your customers to join the community. Alternatively, set up a members-only area on your company’s website or use a third-party platform like Disciple, Circle, or Thinkific


Some platforms also allow you to create and sell courses, host webinars or provide coaching, which could be a great opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader. 


Host Virtual Events

Webinars, podcasts, live Q&A sessions, and other virtual events can be powerful tools for salespeople. First, they allow you to reach and engage with potential customers without incurring significant costs.

Second, they make strengthening your bond with existing clients easier and to deliver differentiated value.


Virtual events also allow for more interactive experiences, increasing brand awareness and customer loyalty.

On top of that, you’ll have the opportunity to share valuable insights and give customers one more reason to choose your brand or products over others. 


As a salesperson, you may be hearing the same questions from prospects over and over again. Would you prefer to spend hours talking to each client or hold a 30-minute Q&A session to answer those questions? 

Chances are, you’d choose the second option. Plus, you can record the session and share it on your website and social media channels. It’s a simple, effective way to save time and address customers’ pain points.


In addition, those who are truly interested in your products or services will contact you afterward for more information.

Here’s another tip: pre-record product demos and stream them during the event, or build a video library for potential and existing customers.


Leverage Augmented Reality 

Successful brands like IKEA, Amazon, Sephora, Asos, and Wayfair all use augmented reality to deliver immersive shopping experiences. 

Amazon Room Decorator, for instance, enables customers to furnish and decorate their homes via an app virtually. IKEA features a similar tool that allows buyers to place true-to-scale 3D furniture in their living spaces effectively. 


As a salesperson, you can leverage augmented reality to educate, engage, and entertain your customers. According to Forbes, this technology can increase online sales by a whopping 200%.

Moreover, 61% of customers prefer to buy from brands that offer augmented reality experiences.  


Augmented reality works best for companies selling physical goods, like makeup, furniture, gym equipment, apparel, cars, etc. You could use it to level up your product demos, deliver “try it out before purchase” experiences, help customers navigate your offerings, and much more.

The American Marketing Association says augmented reality delivers better results for less popular brands and products, including niche goods. 


Most customers already know what to expect from a brand like IKEA or Wayfair, but they may be reluctant to buy a futuristic desk chair or anything that looks different from what they’re used to.

Augmented reality allows them to see what those products look and feel like and how they would fit into their lives.


You can also use this technology to create interactive catalogs that bring products to life. This strategy would allow customers to gain further insights into whatever you sell and make more informed buying decisions, which can lead to greater satisfaction. 


Last but not least, augmented reality can help create personalized customer experiences, such as custom product recommendations, virtual showroom tours, or virtual trade shows.

Plus, you can digitally interact with your customers via avatars and guide them through purchasing.


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Think Outside-the-Box to Get More Leads 

Technology is quickly evolving, and your customers expect you to adapt. Nowadays, you can no longer rely solely on cold calling, email marketing, and similar tactics.

Instead, you should devise a strategy that sets your business apart and takes the customer experience to the next level. 


Consider your industry, target market, and what products you sell. Next, look into other brands in the same niche as yours to see what they do well and what can be improved.

After that, experiment with different strategies and focus on those that work best. 


For example, there are better choices than augmented reality for software companies. In this case, you can leverage online communities, virtual events, and social selling to get qualified leads and expand your reach.

You’ll also want to focus on your best leads and spend less time on those that fail to convert.


To do that, reach out to key decision-makers and potential customers who can generate ongoing business. But, most importantly, make it all about the customer and build genuine relationships. 


About the author

John is a 7-year digital marketing specialist servicing brands globally. He spends most of his time A/B testing different strategies and in his spare time, argues his findings with his dog. Zeus. You can follow him @J_PMarquez.