The sales strategy is one of the most critical components of a company’s success, and it is high time to give it the attention it deserves. Despite this, many companies neglect to develop an effective sales strategy. Why do companies prioritize other strategies such as marketing, digitalization, sustainability, and employee development, but avoid investing in the fundamental pillars of sales?
Many companies expect sales to “just work,” which has led many companies to deprioritize their sales strategy. They continue to follow old sales techniques without considering which customers really benefit from their solutions and have the potential to make large purchases. This is the key to a successful sales strategy.
In this article, we will explore the cornerstones of the sales strategy, its importance, and what you should consider when developing a sales strategy for your business.
What is a sales strategy?
The sales strategy is an overall plan that companies develop to increase their sales. You should not confuse it with a sales plan, which is more concrete and operational. A sales strategy helps companies effectively use their resources and ensure they do business with the right customers. “The right customers” are those who get the most value from their products or services and are profitable for the company.
Why is sales strategy so important?
Whether your company is a start-up and wants to grow, medium-sized with new growth ambitions, or large and wants to take the next step, increased revenue is always required to drive growth. The sales strategy is crucial for several reasons:
- Targeting the right audiences: Helps you focus your sales efforts on the right audiences. The advantage of working with a clear target group is that the company’s resources can be used smarter. It also facilitates collaboration between sales and marketing (smarketing). Which in the long run will contribute to more satisfied customers and increased sales.
- Communication of value: This helps you communicate why your customers should choose your company. The reason why this is that the salespeople based on facts can communicate in a way that the target group can relate to. Another advantage of the salespeople having a similar way of communicating is that it becomes easier to make adjustments and measure the results of these. The effect you will notice is that sales processes become shorter and customers are perceived as more engaged.
- Transform personal knowledge into organizational capability: Enables the organization and dissemination of knowledge within the organization. The advantage of updating and gathering personal sales knowledge in a strategy is that it becomes easier to share “best practices”. Sales are otherwise something that is easily perceived as “fluffy” and unclear. By documenting which sales pitches and questions work, the company can more easily ensure that all employees use methods that are proven. What you will notice is that more sellers can deliver at a higher level than before.
Important aspects to consider when developing your sales strategy
To create an overall sales strategy, you should be able to answer seven critical questions:
- Who is your ideal customer?
Your ideal customer gets great value out of your product or service. It is also a customer who has the opportunity to buy in large volumes from you and who is willing to make recurring purchases for a longer period.
- Why should they buy from your company?
Here you define the reason why a company should choose to buy your particular solution. The purpose is to think about what you can do differently than others in the market to make the customer want to buy from you. It can be about unique knowledge, a specific price picture, or a combination of solutions that others cannot offer.
- What makes your company unique, and how do you communicate this?
Unlike point 2, this one is about communicating what is unique about your business. Is it about the company’s vision, purpose, and values? Whatever the reason you come up with, it needs to be clear to the entire company.
- How do you attract new customers?
There are many ways to attract new customers. Here you need to decide which paths you will prioritize. Some choose to have little activity in many channels while others choose to have a lot of activity in a few channels. Here you need to decide how to attract your ideal customer.
- How do you grow existing customer relationships?
Once you have acquired your customers and started the delivery, you will surely find new opportunities. In this step, you need to think about how you can sell more to your existing customers. Is it about selling to other departments at the company or do you need to sell other products/services? Decide how you want to develop and grow existing customers.
- What is your main goal for sales?
Decide what your main goal for sales should be. Some companies, choose to measure their sales target in turnover, while others choose to look at the contribution margin. Some companies have stable growth of 10% per year while others are working to aggressively double sales. Decide what your main goal is and what growth strategy you want.
- When do you expect results?
A sales strategy can be set in several different time perspectives. For established companies, the strategies are often somewhat longer than for start-ups. Typically, companies set their sales strategies for 1-, 3-, or 5-years. Make sure you are clear about when you can expect to see results as a result of the strategy.
The key to successful growth is to link all sales activities to clearly defined goals. Use external information and internal data to continuously evaluate and improve your strategy.
Sales strategy template – your step-by-step guide to a winning sales strategy
When developing your sales strategy, you should take the following basic building blocks into consideration:
The strategy needs to be based on the company’s objectives. Before you sit down to define the strategy, you need to be sure of where the organization wants to be in 1-, 3- or 5 years. The objective could be pure turnover, but it could also be a number of customers, a percentage of market share, or something else.
- Target audience
In order to create a realistic sales strategy, you need to gain a deep understanding of your target audience. You do this by talking to your existing customers, finding out about trends in your customers’ industries, and conducting in-depth interviews with decision-makers in other companies. Many companies choose to make the target audience even clearer by creating a “persona” or “avatar” for the target group they are working towards. It is a generalization of the person who is often the decision maker and helps you tailor the communication towards that person.
- Value proposition
A good sales strategy takes into account the entire company’s business and includes all offers and services. For some companies, the value lies in daring to scale back certain offers in order to be able to direct a clearer focus on the offers that generate the most revenue.
What behaviors will be critical to achieving your growth goals? In this part, it will be important to look at which behaviors are desirable but also which ones work today. Behaviors are what determine how different activities are carried out and not what the activity itself is.
Can you identify which processes will help you reach your growth goals? This may involve, for example, clarifying a process for new customer processing. When setting up your process, it is important to review what works today and then add additional steps to ensure quality.
Identify the customers who create the most value and focus on packaging your offer for them. Also, determine how you organize your sales force, including what behaviors are required for success.
Execute your sales strategy
To implement your strategy, you should:
- Differentiate yourself in the market
Clarify your unique selling point (USP) and make sure it’s truly unique. Make sure to also use killer facts to differentiate yourself from others who sell similar things. When you have your USP and your killer facts ready, it is important to spread the word in the market. You do this by using modern sales methods such as social selling. For example, LinkedIn is a great tool to stand out in the market.
- Create sales processes
Develop the processes for processing new customers and ensure that there are checklists for each step of the process. Also, include templates and real-life examples to make the steps extra clear. Once you’ve defined the process for processing new customers, it’s important that you also create a process for managing existing relationships. Some companies hand over all new customers to a customer success department while other companies leave customer development to the person who took in the business from the beginning.
- Establish sales management and culture
Define the leadership required for the success of the sales organization. In some companies, it is a matter of having regional managers, while in other companies a national sales manager is sufficient. Then set up structures to educate, coach, follow up, and measure the sales organization. It is crucial to create a culture that inspires the sellers to succeed and that challenges them to constantly improve.
- Identify key competencies
Determine which competencies are critical to your sales organization. A mistake many companies make is to confuse competencies with factual knowledge. In the long run, this can lead to companies drawing incorrect conclusions that, for example, industry experience is crucial to succeed with sales. Perhaps the person’s competence should really be to be able to communicate with people at C-level and have the ability to build trust.
Update and improve your strategy continuously
To ensure a sustainable and successful sales strategy, the last two steps are crucial. Here it is about immersing yourself in why the development of salespeople and sales leaders is essential for an effective sales strategy.
Develop and strengthen your salespeople
Salespeople are the face of customers and their performance has a direct impact on sales performance. To ensure success, it is crucial that sellers constantly improve their skills. Here are some key points to take into account:
Education and training: Offer regular education and training to keep salespeople’s knowledge current and relevant.
Technology and tools: Ensure sellers have access to the latest technological tools and systems that can facilitate their work and increase productivity.
Customer understanding: Encourage sellers to continuously deepen their knowledge of customer needs and challenges.
Communication and rhetoric: Train salespeople to communicate effectively and persuasively with potential customers.
Track results: Implement clear goals and metrics to evaluate salespeople’s performance and offer feedback for improvement.
Improve your processes and sales leadership
To optimize your sales strategy, sales leaders also need to play a central role. They are responsible for leading and supporting the sales team and ensuring the smooth execution of the strategy. Here are some areas to focus on:
Leadership development: Invest in leadership training and coaching for your sales leaders, so they can guide their teams towards success.
Process optimization: Review and improve your sales processes regularly to ensure efficiency and productivity.
Goals and incentives: Create clear goals and incentives for sales leaders to encourage them to drive their teams towards set goals.
Feedback and communication: Establish an open and effective communication channel between sales leaders and sales teams to facilitate collaboration and problem-solving.
Continuous follow-up and evaluation
In order for your sales strategy to remain relevant and effective over time, you need to continuously monitor and evaluate its performance. Here are some key elements:
Data analysis: Use data and analytics to track strategy performance and identify any areas for improvement.
Customer feedback: Collect and analyze customer feedback to understand how well the strategy meets their needs and expectations.
Competitive analysis: Keep track of what your competitors are doing in the sales space and adjust your strategy as needed.
Customization: Be prepared to make adjustments and improvements to your strategy based on collected information and feedback.
The sales strategy is a critical part of ensuring sales in your business. It helps you target the right customers, with the right message, and transform personal knowledge into organizational capability. All so that you can reach your sales goals and grow the business at the pace you want.
Do you want help defining your company’s sales strategy? We at Salesonomics are happy to help you! Learn more about how we work with strategy development or contact us directly and we will talk more. Remember that we can also help you recruit new employees in commercial roles and train your employees with customer contact.