I asked a simple question to sales reps at 3 different public companies.  Can you please describe your company’s sales strategy? 


The question was posed to 6 sales reps within the 3 sales organizations.  4 of the 6 asked me to define what I meant by a sales strategy.  After explaining, here were the answers I received…


  1. “I don’t think we have one.” – received this one twice


  2. “If we have one, I don’t know what is.”


  3. “Apparently to sell more, because they keep raising my quota.”


  4. “We are getting paid more to sell new business, so that must be part of it.”


  5. “You should ask the Executives.” 


The Disconnect

In all cases someone on the Executive team thought a clear sales strategy existed.  But the people closest to the customer did not.  So where was the breakdown?


There is a lot of confusion around the term sales strategy.  Few SVPs of sales will tell you they don’t have a strategy.  This would be like a pilot admitting he doesn’t have a flight plan.  The frightening truth is that most sales organizations have the wrong sales strategy.


Sales Strategy Defined


  • What is a Sales Strategy?  A Sales Strategy is an operating plan for a company’s sales force.
  • What does a Sales Strategy do?  A Sales Strategy allocates sales resources efficiently to drive selling costs down and revenues up.
  • What does it mean to use a Sales Strategy?  The use of a Sales Strategy means an executive team can get the most out of his/her sales force.


Interested in learning more about sales strategy best practices?  Go to “How to Make the Number in 2016” to build a great strategy.


SBI found 78% of sales organizations have the wrong sales strategy.  Here are the top 6 reasons why.




Same Sales Strategy as Competition

In this scenario, the sales experience becomes a commodity.  When this happens, differentiation is reliant solely on product or price.  This strategy could work if you are lucky enough to sell a superior product. Although, this advantage is likely to be short lived.  Competitors will catch up.  The pricing pressure will result in missing the number.


Sales Strategy Not Aligned with Buyer Needs

When a sales team does not align the strategy to buyer needs, friction results.  Buyers may have great experiences during the self-directed portion of the buyer’s journey.  But once the sales team engages, the experience degrades substantially.  The result is frustrated buyers who take their business to a better aligned competitor.


Sales Tactics Masquerading as a Sales Strategy

When the strategy is a compilation of tactics, the organization is reactive vs. proactive.  They may make the number one quarter, but miss the next.  However, they are unable to excel every quarter unless they can systematize these tactics.


No Sales Strategy

When there is no sales strategy, the number is almost always missed.  This results in periodic success thru the heroic efforts of a few superstars.  Without a sales strategy, the sales leader becomes overly dependent on a few reps.  This is not sustainable.


Sales Strategy Not Aligned with Product Strategy

Sales strategy not aligned with product strategy, often leads to sales teams underperforming.  Product management delivers new solutions to specific problems of certain prospects.  The sales strategy needs to be built around these prospects to solve their problems.  


Sales Strategy Not Aligned with Corporate Strategy

When strategic alignment is absent, the sales team conflicts with other company functions. At times, the internal sale is harder than opening a new account. A contract modification, price exception, or configuration change can take too much time.  The customer begins to feel your company is difficult to do business with.  This can result in lost deals.


Take ActionWinning_Sales_Strategy_Checklist1

Congratulations if you are part of the 22% with the right strategy.  You have an opportunity to excel next year.  If not, the good news is you still have time. Start creating the optimal sales strategy now to hit the ground running next year.  The Winning Sales Strategy Checklist provides the operating plan to win in the trenches.  Use it to determine what gaps your sales strategy may have.  Click here if interested in a strategy workshop with an SBI expert.  The workshop will help you prepare to Make the Number next year.




Scott Gruher

Orchestrates and designs the perfect project strategy, one engagement at a time, to ensure that every SBI client makes their number.

Scott joined SBI in 2010 with years of hands-on experience in sales leadership and enterprise selling. Since his arrival, he has helped dozens of organizations dramatically accelerate growth, from Fortune 10 organizations like Phillips 66 to fast-growing cloud service organizations like InfusionSoft. Scott specializes in cross-functional alignment. He helps leaders align around the growth goal and design the right processes to bring the strategy to life. His unique combination of real world experience and a pragmatic approach to problem solving have made him one of SBI’s most demanded resources.

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