Planning-1Q4 is around the corner.  It’s annual planning season.  Next year’s number has been handed down.  Your sales leader is going to want to know your strategy for next year:


  • How many heads will you need?
  • How will you fill the pipeline with new opportunities?
  • How will you fill open territories?


These are just a few questions to answer.  Bottom line, you will be asked about your strategy to make next year’s number. 


If you want to get a jump-start, download SBI’s 8th Annual Research Report.  For the past 12 months SBI studied what the top 10% of sales teams did differently that contributed to their outstanding performance. The evidence we collected pointed to one thing: Sales Strategy.  The best performers had the best, most complete sales strategy. 


There’s a lot of confusion around the term Sales Strategy.  In the research, we asked average sales leaders for their definition.  We were surprised how often they got it wrong. In most cases, they confused sales tactics with sales strategy.  Don’t make the same mistake.


Your sales strategy should cover the six steps below, in sequence:


Step 1 – Segmentation: Understand your market, accounts and buyers. This ensures the strategy is aligned with buyer needs and the corporate and product strategy.  Segmentation must be the very first thing done.  Skip this step, or get it wrong, everything else is flawed.  Segmentation clarifies what segments/accounts/buyers have the highest revenue potential in the shortest time.


Step 2 – Planning: Leverage the segmentation findings to develop a revenue, budget and data plan.  These plans, once executed, will allow the organization to make the number. Your plans need to broadly define how the number is going to be met.  A revenue plan details what we are going to do in pursuit of the revenue goal.  A budget plan outlines how you will allocate resources (time, budget and people).  A data plan addresses your approach to leverage data to make informed decisions. A data plan should include architecture, cleanliness and stewardship.


Step 3 – Process: Now with the plans in place, the processes can be defined. You want to think about process before people.  First define how the sales team will interact with customers and prospects.  Reverse the order and you get resources running around unsure what exactly to do. This results in wasted resources and role corruption.  The best practice is a defined prospecting and sales process.  Your prospecting/selling action should align with how your buyers make purchase decisions.


Step 4 – Organization: Make sure the organizational structure is set up correctly so the right people are in the right roles to execute the processes.  This step covers items such as: headcount modeling, talent & onboarding programs, territory design process, coaching methodology, quota and compensation.


Step 5 – Execution: Now that the what, why, where, when, how and who is defined, it is time to focus on doing the work.  Begin executing the strategy by focusing on areas like sales enablement, sales adoption, gamification, pipeline/forecast management, reporting, etc.


Step 6 – Support: Once a firm starts executing, they will run into obstacles. The support work will help overcome these obstacles while making the ongoing execution easier.  Help the sales team be effective in perpetuity by supporting them.  Support also includes making the internal organization easy to do business with.  Support is typically a function of the sales ops team.  In this step, focus on optimizing the systems that support the sales org.  Also, look for ways to streamline internal processes: pricing & contract exceptions, order management, quote-to-cash, etc.


Take Action: Planning season is upon us.  This year, take a page from the top performing sales teams.  Download SBI’s free report.  Check out the best practices and stress-test your approach to building a sales strategy.