Being a newly hired sales leader is not easy. You’re in your honeymoon period with the executive team and at the same time you’re in the spotlight. Too often there are rookie mistakes that overshadow performance. So, what can you do if you’re a newly hired head of sales to ensure success? It all starts with your sales strategy. This is the foundation to setting yourself up to make your number.
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Begin by defining your sales strategy. Unfortunately we have found that 72% of new sales leaders arrive at an organization with no strategy in place. So how should new leaders build a sales strategy?
First, you must understand what a strategy is. Many times sales leaders confuse a series of tactics for a strategy. We define strategy as doing the right things, while tactics is doing things right. The goal for new sales leaders is to have an excellent plan that is executed brilliantly. This will allow them to thrive in their new role. It is especially important to get this right quickly, as the average head of sales tenure is only about 19 months. So, how can you, as a new VP of sales, correctly set your sales strategy?
There are 5 steps to consider when developing your strategy.
- Step 1: Planning. Develop a sales and data plan to will allow your organization to make your number.
- Step 2: Engagement. Determine the processes in which the sales team with interact with the customers and buyers.
- Step 3: Organization. Understand how to set up the organization’s structure so that the right people are in the right roles.
- Step 4: Execution. Define how your team will execute the strategy by focusing on areas like sales enablement, pipeline management, and forecasting.
- Step 5: Support. Ensure the sales team’s effectiveness through support by making the organization easy to do business with.
It’s not enough to just have a strategy though. This strategy must be in line with all other functions and with the external market place. This is defined as strategic alignment.
There is an order and process to ensuring profitable revenue growth and alignment throughout the organization.
It all starts with market research. Market research is having a deep understanding of the buyers, the customers and the users in your market place so you can ensure that your company has a competitive differentiation.
Once you complete market research, you’ve got to look at the corporate strategy. Corporate strategy is about the allocation of people, money and time in the pursuit of profitable growth.
From there you need to look at the product strategy. Product strategy is defined as building and launching products that serve a market need and are in line with corporate strategy.
From there you’ll go right into the marketing strategy. This is simply generating demand for the products and services you’re going to sell.
The sales strategy, as defined above, is about turning that demand into revenue. And the final piece is talent. You’ve got to get the right people in the right positions so they can execute on the strategy.
As a new sales leader, you’ve got to avoid building your strategy in a silo, making alignment an afterthought. There is a cadence that makes this possible.
There is a strategic planning cadence that often works nicely in order to ensure proper alignment across the organization. It looks something like this:
- Q3: Validate market research and corporate strategy.
- Q4: Refine the product, marketing, sales and talent strategies.
- Q1: Launch of strategies.
- Q2: Strategy refresh.
There also should be weekly alignment calls. These are one-on-one meetings between functional leaders to look for any areas of misalignment. Also consider monthly KPIs reviews. How are you doing against objectives? And finally, organizations should hold a quarterly meeting to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to the functional strategies.
As a new VP of sales, your first 90 days are critical. But you also must look to long term success. The best way to do both is to ensure you have the right sales strategy in place. And to make sure it is aligned both with the organization and the external marketplace. This is the only way you will hit the ground running and be on your way to consistently hitting your revenue growth objectives.
Would you like to spend some time with me developing your sales strategy? Come see me in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art, executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio increases the probability of making your number because the sessions are built on the proven strength and stability of SBI, the industry leader in B2B sales and marketing.