You may be wondering how prepared your sales team is heading into next year. It’s likely the board has increased your number. This year felt like a stretch for you. Next year’s number feels impossible. You’re beginning to ask yourself if the team can pull this off.
As you plan for next year, a defined sales strategy is a must have. If this is out of alignment, the team won’t get it done.
What is a Sales Strategy?
This is a commonly used term. If you google “sales strategy,” you can read for hours on the subject. Here is a definition for you:
A Sales Strategy is the operating plan for your sales force. It allocates resources effectively to increase revenues and reduce selling costs. It means you can get more out of your sales force.
For sales, this is where the rubber meets the road. A sales strategy is your roadmap for sales. It is their blueprint for executing your vision.
Signs of Trouble
A few indications your sales strategy is not working for you:
- Missing the # – Your reps are trying to be all things to all people. They lack focus on your target market. Examples here are wide ranges in either revenue/deal or margin/deal. Your reps have no consistency in customer size or type. You miss the number because they thrash. Resources are not effectively allocated.
- Field Execution – When you set your vision, it falls on deaf ears. A spot check of your last few initiatives revealed they never got implemented. You ask a rep how they are using the new process. It’s met with a blank stare. There is no standard operating procedure (SOP) for how these things get done.
- Talent – The performance of your sales team is driven by a handful of individuals. The top 10%ers create 80%+ of your results. The other 90% are an anchor pulling you down. The type of talent required to execute the strategy is not clearly defined.
If the impossible is going to become possible, you need this fixed now.
5 Steps to Salvation
There are 5 components to a world class sales strategy. Here they are with definitions, benefits and success metrics:
- Defining the Marketplace – Establish the ideal target customers who will purchase your products/solutions. A must-have if you are to properly allocate your sales resources.
- Benefit – Gives you the ability to prioritize your customer/prospect base. You can market to customers who are best suited to purchase your products. You can put your best sales resources on your best opportunities.
- Success Metrics – higher win rates, higher average deal size/margin
- Launching New Products – Enables sales to successfully sell new products. Additionally, requires sales be involved in the development of your new products. They are the eyes and ears of your customers. This input is critical and often missed by your peers.
- Benefit – Gives your reps formal training before the new product hits the street. Involves sales early to ensure products are developed with your customers in mind.
- Success Metric – new product sales goal attainment in year 1
- Routes to Market – It’s likely you don’t need a field sales force for all routes to market. This step allows you to determine where your resources will have the biggest impact. Other options include: inside sales, channels/resellers, online, etc.
- Benefit – Allows you to maximize resources and reduce selling costs.
- Success Metrics – revenue/sales head, cost/sales head
- Sales Execution – These are the processes sales uses to execute the strategy. How demand is generated. How opportunities become customers. The tools they require to be successful.
- Benefit – Formal playbooks and a process to drive field adoption and execution.
- Success Metrics – win rates, funnel growth, ramp to productivity
- Talent – Understanding of items 1-4 tells you what type of talent you need to execute. You can now identify and hire ‘A’ player sales talent.
- Benefit – More ‘A’ players means your average productivity/head increases. Your vision happens because you have talent that executes.
- Success Metrics – productivity/head, turnover reduction, cost of sales
For sales to be successful, these items need to exist in your organization. They cannot be shelf-ware. They need clear definition, success metrics and a plan to execute. This is where your vision becomes executable.