In a few blinks of an eye, it will be 2015. A new year, a new number, a new… blah blah blah. Some variation of that you will probably hear at SKO. You will get information packets to review. You will see growth projections and hear the overarching strategy that will take you there. Marketing will give you overviews of new product, features and strategies. And then you meet your colleagues at the bar and head to dinner. And all of that great information never gets reviewed.
We’ve been discussing SBIs 8th Annual Research Report for a while now. We’ve discussed the importance of strategy to sales success. We’ve discussed ways to approach and remedy key areas of opportunity for the organization and the field. This post focuses on using your sales kickoff (SKO) to set yourself up for success in 2015.
SKO is one of the best informational resources that the field has. Companies spend millions on these meetings to make them impactful. Yet most attendees don’t take advantage of it. Information overload, packed days and late nights make the time a blur. Intentions of reviewing and applying key information don’t always get met. And then behaviors (and results) don’t change. Yet, you commonly see the ‘A’ players sitting down with key resources in marketing, product, sales leadership, etc… You ever wonder what they know that you don’t? The questions below provide a guide to get the most out of SKO. Understand the key concepts and how they apply to your 2015 sales success. Understand the questions to ask and the people to talk to. Pages 7 and 8 of SBIs 8th Annual Research Report provide additional context to help you prepare.
The top five areas to include in the creation of your sales strategy:
Same Sales Strategy as Competition
When you approach your customer in the same way as your competitor, the only difference seen is price. The key is to have a different strategy – one that will make you stand out. Do you know what your competitors’ strategy is? How will you approach your patch and solutions differently from the rest?
Sales Strategy Not Aligned with Buyer Needs
I carried a bag for 12 years and spend a lot of time in the field with my clients. More often than not, I see the ‘inward-out’ approach to sales; people try to make their customers fit into their solutions. Today’s buyer is more educated than ever on products and solutions. In most cases, they know what they want and need before ever talking to you. How will you approach your customer in 2015 in the way that they need? What can you do to engage earlier in the buyer journey? How do you align your sales process with the buyer journey to ensure you engage in lockstep?
No Sales Strategy
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail” – Churchill. We have all heard this and in sales it rings true more than ever. A sales strategy is an operating plan for your patch. It is the blueprint for your approach before you decide the tactical action to take. What key issues will your customers be facing in 2015? What competitive advantages need to be capitalized on? What needs to be done to mitigate competitive threat? Where does your time need to be spent?
Sales Tactics Masquerading as Sales Strategy
Work smarter, not harder. Especially when under quota pressure, most people see additional action as being productive. But most of this action is reactive in nature. Do you have a written sales strategy for 2015? Have others reviewed it to give critical feedback? Does your day-to-day approach in the field align with your strategy? How many cycles are you burning doing things that will not yield maximum benefit? Do you know where your time is going each day? Are there items that you can remove to free up more productive time?
Sales Strategy Not Aligned with Product Strategy
From this comes the age old battle between sales and marketing. Marketing works the full year to research and create tools to enable the sales force. Only to have sales put execution on the forefront and neutralize marketing strategy effect. Those who can align their strategic approach with marketing strategy execution will reap the rewards. How is the marketing strategy different from last year? How does it differ from your sales strategy? What tools do you have at your disposal? Who has tested them and can provide feedback? Who should you talk to about aligning your sales approach?
Use this guide to help shape your 2015 planning. SBIs 8th Annual Research Report will provide you with the background you need to begin. With the right preparation and approach, use SKO to understand and cement your 2015 strategy. And as always, from there, execute.