What are top sales leaders doing differently that contributes to their team’s outstanding performance?
SBI just completed its 8th Annual Research Report. In years past, we catalogued trends and best practices. This time we sought out to answer the question: What are the best sales leaders doing to consistently hit the number? The evidence was overwhelming. The best-in-class sales leaders had a best-in-class sales strategy.
In the research, we found much confusion around the term Sales Strategy. The top performers could clearly articulate their strategies. The rest couldn’t. They spoke of tactics not strategy.
Here is how a best-in-class sales leader defined sales strategy:
- 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 can get the most out of his/her sales force.
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As a sales and marketing consultant, I speak to and engage with lots of sales managers. My conversations typically start with questions about their goals and objectives. Their answers are usually some variation of ‘hitting the revenue number’. Next, I ask them about the obstacles that stand in their way. The typical answers are: Not enough quality leads, poor talent, or too much admin & not enough selling. Rarely do I hear that their sales leader is pointing them in the wrong direction.
SBI’s research found the majority of sales organizations still have the wrong Sales Strategy. An alarming 78% of sales teams do not have the right one. They are pointed in the wrong direction. A wrong sales strategy is the biggest threat to a sales team being successful. It’s the #1 obstacle that must be addressed if you are going to make your number.
Where there is no vision, the people perish. —Proverbs 29:18
If you want to be a successful sales leader, start thinking like the best ones. There are 6 steps to defining the right sales strategy: Segmentation, Planning, Engagement, Org, Execution, and Support.
- Segmentation – Not all markets or accounts are created equal. Segmentation helps focus the sales team on the right market and accounts that will drive the greatest revenue and margin in the shortest amount of time.
- Planning – To make the number, you need a clear plan. A world class sales strategy includes a revenue & budget plan to allocate resources and budget costs appropriately. It also includes a data plan to enable data-driven decision making.
- Engagement – You need processes to execute the plan. In the Engagement step, best-in-class sales leaders define their prospecting & sales processes.
- Organization – To make the number, the sale org needs to be set up correctly and enabled so that the team can do the work efficiently and effectively.
- Execution – A strategy without world-class execution is just paper. You need to ensure the team adopts the processes so you can properly forecast and report.
- Support – A best-in-class sales strategy includes all the support functions. The functions help you be world class in perpetuity and not just ‘now and again’.
If hitting the number is your #1 goal, you better have the right sales strategy. If there’s doubt, encourage your sales leader to check out SBI’s 8th Annual Research Report. Find out what the top 10% of sales teams are doing differently that is contributing to their outstanding performance.