What goes into a sales strategy?
That answer could change from year to year and even month to month.
As marketing and sales methods grow and evolve, Google algorithms shift, new social media platforms get unveiled, and emergent tech changes how we live our lives, the world of marketing and sales must change as well.
You may look at your current sales strategy and see a dozen ways you could tweak it. You want it to be as good as possible, after all. Even more so, you want to make sure it is perfect.
How do you go about introducing a successful sales strategy?
You can start with this article as a first step. It will act as a comprehensive resource for building your own effective sales strategies.
As you read, you’ll learn the types of sales strategies you might use and the elements of a solid sales plan that may be a good fit for your business.
We’ll even give you tips and advice of the best practices of creating your own successful sales strategies, including with CRM software.
Let’s get started. But first let’s check out an infographic that explains the basics of sales strategy:
Before we can talk about the best practices that might go into your sales strategy, we want to clearly define what sales strategies are.
Here is a sales strategy definition.
A sales strategy is the method your sales team utilizes to convert customers and make sales. Such a strategy might differ from company to company, but often not very drastically.
Examples of these sales strategies include adjusting your polices on account management or altering your closing techniques.
You may also adapt sales pitches and presentations, in-person pitching, or cold calling into your repertoire of sales strategies.
You can also break down your sales planning into four basic steps or stages:
Image courtesy of HubSpot
Next, let’s talk about the types of sales strategies. To appeal to as many types of leads as possible, you might use an outbound or inbound strategy. Here’s more info about both types of sales strategies.
The first of the sales strategies involves the use of outbound sales. We’ve talked about the difference between outbound and inbound marketing before on this blog, and a similar premise works in sales.
If you’re following outbound sales strategies, then you’re the one doing all the work and initiating.
Cold calling is the primary example of outbound sales. With cold calling, you dial the number of a lead you’ve never spoken to before.
This person has never talked to you either, so there’s certainly some inherent risk. You have no idea how interested if at all, the lead is in your company’s products and services.
Still, it’s an integral part of your strategy since it can deliver results. Otherwise, salespeople wouldn’t do it anymore.
According to ResourcefulSelling, within the last year, a large percentage of buyers (69 percent) were willing to talk on the phone with new salespeople.
Image courtesy of ResourcefulSelling
You’ll always come across stats and articles from salespeople and marketers saying cold calling is dead. That’s probably because it’s more convenient to stick to that belief because cold calling can be so uncomfortable.
As a salesperson, you’re on the phone enough, so you will get used to it.
The next of the sales strategies you might employ for more sales is inbound selling. Instead of cold calling, with an inbound strategy, you have both warm and hot calling.
Warm calling is sort of more in the outbound category, but it’s often labeled as inbound sales, so we’ll stick with that as well.
With a warm call, you’re still the one making the initial contact (hence why it’s like an outbound strategy). Instead of picking up the phone and talking to a total stranger, though, you email that stranger first.
You often have a brief message exchange, a little back and forth, but not much. Through email outreach, you identified that the lead may have an interest or need for your products/services.
Thus, you decide to move things along and speak to them on the phone. In some cases, they even scheduled a call with you via email.
With a warm call, the lead is already more receptive. You’re not taking time out of their busy day to try to sell to them like you are with a cold call.
That’s good since that strategy isn’t very appreciated a lot of the time. A lead you’re warm calling wants to hear from you. They’re expecting it.
You want to give them the information they seek in this call. For instance, maybe they have questions about product specs or pricing.
Answer those questions as best you can over the phone and then make sure to follow up with yet another email. If you don’t convince the lead to buy over the phone on your initial sales conversations, then maybe that follow-up message will.
The best of the best in terms of inbound sales are hot sales calls. You don’t have to do much if any legwork this time around; it all comes down to the lead.
That’s truly what inbound sales are. You put your message out, the lead sees it, and then they reach out to you.
Hot sales calls often occur after a lead has poked around your social media, your website, or your landing pages. They know a bit about you and may be ready to buy right away if you’re lucky.
Even if they’re not quite eager to make a purchase, they may be on the verge. They just need more info and convincing from you first.
Okay, so you know more about outbound versus inbound selling, but the question remains: how to develop a successful sales strategy?
There are seven steps or pillars you should follow to begin implementing effective sales strategies for your own business.
Without clear data in front of you, it’s hard to say how good your best sales strategies or methods already are and where you could stand to improve them.
Evaluate the buying process. Who bought from you? What did they buy? How much? Was it a one-time purchase or did this customer become a regular? Who are your top buying customers and will they continue to buy this year and into the next?
Look into your sales teams as well. Who sold the most and how often? How well did your team do overall? Who brought in the most repeat business?
You may find that you undersold, failing to crack your revenue goals. This happens, and it’s likely why you have decided to seek out a new strategy for more sales.
It’s not anything to be ashamed of. It’s just an indicator that it’s time to revise, such as with the new strategy you’re about to build.
According to sales resource Alice Heiman, LLC, repeat clients drive most of our business. The company says that a portion of these repeat clients (20 percent) will account for most of our revenue (80 percent).
That’s why it’s important to look into your numbers and stats before you ever sit down and revise your selling strategies or create an entirely new one. You must be able to identify these very valuable customers of yours.
Can you find the magic 20 percent that bought from you the most often? These existing customers typically have the briefest sales cycles since they know just what they want.
They also tend to not need a whole lot of influence to make a purchase.
Once you can identify these existing customers, you want to sit down and study their buyer personas and behavior.
Chances are, even though they’re your most valuable customers, they don’t all behave the exact same way.
Good. That’s what you want.
Next, you need to make customer avatars or profiles of each of these valuable purchasing customers. These become your measuring stick in which to assess each new incoming lead and potential customer.
You can also sort leads and prospects based on their shopping behaviors into these avatars. It then becomes easier to sell to them, increasing your chances of closing the deal.
When making your customer avatar, you don’t only want to take buyer personas and behavior into account. Yes, it’s an important metric, but far from the only one worth using.
You also want to have as much information as possible to create your customer avatar or profile. This avatar should be like a real person, except it’s actually an amalgamation of several people.
You need to know the general age range, marital status, job title, and lifestyle of each avatar. You should also identify their problems or pain points. This way, you can find ways to overcome them.
Here’s a pretty good template you can use as you craft your customer avatars.
Image courtesy of 30 Leads 30 Days
Once you’ve created a handful of avatars or profiles, pass them along to your fellow sales reps. The next time they identify someone who meets the criteria of the avatar, it becomes easier to sell to this person.
Take a look at your company and determine where you are now versus where you’d like to be in the future. What’s the likelihood of bringing in new customers?
How prepared are you for more customer demand? How many current accounts do you have that you could grow?
To answer those questions, you’ll have to do a SWOT review or SWOT analysis. SWOT is an abbreviation for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Image courtesy of Business-to-you.com
When reviewing your company’s strengths, keep these points in mind:
Next, move on to your weaknesses, weighing the following qualities:
As you move on to O for opportunities, think carefully about this:
Completing your SWOT review, assess the threats to your company in the following way:
A SWOT review won’t do you any good if you’re not completely honest. It’s easy to flub over the weaknesses and threats part and play up your strengths and opportunities.
However, if you’re not realistic in your assessment, then you might as well skip this whole step.
After finishing with your SWOT review, you can move onto your market strategy or plan. Stay in that introspective mindset, asking yourself more honest questions about the present and future of your business.
For instance, what methods can you use to get your current accounts growing even further? Could you start a referral system if you don’t already have one?
What kind of revenue do you expect to make from these accounts along with the products and services you already sell? What about expanding to other, unchartered territories?
Could you make more money with them by selling them your current products/services? How much money?
Answering the above questions will allow you to create realistic goals for your sales company.
While it’s always nice to chase lofty dreams of very high revenue, if that’s not attainable, then you’re wasting the time and effort of each member of your sales team.
Review all the information you have to this point to decide what the appropriate sales quotas should be like.
You also want to create a timeline for the growth of your sales teams. You might mark this by how many new products/services they sold or how many new markets they reached.
You could focus more on the conversion rate as your main metric.
Once you know where to position your company, you can let loose with your sales strategy and test it out.
You should have drawn out a functional sales funnel for the members of your sales teams to follow.
They should have specific, targeted markets to chase after with clear goals in mind.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be some hiccups along the way. With a clearly mapped out plan, though, it’s easy to overcome most hurdles and meet your goals left and right.
Earlier, we discussed inbound sales. To recap, this inbound strategy involves both warm and hot calling. With warm calling, you email with a lead first before speaking to them on the phone.
In instances of hot calling, the lead reaches out to you via phone with no scheduled consultation beforehand.
How does this differ from a sales process? To answer that question, we have to clearly delineate between such a process and a sales methodology.
Let’s start with the sales process. A sales process is like the map your sales teams follow to guide a lead through the customer journey and sales pipeline, converting them in the process.
Such a process often differs from your business to that of your competitors and even your competitor’s competitors.
Sometimes you may change up this process somewhat if you introduce a new product or service.
The sales process influences the types of prospects you need. That’s an important distinction to make.
You should not start your sales strategy by searching for potential customers and then let them shape your sales processes.
Make your sales process first and allow that to influence the leads you work with.
Okay, so that’s a sales process. What about a sales methodology?
Well, if the sales process involves the entire customer journey from beginning to end, then the sales methodology is just a piece of that pie.
It zeroes in on a particular part of the sales process.
Here are some examples of sales methodologies your company might use with explanations of each:
It’s time now to build a great sales strategy plan. While we’ve provided a lot of great information thus far, you may wonder what the best way to begin with such a plan could be.
We’ve created a sample sales plan you can follow, so watch this section closely.
Your sales action plan should have seven steps, give or take. Let’s dive into these seven steps now.
No sales action plan is complete without goals. You need actionable sales targets your sales teams can work towards and eventually achieve.
As we’ve said, you need to keep a realistic view when making these goals.
Some goals you might focus on include:
Next, you must budget for your upcoming new strategy. This is an internal company budget and should account for your operational tools, the size of your team, and your business overhead.
You may adjust this budget throughout the life of your sales campaign or leave it as is.
We already provided a sales plan example of how to make an ideal profile of your customer’s, earlier in this article.
You may make more than one persona or customer avatar; in fact, you should, as it assists the sales team in selling to more than one type of person.
Speaking of sales strategy examples, here’s what a customer journey might look like for your company:
The next part of your strategy for sales involves your competitive advantage. Namely, what is yours? To determine where your competitive advantage may lie, think of factors like the following:
Sales and marketing teams go together like peanut butter and jelly. Now’s the time to involve your marketing team as you create a workable sales and marketing strategy.
The marketers at your company may use traditional media, email marketing, or social media to promote your products and services.
With all those gears set into motion, you need an action plan as well. This allows you to execute certain elements of your sales strategy at specific times to leverage your company for success.
An action plan also ensures you’re meeting your goals as projected.
What if you use a customer relationship management or CRM software? For instance, there’s the sales CRM offered at EngageBay, your all-in-one sales and marketing suite.
Could you combine this CRM with the sales strategies we’ve discussed thus far?
It’s absolutely possible to link your CRM to your strategic sales plan. In fact, we’d recommend it. Here are our preferred methods for marrying CRM to your sales strategy.
First, you want to kick things off with lead scoring. This is something we’ve talked about many times on both the blog and even in this article. You assign a lead a score based on their behavior.
Their scores can be positive if they do things like subscribe to a newsletter or make a purchase. You may have to deduct points for abandoned carts and the like.
With EngageBay’s lead scoring, you can gauge both the interest levels and the fit quality of all leads that come your way.
You may review whether the lead communicates with sales reps, if they click links, whether they visit your sites, and if they open emails to qualify or disqualify them.
You want all relevant sales documents in one convenient place. These docs include your object management templates, sales templates, emails, sales scripts, and more.
With CRM, you can view and track these sales documents on all sorts of devices, from smartphones to laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.
You’re now ready to launch your sales campaign. With CRM like that at EngageBay, the handy workflows will allow you to automate certain elements of your strategy and implement others when necessary.
With your sales campaign live, you’ll want to track every last result. Did your strategy increase your sales, add new customers, and convert more leads?
The analytics reports a CRM like EngageBay’s can generate, give you clear-cut results you can use for future campaigns.
Whether your strategy needs some minor tweaking or a major overhaul, knowing that all starts with analytics reporting.
A sales strategy converts customers and increases revenue, so it’s not exactly something you can afford to get wrong.
With the information presented in this detailed guide, it’s possible for you to revise and even rewrite your own sales strategies for more success within your company. Good luck!