How To Create A Killer Sales Strategy

Anyone who has worked in sales with tell you that there’s more to the job than just persuasive communication. All too often businesses assume that their product will sell itself, or that they can hire someone with sales experience to solve the problem – but as easy as that sounds, it’s rarely a reality. Organisations need a focused sales strategy in place to optimise the value they can derive from their business; but how should you go about creating one?

In this article, you will learn…

What is a sales strategy?

How does a sales strategy work?

Types of sales strategy?

The required foundations for a sales strategy

How to build a sales strategy

 

What is a Sales Strategy?

Like any other business strategy, a sales strategy is a set of decisions, actions and goals that inform how teams in an organisation position the brand and its products and/or services for sale. A comprehensive sales strategy will be tested, evaluated and optimised repeatedly in order to achieve the desired successful sales rate time and time again; in line with ever-changing consumer demand, desires and attitudes.

A sales strategy should have clear objectives and direction around sales processes, brand and product positioning, price points and its competitive performance. Despite its name, a sales strategy need not only be used by a sales team. It should inform and influence the strategies and business plans of other speciality units too, including marketing, customer service and operations. If every business unit in an organisation has at least an oversight of the strategies from other areas, they can work with them to ensure cohesive collaboration and maximum efficiencies made.

A sales strategy focusses on achieving the maximum possible sales of a product and/or service, and, therefore, the maximum amount of profits. This is often based around the process of repeat sales to consumers once they have made a purchase but this is dependent on the business type and may not always be the case.

Although often considered to be a physical document printed on paper as is the case for many business policies and processes, a sales strategy is better suited to become a working document that is always being improved upon; and so a shared virtual document format may be more suitable for it.

How does a Sales Strategy work?

When properly constructed and developed, a sales strategy will help identify a product/service’s USP/s (Unique Selling Point/s), define the target market audience for it, understand the most appropriate sales channels to be used, develop a sales pitch and create a process around approaching prospects. Tried and tested, over time this forms a plan to make sales easy, efficient and as likely to succeed as they can be.

While a sales strategy will change and shift in line with consumer preferences, it will inform several important decisions to be made by the business. This includes how best to reach and approach the target customer and to fulfil their needs at every stage of the journey to purchase (and beyond), to find and hire the best salespeople for the firm and to finetune a consistent sales process. When these are all achieved, ROI can be maximised and will recur and increase as the business develops and grows.

Businesses with a successful sales strategy will have an expert team who are able to seize opportunities and close sales appropriately, efficiently and as swiftly as possible.

Types of Sales Strategies

There are two main types of sales strategies, with most businesses opting to choose one – and which is largely dependent on the type of product/service they offer and the industry within which they operate.

Inbound sales strategies function where consumers are enticed to visit a brand’s shop, website or other online presence; with the leads (or, most ideally, a simple, straight, immediate purchase) heading inbound into the business. An inbound sales strategy will be closely aligned with a marketing – strategy – after all, it’s marketing that draws customers in.

For example, where a brand is trying to attract potential customers to their online store, the marketing strategy will help entice visitors through the use of content creation for SEO, website optimisation for heightened SERP rankings, digital advertising and social media exposure. Once this proves successful and a user visits the site, the inbound sales strategy then kicks in. This sees salespeople (be they real people at the click of a button in communication with website users or virtual AI software), educate these prospects to address any questions they may have and to nurture them through the decision-making process to ultimately make a purchase. The inbound marketing strategy converts prospects to leads, and the inbound sales strategy converts leads to customers.

Outbound sales strategies function with an outward sales focus; allowing a business to reach out to prospects to inform them about the product/service and to attempt a sale. This is considered a more traditional sales strategy and is where many find the role of the stereotypical ‘salesperson’ fits.

An outbound sales strategy can be hugely successful even though it is technically more difficult, and is the norm in several industries. However, knowing and understanding exactly who the target customer is for a business is absolutely critical for this approach; and salespeople must understand completely the business’ buyer person and their ideal customer profile. What’s more, said salespeople must be able to approach high quality leads – and so the lead generation strategy preceding it must be well tested and favourable. It is from these leads that salespeople are able to initiate their own sales processes – be them through cold calling, emailing, social selling or similar. With a killer sales pitch and the ability to close, they’ll seal the deal.

The Required Foundations for a Sales Strategy

It’s all well and good to direct a new sales team to go forth and create a sales strategy but there are several elements the business will need to already have well established in order for it to be made successful. These are as follows:

A clear and concise Company Vision is key to not just a successful sales strategy but business direction overall. A clear declaration of an organisation’s vision for the future helps put into place what everyone working in and for it should be achieving now and in years to come. Every action taken by a business should drive it closer to its vision and so it is a hugely informative and influential statement.

Revenue Goals are critical for a sales strategy in order to provide sales staff a tangible figure to work toward. Set at a balanced level between ambitious and realistic, goals should be mapped across weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual figures. Revenue goals can be referred back to by sales teams at any time in order for them to judge how hard to push and what direction to take in their everyday sales actions and initiatives.

A Value Proposition provides answers for customers on how a product/service will meet (or ideally exceed) their needs, the benefits they will receive from purchasing it and the specific ways in which it differs from anything on offer from competitors. This foundation allows customers to understand the basics of the brand and why they should be in interested in purchasing from or working with them, and gives salespeople a foundation upon which to sell.

As with all business processes and procedures, nothing is free. A sales strategy will need an adequate Budget allocated toward it in order to facilitate the tools, training and research required for its enaction and continual improvement to adapt it toward changing consumer needs. A dedicated budget for sales purposes should be ringfenced away from other funds.

Building a Sales Strategy

So where to begin?

Ideally the starting point for sales strategy creation will be with those who around it should all revolve: the customer. Rather than basic demographic targeting, having a full customer profile in place presents all the information required to judge the best sales tactics, sales channels and sales communications. Once a customer base has been built, this profile should be further refined; ensuring there is no gap between the customer on paper and the customer in real life.

From here, a SWOT analysis is an easy tool to use to identify relevant risks as well as opportunities that salespeople and those in the wider business should be aware of. Once these are understood, those in sales can collaborate with marketing to align plans and processes across both the marketing and sales strategy for value optimisation… and to maximise the chances of success. No team should be an island in business and everyone having an understanding of what others are doing and how everyone’s contribution fits together is key.

A sales process should be properly defined at this stage and if the sales team aren’t already in place, they should be hired. A workflow can be produced breaking down tasks and approaches and activities assigned to team members, with timelines and goals in place throughout.

Once the sales strategy is solidified and all the appropriate tools put in place, the sales team can get to work to surprise, delight and dazzle customers with their pitches – elevating the brand, growing the customer base and reinforcing the bottom line. A successful strategy = swelling sales… so if you haven’t already, it’s time to build yours!

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