A Guide on How to Build a Sales Strategy That Works
Sales has never been simple. With greater competition in the marketplace and more channels to compete in, building a successful sales strategy has become increasingly challenging. And to make matters even worse, an increasing number of individuals are less receptive to a salesperson’s traditional methods of customer acquisition.1
So, how do you build a sales strategy that works for the modern buyer? Here are some of the steps any potential sales leader can take to make that happen.
#1 Look Backward Before Going Forward
Before you build a new, effective sales strategy, first look at your historical performance to determine what was and wasn’t working. This needs to be measured alongside the sales goals you’d previously set for yourself or the business.
Common questions to ask include:
- What did your sales numbers look like last year?
- Who did you sell to?
- How much did you sell?
- What percentage of sales was repeat business?
- Which clients were the most profitable?
- Which clients had the shortest sales cycle?
- What factors have changed?
- Where are there areas for growth?
- What support or infrastructure do you require for growth?
For sales representatives, data from previous campaigns can help create the waypoints that will ultimately lead to a better holistic strategy. To that end, one tool to adopt is the white space analysis.
#2 Perform a White Space Analysis
White space analysis is a process by which companies leverage sales data to identify “white spaces”—gaps in your current sales strategy—that separate the products or services your existing customers have and other products or services they don’t have but could benefit from.
As Elle Morris, CEO of SnapDragon, notes:2
“Broad insights can drive design innovation by crossing the intersection between unarticulated and unmet consumer and category needs and products and services that don’t currently exist. This intersection is the white-space opportunity that can lead to new perspectives and, ultimately, innovative thinking.”
Typically, a white space analysis is run through a digital platform like Salesforce. With it, a salesperson can automatically collate, organize, and analyze an ideal customer base for new opportunities. Done properly, this research can help you:
- Gain a better understanding of your existing customers
- Identify a new target customer/buyer segment
- Help make more informed strategic decisions
- Inform your sales approach
- Refine your sales strategy
#3 Set Specific Sales Goals
Before you begin drafting your sales strategy, it’s important to set achievable goals that run in tandem with your overall objectives. For instance, is the primary driver behind this initiative to increase sales overtly? Are you trying to increase sales for a certain product? Perhaps you’re using this new push as an exercise to discern whether or not a target market will pay for your product or service.
The specificity of your goals will help you actualize them. Ideally, you want to work with your team to conduct sales forecasting, which can help you outline SAM goals. These goals will help your team reach your desired outcome and then later measure your success. SAM objectives are part of the greater Janek sales methodology: Critical Selling Skills and Critical TeleSelling Skills. These objectives can be applied to many different circumstances and goals that sales professionals wish to accomplish. SAM is defined as follows:
- Specific – In this step, you must pinpoint exactly what it is you wish to accomplish.
- Appropriate – Here, you’ll want to identify where you are in the sales process, and based on that, identify the correct objective.
- Measurable – When complete, gather quantifiable data illustrating how you accomplished your objective.
By laying out realistic and quantifiable goals within a set time frame, you give yourself the best chance to succeed and become a sales leader within the industry. Or, at the very least, you position yourself to gauge where you were successful and where you fell short. Using historical data, you can adjust your strategies to meet future goals or set more realistic ones.
#4 Conduct In-Depth Customer Research and Segment Your Target Audience
A clearly defined target market is a primary driver of any successful sales strategy. By thoroughly understanding your consumer and proper account planning, you can build a sales plan that speaks to them, addressing their specific pain points and hand-delivering the solutions that they’re searching for.
Optimize your sales efforts by building an ideal customer profile, or buyer persona—representations of your ideal customer, created using data and market research. With them, you can focus your sales and marketing efforts to speak directly to your target customer while addressing their needs. This empowers you to find high-value visitors, turn them into leads, and then convert those into customers.
But how do you create a buyer persona? To start, consider the following steps:
- Delve through your existing customer database to see if you can spot trends about how leads find and then take in your content.
- If you have them, utilize form fields to capture critical information about customers.
- Interview current customers about your product or service’s strengths, weaknesses, or gaps.
- Begin adding demographic information to start building out the personas. In a B2C environment, this might include:
- Socioeconomic status
- Family life
In a B2B environment, this might include:
- Company location
- Company revenue
- Number of employees
- Company objectives
- Brands or products
- Discuss their goals, challenges, and how you can help them on their customer buying journey.
- Include real quotes from interviews to help sales teams prepare for conversations.
- Craft your sales messaging to resonate with that persona.
#5 Understand the Buyer’s Journey
Knowing the buyer’s journey is an important aspect of modern inbound marketing. While the specific buyer’s journey is different from every business, three primary steps will always be involved in the process:
- Awareness – This is the initial part of the buying process, and it occurs when the buyer becomes aware that there are issues they need help with or opportunities they wish to explore further. At this point, they understand the problems they face but cannot identify the root issues causing them to happen. In this stage, your messaging needs to educate potential buyers about these matters without coming across as sales-y.
- Consideration – After the buyer has determined the problem or set goals, they’re ready to start searching for solutions. This usually involves a perusal of various services, products, or approaches that can address their issue. Messaging at this stage is focused on educating the buyer about the products or services you offer that can solve their problem. By sticking to informative, actionable content, you can build trust with the buyer before overtly plugging your brand as the solution.
- Decision – At this critical juncture, the buyer is ready to pick a solution. The buyer will likely narrow down their options to a select few brands and then choose one. This is the opportunity to seal the deal. Your goal is to convince the buyer that you have the most viable solution to meet their needs. Instead of listing your service or product’s features, focus instead on the utility of how it’s going to improve your buyer’s circumstance.
By understanding who your buyer is and how they go about purchasing your service or product, you can align your sales strategies to meet their needs.
#6 Create a Clear Action Plan and Sales Pitch
Once you’ve done all your proper due diligence, you need to outline clear plans of action.
If you want to set up your sales team for success, they’ll require a functioning sales funnel and opportunity planning process. Each team member will need to outline a sales funnel that illustrates how they plan on achieving their goals and generating sales.
Encourage your team to:
- Build prospect lists
- Leverage current client relationships
- Identify strategic partners
To captivate your target audience, Jennifer Willey, Chief Business Officer of Independa, suggests that you’ll need “confidence, a genuine connection with your audience, clarity on what you want from them (and what they need from you), command of your data and what sets you apart, and most importantly, closing the deal.”3
#7 Make Sure Your Team Is Prepared
Before you throw them in to swim with the sharks, it’s important that every member of your team has a clear understanding of their duties and the skills and training necessary to ensure their success.
If you identify members of your team that possess certain weaknesses, running them through sales training and reinforcing those skills through sales coaching may be the optimal solution. This mitigates the chances that valuable leads are lost by way of incompetence.
An Effective Sales Strategy Begins with a Well-Trained Team
Do you need help refining your sales strategy to better reach your goals?
If so, we can help optimize your sales team by implementing proven sales training and sales consulting solutions customized to your specific needs and challenges. Whether it’s sales training, coaching, or consulting, we can help mold your team into a sales machine.
Are you ready to see measurable results? Reach out today to discover more.
- Inc. Brand Communities Are The Answer to Engaging a New Generation of Consumer. https://www.inc.com/michelle-manafy/brand-communities-are-answer-to-engaging-a-new-generation-of-consumers.html
- Forbes. Uncovering White-Space Opportunities For Your Brand. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2019/12/11/uncovering-white-space-opportunities-for-your-brand/?sh=e3c4bbb7b606
- Inc. 5 Steps to Creating an Effective Sales Strategy. https://www.inc.com/project-entrepreneur/5-steps-to-creating-an-effective-sales-strategy.html
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