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By: Liz Heiman
Categories: Sales

By now, you have probably figured out that developing and using a sales strategy isn’t as simple as determining how much money you want to make. A revenue goal alone won’t get you the long-term strategic sales you need to sustain growth. But, building a great sales strategy will help ensure the success of your team. Here are the 10 key components your sales strategy needs to deliver to get the kick-ass results you want.

1. Revenue Goal (or Goals)

A sales strategy needs clear goals broken down so that everyone understands what they need to sell by when. Your plan should include how much is to be sold of each product or brand and should be calculated by market demand and production capacity. It should be clear how much each territory and each rep is responsible for of the overall and specific goals. It is also helpful to be clear about what target companies in each vertical or industry each rep are responsible for obtaining. And finally, by when does the revenue need to be obtained? The more specific you can be, the better. Of course, your clients will buy what they want to buy, when they want to buy it. But, creating clear goals can help your sales team prioritize their work and their sales pitches.

2. Ideal Customer Criteria

Ideal customer criteria is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Your team needs to understand to whom you want them to sell to. You probably already have some basic criteria that drive your list building, such as industry, vertical, company size, location, the number of sites, their client base, etc.

You also need psychographic information to help prioritize companies that are the best fit for your business, including criteria such as the organization’s willingness to partner, whether they have the infrastructure in place to support the purchase, their desire to allocate the resources necessary to get the desired ROI on their purchase. Also consider the company’s reputation, their fiscal health and cash flow situation, and whether or not they are growing.

Psychographic information will determine the likelihood of an easy close and the nature of the relationship if it does close.

To create a list of demographics and psychographics, examine your existing clients for the length of the sales cycle, profitability, resource allocation, renewals and repeat business and any other criteria that will help you determine which clients are your best clients.

Understanding why different companies measure the way they do will help you figure out what companies to target in the future.

3. Target Client List

Now that you know what your ideal customer profile looks like, make a list of the companies you want to target. Depending on your capacity, that could be 10 companies or 1,000.

It is important to be clear about why these are the top target companies. Of course, fitting your ideal customer criteria is a good start. Sometimes we select companies that don’t fit our ideal customer criteria because they bring some other benefits. Maybe they have huge revenue potential, and we are prepared to live with the problems that could arise from not being a perfect fit. Maybe they have identified a need in a public way that might result in free publicity. Maybe they are a logo that will give us credibility in the market. Whatever the reason, carefully craft a list that gets you what you need, then pursue it with focus.

4. Assessment (SWOT Analysis)

It is important to understand how you are positioned to achieve the goals you have set, including pursuing the customers you identified. You can do this in many ways. The most important thing is to be clear about your current reality and based on that, determine what your team can leverage to overcome any obstacles. You can do an old-fashioned SWOT analysis to see how you are positioned in the market to achieve your sales goals. Alternatively, or additionally, you can do a market analysis. Look at the strength of the market, brand awareness, competition, and outside factors such as technology landscape or economics.

5. Positioning

With the SWOT and market assessment in hand, you have the tools you need to determine what your position in the market should be and how to best describe that to your clients. Are you the low-price leader? The low-tech solution? Are you the socially responsible solution? Are you the answer for growing companies? Whatever your positioning, it needs to be clear and consistent. The better your sales team understands the positioning of your business and your product, the better they can communicate that to your clients.

6. Value Propositions

I am a huge fan of value propositions because it flips the positioning statement to be customer focused. Sales teams are typically so internally focused that it is hard to see the client’s perspective. Sellers need to explain to customers what your company offers in a way that matters.

Many companies have one product and one value prop. Depending on the number of products you have and how different they are, you may find that you need several value propositions. In some cases, I find it useful to have value propositions for different types of buying influencers or industries. Your sales team will help you figure out what they need.

In the most basic term, your value proposition starts with the answer to these two questions:

  1. What problem is your client having that you can help or solve with your solution?
  2. What is unique about the way you solve this problem?

With that information, you can craft a statement that ties your unique solution to the specific problem and in a way that is all about the customer.

7. Lead Generation Strategy

Now that you know who to target, how to position your business and the language required to get a prospect’s attention, how will you get the leads you need? You can look for additional sales within existing customers or in new accounts. I always like to start with existing accounts, but once you have exhausted those possibilities, you will have to find new leads. You can do it by knocking on doors, networking or asking for referrals. Here is what we know: the amount of time it takes to close a referral is much less than a cold call, and the likelihood that the client will remain with you is higher.

8. Funnel Management

Lead management from target list to close is a critical part of a sales strategy. So, let’s talk about the funnel or pipeline. Many companies rely on a CRM to manage their pipeline. While that is a great start, take it a step further and work on a funnel process that will help your sales team achieve their goals.

9. Measurement

Your CRM and your funnel are great tools to measure progress. In addition to helping you manage sales rep activity or the development of a particular lead, your pipeline can help you track the ratio of leads to closes, the length of a sales cycle, and even forecast revenue. The key is getting the data into the system.

10. Resource Assessment

How do you know if you have the right resources to support your revenue targets? Start by looking at your budget. Do you have sufficient funds to do the activities you identified in the plan? Do you have the right number of people on your sales team and do they understand their priorities? Do you have the right people? Do you need sales development reps, sales engineers or administrative support to keep your sales team focused on sales? Do you have the sales enablement tools you need to accomplish your goals?

Allocating resources appropriately to achieve the goals you want is critical to your success. When your sales team has the resources they need to be successful, they can focus on generating leads and closing business.

Now you are ready to build a great sales strategy. For more on developing kick-ass strategies, check out this recording of a seminar, I hosted with Bright Talk. You can also download this free checklist to keep track of your progress.

If you need help creating a sales process that works for your business, Alice can help! Call her to chat about it at 775-852-5020 or schedule an appointment.

Liz Heiman
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Liz Heiman

Sales leadership coach at Alice Heiman LLC
A strategic thinker, sales strategist, Japanist, and Rotarian, Liz is a coach, trainer, and prolific speaker on the topics of sales and sales leadership. Liz loves sales, and enjoys working with sales leaders to create strategies and processes that make sense AND bring in results.
Liz Heiman
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