It’s not uncommon for company leaders to start a sales strategy with a big sales number. It’s usually a number that is larger than the year before and a percent of growth they or the investors deem attainable (not always within reason).
Having a sales goal is important, but a sales strategy doesn’t start with the number of sales you need to hit your goal. In fact, a sales strategy ends with hitting sales goals. It’s the strategy that allows you to hit the goal.
#Sales strategy doesn’t start with a number—it ends with it. Set yourself up for #success by answering these 6 questions to ensure you hit your sales #goals! Click to tweet
There is a lot that happens before you can look at a sales team and say, “Hit these numbers.”
The “number” should be set based on the growth available in the market (based on research) and not on the growth your leadership wishes was available. It should be selected based on the resources you are able to apply.
I’ve seen many company leaders who want to move from incremental growth to exponential growth without understanding what it will take.
Simply giving salespeople a larger quota and telling them to sell doesn’t work. Your team may have figured that out by now.
Before setting the number for the year, examine the market and your resources.
Answer These Questions!
Setting a big hairy audacious revenue goal won’t result in the long-term strategic sales you need to sustain growth. But, building a great sales strategy will.
Assuming you have sized the market correctly, your leadership team must answer these six questions to create a great sales strategy and effectively execute it. (I’m sure there are more, but these will get you started.)
- What’s the big picture?
- What is your position in the market?
- What Ideal Customer Criteria will you use to prioritize prospecting?
- Which are the top companies you need to sell to successfully?
- What value propositions and messages are needed to intrigue and engage each buyer persona?
- What support can sales depend on from every department in the company?
Here’s some help answering each question to build your strategy and position your sales team for success.
What’s the big picture?
We tend to think that salespeople should just sell what we tell them to sell. But, to truly grow your business, your reps need to understand your company vision. They need to understand the bigger picture and your ‘why’ so they are motivated and bring that to their conversations with customers. And don’t think you can tell them once, and they’ve got it. Remind them regularly and provide information as things change.
To do this, your leadership team has to agree and align the sales strategy with the company strategy.
What is your position in the market?
Your position in the market drives your marketing and your sales efforts. Misunderstanding your position makes it very difficult to generate leads. We all know what happens when the top of the pipeline isn’t full.
For your sales reps to effectively sell, they need to understand your position or how you are viewed by those most likely to buy from you. It can be difficult to take the right approach with a customer when you don’t understand your market position. Are you the low-price leader? Are you seen as the low price leader? Are you seen as the best solution? The most expensive? The most unique? What do they think of your competitors?
Once you’ve completed your analysis, provide your team with a summary of your findings and a positioning statement they can use.
What Ideal Customer Criteria will you use to prioritize prospecting?
Some of your teams are lucky enough to have plenty of inbound leads, but from my research, many are not followed up on or only receive one attempt. Sure, some of those leads may be unqualified or may not be worth your sales team’s efforts—but what about the ones that are? If your sales team has a glut of leads and no way to prioritize them, you need to be sure they understand and use the Ideal Customer Criteria you’ve built. It’s not about the persona until you know that the company meets the criteria. They need to do the research and prioritize those leads.
If they are doing outbound in a territory, the same criteria are applied to determine where to put the time and effort. If they have a named account list, they should research every company before adding them to the list.
So much time is wasted, and numbers are missed when salespeople spend time chasing people at companies that are not the most likely to buy.
There’s a lot of confusion between Ideal Customer Criteria and Buyer Persona that you need to iron out. This will prevent a lot of wasted time.
Which are the top companies you need to sell to successfully?
Who decides which companies are a top priority for prospecting? In many cases, it’s left to the salespeople. This should be very strategic, and sales and marketing leaders need to work together based on the greater strategy to choose. Once chosen, mark the top 10 (or top 100) as strategic accounts and build a team around them.
The days of the Lone Ranger salesperson are long gone in the enterprise sale. Teams must be formed, and the strategic accounts landed.
Salespeople need specific strategies for the companies on their list that are most important to your overall success.
What value propositions and messages are needed to intrigue and engage each buyer persona?
Once you know your position in the market, the marketing team needs to develop the value propositions that support that. The value propositions flip the positioning statement from your point of view to the customers. Then the messaging gets built from there.
Every point made has to help the customer recognize that you understand their need and can solve it. It all has to be stated from their perspective in what they receive, not what you sell.
Without this, your salespeople send messages all about your company and product, which are considered spam and an instant DELETE.
Check your inbox; I’m sure you have dozens of these emails from people trying to sell you something.
Instead, the messages sent should intrigue the buyer. Those writing the messages need to think like Netflix producers and write messages that are “Binge-worthy, not cringe-worthy.”
To write a good value proposition, start with the answers to these two questions:
- What problem is your client having that you can solve with your solution?
- What is unique about the way you solve this problem?
The right messaging will provide your sellers with needed conversations. They can’t sell anything unless they have sales conversations, and this is what most salespeople are lacking these days.
What support can sales depend on from every department in the company?
Even with the answers to all of the above questions, your sales team will still be unsuccessful if they do not have buy-in from every department in the company. Many companies have at least one sales prevention department. It could be a production department that can’t fulfill the orders that the reps sell or legal holding up contracts.
Remember, sales is not about the sellers; it’s about how the customer wants to buy. That’s why every department needs to rally around the customer and ensure there is an exceptional customer experience.
Every member of your company needs to understand the sales team’s goals and how they are expected to achieve them. They can’t reach them without the internal team or the customers’ attention. So how do your other departments support sales? What role do they play?
Remove the silos and have cross-functional discussions about the customer’s journey and how you can meet the customer where they are and who is best suited to do that, marketing, subject matter experts, customer success, sales?
Remember, the journey starts when they learn you can solve their problem and continues through the deal, and closes with them becoming a loyal customer.
Sales Strategy Doesn’t Start with the Sales Number
As I said initially, sales strategy doesn’t start with a sales number—it ends with it. If your sales team only receives a number to hit, how will they be able to hit it? They will fail and get blamed for it when, in fact, that failure is on the leadership team. Set them up for success by building a winning sales strategy.
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.