Sales Strategy

In May of 2018, Salesforce reported that 57% of sales reps didn’t hit their sales goals. Fortunately, by the end of 2018 things were looking up. Only 46% of sales reps didn’t hit their goals. If, like most companies, nearly 50% of your sales reps missed their quota, don’t despair. There is hope. 

If you want more of your sales reps to hit their revenue goals, the secret is in sales leadership and strategy. Leading with a sales strategy is the most effective way to support your team in hitting their revenue goals.

Leading for Sales Success

Leading your sales team with sales strategy means understanding what is possible in the market, knowing what your team needs from you and how to coach them to success. To lead sales successfully, you need a detailed plan, compelling messaging, appropriate tools and consistent coaching. Here is what a sales team needs from you (their leader) to hit their quota.

1. Clear Vision

When your sales team has a clear understanding of the company vision and how sales fit into that, they will be more confident in the direction you are going and how they can support it. Remember, if you aren’t clear about your vision, no one else can be. 

  • Why do you exist? 
  • Who will your customers be? 
  • What problem do you solve? 
  • How do you solve it? 
  • What makes you special? 
  • How do you want to Grow? 
  • How big will your company be? 
  • How will you be perceived by the world? 

2. Positioning

How do you want your customer to see you in relation to themselves and your competitors? Positioning changes when the market around you changes. Stay on top of it.  When things change, create a new strategy that addresses the market changes and gives your team the knowledge they need to talk about it with customers. 

Where do you fit in the competitive landscape? For example: 

  • Are you a practical solution? 
  • Are you the future? 
  • Are you a socially conscious choice? 
  • Are you the customer-service leader? 

3. Value Proposition

It is not your sales reps’ job to figure out the value proposition. Leadership is better able to determine what problem your customers have, how you solve it, and why your solution is best. If you leave it to your sales team, they will struggle to make something up. Let them focus on selling, and you or your marketing team focus on value propositions.  

Your value proposition is: What problem do you solve, who do you solve it for, how do you solve it, and what makes that a better option for this buyer. 

4. Ideal Customer Profile and Target List

Be strategic about targeting. Letting your sales team decide which companies to target is not strategic. Outline your ideal customer profiles, then give your team a list of targets to pursue.  

Your ideal customer is the kind of company that is the best fit for your product and the way you deliver it. You can define this by size, industry, buying process, current software systems they use, or any number of other things that will determine how easy it will be to sell to them and how effective your solution will be for them. You want to avoid difficult sales and difficult implementations. Focus on the customer that will buy more in the future. 

Make a strategic target list of companies that meet your ideal customer profile that you want your sales reps to pursue or grow. Give each sales rep a manageable list for them to pursue. Let them know that these are the priorities. 

5. A Plan

Look at what you did last year, then determine where to go from there. Take that plan and break it down into a series of clear goals and targets. Make sure your team knows your priorities, so they generate the revenue you want in the way that you need it. 

It is best to break down your sales strategy into manageable pieces. Determine the overall goal and the best way to achieve it. Determine which companies to focus on growing and how much to grow them, even what products to focus on selling them. Think about what sectors or verticals you want to sell to. Determine how much of which products to sell to. Think about each region and each sales rep and determine how much potential there is and what capacity you must meet the goals you are setting. 

6. Lead Generation

Understanding the lead generation process is critical to hitting your goals. How many prospects do you need to have in the top of the funnel to close the number of deals you have at the bottom? What is your lead-to-close ratio? Keep the qualified leads flowing if you want to hit your goals. Coach your team so that the leads keep moving through the funnel. Be sure to continue to prioritize qualified leads that are likely to close. 

Sales reps need qualified leads to close and you need a great plan to get them. Work with marketing to determine the best sources of leads and make sure marketing knows exactly what they are expected to deliver from each activity. For instance, if you are going to a trade show, you need a plan for getting a certain number of qualified leads from the show. 

7. Individual Sales Plans

Every member of your team matters and they each need a plan to hit their goals. Help them create a plan for finding new opportunities, growing existing accounts, leveraging referrals and moving things through the funnel. This is where the coaching comes in, individual and team coaching is critical to a sales team’s success.  

I like to start by understanding not just what my goal is for each sales rep, but what their goal is for themselves. Then help them plot out a plan to reach their goals including how they will spend their time, which accounts to grow, which leads in their funnel to prioritize and help them identify measures of success along the way. 


While there are lots of strategies your salespeople can use to close more deals, your overall sales strategy is the critical piece to positioning your team for success. Learn more about using sales strategy for success by watching this free webinar.

So, what’s next for your organization? A quota-smashing year?   

About the Author Liz Heiman

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.

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  • Ari says:

    Absolutely faultless article. Superb and a lot of added value for me. Thank you

    • Liz Heiman says:

      Thanks Ari. I am so glad it helped. We have lots of other articles on our blog. Are there any topics, in particular, you are interested in? I would be happy to share those links.

  • Ramesh says:

    Without a strategy, sales teams and leaders make decisions based on what is best at the moment. Not because they are selfish or short-sighted, but because they don’t know the big picture.We have tailored engagement options for business of all categories depending on their requirements.

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