Your business needs to have a sales strategy.
This statement holds true whether you’re selling SaaS or tangible products. It doesn’t matter if you operate as a B2B, D2C, or a combination of the two. Regardless of your industry, the size of your business, or the age of your company, coming up with an effective sales strategy needs to be a priority.
For those of you who have never done this before, you might not know where to start. The rest of you might have an existing sales strategy in place that needs improvement.
In either scenario, it’s best for you to start from the beginning and re-write your sales strategy from scratch.
As a sales expert who has created countless sales strategies for more than 100 businesses, I’ve come up with a process for building an effective sales strategy in just 8 simple steps.
1. ASSESS YOUR CURRENT BENCHMARKS
The first thing you need to do is figure out where your company stands right now. You can’t plan for your future without evaluating your past.
Creating benchmarks using the previous calendar year of sales is the easiest way to do this.
Look at your total sales and determine the percentage of that number that will be repeat business for the upcoming year.
Identify your most profitable clients. Measure the performance of each member of the sales team. Look at your customer support metrics.
The list of things you can assess goes on and on.
Once you’re able to identify these benchmarks, you can use them to plan for your strategy moving forward. Figure out what has changed (if anything), and find areas where you can grow.
2. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET MARKET
Who are you selling to?
Every other component of your sales strategy needs to revolve around this concept. If your target audience isn’t clearly defined, then your sales strategy is going to have problems.
First, start with a broad customer profile. For example, your SaaS company could be targeting technology startups in the United States.
From here, create a customer persona. This will be much more detailed.
Maybe you’re targeting CMOs or CFOs within those companies. The customer persona will include detailed information about their demographics and behavior.
Over time, your personas will be redefined as you learn more about your customers and target market. So while it’s a crucial step in building a sales strategy, understand that the personas can change, as they should.
3. RUN A SWOT ANALYSIS
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept of SWOT. The acronym stands for:
It’s something that you probably did back when you first launched your company. But you should continue using this method for building an effective sales strategy.
Your marketing department, sales department, product development team, and customer support representatives should all be part of this process.
Take the time to identify where your company excels. Then figure out the areas where you need improvement. Discover new opportunities in your market.
Always try to recognize any potential threats. These could be internal threats or threats related to your competition.
You need the information in all four of these categories to build a sales strategy. If you’re just ignoring SWOT, then you could miss out on new opportunities or potentially be put out of business by one of your threats.
4. DEFINE YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
Sales won’t happen without effective marketing.
Even if your sales staff is exceptional, they won’t have anyone to sell to if your company doesn’t have any leads.
You’ll use the information from your SWOT analysis and customer personas to create a marketing strategy. Figure out how you can reach your target audience. Find ways to qualify those leads before they land on the desks of your salespeople.
It’s important for your sales team and marketing team to work together.
The two departments won’t reach their full potential if they operate completely independent from each other. Of course, the responsibilities of each team will be very different.
But holding weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your sales team and marketing team at the same time will help get everyone on the same page. This will make it easier for you to define your marketing plan while you’re creating a sales strategy.
5. CLEARLY ESTABLISH SALES ROLES
Everyone on your sales team should not have the same responsibilities. Play to the strengths of your staff.
For example, your inbound sales team and outbound sales team should be segmented.
An inbound sales manager needs to be an expert in top of the funnel trends. They need to figure out how to increase conversions from different marketing channels. Getting highly qualified leads also needs to be a priority for this department.
Whereas sales managers who oversee outbound sales need to focus more on training the sales staff on the value and benefits of the product or software being sold.
The two departments are very different. So each should have different teams with different managers and assigned roles.
6. DEFINE YOUR GOALS
You want to close more sales. You want to make more money. However, these are not goals for a sales strategy.
Be more specific by clearly establishing your goals.
Revenue is important and should obviously be a priority. But you need to add other key metrics into your sales strategy as well. Otherwise, you’ll never reach those revenue targets.
Here’s an example. In order to close one retainer deal, you might need to have 50 leads, 10 exploratory calls, 5 goal setting calls, and 2 presentations.
In order to define these KPIs, start with your sales goals and work backward.
You can also create short term milestones to ensure that you’re on track to reach those goals. Have milestones for 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days to increase your sales productivity.
7. CREATE AN ACTIONABLE PLAN
So far everything we’ve talked about for your sales strategy involved recognizing and defining different areas of your business, team, market, and customers.
But now it’s time to put that information into action.
What steps will you actually take to in order to drive sales? Be specific.
Come up with a list of tasks that needs to be completed for you to reach your benchmarks and goals.
Then assign those tasks, with due dates, to the appropriate members of your staff.
The actionable plan shouldn’t just involve your salespeople. Include tasks and work for sales managers and your marketing department as well.
8. REVIEW AND REVISE
A common mistake that I see businesses make all of the time is that they fail to refine or pivot from their existing sales strategy.
A new company could enter the market posing an added threat to your business. Or maybe your supplier changed and your production costs increased.
Blindly following your sales strategy without making any adjustments is not an efficient way to operate.
In a perfect world, you’ll create a plan and everything will go accordingly. But the world we live in is far from perfect. As a business owner, I’m sure you know by now that things rarely go according to plan all of the time. Always prepare to make adjustments.
When you break it down one step at a time, building a sales strategy is not that complicated.
But like anything else, the more often you do something, the easier it becomes. That’s why you should consider working with a sales consultant to help you plan and execute your sales strategy.
Consultants have experience creating strategies for businesses of all shapes and sizes, so they know what works and what doesn’t.
For those of you who need some extra assistance with building an effective sales strategy, request a consultation with the sales experts here at Rose Garden Consulting.