Sales are necessary for any business to thrive and grow. In today’s highly competitive markets, a solid sales strategy can differentiate you from the competition and help you grow faster and more sustainably.
When implementing a B2C or B2B sales strategy, you must take some important, initial steps to define various aspects of that strategy. There are many moving parts involved in developing a unique sales strategy.
Tips for building your sales strategy
A solid sales strategy can make or break the future of your business. You can’t just show a sales rep a product and tell them to sell it. You must follow some basic steps to build your sales strategy first, so they have a defined process to follow.
There are various types of sales strategies, and you should develop yours based on your specific business needs. However, to get you started, below we cover the basics to give you a head start in developing your own sales strategy.
Use the right technology
This is a given, but if you’re not using a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to automate and streamline sales tasks, now is the time to acquire one.
A solid CRM that includes robust sales features should be the foundation of your sales efforts and a core element of your sales strategy.
A CRM that automates the majority of time-consuming, manual tasks frees up loads of time for sales reps. They can then spend that time engaging prospects, forming strategy, conducting research, etc.
Some businesses are hesitant to implement a sales CRM software solution because there are various myths about sales CRMs that are simply not true. Don’t be dissuaded by these common misconceptions. Instead, check out our article in which we expose common sales CRM myths.
Know your audience: Buyer personas
To develop a super solid sales strategy, you first need to know who you are selling to. Many companies and sales managers make the mistake of believing they know exactly who their ideal buyers are. This is an ineffective approach. You can’t truly know who your ideal consumers are without doing some research and creating buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a detailed profile of a hypothetical key decision maker who is involved in deciding whether to purchase your product or service. Buyer personas help you define who your potential buyers are and what makes them tick. An effective buyer persona includes information such as:
- Position in their company
- Which department they represent
- Their pain points and biggest challenges
- Their goals for the future
- Age, gender, and personality type
- How you should speak to them
- And ultimately, how your product can address and solve their challenges
When you create a detailed portrait of your ideal, most common type of buyer, you can market to prospects in a more relevant and personal way. You can speak directly to their pain points and challenges and illustrate to them that your product or service can solve a problem they might not know they have. Learn more about creating buyer personas.
Create solid messaging and positioning
Corporate and product messaging is an incredibly important element of an effective sales strategy. A comprehensive messaging document outlines how your employees should speak about your brand and product to the market.
Messaging should focus on your customers and their needs, so don’t build a messaging document that only speaks about how great your company is. Rather, touch on how your product can help a prospect. How will it solve their pain points? How will it improve their results?
Focus on who your customers are, the challenges they face, and how your company can steer them towards solutions to those challenges.
Target your messaging to speak directly to your customers’ and prospects’ needs. Why? Because 57% of consumers consciously and actively avoid companies that bombard them with poorly targeted marketing messages.
The message your employees convey to the market should be consistent, and a messaging document ensures this.
Here are some important elements of a messaging document:
- Problem statement: Defining the market problem that you plan to solve
- Solution statement: How your brand and product solve the challenges in your problem statement
- Vision statement: Your vision for the future as it relates to your brand and offerings
- Mission statement: How you plan to achieve your vision for the future
- Value proposition: The unique value that your company and product bring to the market
- Positioning statement: How your company and product or service solves unique market/consumer needs in ways that competitors do not
- Core messages (three versions): This is the core, high-level message that you want to communicate to the market. Create three versions: a one-line elevator pitch, a one-paragraph pitch with more detail, and a full-page company and product description for more in-depth conversations.
It’s advisable that marketing and sales work together to develop your messaging document. If either team disagrees with a certain point or message, the two teams should discuss it until they gain a consensus. This will ensure sales and marketing alignment around your core message.
Set up lead lifecycle stages and a flow process
Lead lifecycle stages are the points along the customer journey that leads pass through on their way to becoming customers. Leads enter your database by identifying themselves on lead generation forms, blog or email subscription boxes, and various other ways.
As they engage more with your company, they move through to subsequent stages until they are sales-ready. Once they are, your CRM passes them to sales for outreach. This is all automated by your CRM when you use lead scoring (more on that below).
Ultimately, you must define what it takes for a lead to enter each stage, and how you will communicate to them in a way that is appropriate for a lead in that stage. How you define each stage depends on your business model and customers’ needs. To learn more about lead lifecycle stages, check out our article about building a marketing funnel to drive business growth.
As your sales funnel grows, you may find yourself in a situation in which there are so many leads to market to that your sales reps don’t know who to reach out to first.
Marketing can assist with this by creating a lead scoring model to help sales reps prioritize leads.
A lead scoring model leverages marketing automation to award points to leads for actions they take and demographic information that they provide to you.
You can award demographic points for attributes that indicate a lead’s propensity to purchase. For example, if someone identifies themselves as the CEO of a company, you might award them 10 points because they are an obvious decision maker. If someone lists their job title as administrative assistant, you might award them one point, because they will have little leverage in the final purchase decision.
Other common demographic attributes that companies award points for include:
- Level of seniority in the company
- Their internal role
- Company size (number of employees)
- Physical location
You also award points for actions taken, and those are tracked automatically in your marketing automation solution. Those include actions such as:
- Opening and clicking your marketing emails
- Completing web forms on your lead generation landing pages
- Visiting high-value pages on your website
- Subscribing to your email list or blog
- Downloading new content
- Requesting a demo
After you define which actions and attributes deserve which score, you determine a qualification threshold. This is the point value that a lead must reach in order to be passed over to sales for outreach.
Lead scoring is so important to a successful sales strategy that, according to a lead scoring survey by Demand Gen Report, 41% of respondents saw improved lead conversion rates when using lead scoring.
To learn more, read our article on lead scoring.
Set achievable sales goals
Of course, every sales team needs monthly quotas and goals around various aspects of their jobs. This includes actual sales, prospect calls, new leads in the pipeline, etc.
However, these goals and expectations must be based on hard data to ensure they are realistic and achievable. The best way to ensure your sales goals are achievable is to conduct market research and gain a firm understanding of the industry standard for various sales metrics.
You should also consider the state of the industry or market you are in. If, for example, your market is predicted to decline, you would adjust your sales goals accordingly—lowering expectations based on market conditions.
Once you set your sales goals, you should always measure results to keep tabs on how you’re performing against those goals.
As mentioned above, measuring sales metrics is an incredibly important element of your sales strategy. There are loads of sales metrics you can measure, including sales won, sales lost, calls made, revenue generated, and the list goes on.
If you use the right software to automate sales processes, measurement is a breeze. For example, if you use an all-in-one CRM that provides robust CRM reporting, you can set up custom reports that provide you with the data that you need to see most. You can also automate the delivery of those reports to your inbox at specified intervals. Plus, you can customize your dashboard to give you an at-a-glance view of any metric you must monitor closely.
Measuring sales results helps you identify weak links in the chain so that you can support underperformers in the areas they struggle with. And when you have constant insight into how your sales efforts are moving the needle, you can maintain quite accurate sales forecasting, which is also automated by your CRM.
If the concept of a sales strategy is new to you, this article should help move you in the right direction to get started creating one.
The above tips are intended to help you start contemplating your own sales strategy. Every business is unique and so is their sales strategy.
As you start to leverage your sales strategy, you’ll quickly see which tactics are working and which are not. However, it’s critical to complete a few preliminary steps first, as mentioned above (i.e., create buyer personas, acquire a CRM to automate sales tasks, define your lead lifecycle stages, etc.).
Once you’re set up and running, always check your sales metrics daily if possible. This will provide insight and hard numbers that will let you make data-driven decisions about how to evolve and continually improve your sales strategy. And, after all, constant improvement and growth is the ultimate goal in sales!