What is a sales strategy and how do you create one?

George Brontén

The right sales strategy is critical to high sales performance. When a great sales strategy is aligned with appropriate sales process, methods, training, coaching, and technologies, sales teams can reliably knock the numbers out of the ballpark.

For that reason, we talk about sales strategy in this blog quite a lot. But a reader recently asked us a very good question: How exactly do we define sales strategy? Here’s our answer.

What is a sales strategy?

Having a sales strategy is not enough. The execution of it separates the wheat from the chaff.
George Brontén

Your sales strategy is the plan that defines how you sell your product or service, to whom, where, when, and with what positioning, messaging, and tactics. It includes documentation of the revenue, profits, and other tangible goals of the sales organization, and your plan for measuring and optimizing those outcomes.

  1. It’s a plan. A sales strategy is not some nebulous goal that everyone just sort of knows, and it’s not a one-paragraph statement. It’s a carefully constructed plan, devised at the highest levels of the organization, and documented for everyone to reference.
  2. It defines how you sell. Whether you operate in a transactional or complex sales space, whether you are proactive or reactive, whether you employ large numbers of SDRs or a few highly compensated whale hunters, whether your focus is on delivering value during the sales process–these are all matters to define inside your sales strategy.
  3. To whom. Your sales strategy identifies the key audiences for your product or service.
  4. Where. Your sales strategy should also identify the markets, industries, geographic footprint, and communities where your sales teams will work.
  5. With what positioning and messaging. Your sales strategy must define your differentiators, how value is communicated, pricing, and other aspects of positioning and messaging.
  6. Profit, revenue, and other tangible goals. Finally, the sales strategy defines the tangible goals of the sales organization, and establishes criteria for measuring these important tangibles.

What makes an effective sales strategy?

Every sales organization needs a sales strategy, but obviously just having one is not enough. If you’re going to invest the time to create a strategy, then make sure you’re investing effectively. Here are 6 elements your strategy must contain.

Customer focus

The first and most important thing to know about effective strategy is that it must begin with the customer. You need to examine:

  • Who is your customer?
  • How does your customer prefer to be communicated with?
  • How do you create value for your customer?
  • How is that value differentiated in the marketplace?

Questions of value center around the current problems and future outcomes the customer wants to solve/achieve, associated pains/gains, and the quantifiable ways that your sales team will help them understand and solve those problems and reach those future outcomes.

Goal focus

In addition to understanding your customer, you need to understand where your company is going in order to create an effective strategy to get there. What are the revenue goals of your organization? Are there particular markets or industries you want to increase reach into? Is your primary focus to sell to new logos, or to expand within existing accounts? What other organizational goals will you be focused on?

Where you are

To create a roadmap to where you want to go, you need to clearly understand where you are. An effective sales strategy includes a clear understanding of where the organization currently is, as well as its strengths, weaknesses, and gaps.

Positioning and messaging

Based on all of the above, the strategy should clearly articulate your positioning and messaging in a way that is easy to understand and access by everyone in the organization. Each market segment may require separate positioning and messaging.

Action plan

An effective sales strategy lays out the action plan for the sales organization. This should include details of how you sell, including the size of the sales force, the constitution of the sales force, and specifics about how you go to market with your sales strategy. You also need to translate your action plan into informative and actionable sales playbooks, integrated in your CRM platform.

Tangible goals

What you don’t measure, you can’t control. Setting tangible revenue, profit, pipeline, and leading indicator goals, such as value-focused customer meetings, ensures that you can test the success of your strategy against outcomes, and continue to improve it year over year.

Many mediocre sales organizations operate without a clearly defined sales strategy. If you want to break out from the pack, however, you must invest the time and resources to establish a clear and direct strategy, execute it with discipline, and to continually optimize it. At Membrain, we connect clients with partners who can help them establish an effective strategy, and the tools to ensure you can execute on it.

Feel free to contact us today if you need help with sales strategy.

 

George Brontén
Published May 16, 2018, written by

George Brontén

George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the world's 1st Sales Effectiveness Platform that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.

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