5 Tips to Develop an Effective Sales Strategy for Your Business

By Kirsten McNeice
Talent and Employer Brand Manager
Mar 4 2021 read

A sales strategy is a written plan that outlines how your sales team will meet its revenue or business goals. While sales strategies differ from business to business, most plans lay out the following five components: your ideal customer profile, sales process, lead generation tactics, sales methodology, and sales metrics.

Armed with a sales strategy plan, you will more efficiently attract and close prospects, grow your business, and invest resources. Also, you will be able to confidently answer how you are going to reach your business goals

So, without further ado, here are five tips on how to build a sales strategy. 

1. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile

When you are developing a sales strategy, many of your decisions revolve around your customers. So, first off, you have to know what your best customers look like. That way you can pick them out from the crowd of leads and avoid spending too much time selling to leads who aren’t a good fit for your service. 

To do this, you need to define your ideal customer profile (ICP) — a categorical description of the customers who will receive the most value from your offering. These will be clients with shorter sales cycles and a higher willingness to pay. Not to mention, they will stay with you the longest. 

Here are some attributes to consider when defining your ICP: 

  • Specific pain points and motivations 
  • Business size 
  • Business type 
  • Location 
  • Budget 

For instance, if you are selling consultancy services, maybe your ICP are small (10–50 employees) B2B tech companies that need help taking the step from a small startup to medium-sized businesses. Then, you can focus your outreach and marketing efforts on those specific companies, thereby giving you a higher return on your customer acquisition activities. 

2. Define a Consistent Sales Process

A sales process lists the repeatable steps your salespeople will take to walk a prospect from a cold lead to a paying customer. Most sales processes follow a similar format that includes six steps.

  1. Lead Generation and Qualification: Generate leads through cold calling, emailing, or marketing efforts. Then, make initial contact and ask questions to figure out if they match your ideal customer profile. 
  2. Needs Analysis: Learn more about the prospect’s internal processes, pain points, and needs. 
  3. Presentation: Host a meeting to go over your service and how you think it can help the prospect solve their problems or achieve their goals. 
  4. Formal Offer: Formally make an offering with a price — usually through a formal proposal. 
  5. Objection Handling: Go over their objections and overcome them by learning more about the underlying hesitations. 
  6. Close: Send a contract and go over any legal hurdles. Then await their signature and answer any questions they have. 

Your sales process might vary slightly. But what’s most important is making sure your entire team follows the same process. That way, you can analyze your sales process and make slight adjustments within each of the six steps. 

You will be able to identify common holdups. For instance, if a lot of your team members are experiencing failed sales in the objection handling phase, it could be that your reps need better training in this area. Then provide it, and sales will move more smoothly through that step. 

READ NEXT: 5 Time Management Hacks for Busy Sales Reps

3. Pick Your Lead Generation Tactics 

Whether it’s cold calling, cold emailing, social selling, or inbound content marketing and advertising, you need to formulate a plan for how your team will generate new leads. Most sales strategies will have two parts of lead generation: outbound and inbound. 

Outbound lead generation

Your team will find leads that fit your ICP.  This can be done with lead generation software or by researching manually on the web. Reps will then try to make contact to start a conversation, spark interest, and setting a follow-up meeting to go more in detail. 

Inbound lead generation

Your marketing department will use a variety of techniques from SEO to content marketing to attract potential buyers to your website. From there, they might download ebooks, check out your service, or fill out a contact form, which your team will answer. 

4. Pick Your Sales Methodology

A sales methodology is a selling strategy that guides how your sales reps interact with buyers during each part of your sales process. Popular selling methodologies include SPIN Selling, Consultative Selling, Soft Selling, and the Challenger Sale. 

  • SPIN Selling: With this method, your salespeople ask different types of questions during different parts of the sales process. First, they ask about the customer’s situation, then their problems, then any implications for letting those problems fester, and finally the need/payoff of making the purchase. 
  • Consultative Selling: This method works well for those selling services. It prioritizes relationship-building with a prospect. And salespeople spend a lot of time trying to thoroughly understand the need of the buyer so that they can provide the right help or plan of action. 
  • Challenger Sale: With this method, you are attempting to challenge the prospect’s view of their own business by enlightening them on industry insights and ways they can improve their business. It’s not for the faint of heart and requires a tough attitude that isn’t afraid to challenge a buyer’s cherished ideas, but it can work wonders if done right. 

Which you choose to implement will depend on your service and client profile. No matter what you pick, it helps to have a philosophy to stick to when you come into problems during a sale. There’s a ton of literature on each sales methodology, so you will have practiced methods to deal with each situation. 

5. Define Your Sales Metrics

Your sales strategy is not complete until you have metrics in place to determine where you’re successful and how the team’s effectiveness overall can be improved.  Having measurables provides insight into what is working in your sales strategy, which areas need more attention, and what adjustments can be made to increase revenue production and the output of each individual rep over time.

Here are five measurables and metrics that any sales organization should track:

  1. Average Sales Price: The size of the average deal.  This allows you to track revenue coming in and see whether these amounts are increasing or decreasing over a period of time. 
  2. Average Days to Close: How long it takes a sales opportunity to go from a qualified lead to a closed deal. Often referred to as the “Sales Cycle Length”, this metric will enable you to see if there are opportunities to improve any inefficiencies to shorten the sales cycle to close more deals faster. 
  3. Conversion Rate: The rate at which the individuals and team close deals. This will give sales and marketing teams more insight into lead quality, understanding how many of those leads convert into customers. 
  4. Time in Each Sales Stage: If you can track how many deals make it to each stage of your pipeline, it’s clear where the biggest fall-offs exist.  This allows you to better understand why you’re losing deals, and how you can provide more support in those areas to move more deals through the sales process to closure. 
  5. Percent of Sales Reps Meeting Quotas: This allows sales leaders to better understand who is excelling and who is under-performing, which opens up coaching opportunities to improve individual skill sets.

The key thing to keep in mind is no one fix will dramatically change the output of a sales team - It takes small changes repeated consistently over time. But being armed with these insights can empower you to know where to make the most impactful changes.

Consistency Is Key

More than anything else, consistency among your sales reps will bring revenue increases to your company. When you create a sales strategy that your team follows, you can spot areas for improvement and make adjustments, whether it’s to the sales process, lead generation, ideal customer profile, or methodology. It’s an iterative process optimizing your sales strategy, so don’t feel bad if your first one doesn’t pan out as you had hoped! 

When you create a sales strategy with the five components we’ve recommended, you can expect to see more efficient salespeople, more predictable sales patterns, increased revenue, and more analytical decision-making around your sales activities.  

If you need help implementing a sales strategy and tracking projects, sales, and reports, try a free trial of Accelo today. 

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