A Comprehensive Guide on Sales Strategy - the Do's and Don'ts

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Have you ever gotten something new and it was so awesome that you wondered how you ever lived without it?

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That feeling is pretty awesome. And honestly, most salespeople are trying to find solutions every single day that will help others have that feeling.

That’s really what sales is all about: selling a product to someone that’s going to make a positive impact on them, whether it’s small or large. Knowing that your product or service made someone’s day or helped them solve a problem makes selling worthwhile and is a key factor in sales motivation.

First, you have to believe in the product or service that you’re selling. If you don’t, then it’s much harder to genuinely convince someone else that they should buy-in.

From there, it’s just a matter of getting that product or service in front of the right people —your target audience or the people you know will really benefit from buying.

That’s where a sales strategy comes into play. Let’s take a closer look.

What is a Sales Strategy?

A sales strategy is a living document that guides the sales process.

In other words, a sales strategy is like a sales and marketing roadmap that shows the entire route at once but highlights important stops along the way that need to be visited in order to reach your destination.

The thought process behind a sales strategy is to provide context behind how all the different components of your organization’s sales expectations, research, and processes come together to influence how a product or service should be positioned to customers.

You can get your sales team all the fancy tools like mobile VoIP or phone tracking software, but they still need a sales strategy to guide them.

Usually, a sales strategy is reviewed and optimized every month, where you and your sales team can look at cold hard data to quickly identify potential problems or opportunities and address them.

So while you’re creating a sales strategy that will be used now and in the future, it’s important to remember that it’s a living document and informed changes can and should be made over time.

Let’s take a closer look at the steps you’ll need to follow to create an effective sales strategy.

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Sales Strategy

An effective sales strategy is going to look different for each organization, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when you’re creating one for the first time.

Here are some examples of what you need to create an effective growth-focused sales strategy:

  • Determine your product or service’s unique marketable qualities
  • Know how you can reach your target audience
  • Establish clear roles on your sales team
  • Set clear sales goals and milestones
  • Define value propositions

Let’s take a look at each of these points in greater detail:

Determine your product or service’s unique marketable qualities

An analysis of what makes your product or service unique in the market it serves will help give focus to your sales strategy. In the world of marketing, this is typically called a Unique Selling Position (USP) or sell strategy.

In other words, what makes your product or service stand out from others in a target market? What sets it apart from the competition? Why should a customer buy from you over your direct competitor?

Just like it’s not a good idea to jump headfirst into a pool of water with an unknown depth, diving into a target market without knowing how your offering stands out is a huge risk.

A good strategy is trying to find a sweet spot within a market —the small but mighty area of the market where your business fits perfectly, like the last piece of a puzzle.

You can get started with finding that sweet spot or niche by answering the following questions:

  • What’s the size of the market you’re targeting?
  • Is there already visible demand for your product or service (people looking for a solution that your offering solves)
  • What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) when entering this market?
  • Who are your competitors? How do you stack up against them?
  • Does your company (culture, branding, existing customer perception) align with the beliefs and values of the customers in the market you’re targeting?

You may be able to answer some of these questions immediately, while others might require a bit of digging into the existing sales and marketing data you already have.

But taking the time to fully answer each question should put you on the right track to getting your company and your sales team in the perfect position to sell to the right customers and ace sales follow ups.

Know how you can reach your target audience

Do you know where your customers hang out? If you’re not effectively reaching your customers where they are, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to show your audience that your company belongs in the same spaces as them.

But how can you reach your target audience? Let’s break down three rock-solid techniques:

  1. Create a customer persona. This exercise helps you understand who your ideal customer is, what they like, what their habits are, where they already shop, and overall just paint a high-level picture of someone who would be genuinely interested in your product or service.
  2. Create relevant content to attract the attention of your target audience. Videos, advertisements, social media posts, emails, and blog articles are great ways to showcase your knowledge and authority to your target audience. While it might take some time, if you’re consistent in producing high-quality, relevant content, your audience WILL notice.
  3. Use referral marketing. Ever bought something because your friend recommended it? It’s no secret that referral marketing works. Creating a referral program encourages your existing customers to recommend your business to other target customers, helping you grow and reach your target customers quickly.

If you start reaching out to your target customers in effective ways from the beginning, it shows your audience that you know what you’re doing and are a true thought leader in your space. This will help solidify customer trust in your business — something that can’t be bought.

Define value propositions

define value propositions

A value proposition is essentially a promise that your company presents to your target audience. It shows how your product or service will solve your customer’s pain points, and why your offering is the best choice when compared to your competitors.

Here are some tips for writing a value proposition that captures your audience’s attention:

  • Focus on the headline. A lot of times, people don’t read past the headline of your value proposition, so it’s important to make sure your message is communicated as clearly and effectively as possible in those few words. If your headline is effective, people could be enticed to keep reading.
  • Highlight key benefits of the product or service. In the sentences following your headline, you should communicate the key benefits your product or service offers. Try to be as concise and clear as possible with this statement.
  • Use imagery or graphics to support your value proposition. Visuals are super effective for communication, especially online. Be sure to take advantage of how an image can go beyond words to communicate your message.

Catching your audience’s eye isn't always easy, but a value proposition can work to communicate your company’s message in a quick and clear way, encouraging your customers to learn more.

Establish clear roles on your sales team

As your company grows, you’ll quickly find that having a sales team full of generalists — that is, salespeople who are jacks of all trades — just isn’t getting customers through the sales process in an effective way.

Here’s an example of an assembly line structure for a sales team:

  • Lead generators focus on finding customers and using data to qualify them so they can continue through the sales process. Typically this role is the Marketing department’s responsibility, but salespeople can absolutely prospect for new leads as well.
  • Sales development focuses on nurturing customers by reaching out to them and answering questions, providing support, and otherwise building relationships to keep those customers engaged and moving through the sales process.
  • Account executives are typically the closers of sales deals and are focused on handling objections and answering any last-minute questions or concerns before the transaction is complete.
  • Customer retention handles what happens after the sale. Sales follow ups are usually handled by a customer support team, but salespeople should take the time to let customers know that they can be a point of contact as well.

The quicker you structure your sales team by specialty, the quicker your reps become experts in specific areas. Sales training is a great way to prepare your team by ensuring everyone has the knowledge they need to be successful in their role. You can structure your team by product, industry, or target market, but the structure that works best for your company or team depends on your business goals.

Set clear sales goals and milestones

If you’ve spent any time in sales or marketing, chances are you’ve heard of SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound — as a guideline on how to approach goal setting.

With this model in mind, a sales manager may set various sales goals with the aim to keep their sales team motivated to sell. These goals can include:

  • Monthly sales goals are set on a monthly basis and represent typical sales goals that each rep should achieve in a 30 day period.
  • Waterfall sales goals focus on increasing a process incrementally to reach the desired endpoint. For example, if your sales reps are making 10 calls per day but you’d eventually like to get to 15, set a waterfall goal first to get one extra call-in per week, then every three days, then every two days, until the goal is reached.
  • High Priority sales goals help reps prioritize sales so they know which opportunities to focus on first.
  • Sales activity goals are set using data as a guide. For example, if data shows that it takes three phone calls to a customer before they close on a deal, then sales reps know that they should make at least three phone calls to every customer they deal with to increase the chances of closing a deal.
  • Incentivized sales goals are specific bonuses or rewards that your sales reps get for meeting certain sale targets. Incentives help motivate salespeople into selling more.
  • Stretch sales goals are ambitious goals that may not necessarily be met all the time but can act as a way to show sales reps that they should always be striving for more.

With clear sales goals in mind, reps can stay motivated and have a clear understanding of your company’s selling expectations.

Types of Sales Methodologiesmethodologies

sales methodologies

We’ve gone through some steps you can follow for creating your own sales strategy, but there are actually different thought processes behind selling that you can apply when you’re creating your sales strategy.

These methodologies are meant to help give you the right perspective to shape how your sales reps’ approach to selling, whether it’s outbound sales or inside sales.

There are around 12 different methodologies that you can use to influence how your team sells:

  • SPIN Selling
  • N.E.A.T. Selling
  • Conceptual Selling
  • SNAP Selling
  • Challenger Sale
  • The Sandler System
  • MEDDIC
  • Solution Selling
  • Inbound Selling
  • Target Account Selling
  • Command of the Sale
  • Gap Selling

The first three, SPIN Selling, N.E.A.T. Selling, and Conceptual Selling, are mainly focused on gathering information from prospects, digging deep into the challenges the prospects face, and positioning your product or service as the ultimate solution that will save them time, money, and frustration.

The SNAP, Challenger, and Sandler sales methodologies are more focused on the sales reps themselves and how they communicate with prospects, giving different tips on what type of communication works best for different situations.

MEDDIC, Solution Selling, and Inbound Selling are more high-level methods focused on how a sale should be approached, and what information a sales rep needs to consider before jumping into a sale.

Target Account Selling, Command of the Sale, and Gap Selling focus on being mindful of where prospects are in the sales process, and when the right time is to engage them.

While most of these sales methodologies are written like instructions on how to sell, there’s nothing stopping you from taking aspects that work for your business from a few of them or all of them to create your own tailored sales methodology.

Creating a Sales Strategy: The Do’s and Don'ts

Sales are competitive, so you need to make sure your sales strategy is giving your reps the best chance to seal the deal.

Here are some main do’s and don’ts that you should remember when creating your own sales strategy:

The Do’s

  • Do remember that your sales process still needs to align with your sales strategy in order to be effective. While they are technically separate, they should still complement each other and be followed at the same time to ensure success.
  • Do consider your business goals and be sure they align with the steps in your sales strategy.
  • Do use data to create actionable changes to your sales strategy as needed.
  • Do create a sense of urgency to move the sale along and convince the customer they need to buy in as soon as possible.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t assume that your sales strategy is set in stone once you create it. Be prepared to make changes as you gather more data on what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Don’t assume sales reps are incompetent for not meeting the sales goals that you set. Instead, think about whether those goals were reasonably obtainable in the first place, and make adjustments as needed.
  • Don’t forgo using data to understand your audience. You might think your know your customers, but as they say, data doesn’t lie, so it’s in your best interest to gather as much data as possible so you can better understand your customers.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions about what your customers need or want. Instead, be willing to listen and only provide a solution when you completely understand their pain points.

Sales Forecasting Techniquesstyle

While a sales strategy outlines how to sell, a sales forecast acts as a way to estimate what future sales revenue should look like.

In other words, sales forecasting takes data, whether that be industry averages or your own sales data, and uses it to forecast future sales — like you would forecast the weather.

And while the weather forecast might seem arbitrary at times, your sales forecast should be anything but. Here are some sales forecasting techniques that you can use to create your forecast:

Document your sales process

Your sales process consists of the actions and steps your reps take to close deals. Having a clear process written down and in a place where reps can refer to it easily helps ensure a clear standard of selling.

Consider sales goals and quotas

Your sales team, as well as individual sales reps, need sales goals and quotas so that they are aware of your selling expectations. When setting them, use industry-specific data or previous company sales data.

Set sales metrics

Sales metrics help you determine what goes into making a sale. For instance:

  • How long does it take for new leads to come in?
  • How long does it take to qualify those leads?
  • What is the average dollar amount of a closed deal?
  • How long does it take, on average, to onboard a customer?
  • How many customers on average repeat their business?
  • What are the conversion rates at each stage of the sales process?

Conclusion

There you have it, sales strategies in a nutshell. We could go on and on about sales strategies and the different techniques involved in creating them, but this post should provide a good baseline so you can feel confident in making your own.

Creating a sales strategy might seem overwhelming at first because there are so many different considerations, but it’s worth the effort to provide accurate guidance for your sales team, marketing department, customer support, and any other department of your company that would benefit from sales guidance.

As long as you remember to keep your customer at the top of your mind when selling, and be sure to listen to them so you completely understand their pain points, then applying your sales strategy should be a breeze.

Need more tools to help you build out your sales strategy? Ringy is a comprehensive sales CRM with features like a sales pipeline to help keep your sales on track. Request a demo today and we’ll walk you through our software.