One of the essential activities every business will have to undertake is to develop a successful sales strategy.
A clear and well articulated sales strategy is your path to sustainable growth. Get it right and watch your businesses growth trajectory skyrocket. On the flip side, continue without one and risk seeing your business go down in flames.
Sales strategies aren’t set in stone, you must experiment and iterate regularly, this will help you focus on what’s working for your business and market.
Let’s start with the basics...
What is a sales strategy?
A sales strategy has the primary purpose to drive revenue and competitive advantage. The strategy will create an actionable plan for acquiring new customers and growing existing ones.
A great sales strategy is crucial to being able to close deals quickly and predictably whether you have 2 people or 2,000.
An effective strategy should include your target market, ideal customer profiles, go-to-market positioning, sales methodology and channels.
How do I create a sales strategy?
Understand what it takes to attract your target customer
You need to understand what it takes to attract your target customers and how much revenue you want to earn from them, this gives you the path of how you’ll reach those customers.
Your ROI needs to balance your books, you don’t want to spend £300 acquiring a customer if they only spend £300 with you. If this is the case you need to pivot your customer acquisition path, try and find out your customer buying path or information source and then double down on this process in turn lower your CPA (cost per acquisition).
Know when to add sales to a self-serve business model
If you’re selling something that has a super low Average Contract Value (ACV), say, £1,000 for the year, it’s hard to justify having sales in that equation whatsoever.
If you’re in a complex sale that involves a sales cycle longer than 20-30 days, and at least two or three calls with multiple people, sales is a critical part of that to make sure it goes right.
You can only automate and educate people so much before they want to talk to somebody. Maybe £5,000+ is when people get more uncomfortable putting their credit card online and buying without talking to people.
Define your ideal customer profile
Can you describe the perfect customer for your business?
The more precisely you can describe your Perfect Customer Profile (PCP), the better because it will simplify disqualification saving you time and money.
Articulating your PCP isn’t easy.
Vaguely described PCP’s are problematic. Your business will focus on too broad a customer base, waste time and effort prospecting unqualified leads, and blunt their sales pitch with irrelevant value propositions.
A good PCP must serve three purposes:
The PCP should enable you to identify a good prospect quickly.
You should be able to simply convey the PCP to someone else in such a way that they can find other PCP’s.
The PCP should be defined so systems can be built to identify them.
Position yourself as a consultant and advisor to your prospects
Sales has changed so much since the boom of the internet has brought knowledge and guidance to the masses. This has meant that the sales functions within businesses don’t have the power of knowledge which always drove the sale, the only real power now is experience and value.
Sales now have to step up further in order to add value to that whole process:
Be there as consultants and advisers to our buyers.
Engage with customer in their context and not just ours.
We need to better understanding their goals and challenges that they’re trying to solve.
Tell the story from their perspective.
Don’t forget the follow-up.
Consultative selling is the key skill that the best reps now possess when deploying an effective sales strategy.
Experiment before pivoting
Moving too quickly, in different directions and pivoting regularly creates confusion that hampers your progress.
The most common risk taking by many business is moving to enterprise, companies close one or two enterprise customers and get big deal fever. We see this common mistake happen all the time, businesses pivot their entire business strategy and point their outbound sales team at ONLY enterprise meetings.
A culture of experimentation needs to be established at the top and pushed down into an organisation. It takes guts to test things, fail and go again. Leadership teams need to create room for this and encourage creativity without repercussions.
Here are a few guiding points to follow when creating an experimental environment:
Firstly you need to consider and answer...
What are you here to test?
What is the pivot you’re considering?
Now you’ve defined your What you need to now look at
Identify the different factors
Design a process
Agree to a timeline
Clarity on the goals, metrics and KPI’s you will use to track if it’s worked.
After you run the experiment, you need to be rigorous in your review.
If it worked, the final step is to figure out is...
How far can it scale?
More often than not, an additional path is better than replacing completely pivoting.
Use channel partners to accelerate growth
First, let’s get the basics out of the way:
If you’re trying to get your first 10 or 100 customers, resellers and sales channel partnerships aren’t the right channels for you.
If you’ve only just built a minimum viable product that you’re trying to sell so you can learn from real customers, these aren’t the right channels for you.
Resellers and sales channel partners are strategies to accelerate and speed up existing growth, not to create it from scratch.
They are only good at selling something that already works. Their incentive is to keep their clients happy and make money. And if your product doesn’t help them do that – if you can’t prove that your product brings tremendous value to its users – then they’re not going to put in the effort.
However, if you’re six months to a year in; have a product that already has traction and growth; have experimented with and found success with content marketing, paid ads, and inbound and outbound sales; and are bringing in hundreds of thousands or millions in revenue, then it’s a different story.
You want to only engage with them when the time is right and you’re ready for that type of scale. Never before.
If you have any question or would like any assistance in creating your own sales strategy, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.