If you’re trying to take your company’s sales performance to the next level, developing a winning sales strategy is the key to your success. When you can create an informed plan to supercharge your sales and boost your bottom line, you have the clarity and direction to execute it with confidence. In this guide, we’ll introduce the seven steps to developing a winning sales strategy for your business. We’ll also include several excellent techniques and industry best practices for setting goals, analyzing your industry, understanding your target client, and much more!
Step 1: Know Yourself, Know Your Environment
Before you even think about creating and executing a winning sales strategy, you must thoroughly understand how your business fits into the macro sales environment in your industry. In other words, you must figure out where you are, what you’re doing, and what is and isn’t working.
Analyze both the external and internal factors that determine your company’s performance. For your external evaluation, look at your industry as a whole. How many competitors do you have? Is the market composed of a few large competitors or countless small businesses? Does the government heavily regulate your industry? For your internal assessment, analyze your company from both an objective and subjective standpoint. How many employees/sales reps do you have? Do you have an inside sales team, field sales team? What about customer success? Are you planning to introduce any new products in the future to grow upsell and cross-sales revenues? How many resources can you afford to invest in this sales strategy, sales stack, and sales training?
The better you understand your environment and how your company fits into it, the better you can plan and execute your winning sales strategy.
Step 2: Understand Your Customer (ICP vs. IPP)
The next step to building a winning sales strategy is understanding your target/ideal customer. Many factors – from demographics like age and gender to psychographics like behavioral tendencies – influence how your prospects react to your product and sales strategy. In general, the best practice with client research is to measure and track everything that you reasonably can, with demographics being the best place to start.
Be sure you understand your ICP Formula (Ideal Customer Profile)
ICP = Ideal Company Profile + Ideal Persona Profile
- Ideal Company Profile – What types of companies are your targeting, industry, titles, and the pains the company have at the micro level?
- Ideal Persona Profile – Which titles from decision maker down to the end user of your product or service have? What pains do these people have at their unique position as it relates to your product or service?
Once you understand your Ideal Customer Profile, it’s time to start having authentic conversations. If you want to find out what is and isn’t working in your sales process, you must speak with three groups of people:
- Best Customers – Ask them why they bought it, how it helped them, and what influenced them to work with you over the competitor.
- Worst or Problem Child Customers – Ask them why they bought it, why they haven’t used it, what problem they were hoping to solve, and how you can help them.
- Lost Leads – who looked the other way or chose a competitor. Ask them what problem they were hoping to solve, what influenced them to work with a competitor, and whether or not their problem has been solved.
With the information obtained from demographic and psychographic research and direct client feedback, you should have a clear picture of what your target customers want. Now you can apply this knowledge to intelligently developing a winning sales strategy! And a positive side effect. You can take this information back to your product team, engineering team, and marketing team to help create greater alignment.
Step 3: Create Your Sales Process
If you’ve followed the first two steps of this guide, you should have a thorough understanding of your business, your industry, and what clients want when they work with you. Equipped with this knowledge, you can start setting the foundation of your winning sales strategy by building your sales process. When developing a sales process getting a clear picture of your target outcome will help you create tactics and track your opportunities through the sales funnel and pipeline
Unfortunately, most people have a faulty approach to creating a sales process, which makes it nearly impossible for them to work toward their objective. When creating your sales process be sure to target use the SMART Goal System. This goal-setting technique helps you set informed, trackable, and achievable goals that keep you motivated and focused.
SMART is an acronym for the five crucial aspects of any successful goal or target:
Specific: Your goal must be simple and concise. The more straightforward it is, the easier it will be to work towards. Any person on your sales team should be able to immediately understand the objective without any confusion.
Measurable: You must be able to measure your performance objectively. Measuring your goal progress by subjective standards nearly guarantees that you won’t be able to achieve it.
Achievable: Ambition is great, but you need to be realistic. If you run a company with less than a hundred employees, your revenues won’t be rivaling those of brands like Apple or Disney any time soon. Planning ambitious but achievable goals is the key to staying motivated and on track!
Results-Based: At the end of the year, there shouldn’t be any mystery about whether or not you achieved your objective. Either you did, or you didn’t. If the answer isn’t a simple yes/no, your goal wasn’t specific and measurable enough.
Time-Restricted: Procrastination kills goals. If you want to achieve your sales goals, you must put a time limit on them. Whether your objective has a lifespan of a month or a year, creating time constraints helps your team stay on track and engaged.
So the first step in creating your Sales Process comes to Staging and Naming. Once you have your stage and names created, then you define the proper exit criteria from one stage to the next using SMART.
Exit Criteria – SMART Examples:
- First Meeting Set
- First Meeting Completed
- Second Meeting Set
- Second Meeting Completed
- Demo Completed
Step 4: Find Your Competitive Edge
Your targets are set and well defined. It’s almost time to put your winning sales strategy into action. But before you can do that, you must determine your company’s competitive strengths and weaknesses. The best way to achieve this is with a quick SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis to determine where your business is strong and where it might be vulnerable:
The first step to a SWOT Analysis is assessing your strengths and weaknesses. These vary widely between companies, but factors like finances, employees, number of customers, and assets all play a role in determining your strengths and weaknesses.
Once you’ve found your strengths and weaknesses, you can use this information to determine your competitive opportunities and threats. Let’s suppose you have a small business with few employees and customers, but your finances are excellent. You have the opportunity to invest in assets, people, and technology that improves your sales performance. But you should be aware of the threat of bigger, more established businesses in the industry who can use their existing resources more efficiently.
Finding your competitive advantage is a crucial step in developing a winning sales strategy. Once you understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can create a sales plan that leverages your assets while avoiding your weak points!
Finally, be sure you teach your reps how to ask about the competition before the customer brings it up. It’s rare anyone spends money without at least looking at what else is in the marketplace. This is a very specific and nuanced sales training conversation. It should be customized and role played to the extent your inside sales team is “Certified” in speaking about yourself and competitors in the proper way.
Step 5: Assemble and Train an All-Star Team
The final step before planning your mission is assembling an all-star sales team. In other words, your sales reps must have the skills, courage and confidence to engage with clients and close sales. If your sales team isn’t prepared to handle the strain of implementing a new sales process or sales strategy, they won’t be able to reach revenue targets.
Whether you’re using internal coaching techniques, our LIVE Sales Training and Reinforcement Program, our Negotiation Sales Training or online sales training tools like our N.E.A.T. Selling™ Online Sales Training, make sure your sales team has the requisite skills and knowledge to implement your winning sales strategy is a must. Invest in your people, and they’ll invest back into your bottom line!
Step 6: Create Your Strategy
With your internal and external knowledge, your new or updated Sales Process, strong Sales Training, and SMART Goals, along with competitive edge, and an all-star sales team, you’re ready to go.
Look at the goals you created in Step 3 and compare them to your company’s current state.
Using your competitive analysis and internal/external knowledge, start planning a strategy to achieve your goal.
Communicate often with your C-Level company executives and keep them informed about the plan. You may also include your front-line sales managers and salespeople through each step. While they might not be as informed about the general state of the company, they can provide some valuable insights into the daily challenges they face on the sales floor.
Remember, the sales strategy you create today isn’t set in stone. It’s a dynamic plan that should shift with the needs of the company or changes in the industry and your customers. The most important task at the moment is creating a straightforward, easy-to-follow outline of how your business plans to achieve its goals. In other words, do your best and feel free to make changes later.
Step 7: Execute
If you’ve followed all the steps in this guide, putting your winning sales strategy into action is the easiest part of this process. Simply follow your plan and make any necessary changes when you run into obstacles. If you have a large sales team, you might want to implement a performance tracking system to monitor who’s on track and who needs some extra coaching and support. Once you are three months into your sales plan (assuming your plan is based on a yearly timeline), take an in-depth look at your sales strategy and see if anything requires revision.
There you have it! The seven simple steps for developing a winning sales strategy. If you follow the techniques in this guide, you’ll immediately have more clarity and purpose in how you plan and execute your sales tactics. If you want to learn more about creating a winning sales strategy, ask us about our sales consulting service, where we help you navigate the process of taking your sales to the next level!