In sales, your goal is to develop strong customer relationships and provide your customers with a valuable product and immediate support. In order to do this, you need to hone in on your product and what it provides your customer, becoming a true expert on what you sell. To do this you must first build a sales strategy, allowing you to gain a stronger grasp on your company’s product, brand image, and desired message to customers. Once you’ve effectively learned how to build a sales strategy not only will your current customers feel better taken care of, but your sales will improve substantially. There are many causes for an unhealthy pipeline, but building a solid sales strategy will prevent you from stuffing your pipeline will leads that will never buy.
A strong and effective sales strategy is integrated, well communicated, and clear. This means that with a strategic plan in mind, sales and marketing will be working toward the same goals.
When evaluating your company’s strategy, take a step back and determine if it’s going to create the right outcome. Think, “Does the strategy point us toward our goal?” “What is our long-term goal as a company?” “Do our objectives align with our strategy?” “Will our tactics meet the needs of our objective?” Getting this in-depth can seem tedious but the importance of clearly defining goals, strategies, objectives, and tactics is apparent once you understand how each builds on the other.
A good way to remember how to build a sales strategy is with GSOT: goals, strategy, objectives, and tactics. Here are a few examples of each:
Goals: what the company as a whole wishes to accomplish, think “success”
- Example: Become one of the most recognized sales programs in the industry by a specific year.
- This must be definitive, in this case, meaning that one can be sure when this goal is actually reached.
Strategy: the path your company will take to achieve its main goal
- This is how the company’s value will be communicated and describes the direction in which the company will take to move toward goals.
- The company as a whole will likely have a larger strategy, however it may be helpful to establish micro-level sales strategies specific to sales goals.
- Example: Begin communicating with new target segments to improve brand recognition among the tech community.
Objectives: these are the stepping stones marking progress toward your main goal.
- Objectives should be measurable in order to establish when they have been met; these likely contain metrics
- Example: Increase sales of a specific product by 10% within the next 6 months. Increase response rate to emails by a certain percentage within a specific amount of time.
Tactics: the actions that are taken to reach objectives, while following the sales strategy, in order to bring the company closer to its main goal
- These are the things that need to be done by the company
- Example: Create a system to more efficiently follow up with clients. Direct a lot of resources to selling to a specific segment of the target market.
Goals have likely been established on an executive level as it pertains to the company as a whole — strategy, objective, and tactics within each department are then to be aligned with the company goals.
A good way to develop strategies, objectives, and tactics that are in line with the company’s image and goals is to get the best understanding possible of your customers, product/service, and competitors. This is where competitive and external analyses are key.
Knowing Your Product, Target Market, and Competitors
In sales, you want to get your product into the hands of your company’s target market. To do this you need to know your product inside and out. You must understand how the product benefits your market to create an appealing strategy.
Communicating the value of your product strengthens customer relationships, as it allows you to focus your sales approach to specific customers and their needs.
When you build a sales strategy around what the customer wants, this improves the lifetime value of each customer, a major metric for the marketing department. Again, this is why it’s important for sales and marketing to have a two way relationship when working toward their respective objectives; the entire company benefits.
An important component of building your sales strategy is to incorporate a segment focusing on your competitors. Competitors exist in every industry and understanding competition not only allows for bettering your product or service, it also strengthens your ability to sell to your target. There are several methods to improve your understanding of your competitor, along with the internal and external factors that affect the company as a whole. One basic but effective method of evaluating your company is the S.W.O.T. Analysis.
S.W.O.T. represents the “strengths,” “weaknesses,” “opportunities,” and “threats” of an organization. Strengths and weaknesses refer to the company’s own internal strengths and weaknesses, while external opportunities and threats are examined. One of the biggest mistakes is made when determining opportunities. It’s important to make sure that the opportunities listed are external. For example, an opportunity for a coffee shop can be a growing interest among millennials in pour-over coffee. A poor example of an opportunity would be for the company to move to a “better” location. This isn’t an external opportunity that can be leveraged.
Pairing Factors to Build a Sales Strategy
This evaluation can be very informative to sales and marketing on the company’s product and its placement among competitors, however the S.W.O.T. analysis can be taken one step further. Once all other factors are considered, pair an internal factor with an external factor to build a sales strategy that incorporates your findings and develops a better method for reaching your goals.
A good way to visualize this information is to look into the “TOWS” Matrix. It borrows the same concept of the S.W.O.T. analysis table but includes a portion in the chart for pairing the factors. These pairings can develop four different types of strategies.
- Internal Strength and External Opportunity
- Uses your company’s strength to maximize an opportunity
- Internal Strength and External Threat
- Use your company’s strength to minimize a threat
- Internal Weakness and External Opportunity
- Minimize your company’s weakness by taking advantage of an opportunity
- Internal Weakness and External Threat
- Take actions with an aim to minimize both an internal weakness and external threat
Upon viewing these sales strategies you’ll be able to develop tactics and objectives that are direct and likely more effective in the long run than simply asking for sales.
Competitive Kill Sheets
In addition to becoming more aligned with your company’s strategies, a great way to improve your performance in sales is by creating competitive kill sheets. This method of analysis can be very comprehensive in that it focuses a lot on actions rather than strategy, which makes it a great compliment to TOWS and S.W.O.T. It takes a more aggressive look at external factors. The kill sheet can also be more tailored to the needs of the sales department if desired. A good way to think of a kill sheet is as a snapshot of all the information relevant to working toward the goals of the company or objectives of the department.
Now with this kill sheet you’ll be able to improve your sales skills, bringing you closer to reaching your objectives. A comprehensive S.W.O.T. analysis will help you establish your tactics. Finally, with the TOWS Matrix, you’ll better understand how to build a sales strategy that is well informed. All of these tools will allow for higher integration of all activities which leads the team closer to its goal.