Guide to creating a sales strategy

Ever heard of the phrase “The product sells itself”? 

Well, it couldn’t be more wrong. It is always a great sales strategy that makes any product fly off the shelves.

Devising a sales strategy is unique for every business. It is a tested process that generates deals and revenue over and again. It might sound like a concept that large companies toss around. However, everyone from a small business owner to enterprises can benefit from a solid sales strategy. 

In this page, we explore everything you need to know about a sales strategy, including:

We are also giving away a sales strategy template for free

 

What is a sales strategy?

A sales strategy is a plan by an individual or a company to sell products or services to generate and increase revenue. It enables you to sell your products or services over and again successfully. This strategy is always tested, evaluated, and optimized to achieve the desired results.

Why is it important to have a sales strategy?

When you develop a winning product or service, the ultimate measure of its success is sales. Many business owners hyper-focus on product development and forging their marketing plan, leaving little room for developing and refining a sales strategy plan. This is a costly mistake.

To understand why let’s first establish the difference between a marketing strategy and a sales strategy.

  • A marketing strategy focuses on increasing the product/service’s visibility.
  • A sales strategy concentrates on actually selling the product/service.

A sales strategy is concerned about generating real, quantifiable profits. No matter how good your product or marketing plan is, it will be for nothing if your sales process can’t produce results.

To get to the level where you can consistently generate the desired results, you need a well-defined sales strategy that covers your marketing plan.

sales strategy importance

When executed right, a strategy gives your sales team a clear focus and allows you to seize opportunities like a well-oiled machine.

Types of sales strategies

An organization may adopt two types of sales strategies—inbound sales, and outbound sales. Some organizations may choose to adopt both. Based on this, your sales strategy will vary.

Inbound sales strategies

Inbound methods involve attracting prospects to your website. They would already have a broad idea about your company and product. 

Inbound sales strategy is aligned with inbound marketing strategies, where the marketing teams attract leads using online content. Creating a website, writing blogs, and optimizing web pages to rank in SERP are some ways to woo your prospects and educate them about your product/service.

In this method, prospects are actively looking for a solution or information regarding their challenge. They are, hence, more prone to purchase from you. At this stage, your salespeople act as consultants who educate prospects, address their questions and concerns, and nurture them through their decision-making process. Depending on these interactions, prospects convert into customers.

inbound leads

 

Outbound sales strategies

While inbound sales strategies attract the right customers interested in your product, these might not always bring enough to increase your revenue. And your business would depend on customers finding you. 

On the contrary, outbound sales strategies allow you to reach out to prospective customers, spread the word about your product or service, and finally sell to them. This strategy is built on the foundation of knowing who your prospects are. Hence, the first step in creating an outbound strategy is equipping your sales team with Buyer Persona (BP) and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) documents. 

Outbound

This is followed by coming up with lead generation strategies that will enable you to generate quality leads for your salespeople to connect with.

Your salespeople then employ various prospecting techniques such as cold calling, cold emailing, and social selling on LinkedIn to get your prospect’s attention. Once you have their attention, pique their interest with a killer sales pitch and close the deal. 

When you understand what outbound techniques work for you, it is easier to scale your business with the outbound approach.

Read on as we discuss how to build a sales strategy in detail.

Keys to developing a sales strategy plan

Every business is unique. You must, therefore, come up with a sales strategy that suits your company’s identity and business model. To develop a sales strategy plan that fits your business you have to determine the following:

Company vision

A clear declaration of your company’s future direction helps you determine what you need to achieve now, this month, this quarter, and so on. Everything that you’re doing now and in the future must bring you closer to your vision.

Revenue goals

Your revenue goals must be aligned with your company vision. Why do you want to generate $250,000 in sales this quarter and $1 million for the whole year? How does it help you achieve your company’s vision?

Ideal customer profile

Gone are the days when you can identify your customers through demographics, interests, associations, and so on. You must create an archetype of your ideal customers, including their background and pain points. This will help your sales team quickly qualify prospects.

Value proposition

Your customers need to understand how your product/service fills their needs, the benefits it provides them, and specifics of how it is different from the competition. An ideal value proposition is to the point and talks directly to the challenges of the prospect.

Budget

Sales strategy involves various activities such as the tools and software for salespeople and the training they would need to be able to sell more and efficiently. You need to allocate a dedicated budget and invest in your salespeople to boost your revenue.

How to build a sales strategy

Now that you have a sales strategy plan for your business, it’s time to put it into action.

Here is a 7-step process to build a successful sales strategy:

 

1. Identify the right market and persona

One of the easiest ways to generate more sales is to look at what’s already working. Look at your current customers and understand who is actually buying your product. This is critical because, in business, there’s often a gap between your defined customers and your actual customers. The former is whom you’re trying to market to while the latter are the ones buying your product or service.

Get to know your actual buyers and create a customer persona that creates an identity and is not a mere compilation of figures. Have a story behind the faces of your persona and give your sales team a glimpse of their lives.

 

Here’s an example of a customer profile for an e-commerce consulting business:

Stephen is a 36-year-old retail store owner who is fairly successful selling healthy homemade chips to local customers. However, he knows he can achieve more sales and grow faster if he can sell his product online. Unfortunately, Stephen has no idea where to begin. He has a website but it’s not making a lot of sales because it is not search engine optimized. He needs an expert to show him the ropes.

As opposed to the usual demographic-based profile that says 30-50 years old, business owner, retail industry, and so on, this profile tells a story that your sales team can quickly understand. With a persona of actual buying customers, you’re one step closer to generating consistent sales.

2. Highlight risks and opportunities 

Next, analyze the situation of your current position. One method is to implement the SWOT analysis. It is an acronym for Strengths Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat. This analysis provides hindsight on where you can further expand your business and the risks involved. 

This simple yet extensive analysis can be performed by anyone familiar with your business processes (so you don’t have to break your bank account to engage consultants. Phew!). 

It analyses your business’s current situation and paints a clear picture of the weaknesses in contrast to your competitors and pinpoints the areas of strength. With these two factors, you can build on the opportunities and threats for your business and industry. 

Sales strategy - SWOT

 

3. Align sales with marketing

Once you know your current position, align the sales and marketing functions to work side by side. Both these functions have the same goal—to drive customer acquisition and revenue. 

Although these two functions are often at conflict, the two teams can help each other get better at their work.

For example, salespeople can share their learnings from customer interactions with marketers, who can use this valuable information to target new leads. Marketers can provide salespeople with resources that are much needed to engage with prospects such as case studies and battle cards.

Once you’ve aligned both the teams, drive the power to smarketing to create a powerful value proposition message that both the teams agree on. Then, identify the best platforms to reach your prospects: TV, radio, email, social media, and so on, and use a shared voice to send a constant message to all your prospects.

sales strategy: sales-marketing alighment

4. Define a sales process

A sales process is a structured set of repeatable actions that sales teams follow to convert prospects to paying customers. It covers what a salesperson should do at every stage of a prospect’s buying process. 

It is crucial to understand how this is different from the sales strategy.

An effective sales strategy outlines the approach to attain the sales goals. It provides actionable tasks for everyone in the sales function by taking into account the competition, the opportunities, and the obstacles.

On the other hand, the sales process, a part of the sales strategy, is a set of activities that salespeople need to follow to attain the defined goal.

What happens when you don’t have a sales process?

Your sales team would have to perform various sales activities each day across different accounts and deals. Without a sales process, the only metric tracked is the number of deals closed and their value. There is no visibility into the sales activities performed. And when the revenue produced by the sales team fluctuates, no one has a clue why.

sales strategy: sales-marketing alighment

Having a defined sales process provides much-needed visibility into your sales team’s activities and insights into what worked and the areas that need improvement. 

 

5. Hire the right team

A recent research by Harvard Business Review found that 81% of happy sales teams report annual increases in business performance.

Keeping this in mind, you need to hire the right people who fit in your team and the company’s culture to drive your sales revenue. 

Creating a list of qualities in your ideal salesperson and using it during the interview process is an excellent way to identify the best candidates for the role.

Another method is to have downtimes or happy hours for the salespeople in your team to blow off some steam. A happy sales culture not just encourages people to join your organization but also helps retain your best salespeople.

Once you have your A-team, it is imperative that you coach them on the necessary skills such as cold calling prospects, handling objections, and negotiations. 

You also need to provide them with the resources required to close deals, such as case study documents, battle cards, and sales email templates. These are called sales enablement content.

sales strategy: sales-marketing alighment

 

6. Action plan

As everything falls into place, come up with a workflow that breaks down all the tasks involved in bringing you closer to your goals. Assign the tasks to team members with the right skills and experience. Put together a timeline for the completion of these tasks. Your timeline should be in sync with your revenue goals.

 

7. Tools and software

With all hands on deck to implement your sales strategy, you need an application that can help capture, track, and nurture prospective customers or leads. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software enables you to do all those and more.

With a CRM software, you’ll be able to automatically capture and record lead information. Instead of manually entering data, the best CRMs in the market capture lead information and record them on your database.

A sales CRM also enables you to nurture leads through various sales campaigns. Through this process, you can educate or provide value by sending relevant content or promotional offers. For example, you can create an automated campaign that sends blog posts or invitations to free webinars based on predefined intervals. This helps demonstrate your expertise, minimize resistance, and would encourage the customer to purchase your product or service.

Best practices for a winning sales strategy

 

1. Perfect the sales pitch

Whether you want to sell a new product/service, promote an existing one, or gain more traction as a startup, a sales pitch is crucial in the process. And behind every winning sales pitch is a story that speaks to the challenges that prospects face. 

Consider this sales pitch: 

 

Hi Jane,

I am Rebecca from ABC Pvt Ltd. Our innovative product stores all your business data in one place and generates reports within seconds. Interested? Let’s have a 10-minute chat to discuss more.

Regards,

Rebecca

And Rebecca never heard back from Jane. What do you think went wrong? 

  • It talks very little about the product
  • The message was not intriguing or compelling
  • More importantly, it did not tell what challenge the product solves.

Let’s see how we can frame the above messaging better to talk to the prospect about 

  • Why are you reaching out to them
  • What challenge you can solve
  • How your product/service can help

                                                

Hi Jane,

As an accounts manager for ABC Pvt Ltd., I usually interact with hundreds of marketers every month. 

I realized that most of them spend almost an hour of their day putting together reports, which are unfortunately never glanced at. It’s always a tedious and time-consuming task that’s never a priority for the average marketer.  

At ABC Pvt Ltd we recognized this problem and created an innovative tool called CDE. This tool stores all your marketing and business data to generate custom reports in 30 seconds. 

Sounds good? Let’s have a quick chat to discuss further.

Regards,

Rebecca

A winning sales pitch encourages your prospect to take the opportunity you’re offering. It connects with them on a human, emotional level and contains proof that you know what you're doing to solve their pain points. 

 

2. Reach out to inbound leads within 24 hours

With inbound sales, the prospect is actively looking for a solution. As buyers these days are highly informed, they are likely to try out different solutions at the same time. To make it more challenging, 35-50% of sales go to the first vendor who responds to a prospect!

This means, to close a deal you should beat the competition in contacting the prospect. By being the first, you get to acknowledge their challenges, answer their questions, and, more importantly, establish a trusting relationship with them. 

 

3. Follow up consistently

Your prospects may receive many emails in a day. Sometimes your prospecting emails might be buried in their inbox, or they might be too busy to respond to you. You will never know unless you follow up with them. 

But most salespeople do not have a consistent follow-up plan. While prospects need to hear an average of seven times from you to pay attention to you, some salespeople follow up once, probably twice, and when they don’t get a response, they move on. This inconsistency slows down your sales process, resulting in opportunities slipping through the cracks.

The key to getting a response is to follow up regularly with your prospects. Setting a follow-up sales cadence will more likely fetch you a response from your prospects and not leave you in uncertainty. 

Here is an example of sales cadence that you can implement:

Sales strategy - sales cadence

 

4. Ask for customer feedback

Your customers are a wealth of information, data, and feedback related to your product. They use it daily and depend on it to ease their work. They understand better than anyone about how excellent your product/service is, as well as what it lacks.

While it is easy to weed out negative comments you will not be able to soar high in doing so. Take the negative comments as constructive criticism and work on improving those areas. 

With exceptional customer support, the customer may return to purchase a higher plan or even refer the product/service to other businesses.

 

5. Upsell and cross-sell to existing customers

It’s shocking how 80% of your future profits could come from just 20% of your existing customers.

When your customers truly enjoy doing business with you, they will be open to more products and services from your side.

So it is a good idea to keep them on the loop about your latest products and offers, and nurture them to upsell and cross-sell your products.

 

6. Ask for referrals

Did you know referrals have a significant impact on the decision-making process of prospects?

This is because 92% of consumers trust referrals that come from people they know and respect. And getting one from higher-level executives adds more value when you approach a prospect.

Existing customers are a great source of referrals. So make sure that your salespeople get referrals from customers every time they close deals.

sales strategy - referral

7. Provide free trials

There was a time when offering your prospects a free trial of your product was a value-add and a nice-to-have. But now, it has become an absolute necessity. Unlike a demo video, a trial allows the prospects to actually use and interact with the product. They get to know the product better, feel its functionalities, and understand its advantages on a much deeper level.

Free trials also give your salespeople an opportunity to see how prospects use your product and understand their use cases and requirements to provide them with a personalized experience. 

 

8. Nurture cold leads

When a prospect is not interested in your product/service, instead of letting the trail go cold, nurture them with your newsletters about product updates or blogs. This will help keep your brand on top of their minds.

And when they have a need for the kind of product/service you have to offer, your company would be at the top of their mind. 

Here are a few examples of resources you could  share with your prospects during their journey:

Sales strategy - sales content

9. Enable ongoing sales training

Your sales will only be as good as your salespeople. To see a steady uptick in your sales revenue, you need to invest in sales development and team building. 

For example, you could:

  • Design a training program for new recruits to walk them through your sales strategy and process
  • Schedule ongoing sessions for your salespeople to hone their skills in cold calling, objection handling, etc
  • Create sales enablement collaterals with your marketing teams; that will provide your salespeople with all the information they need to keep prospects hooked
  • Train them on where to find these materials and how to use them to their advantage.

You can measure the benefits of sales training by comparing how productive your sales reps have become over a period of time.

10. Monitor, analyze, and optimize 

It’s vital that you regularly assess and optimize your sales strategy. You need to see if your sales strategy delivers the expected return on your investment. After all, it must be a repeatable process that gets you results.

So look at the various areas of your sales strategy and identify which sales tactics and channels help you close more business. For example, for small business owner Stephen, perhaps free webinar invitations get more business than free blog posts. Then a possible alternative strategy here would be to use Facebook ads for marketing the webinars.

Formulate new approaches to replace the ones that perform poorly. This way, you are able to get the most out of your sales strategy.

Optimize sales strategy with CRM

 

Qualify the right leads

To qualify the right leads, a CRM scores them by assigning a particular value to each lead based on the likeliness of making a sale. The higher the score, the higher the chances of closing the deal. This enables your sales team to prioritize the readiest buyers.

A CRM software like Freshsales allows you to score leads using a combination of factors that assess the quality of fit and the level of interest.

In other words, leads that match your customer profile and engage with your company are given high scores and labeled as hot leads. For example, the score increases when a lead opens emails, views a web page, clicks on links to your site or chats with your salesperson or customer support team.

Hot deals

Never miss a follow-up

These elements are usually found in a sales strategy template that you can get online. By the end, your sales team and you would be able to generate clear priorities, strong guidelines, and measurable outcomes that everyone understands and are fully-equipped to implement.

With your sales documents organized, you can launch sales campaigns with ease. Using a CRM software, you can design a workflow that lets you execute certain steps based on predetermined conditions.

For example, you can put together a series of emails that you want to send to a prospect according to a predefined timeline or customer behavior. Then, you can create steps such as email reminders or call reminders at an interval of three or four days, so you will never miss a follow-up with a prospect. You can program these instructions ahead of time and watch your CRM take you one step closer to making a sale or closing a deal.

sales strategy sales sequence

 

 

Motivate your team and crush sales goals

 

It is in human nature to set goals and sprint towards them. The same applies for sales as well. Without a clear goal in mind, sales teams are likely to lose momentum and motivation. A CRM software, being the single source of truth regarding all your prospects and sales activities, allows you to set goals for individuals and sales teams. You can set a deals goal, revenue goal, or both, and watch your sales teams grow your business like never before.

sales strategy goals

Track quality insights

Tracking the performance of your sales strategy is no easy feat, especially if this is something that you have to do manually. It consumes time that could have been spent nurturing or closing a lead. You can easily automate this part of your operations with the help of a CRM software.

The most effective CRMs generate multiple custom and visual reports that help you evaluate your team’s performance and progress. With a wealth of data at your fingertips, you can identify problem areas and make adjustments in your sales strategy.

You can create custom reports on key sales metrics such as conversion rate, email open rate, and time to contact a lead. The CRM also generates sales cycle and velocity reports. This feature enables business owners and sales managers to determine the sales stage where you struggle the most so you can come up with an informed action plan.

sales strategy goals

With the help of a CRM system, you can put your efforts and resources to leads who are very likely to buy from your business. Get lead information from web forms, emails, and chat sans the manual work. With the enrichment feature in Freshsales, the CRM automatically records the lead’s profile with information such as company details, job title, and social media pages.

 

Organize sales documents

Your sales scripts, email messages, and objection management templates should be accessible to your sales team. Even better if these documents are stored in one place and can be retrieved on mobile devices.

The best CRMs in the market offer these features. They enable you to create, save, and access sales templates using desktop and mobile devices.

You’d want to equip your sales representatives with these resources to access important documents on the go.

sales strategy crm

More Resources