In a nutshell, a sales strategy is a concrete and a well-thought-out process that enables a company to consistently sell products and services. The most effective strategies help sales representatives meet or exceed quotas by providing a clear and actionable step-by-step plan, covering every aspect of the sales process from generating leads to closing deals. According to a recent research on sales pipeline management, companies with a formal sales process enjoy 28% higher revenue growth in comparison to those who do not have.
Without a sales strategy, you’re giving your team the license to just wing it. While this can work for rockstar sales reps, you can’t expect the rest of your team to consistently achieve their goals. In this article, we provide eight effective tips to help you build a successful sales strategy.
1. Prepare templates and scripts
The best teams don’t rely on a talented few to carry a lion’s share of the sales load. On the contrary, you want all your sales reps to pull their weight. One of the best ways to make this happen is by providing relevant materials that sales reps can use to close deals faster. Prepare relevant templates and scripts in hand such as:
- Cold calling script
- Discovery call script
- Elevator pitch
- Competitor battle cards
- Cold email templates
- Presentation decks
- Objection handlings templates
Having all these materials in handy equips sales reps with the resources to close deals faster. On top of that, it also ensures that new sales reps have the necessary materials to hit the ground running.
2. Generate leads that match your buyer persona
Creating a customer persona is crucial to the survival and growth of your business. In fact, statistics show that businesses who manage to exceed lead and revenue goals are twice as likely to formally document personas versus companies who underperform in these areas. This underscores the importance of understanding who your buyers are before launching any sales campaign.
To help you formally document your customer persona, you can consider these factors:
- Location – where do your buyers live?
- Industry – which industries do your customers work in?
- Job title – what are the job titles of your buyers?
- Company size – if you are selling to businesses, how many employees do they have?
- Company revenue – what is the annual revenue range of your clients?
- Need or motivation – why would the customer purchase your solution?
- Objections – what are the possible concerns of this customer about your product?
By answering these questions, you can come up with a structured profile that helps your sales development reps understand whom to target. At this point, you are ready to commence lead generation efforts. There are two ways to do this.
Inbound sales is a lead generation strategy where you attract or draw your customers. They come to you instead of you coming to them. Popular inbound sales techniques include:
- Search engine optimized websites
- Content marketing
- Organic social media marketing
- Email campaigns
- Publishing free whitepapers
With the help of a buyer persona, you can create high-quality content that’s tailored to the needs of your customers. This can help you put together effective inbound sales campaigns.
On the other hand, outbound sales involves sending your message out to your audience. With this strategy, you are putting the word out on the street and hoping to get a response. Outbound sales methods include:
- TV and radio advertising
- Direct mailing
- Lead list buying
- Cold calling
For outbound sales strategy to be effective, you must first determine your audience. That’s where your buyer persona comes in. With a documented persona, you can send a message that calls out your ideal customers and gets them to respond.
3. Come up with an effective lead scoring strategy
Lead scoring is the process of ranking leads according to certain criteria, such as demographic information and leads engagement. The ranking helps you determine which leads are likely to buy from your business.
According to a marketing effectiveness study, 68 percent of marketing professionals consider lead scoring as a top revenue contributor. The ability to identify prospects who are likely to purchase your solution saves you time and energy. Otherwise, your sales reps will be pursuing leads who are either not interested or are not yet ready to buy.
While lead scoring sounds easy to implement, it actually takes careful planning and thoughtful execution. To help you score leads, you can consider these two lead scoring techniques.
Quality of fit
Quality of fit helps you determine whether a lead matches your customer profile. For example, a commercial real estate company that leases prime office spaces might look at the size of the business, industry, and annual revenues. According to these characteristics, the real estate company can see whether the lead is a good fit.
Level of interest
Level of interest involves looking at the level of engagement of a lead with your company. For example, the same real estate company can look at email opens, website visits, and answered phone calls to determine whether a lead is interested.
When you’ve determined the factors to help you score leads, the next step is to assign points for each factor. For example, you can add 10 points if the lead has at least 50 employees, 5 points if they’re in the tech industry, and 15 points if revenues exceed $1 million to assess quality of fit. On the other hand, you can add 10 points for each email open, another 10 points for a website visit, and 15 points for answering your calls to help measure level of interest.
The point system helps you rank leads. Leads who rank higher are most likely the ones ready to buy from your business. Therefore, the higher the score, the higher the priority.
4. Create a sales cadence
Prospects need to hear from you seven times on average before deciding to buy from you. This shows how follow-ups can be the difference between a won and a lost deal. Unfortunately, the reality is that almost half of sales reps never follow-up with their leads.
If you want your business to generate consistent results, your sales strategy must also include a definitive follow-up process or, in other words, sales cadence. You must establish the number of times a lead should receive follow-up calls or emails. On top of that, you also have to create a unique script or message for each follow-up. Here’s a quick example of a sales cadence template.
- Business day 1: Targeted personalized email in the morning. LinkedIn connection request with a note in the afternoon.
- Business day 3: Call in the afternoon; leave a voicemail if no response.
- Business day 7: Follow up email – A new thread with a different value-add. Follow up on social media.
- Business day 10: Follow up email – Permission to follow up (quasi-breakup email). Call in the afternoon; leave a voicemail if no response.
- Business day 12: Call in the morning; leave a voicemail if no response. Follow up on LinkedIn in the afternoon.
- Business day 15: Follow up email – A new email thread giving a link to a useful resource.
- Business day 20: Follow up email – The breakup email.
Feel free to change the timing or the steps in this example to suit your company’s needs.
5. Set parameters on promotional offers
Offers such as discounts, free trials, and add-ons seek to lower your customers’ resistance and lure them into purchasing your product or service. While promotional offers can be an effective sales technique, you have to set parameters to make sure that your sales reps are not offering too much to almost everyone.
Set the parameters of your promo by:
- specifying which part or step in the sales process to discuss or mention the offer. For example, you can extend a free trial offer after having an exploratory meeting with a customer.
- identifying customers who qualify for promotional offers. In most cases, these are the customers who are ready to buy your product or service but they are raising concerns or considering your competition. To help win them over, your sales reps can extend an offer such as a 20 percent discount on the customer’s first purchase.
With an established set of rules, your sales reps won’t have to rely on offering outrageous promos just to close a sale.
6. Prioritize performance tracking and optimization
Don’t expect your sales plan to give you stellar figures in your initial campaigns. It is likely that you’d have to make several adjustments before you can generate consistent results.
This is why it is important to monitor every detail of your sales strategy. Performance-tracking tools help you understand which techniques, campaigns, and messages payoff.
This is where key performance indicators (KPIs) come in. A KPI measures your progress towards an intended result. Here are common KPIs measured by sales teams:
- Phone activity – this measures the number of calls made or handled by a sales rep within a given time period. This can be useful for businesses that rely on cold calling and follow-ups to make a sale.
- Open and click rate – this is the percentage of the total number of recipients who opened and clicked on the email. This KPI is monitored when a company launches email campaigns, and to understand what campaigns worked and what did not.
- Sales cycle – this is the amount of time it takes a sales rep to take a deal from creation to closure. High performing sales reps have shorter sales cycles.
- Lead conversion rate – this is the percentage of leads that became buyers. This metric helps you assess the performance of your lead generation activities.
- Deals won and lost – this is the number of won opportunities divided by all open opportunities. This metric helps you see which of your sales reps need coaching.
These are but a few KPIs that you can measure. You can start with these KPIs but feel free to add more depending on the processes involved in your sales strategy.
7. Keep your customer persona updated
Another reason why you need to monitor your sales performance is because you have to eventually come up with a data-driven customer persona. While the customer persona that you prepared with the help of this article can work, it eventually needs to be updated. That’s because it is very likely that the customers who are actually buying your product have some differences with your initial buyer persona.
One of the easiest ways to update your customer persona is to compare and contrast it against your actual customers. To do this, you can take the following steps:
- Gather all relevant information about your current customers including demographics and firmographic details.
- Seek customer feedback. Ask why they have chosen your product or service against your competitors. This can be done via email or over the phone.
- Review all details and look for key differences between your current buyer persona and your roster of actual customers. For example, your initial customer persona targets companies with 1-10 employees but your actual buyers have at least 50 employees.
- Launch an experimental campaign to verify the validity of your updated persona.
Keep in mind, you are selling a one-of-a-kind solution, something that your competitors cannot offer. The customers who are buying from you are not buying from your competition because your product or service addresses their unique needs.
Therefore, it is imperative that you get to know everything about your actual customers including their pain points and frustrations. This would enable you to laser-target your lead generation efforts and refine your sales process based on your updated and data-driven customer profile.
8. Use a customer relationship management software
There’s a lot of work involved in building a sales strategy but there are tools that can help streamline the process. Enter sales CRM. With the help of a CRM application, you can automate and facilitate a lot of tasks including:
- Lead scoring: the best CRMs in the market can automatically score leads based on the level of engagement and quality of fit. They have built-in fields to help you determine lead quality such as job title, number of employees, company revenue and many more.
- Follow-up processing: CRMs offer a 360-degree view of each lead profile. This enables your sales reps to see the lead’s progress along the follow-up funnel. Having quick access to these details helps your team use the correct script or email message based on your follow-up procedure.
- Performance tracking: CRMs help you generate sales reports to track key performance indicators such as email open rate, lead generation by source, phone activity rate, lead conversion, and many more, so you can optimize your sales strategy by focusing more on what works.
Building a successful sales strategy can be challenging but these eight tips should help you hit the ground running.
So whether you’re rolling out a new sales strategy or revising an existing one, Freshsales CRM can facilitate the implementation of these tips. The free CRM can help you organize important sales templates, come up with a custom lead scoring system, track the performance of your campaigns, and many more. Get your 30-day free trial today.
Do you have other sales strategy development tips? Let us know in the comments.