It’s hard to imagine a Super Bowl Team going into serious competition without a “game plan.” Worse yet, it’s almost inconceivable that a team would win if it executed its “game plan” poorly. Sadly, in many instances, the latter team has superior talent and is expected to win, but the competition executes better than they do. In a similar manner, the winners on the field of business will be those companies, who not only have a good, solid Sales Strategy, but more importantly, execute it well.
What is a Sales Strategy?
A sales strategy consists of a plan that positions a company’s brand or product to gain a competitive advantage.
Success in sales management starts with planning. As a leader, you want to develop a plan that provides your sales team with the strategy and tactics to lead them to success here are Five Key components to developing a successful sales strategy
Five Key Points in Developing Your Plan:
One: Define your ideal customers
Design a strategy for acquiring new clients and maintaining your existing ones. What does your ideal client look like? What industry are they in? How was the lead developed? What was the sales cycle? How did they pay? Answering these questions can help you find your ideal customer. Develop a list of the good and the bad customers and look at targeting those that represent the best in your market and developing a sales plan strategy to get them.
Two: Know your unique selling proposition
Your strategic plan should describe not just your products and services, but your unique selling proposition. Your USP is the thing that sets you apart from your competition. Why should customers choose you? The answer should be more than you have the lowest price.
Three: Analyze your territory
What’s the market or territory your sales efforts will cover? In your sales plan, you should define your market geographically. If your company services the Canadian market, that would make up your geographic territory. If you determined in step one that your best customers were manufacturing companies, then that’s the segment of the market you’re interested in. How big is this market? Is it growing or shrinking? What other market segments look like the manufacturing segment? Could you attack those as well? How many of those ideal customers are in your market? If there aren’t enough to reach your target, you’ll need to look at additional factors to make up the difference.
Four: Who is your competition?
In your sales plan, it is extremely important that you know and understand your competition. Unless you have a market all to yourself, understanding how the competition operates and functions is key to your success and the success of each of your salespeople, most importantly, why customers would be better served by their company than the competition.
Five: Sales Expectations
Most of this information should be in your business plan. If not, you should develop a forecast of your sales and expenses by month, quarter and year. Do this for your entire team and each of your territories. Include in this forecast sales headcount, units sold, revenue and anticipated margin. It’s important to remember that sales expectations, just like the rest of your strategic sales plan, is a dynamic document you’ll constantly revisit and adjust as you go forward. Don’t make the sales targets unreachable, but don’t make them so low that when you reach the target, you find you’re out of business.
Your sales plan and your sales strategy is an exceedingly important document that deserves lots of time and energy to develop. It is important to remember that it should be adjusted as your company evolves, new products or services are introduced or the market changes.
A Hard Reality
In a fortune magazine article, Walter Kiechel, cites research which shows that only 85% percent of sales management teams spend less than one hour a month on Strategy issues and only 10% of formulated strategies actually get implemented effectively.
- No commitment to the plan.
- The plan was not communicated effectively.
- People are not measured or rewarded for executing the plan.
- People are not held accountable for execution
- Senior management does not pay attention to the plan.
- Conditions change making the plan, as conceived, obsolete.
- The proper control systems are not in place to measure and track the execution of the strategy.
- People are driven by short-term results.
Just as important as designing a Sales Strategy is effective “Implementation “of the plan. Make sure you have buy-in to your plan and communicate effectively the goals and objectives of this plan with effective systems and process that create measurable results. The most effective action in any business is accountability without it you go nowhere.