"How do I get face time with this prospect?"
That’s the question keeping sales reps up all night.
If you ask Google, the most common search results will give you:
- Sales methodologies for a great sales process
- Strategies for lead generation
- Scripts for cold calling or sales calls
- Tips for phone or video prospecting
- Endless tactics on how to grab that prospect’s attention in the first call/email/LinkedIn message/<insert your go-to prospecting channel>.
But at the heart of it, getting your prospect’s attention and sealing that deal comes down to two things:
- Value aka your value proposition
- How you communicate that value to the client
So, spouting a list of coveted/must-have features isn’t enough. It just takes you down the “here’s what we do” versus “here’s what competitor A does” rabbit hole. And then, it all comes down to pricing, because everyone ends up sounding the same.
That’s where a solid sales strategy can make a monumental difference.
What is a sales strategy?
"Nobody is going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet. They're going to buy from you because they see value in doing so."
- Bob Burg, Author of the Go-Giver book series
A sales strategy is how you become profitable. If you're asking for a definition of sales strategy, here's how we'd put it:
"A sales strategy is a blueprint that helps your sales team sell your products or services to the right buyers and increase profits."
The sales strategy should give you answers to five questions:
- What is my target market?
- Who is my ideal customer (and consequently, what are my buyer personas)?
- How is my product/service different from anything else out there — what is our positioning and product-market fit?
- What methodologies are we going to use to drive our sales processes and fast-track decision-making?
- Which channels are we going to use to communicate with and eventually convert our prospects into buyers?
Notice how there are several terms (like sales process or sales methodology) that many in the industry end up using interchangeably? Here's a tip: they're not interchangeable.
Before we figure out how to develop a sales strategy, let's get a few more definitions out of the way.
What is the difference between sales strategy, sales process and sales methodology?
A sales strategy helps you identify the pain points of your ideal buyer and demonstrate how your product will make those go away. It's the blueprint that defines your sales pitch — WHY the right person should buy from you.
Ideally, your sales strategy should align with your marketing strategy to get the right prospective customers. That's crucial to get your messaging right from the get-go. It also guarantees that your sales and marketing teams work in tandem — essential for any sales plan to work.
To state the obvious: marketers have to bring your sales teams qualified leads. Otherwise, even the best sales strategies are doomed.
As your company, products or services evolve, the sales strategy will have to evolve as well.
Using the blueprint, you develop sales processes to create a semblance of order in the otherwise chaotic universe of sales.
A sales process is a series of steps — a checklist — that your sales rep should follow to drive sales. It starts from the moment you have the details of a prospect (aka a potential customer from marketing) and ends once you've converted them into a new customer. In other words, it dictates every stage of the sales cycle.
Sales processes are unique to each business as they're influenced by factors such as:
- Nature and complexity of the industry
- Ideal customer profile
- Target audience and its demographics
- Structure of the sales organization
- The buying process
And that brings us to the last one — sales methodology.
A sales methodology helps sales managers define how to approach each step of the sales process. Generally, they're not unique to each organization and are developed by sales consultants or research firms to help you improve your conversion rates.
"A sales methodology is a framework that outlines how sellers approach each phase of the sales process, including the steps that are taken, the criteria for advancing a deal, and the process for identifying and validating customer pains, defining and proposing solutions, and measuring value realization."
It is a battle plan with a set of sales tactics that tells you:
- How to identify and validate customer pain points during sales conversations
- How to ensure that the prospect matches your ideal customer profile (ICP)
- How to pitch a solution to the right people (i.e., the decision-makers)
- How to go through the motions to advance and close a deal
Too much to process?
We’ve got you.
What does an effective sales strategy look like?
“I think if you boil down a sale, it comes down to two things — trust and value. Anything that results in a sale is going to fall under one of those two categories.”
- John Drew Coryer, SDR Manager at Formstack
A successful sales strategy is ultimately the one that helps your sales team members crush their revenue goals by delivering value. If the strategy focuses only on fulfilling your quarterly or yearly sales quota, it isn't likely to succeed in the long run.
Especially in the Information Age. 93% of B2B buyers prefer buying online rather than from a salesperson.
That's why even before looking at the target markets or buyer personas or even customer pain points, map out your value.
Identify ways to build trust. This lays the foundation for everything from building a killer sales pitch and picking the right methodology to hiring the right sales reps. In other words, it dictates every stage of the sales cycle.
“With trust and value, they (the customers) want to come back to you for suggestions, networking… they want to come back with potential referrals.”
- John Drew Coryer, SDR Manager at Formstack
One more thing. Trust and value are great, but no sales strategy will be complete or sustainable without data. Here’s what that means:
- Picking the right metrics
- Collecting actionable information on your target markets, competition and prospects
- Finding data to back up your arguments and handle objections from decision-makers
Summing up, trust, value and data are the three elements of an effective sales strategy. You know, the one that helps you absolutely crush your sales goals. Every step of the strategy — from solving pain points and choosing KPIs to hiring sales reps — has to embody all three elements.
What are some examples of sales strategies?
Choosing a strategy is all about:
- What are you selling?
- Who is your prospective customer? And in which industry?
For instance, if your product is complex, demands longer sales cycles, and can be customized as per the needs of your customer, then focusing on the value of your offering — solution selling — would be a good strategy.
In solution selling, the sales teams focus on understanding the needs of their prospective customers and then craft a custom sales strategy. It’s all about figuring out which features would benefit the prospect the most and generate ROI.
If you opt to go with solution selling, then you must work on:
- Identifying the pain points of your target audience
- Look for prospects that match your findings
- Develop a script (or a set of questions) to diagnose the exact issue bothering your prospect
- Show how your product delivers value and makes their lives easier
- Demonstrate how the product can be customized to their needs and provide maximum value
That’s one example. On the other hand, if you’re in enterprise sales delivering high-value products to other large businesses, then being selective with how you invest your efforts might be more prudent. That’s where account-based selling can help.
In this strategy, you channel more energy into accounts (aka prospective customers) that can give more revenue to your business. So, your sales teams target entire companies instead of individual prospects. Moreover, marketing and sales teams have to work together to run ads, deliver useful content and craft engaging, hyper-personalized experiences for your prospects.
After spotting the right accounts to target, you segment them further into three categories to build a solid sales strategy. These include:
- Top-tier accounts: These are your best prospects with the possibility of bringing in maximum revenue. Your sales team offers them five-star treatment and the sales reps assigned to such accounts are the ones with extensive expertise handling big-name brands.
- Target accounts: These are also qualified to bring in decent revenue. Your sales team crafts personalized experiences to fulfill their needs.
- Remaining accounts: These are the remaining accounts that fit your criteria but aren’t that high on revenue. The sales team engages after marketing has qualified these accounts.
With such a strategy, you must:
- Define your ideal customer profile
- Identify target accounts and segment them
- Assign reps to accounts based on their skills and experience
- Build delightful experiences for the top-tier accounts
- Personalize everything
- Work in tandem with marketing (especially to create useful content)
These are just a few examples of effective sales strategies in action. You have to find your own thing and see how to make it work.
How to build a solid sales strategy for your sales team?
The first step is to understand your products/services and your industry. Knowing the value of what you offer is crucial to know who might benefit from it.
The next step is to research your prospects using social media channels like LinkedIn and search engines like Google. Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you find the right leads and get actionable data about them.
Researching your prospects also helps you better understand their needs and potential objections, which can help you fine-tune your value proposition and create a compelling sales pitch that builds trust.
You can also go a step further to spot prospects who are already looking for something similar to what you’re offering using social listening tools (like Hootsuite). Connecting with an audience that’s already interested in your value proposition is a great starting point.
Moving on, the data from your research should feed into your lead qualification process. Ideally, you should keep it as tight as possible by defining the right criteria for deals to advance or get disqualified. For a small business with limited resources, knowing who to disqualify as soon as possible is critical. That’s where technology can help.
For instance, Wingman’s deal intelligence software notifies you whenever a deal isn’t progressing further. You can analyze all the sales activity related to that particular deal and decide whether it’s worth a nudge.
While we’re talking about data, here’s another thing to note: get data on everything that matters. That means prospective customers, KPIs (such as opportunity creation rates, connection rates, conversion rates and so on), market and industry dynamics, competitor tactics and sales calls.
Again, technology can be handy.
Especially in two key areas:
- Sales pipeline and segmentation: CRMs like Salesforce or Pipedrive can help you monitor your sales pipeline, keep track of your KPIs, build a 360o profile of your leads, segment your prospects and manage the entire sales cycle.
- Sales intelligence: Tools like Wingman can help you record calls, take notes automatically, and offer insight-driven sales coaching, which makes your reps more effective salespeople for future interactions.
This is a good stage to figure out which sales methodology might be best for your product and target audience. If you have extensive, complex B2B sales cycles to sell high-ticket products, then MEDDIC might be a good alternative. If you’re well-versed in your target audience and market dynamics, then using an insight-based approach like the Challenger sales methodology might be apt.
After you’ve identified your value proposition, target audience, data points, sales methodology and set up a tech stack to support your sales efforts, the next step is to hire the right team.
Hiring the right team depends on your sales strategy. For instance, if you’ve decided to use account-based selling, you need a sales team capable of dealing with high-value targets with ease.
If you’ve realized that relying on inbound sales techniques is the best way forward, then you need a team that understands and works well with your marketing team responsible for bringing in qualified leads. Your sales reps might need to be well-versed in tracking funnel conversions and handling conversational marketing tools.
On the other hand, if you’re going ahead with outbound strategies, then you need reps adept at outreach methods such as cold calling (or cold emailing) and social selling on channels like LinkedIn. An ideal scenario would be hiring reps who already have an established presence on LinkedIn, making them micro-influencers with access to a large network of potential customers.
Long story short, building a solid sales strategy requires:
- Finding and nailing your value proposition
- Identifying and researching the right target audience
- Building an airtight lead qualification process
- Choosing the right sales methodology
- Gathering data to know how your strategy is faring
- Hiring the right team
Three best practices to build a sales strategy that crushes your revenue goals
The first one’s easy — build a sales strategy with processes that work for your sales organization.
The next one — regardless of which sales strategy you adopt, make consistent follow-ups and customer feedback a part of your process.
Often, several deals slip through the cracks because of a lack of follow-up. Technology, like Wingman’s deal intelligence software, can help by sending deal alerts directly to your inbox (or Slack) so that you know which deals need your attention at any given moment. Automation tools can help streamline the process even further.
Similarly, feedback from your existing customers is the best way to understand how to improve your sales techniques and convey your value proposition in a better way.
Last but not least — coach your team continuously. Traditional sales training programs aren’t enough to transform your reps into rockstars. They need to be coached regularly, in real-time, to become effective salespeople.
Now before you respond with, “I just don’t have all the time in the world to coach!”, hear us out. Here’s how Wingman’s real-time sales coaching can help.
With AI-powered insights, you can provide your reps with useful feedback on their conversations without having to attend every call. You can spot winning sales behaviors and coach your reps on navigating tricky situations by reviewing call transcripts and highlights.
While on calls, sales reps get monologue alerts with a prompt that suggests asking a question to keep the prospect engaged.
Wingman comes with live cue cards (pre-loaded with pitch points), bookmarks and more real-time coaching features to walk your reps through any call.
We can go on and on, but we’d like to let our customers tell you how Wingman has transformed their lives for the better.
“I love the abilities it offers to coach you in real-time during sales calls. For instance, Wingman alerts you when you are on a monologue and anyone who works in sales knows that it’s so hard sometimes to just shut up and listen. Similarly, you can also bookmark moments in calls in real-time, such that it’s easy to review later.”
- David Self, Owner at Keet Healthcare
“I use Wingman for my discovery calls and one of the things it helps me do is identify when I'm talking too much, or using certain words or phrases that I'm trying to avoid. And I can change my sales behavior.”
- Jason Bay, Chief Prospecting Officer at Blissful Prospecting
“Wingman is actually my Wingman. It really helps me during customer calls by pulling out pre-loaded cue cards for my reference related to the topic being discussed at that point in the call.”
- Wasim H, Customer Success Manager at Chargebee
Enough said. Why don’t you take Wingman for a spin and see how we can take your sales strategy to the next level?