Sales strategy is the art and science of turning strangers into prospects and prospects into customers.
It requires a clear plan of attack and consistent follow-through.
But how do managers go about developing a sales strategy?
And what sales strategies are the best or most successful?
We’re going to answer both of those questions in this post to help you create a solid plan for your salespeople.
Let’s start by defining sales strategy.
What Is Sales Strategy?
Sales strategy is your plan for closing more sales. It’s really that simple.
But if you want a more in-depth explanation, check out Hubspot’s definition of sales strategy:
“A sales strategy is an approach to selling that allows an organization’s sales force to position the company and its product(s) to target customers in a meaningful, differentiated way. Most strategies involve a detailed plan of best practices and processes set out by management.”
Your job as a manager is to create a consistent plan for selling that every member of your team can follow to nurture and close prospects.
This means you’re gathering processes and methods, techniques and tactics, tools and technology and rolling them together to create an offensive strategy your salespeople can lean on during the sales cycle.
Every strategy is different.
Your plan will differ from another manager’s in the exact same industry, let alone one that’s different from yours.
It’s also not static.
When you release new products, you need a fresh way of selling them.
When you start making more money, or are making less than before, you need a new approach to sales.
When new technology comes out, like chatbots for instance, you need to adjust your sales strategies to match the new selling environment.
This is as much about what to do as it is how to do it.
Of course, certain tried-and-true areas almost always remain the same, such as:
- Cold calling and cold emailing.
- Pitching your products and services.
- Presenting and demonstrating your products and services.
- Closing a prospect.
- Managing a client or customer throughout the account’s lifecycle.
Now that you know what it is, you need to know how to develop a sales strategy.
In the next section, we’ll give you numerous sales management strategies to get you started.
7 Sales Management Strategies
The objective of sales management is to enable salespeople to sell better.
To do that, you need to know how to develop a sales strategy, or rather, you need sales management strategies that can be used to create a cohesive plan.
Ultimately, you want your salespeople to have clear goals, a hierarchy of priorities, and exciting outcomes to work toward.
Below we detail 7 sales management strategies to help you accomplish this.
1. Look at Where You’ve Been and How You Got Here
It’s difficult to determine what you should do in the future if you don’t how the results of what you’ve done in the past.
Before implementing any new sales strategies, take stock of the ones you’ve used before and look at how successful they were.
How much revenue did they bring in?
How many new leads did they generate?
How productive was your sales team while using them?
And so on.
Then use this data to look at the future.
What are your revenue targets?
Who are the “big fish” prospects to pursue?
What other types of support do you or your sales team need to be effective?
2. Make a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is used by sales managers to clarify their objectives and uncover potential external and internal factors that can both help and hinder progress toward those objectives.
SWOT stands for:
- Strengths – the advantages you have over companies and products.
- Weaknesses – the disadvantages you have relative to other companies and products.
- Opportunities – the openings in the market that you can exploit to gain an advantage.
- Threats – problems or issues that could arise from within your company or outside of it that would cause trouble.
When conducting a SWOT analysis make sure to include your entire team. Ask them what they see as your strengths and weaknesses. Get their insights on potential opportunities. And use their judgement to identify serious threats.
Do the same with your fellow managers and executives.
A SWOT analysis works best when used collaboratively.
3. Develop a Deep Portrait of Your Target Customer
It’s gonna be hard to increase your sales if you don’t understand who you’re selling to.
One of the most fundamental steps in the sales process is developing a persona for your ideal customer, complete with their fears, desires, wants, needs, etc.
This is a good guide on creating buyer personas for your business.
In addition to that, review your current customers and figure out which ones spend the most money, make multiple purchases, have the shortest sales cycle, and other positive traits you want from all of your customers. Add it to your buyer persona.
A strong customer profile will guide your reps to seek out high-quality prospects.
4. Craft a Clear Market Strategy
When you’ve gathered enough information about the past and present, you can start thinking about the future and where you want to go.
This is where you’ll want to ask questions like:
- Are there existing accounts that you can grow?
- Can you increase revenue in your current territories or will you need to expand them?
- Are there new products you can create or are creating now to grow revenue?
- Have you assembled the right team to hit your targets?
- Do your salespeople need additional training, new tools or technology?
The more you ask yourself the hard questions (and answer them), the easier it will be to come up with a smart market plan.
5. Intelligently Position Your Business, Brand, and Products
A major part of your market plan is positioning your business, brand, and products to stand distinctly apart from your competitors.
The starting point is understanding how your brand is currently positioned. That’s your baseline.
The next step is looking at how your competitors positioned themselves and what makes your brand and products different from them. Your job is to identify what makes you wholly unique.
It could be price.
It could be delivery.
It could be a single feature.
Find the one or many differentiators you can give to your marketing team to better position your brand and business. Then give your salespeople these differentiators to help them sell your products more effectively.
6. Set Realistic (And Easily Understood) Revenue Goals
A very important sales management strategy is setting realistic revenue goals that your sales team can rally behind.
We say “realistic” because too often sales managers set revenue targets far beyond the capabilities of their individual sales reps or the potential of their territories.
Yes, you should shoot high, but you also need to truly motivate your salespeople.
Ideally, you would create different revenue goals for different salespeople that match their skill levels, knowledge, and experience.
When you reveal your revenue goals, make sure to combine it with hard data to show your team that you didn’t just make these numbers on the spot (which causes well-deserved distrust from your sales reps), they’re smart and achievable goals.
7. Execute a Sound Action Plan
Once you have your plan in place, it’s time to execute.
Pull together your sales strategies into a cohesive plan that helps your salespeople gain new leads, nurture top prospects, and close big deals.
Of course, salespeople will need to be responsible for their own pipelines.
Which is why executing your sales strategy plan isn’t really the last step. After that, you’ll need to coach your sales reps through tough meetings and failures. Show them how to correct course. And help them when they find it difficult to follow the plan.
7 Successful Sales Strategies
The best sales strategies are usually those that have a proven track record of success.
The following sales strategies have been used by countless managers and are well worth including your sales management plan.
1. Hire Great People (Who Are Also Good at Selling)
Hiring the right salespeople is an essential strategy for long-term success.
This doesn’t mean, however, that every sales rep you hire is a top-notch closer.
It also doesn’t mean you can hire any college graduate with a bachelor’s in communication and expect them to be trainable.
You need to seek out those sales reps who are personable, have strong communication skills, have some skills as a salesperson, and are teachable – meaning you can easily train them and take them from good to great.
2. Sell First to Niche Markets
Selling to small niche markets helps you quickly pull in initial revenue, get your name out, and learn more about your own business and customers.
Admittedly, this sales strategy is for new(er) businesses.
But it can also be used for new products from an established business. If you’re a SaaS company selling a task management app for general consumers, you may create a unique variant of the app just for busy managers and sell it to them exclusively.
For businesses just starting out, selecting a niche and sticking with it is the best short-term strategy that you can use to pivot to bigger markets. Plus, if you fail, it was on a small scale. You have a new opportunity to try a different market or a different approach.
3. Train Your Salespeople to Look at Your Products Through the Customers’ Eyes
We talked about developing a buyer persona earlier, but making the persona isn’t nearly enough.
The next step is to get your sales team to use that persona to step into the mind of your customers. To see the sales experience through their eyes.
This allows your sales reps to present themselves and your products in the way the customer prefers.
Let your reps interact with the product like a customer. Encourage them to roleplay with other salespeople, one being the seller and one being the prospect. Ask questions about objections and how to handle them.
Basically, enable your salespeople to experience your target customers’ pain points to better know how to solve them.
4. Align Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing need each other.
Marketing consistently generates leads.
Sales consistently close them.
But each team needs to understand this.
As far as sales are concerned, your marketing department needs to understand your goals and projections so they know how many qualified leads they need to generate every month.
And, as we’ll get into in a moment, marketing needs to know what resources they need to create to assist in the sales process.
Sales, on the other hand, needs to provide marketing with insights they gain in the field to help marketing pull in the leads most likely to become buyers.
5. Empower Your Team with Sales Enablement
Sales enablement is the process of aiding salespeople to sell better using tools, strategies, knowledge, and resources.
Successful sales enablement programs include a few key components:
- Enablement-focus – you provide as many resources as needed to support your sales team.
- Customer-centricity – Focus your resources on engaging, attracting, and satisfying your target buyer.
- Content – provide two types of information: one for customers to persuade them to buy and one for salespeople to close deals.
- Training – you should train your salespeople in how to use the resources provided to them.
- High usability – your sales enablement resources have to be accessible and useable by all sales reps.
- Tracking and enforcement – track how your sales enablement program’s resources are performing and mandate their usage if necessary.
- Measurement – track metrics such as average sales cycle length, number of reps achieving their quota, average deal size, etc.
6. Prioritize Prospects with Lead Scoring
Lead scoring helps you prioritize prospects based on factors like which ones are closest to making a buying decision.
Lead scoring happens after qualifying prospects. It’s a point system that allows you to rank prospects from 1-10.
For example, if you’re an employee recognition company and you see an HR manager just came in as a lead, you’d probably assign that a 7 or higher, especially if you know they’re the ultimate decision-maker.
Running through your list and prioritizing prospects will help your sales team gain consistently more sales and maintain a healthy pipeline.
7. Eliminate Unqualified Leads From Your Pipeline
On top of seeking out the best leads, you should also weed out all the bad ones.
If a prospect never seems interested in changing anything at their company, you can probably stop pursuing them.
In the last section we talked about prioritizing and pursuing leads that you know are decision-makers. You should also deprioritize and eliminate leads that you know are low in the pecking order.
And another reason to avoid some prospects is if they don’t have the budget you’re looking for. Simple as that.
One Effective (And Overlooked) Sales Strategy More Sales Managers and Reps Should Use
When your salespeople communicate with prospects they need to keep them engaged and they need to be as persuasive as possible.
Most reps think talking on the phone or in-person is enough.
While in-person is certainly the best way to meet with prospects, it’s often unrealistic, especially if you have a full pipeline.
Speaking over the phone is fine…
But not ideal.
There’s a 3rd way that’s overlooked and rarely used but is highly effective:
You can record video pitches, share collaborative screen recordings, and create instructional GIFs.
To do this you’ll need a reliable tool that every sales rep can use.
We recommend Zight (formerly CloudApp).
We’ve been ranked by G2 Crowd as one of the top sales enablement tools.
Our software is easy to use and simple to share.
Communicate and sell effectively by discovering why Zight (formerly CloudApp) is an essential sales strategy today.