The Value Of Having A Sales Strategy
By Jonathan Vinney of My Sales Director crack
One of the key observations we have made whilst working in a variety of sales organisations is the positive impact on the business performance of a good quality sales strategy. In this article we want to explore what is a sales strategy and why have one.
What Is A Sales Strategy?
Quote ( Oxford English Dictionary ) - Strategy
• A plan designed to achieve a long-term aim.
• Planning and directing a military activity in a war or battle.
We thought we would include an absolute definition of the word strategy; we haven’t included a word around the definition of sales as we think we are only too aware of what sales means to us. The key point from the above quotation is that it’s essential to have a plan to enable the achievement of goals and objectives. In a sales context a sales strategy should be your ‘blueprint’ to success.
Key Areas Of A Sales Strategy
In the next few paragraphs we are going to outline some of the key areas that make a sales strategy, the format for this will be a mixture of some key definitions combined with some thought provoking questions.
• The first stage of any Sales Strategy is to understand your goals, or in other words what exactly do you as a company want to be and to achieve, in the :-
o Short Term ( 0 to 12 months )
o Mid Term ( 12 to 24 months )
o Long Term ( 24 to 60 months )
The key requirement of good quality goals
is that they need to be quantifiable and measurable to such a degree that it would be easy to recognise exactly what is wanted and to be able to know if it has in fact been achieved.
In our work as consultants we often see goal statements like ‘as a company we want to become a top sales organisation’, this is too vague as the actual detail has not yet been quantified and would be difficult to measure as what is meant by ‘top’, do you mean in your market sector, in products or services, customer satisfaction etc and what would be the measures, sales turnover, profit, customer satisfaction index etc.
The more precise and accurate you can make your goals the greater the opportunity will be for you to implement correct and effective objectives and actions that will be needed to ensure you achieve them.
• Objectives are the bite size stages of a goal that when completed will deliver that goal. Once again like goals, objectives need to be quantifiable and measurable. A good tool that can be used to define goals and objectives is the SMART methodology:
o Specific – What do you want?
o Measurable - How will you measure success?
o Achievable – Is it realistic, can it be done?
o Results Orientated – Will it produce the required business results?
o Time – When will it be done?
Once goals and objectives have been decided the next stage of a sales strategy is to give some thought to whom you will sell to and how you will need to sell.
What Is Your Marketplace?
This is where you need to decide who in fact will buy your products and services, what will be the profile of a typical potential customer. Once you know this you can concentrate all your efforts in the right direction on the people that will buy.
Who Are Your Competitors?
Now you know your potential customer base you need to consider who are your competitors that are currently or potentially selling to them. What are their strengths, weaknesses and how will you combat this.
Route To Market
How do you intend to sell to your customer base, will this be through direct sales, channels, strategic partners, internet etc. If you are going to sell directly as a sales organisation what will be the most effective way to cover your territories i.e. field based sales, telesales, mail order etc.
Do you have a sales process that drives sales in effective logical steps from prospecting to implementation.
Position Within Your Customers
Whereabouts in your customer will you sell, board level, middle management, purchasing etc.
Style Of Selling
What style of selling will you have to adopt to be effective in selling at these different levels?
Sales Skill and Capability
What skills / capability is required by your salespeople to be effective within their customers and what is their currently level of capability now.
How will you continue to develop and improve the skill and capability within your salespeople?
We have listed below some of the key areas of a sales strategy in regards to sales management:
• Setting targets – Decide and communicate sales targets at both team and individual level, these should cover precise performance activity and operating standards.
• Measures – Communicate how you will measure these standards and what level of achievement is expected i.e. will you expect 50, 80 percent of target is 100 percent the minimum?
• Sales Reviews – Decide and communicate how often you will review the sales performance.
• Coaching & Motivation– How will you continue to coach and motivate your salespeople to ensure continuous improvement?
So Why Have A Sales Strategy?
After working through the above elements of a sales strategy we are hoping that this key question has been answered. Without some of these critical things being in place your salespeople will struggle to obtain the focus needed for success. But just in case a sales strategy aligns your company’s goals and objectives and creates a ‘blueprint’ that when followed will achieve the required business results.