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Sales strategy: stop using a fill-in-the-blanks template to design it.


How can you design the most effective sales strategy? There is a lot of advice out there that claims you are prepared as long as you have a written strategy, a reliable procedure, and a set of people who are familiar with your solution inside and out.


Well, maybe not quite.


The issue is that most sales methods are too inwardly focused. They are successful in capturing internal processes in writing, but they overlook the messages and abilities your reps require to sell value to prospects and clients.


Think about the following observations:


1. According to research, the most significant barrier to fulfilling sales quotas is the "inability to communicate a value message.

2. "Only 10% of executive clients in a related study who were asked about the calibre of contacts with salespeople said that the time spent on sales calls was worthwhile.

3. According to executives surveyed for a Forrester Research report, only 15% of sales calls generate enough value.

4. Just 7% of the executives polled in the Forrester study indicated that they would likely set up a follow-up appointment.


In other words, your sales strategy won't help you increase sales if your sales staff can't explain value—why your solution is unique, superior, and worth more.

What can you do, then?


You'll uncover ten recommendations for creating a sales strategy in this post. Each one is supported by behavioural research and has undergone extensive testing to be successful in B2B selling scenarios.


But first, it's crucial to take a step back and define exactly what it takes to have an effective sales plan.


A sales strategy is a written plan for positioning and marketing your product or service to potential customers in a way that sets it apart from your rivals' offerings.


Your sales organisation should get clear objectives and direction from your sales tactics. They frequently contain important data including growth objectives, KPIs, buyer personas, sales procedures, team organisation, competitive analysis, product positioning, and particular selling techniques.


The majority of these recommendations may be used to clarify objectives and maintain alignment among your sales representatives. However, the main problem with most sales plans is that they concentrate too much on your company's internal operations. The real abilities required to conduct effective discussions with customers—as well as the messaging salespeople need to be successful—are only given secondary consideration.


In the end, every sales plan has a single, straightforward goal: to make sure that your salespeople hit their quota. The offer is made or broken by what salespeople say, perform, and write in order to express perceived value.


If you want your company's sales strategy to be truly effective, it must place a heavy focus on customer communication. These effective conversations are what differentiate your company from the competition, provide your clients with a unique shopping experience, and help you to give them value.


As a result, the following 10 factors should be taken into account while creating a sales plan:


1. Create a compelling value proposition for your messaging:

The majority of prospects either don't understand or are unable to express the fundamental issues that plague them on a daily basis. Therefore, even if you have a genuinely exceptional product to sell, it's unlikely that your customers would understand the true benefit you can bring to their company. Thus, you must develop a message that is compelling and strong.

In fact, studies discovered that 74% of senior buyers will offer their business to a company that has a buying vision, as opposed to vendors from a collection of commodity suppliers.

This goes beyond simply promoting the benefits of your goods in the hopes that a customer would pick you over your rivals. That strategy just equalizes your value with comparable solutions and drives you into a competitive market.


2. Generate the need for change

The majority of businesses unwittingly put themselves in a position to compete on benefits and features. They respond to their prospects' "Why should I choose you?" questions. However, they skip an important initial stage in the process.

The majority of consumers really favour staying the same over changing. In actuality, "no decision" losses outnumber losses to rivals in the pipeline by 60%.

Change is linked to threat and risk, whereas remaining the same is secure and pleasant. You need to present a tale that persuades potential customers to change and to change it immediately in order to overcome status quo bias and convince them to leave their current circumstances.

You must comprehend your true rival—the status quo—to develop a successful sales plan. Before you try to persuade prospects to select you, help them make the decision to change. The way you respond to these issues determines how unique your offering is and influences the entire decision-making process for your customers.


3. Convey an interesting and lasting tale:

Salespeople often concentrate on gathering all the information about their services while getting ready for meetings with prospects. However, even the most precise information won't be remembered if you can't make an unforgettable connection with your audience.

Instead of just repeating facts and figures, employing metaphors, analogies, and personal tales can help you make your point more interesting. The contrast between your customers' current condition and their potential is illustrated for them in vivid detail by storytelling, which also links what you have to offer directly to their particular circumstances.

Your customer relationships will deepen and improve if you start telling stories during sales talks.


4. Focus on the customer's decision-making process rather than your sales process.

A salesperson employs a series of repeatable procedures known as a sales process to persuade prospects to make a purchase. The sales process often involves a number of processes, including prospecting, qualifying, identifying needs, bargaining, and closing. If all of your customers were robots being moved along an assembly line, this would be the ideal checklist to use. But the truth is just different. Selling nowadays isn't a linear process that you've chosen for your prospects and clients to follow to make a purchase. What you're truly up against right now is a customer decision journey, which is a set of crucial inquiries that your customers are making as they attempt to fulfil certain business objectives.

You need to be problem-centric, addressing the unique requirements of your buyers as they occur with contextually appropriate messaging, information, and the ability to deliver them, as opposed to being "programme-centric" with a one-size-fits-all sales strategy.


5. Don't base your sales approach just on buyer profiles.

In principle, buyer personas and customer profiles make sense. To better frame and target your messaging, the goal is to compile similar demographic characteristics, attitudes, and behaviours among your target audience. Personas, however, might misdirect your communications if used as a cursory assessment technique.

Persona-based selling makes the assumption that your target customer's behaviours or actions are driven by personality traits. Buyers are really driven by external factors that challenge their current beliefs and persuade them to change. These external factors might include the company's quick expansion, ineffective or unsustainable operations, or more general developments that have an impact on the whole industry.

The difficulties your buyer faces—not their professional demeanour—are the true forces for behaviours and behaviour change. Therefore, talk to your buyer's problem and the reasons why their existing method is endangering their business rather than concentrating your sales strategy on a lot of unimportant features.


6. In your sales plan, stay clear of the "commodity trap.

"Salespeople base their pitches much too frequently on the needs that customers tell them they have. Then, in the typical "solution selling" manner, they link those identified needs to associated capabilities.

What is the drawback of this strategy? Along with your rivals, who are probably developing their value message in response to the same set of inputs, you fall victim to commodity messaging. As a consequence, you sound just like everyone else, which makes your potential customers unsure and unmotivated to make a change.

Instead, you should create unconsidered requirements that go beyond the already known, defined requirements and address those. Introduce prospects to issues or missed opportunities that they have either overlooked or are simply unaware of.


7. Start with ideas rather than inquiry-based research.

Many salesmen make an effort to act as "trusted advisors" by probing their clients for information, determining their needs, and then offering a solution that meets those needs. But this strategy is detrimental to both you and your client.

It is insufficient to say, "Tell me what you want, and I'll get it for you," if you want to be of true value to your customers. Customers seek salesmen who can advise them on what they ought to desire. They want you to sort through the vast amount of information available and provide them with information on what they are lacking that will enhance their performance.

Finding information and statistics online is only one aspect of this. Without context, a fact is merely a piece of data. Wrap your findings in a narrative that makes sense to your customer and places them in the context of their world in order to make it more relatable to them.


8. Integrate marketing and sales

Too frequently, sales and marketing are two separate, seemingly harmonious divisions. Marketing develops tools and messages for sales as well as leads for the sales force. The message and technologies are used by the sales teams to convert those leads into sales. However, a lack of coordination and flaws in your approach might undermine your efforts.

You may hear the same complaint from both parties: "We're doing our job, but they just don't get it." These objectives have the drawback of encouraging an "us versus them" mentality and failing to see the larger picture. A design point for improved marketing is sales. Marketing is the narrative builder for your company if sales is the storyteller.

The goal of these two teams is to persuade customers to pick you, and they must work together to achieve this goal.


9. Position your sales strategy to grow your consumer base.

The majority of sales and marketing teams concentrate their resources and efforts on customer acquisition and demand generation. The majority of your annual revenue is probably made up of renewals and upsells from current clients in the interim.

Less than 10% of the companies surveyed by Corporate Visions dedicate their marketing budgets to customer growth and retention. Your customers are without a doubt the most underutilized and productive development engine for your company. Furthermore, you must not underestimate the potential of this untapped money stream.


The issue is that in order to retain customers and promote growth, various messages must be sent to them. Existing customers are in different circumstances than prospects and have different perspectives while making purchases.

Customer growth and retention need you to solidify your position as their status quo, but customer acquisition is all about challenging the status quo to highlight the advantages of switching to your solution. In fact, studies suggest that when you're looking to renew or extend business with your consumers, utilising a provocative, challenging message will boost the probability that they'll shop elsewhere by at least 10–16 percent.


10. Enable ongoing situational training.

The majority of training and learning initiatives are built around a set of skills and supported by curricula and catalogues that are planned depending on interest and availability on a given calendar. But what does it have to do with supporting the business plan of the firm, adapting to changing consumer expectations, or stepping in to address urgent requirements as they arise?

Your sales training must advance to a new degree of flexibility, customization, and situational relevance if you want to be as productive and efficient as you need to be today. You may quickly construct a flexible, on-demand training approach to address issues as they emerge and take on initiatives by using this method. Your sales force will be more prepared to communicate effectively with customers if they have received situational agility training.


Go beyond "best practices" with your sales strategy. Most of the so-called "best practices" that are now being used won't be beneficial to your sales force. Create a method that conveys more value during your sales discussions rather than using a fill-in-the-blank template.

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