[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There are plenty of strategy templates and articles out there sharing how to build a sales strategy. They are usually fairly basic and cover important (but not differentiated) topics such as objectives, hiring, compensation, sales activities and the like. These sales strategy documents are incredibly helpful to align your organization. But, here’s the problem: your customer(s) don’t care about your organization’s processes. In fact, they are likely getting in the way of your ability to close deals.
The effects of standardized sales processes on buying decisions are evident. According to the Florida State University Sales Institute research:
Think about that – 90% of what they heard was either noise, boring or just flat out annoying.
According to Gartner, there are now 11 people involved in complex B2B buying decisions. (Remember when a few years ago they reported that there were 5 and we all freaked out? Ah, the good old days). Furthermore, they also reported that prior to COVID, only 4 of 10 reps were making quota – despite billions of dollars spent on sales strategies, best practices, training and technology. Below is a quick illustration of the endless cycle of investments vs. ROI. Look familiar?[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”34618″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]If you are heading out to the interwebs for guidance on how to build a traditional sales strategy, you can likely expect the above results. So, what can you do? We have created three must-have pillars for any modern sales strategy (based on extensive research from our books Cracking the Sales Management Code and Crushing Quota and research from Florida State University Sales Institute).
But first, let’s get grounded.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]According to BusinessDictionary.com, the definition of a sales strategy is “a planned approach to account-management policy formation, prospect identification and qualification, sales presentation, and order generation aimed at achieving a firm’s sales quotas or targets.” Enthralling, right?
In a nutshell, sales strategies are meant to align your organization. While this is a very helpful thing to do—sales chaos is never a good thing—KPI’s, goals, positioning, and messaging are only as good as your salesperson’s ability to close a deal. Because at the end of the day, the true goal is for your organization to hit (and exceed) your numbers in the way that you want to grow (eg. net new business growth or selling x amount of a new product). You won’t do that by forcing buyers into your sales processes. This was true five years ago and it’s certainly even more important now.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Here’s a fun and revolutionary idea. Let’s start your sales strategy here: What do your buyers want from your salespeople, from your company? Do you know? We’ve all had terrible sales experiences and they usually stem from a salesperson’s inability to adapt to your issue.
In fact, LinkedIn recently released their 2020 State of Sales Report. It highlighted that “the #1 and #2 traits that BUYERS look for in salespeople are active listening and problem solving.” Yet most organizations are training their salespeople to follow a singular methodology and process that forces them into a robotic, company-defined interaction with no regard for your 11 buyers wants and needs.
This is particularly disappointing in this age of digital sales transformation because the data exists to do so much more. It can be interpreted and taught to your salespeople in order for them to orient around and execute to:
(1) what BUYING situation they’re in at the moment they’re in it
(2) what tactics, messages and insights are most likely to move the deal along (based on the situation)
(3) determine if the deal is even worth pursuing
Imagine if your sales strategy was centered around your buyer and you had the data to feel confident that:
We would argue that buyer-centric sales strategies are non-optional and B2B organizations that don’t adapt will struggle to generate revenue. Sound good? If so, keep reading.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Sales Strategy Pillar #1. Ground Your Entire Pipeline Generating Engine (Sales and Marketing) in the data about YOUR BUYING SITUATIONS
For years, B2B organizations have been struggling to adapt to:
It’s basically chaos.
In order to combat that we’ve:
Here’s the problem: we’ve been focused on the wrong things. How can you create buyer personas for the 11 people that are making up your buying decision team? How can you map the buyer journey of 11 very different people who have the ability to go anywhere they choose to find information? You can’t.
But if you have the data on the common buying situations in your organization (there are 4-5 that make up a good percentage of your deals), what factors are most important to those types of companies and what type of sales plays (tactics) are most likely to win, wouldn’t that be useful to:
Data, centered around the right thing—your buying situations—is the key to:
In this pillar, identify:
Sales Strategy Pillar #2: Factor in Your Front-line Sales Managers
An oft forgotten and incredibly important lever for results, your front-line sales managers need help too. It’s common to assume, “My sales managers are the best of the best. They’ve been here for 5, 10, 15 years. They’re smart and motivated. They’re the least of my worries.” However, our published studies on front-line sales managers show there is a huge variation in the performance of sales managers. In fact, 75% of sales managers are struggling.
And the financial impact to your top line is massive. Our research also showed a 39% difference in revenue between the bottom sales managers compared to the top performers.
When you do the math, the average cost of one poor performing manager to an organization’s top line is about $3.5 million. However, when one of our clients did the math, they discovered the number was closer to $10 million!
You may be saying, “but I’ve trained my sales managers, they’re good!” Most organizations invest in leadership models, general coaching models and sales coaching modules aligned to the latest methodology training. There’s really no shortage of these types of things.
None of these investments integrate into a workable and effective approach for sales coaching – especially when you consider the day-to-day reality of a sales manager.
As a result of this, sales managers are not coaching in a way that drives impact. Which means…
With your front-line manager pillar, look to:
For a deep dive on the proven way to train coaching, visit https://www.vantagepointperformance.com/category/sales-coaching/
Sales Strategy Pillar #3: Move from Salesperson Rigidity to Agility
Gartner recently published research findings that tell a story about just how chaotic buying cycles have become:
One-size-fits-all sales processes and messages fail in a number of ways:
Sales agility solves for so many issues facing B2B organizations today. The data you’ve pulled from pillar #1 arms your team with real insight about the huge buying team they’re having conversations with. It also informs your salesperson how to execute the right tactic at the right time.
With your sales agility pillar, look to teach your sales team how to:
To learn more about the Florida State University research on agility and how to enable a sales agility framework, visit https://www.vantagepointperformance.com/category/agile-sales-code/