Running a successful business isn’t easy, but it’s made more straightforward with clear and effective sales strategy planning. In this article, we’ve uncovered all there is to know about writing sales strategies to help improve revenue and take your business to the next level. Discover what a sales strategy actually is, what goes into creating one, the different types, and how to write a sales plan from scratch.
What is a sales strategy?
A sales strategy is a structured model that goes through your approach to sales in relative detail. This includes how you expect to improve results over a certain period of time and the methods you intend to employ to achieve your business goals (number of customers, money generated through converting customers, etc).
A sales strategy should highlight the direction you want your business to follow, with evidence that supports your thinking. Importantly, effective sales strategies offer long-term vision, rather than simply presenting a changeable bank of short-term tactics.
What are the benefits of creating a sales strategy?
As with any aspect of your business, it’s important to make calculated choices for the benefit of the brand. First and foremost, a sales plan provides disciplined direction for your strategy, to ensure you’re always acting efficiently and effectively. Other benefits to creating a sales strategy include:
1. Keeping all team members on the same page and working to the same targets. There can be no confusion across the business if your strategy is clearly documented.
2. Being able to track business progress, and comparing performances from previous periods. This allows you to learn lessons and optimise your sales methods.
3. Evidencing to stakeholders that your business has focussed objectives.
What goes into developing a sales strategy?
You now know what a sales strategy is, but what are the key considerations you should be making before you can even begin creating one? We’ve delved into why you should always make the customer number one and why it’s important to ensure your business objectives are consistent across the board.
Make the customer the focus
The customer should be the centre of your entire sales strategy, with the user experience pivotal to your overall success. This is true for all disciplines, and should also apply to your respective marketing and business strategies. After all, it’s difficult to establish a successful business if your consumer base is unhappy.
To ensure you’re always offering an appealing sales proposition, make sure you consider the following:
1. How do you want customers to perceive your brand, product, and approach?
2. What values do you want to build the customer experience around?
3. What form of communication will customers be most receptive to?
Make sure your business goals align
Before drawing up your sales strategy plan, it’s important to recognise the importance of making sure your sales, business, and marketing goals all align. Any differences or conflicts, however small, will quickly result in confusion. This can bring about unnecessary hurdles for you to overcome when you should be expanding your customer base and growing brand awareness. For instance:
- Is each resource written consistently when it comes to brand messaging and culture?
- Is there consistency around how you want your business to be positioned within the industry?
- Does each document clearly outline how you plan to build your customer base?
It’s always helpful to go through your business plan while creating your sales strategy. This gives you an opportunity to identify how your sales strategy can help you to achieve your overarching targets for the business.
The different types of sales strategies
When it comes to choosing between different sales strategies and approaches, it’s important to remember that there’s no one right way. Different tactics work better under some circumstances than others. Instead, the key is to take on a flexible approach and develop a willingness to try out new strategies. There may be the feeling you could have more success going down a different avenue.
A personal approach
Some sales situations require a personal approach, which involves building a relationship with a potential customer or client. This is particularly important if you’re hoping to make a significant sale or deal. Measure up whether the sale is worth the personal investment; if so, this is the sales strategy to adopt.
Cold calling can work
Not all sales are going to take your business to the next level, and some are simply made to keep you ticking over, so don’t be afraid to send out cold emails for this purpose. Don’t worry about always developing a personal relationship with customers, if your time and energy can be better invested in a bigger prospect.
Demonstrate thought leadership
Customers like to engage with businesses that are an authority within their field. After all, a brand must be trustworthy if it’s an industry leader? As such, it can be helpful to adopt a sales strategy orientated around knowledge and authority. But remember, if you decide to adopt this approach, you’ll need to spend time exploring the ins and outs of your product, the audience you’re targeting, and the industry you’re competing to get a footing in.
Whichever sales strategy you employ, the most important thing to remember is to approach your prospects with confidence.
How to write a sales strategy
Developing a sales strategy involves craft and commitment, with research required to justify your approach. We’ve pieced together the important areas you should focus your attention on, when working out how to write a sales strategy for your business.
Do you know your product inside out?
It might sound obvious, but it’s of absolute importance that you’ve got to grips entirely with the product or service that you’re selling, beyond a superficial level. This doesn’t just mean what it is and the price points, but also each little detail and potential pain point. A prospective customer may approach you with a question about your product, which you should be able to match with an instant answer that not only satisfies their curiosity but persuades them to make a purchase.
What does your ideal customer look like?
Before writing up your sales strategy, you must first determine what your ideal customer looks like, in terms of buying behaviours and consumer attitudes. This is a crucially important factor to consider; if you get this wrong and fail to focus on a specific persona, or spread your resources too thinly, you risk struggling to resonate strongly with any market.
Can you adopt a multi-channel approach?
Sales is all about adaptability and doing what’s necessary to grow your customer base and raise revenue. As such, don’t be afraid to experiment with your approaches and try new channels; your tried and tested methods might work to a certain degree, but approaching customers across further platforms might widen your reach.
For instance, consider how Google Ads and PPC, digital PR, and social media marketing can be used to first raise awareness of your brand, rather than continually cold calling. This helps to increase excitement around your product, which will likely then result in inbound sales.
Sales strategy template
Now you’ve got to grips with all the fundamental features of a sales strategy plan, it’s time to get started and create the real thing. To give you an idea around how to structure your document, we’ve written up a basic sales strategy template below.
1. Executive summary
Your executive summary is an introduction to your sales strategy, noting the important aspects of your plan. This section will lightly touch on various other elements of the strategy, to give a flavour of what’s to come. For instance, your sales strategy executive summary might include reference to:
- Your revenue goals for the period.
- The type of customer you want to target.
- Your business’ methods of attracting audiences and sales.
- The metrics you’re going to measure success with.
Your executive summary should also offer a little insight into the timeframe of your strategy, and how long you expect certain actions to take. This gives your immediate accountability and responsibility to stick to your own parameters.
2. Business targets
This is the first section of your sales strategy that offers in depth commentary of what your plan of action actually is. Here, you should firmly establish any targets and goals you are setting your business, from a sales perspective. It might be useful to give yourself a target that fits your realistic expectations, and then an aspirational target. Note that setting your targets purposely low doesn’t benefit anyone, so don’t be afraid to give your sales team a challenge; you might hit lowly goals more easily, but the business won’t progress or make any notable steps forward.
3. Lessons learnt from previous period
An important part of your sales strategy is the inclusion of a section that highlights how the previous review period went and how your business performed against prior targets. It doesn’t matter whether you exceeded your targets not, use this section to address the lessons learnt. In a nutshell, the point of this section is to identify any previous areas of concern and recognise how you can improve going forward.
4. Relevant market trends
Having an awareness of the current and expected market trends is crucial when planning out our sales strategy. This is because any changes to the market will likely influence your approach, as well as having an impact on expected sales and conversions. Use this section to highlight factors that might force you to change your sales methods, and the steps you plan on taking to combat the obstacles.
5. Customer information
Within this section of your sales strategy, you should outline the customer profiles you intend to target, including buying behaviours. It’s important to recognise the type of customer you expect to generate the most revenue from, or else you run the risk of attempting to desperately scatter-gun sell and falling short at all points. Instead, it’s more efficient to invest your entire attention on one type of consumer.
6. Available business resources
Sales strategies should be realistic; they represent your expectations and plans to achieve your business goals. With this in mind, it’s important to take a pragmatic approach to the resources you have to hand. For instance, you’re only going to get so far with a small team. Within this section, clarify what the sales resources are, and your strategy for using what’s available efficiently.
7. Individual roles
After discussing what your sales team and available resources looks like, it’s time to outline each individual’s specific role. How does everyone within your sales team fit into your strategy?
Create a summary of what you aim to achieve within the strategy period, and how you’re portioning out responsibility – go as granular as you like, down to meetings etc. This gives each member of the team accountability and personal milestones to achieve.
8. How performance is going to be monitored
The final section of your sales strategy should be an indication of how you plan to monitor performance and measure success. For instance, will success within this strategy period be measured according to revenue, or will you gauge success according to total number of sales?
To manage a successful business, you need an effective sales approach. And by following our advice and sales strategy template, you’re sure to notice revenue improvements before long. For even more helpful guidance, discover everything there is to know about setting up a business and marketing your brand, or alternatively, if you still need to set up your website, purchase your domain name.