Products and services don’t just sell themselves. To compete in the modern world, you must implement a sales strategy that adapts to the customer’s needs.
Gone are the days of sleazy ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ spray and pray tactics.
Consumers are being bombarded with advertisements 24/7.
As a result, building relationships, meeting customer needs, and using a data-driven sales strategy is the key to success in modern sales.
This article will give you actionable sales strategies to add to your sales process. No matter the company size, the fundamentals of sales strategy can be applied to fit your needs.
What modern selling looks like
Selling is different from 20 years ago. Before, customers were at the mercy of the salesperson.
Here’s what a customer journey would look like if you were to buy a laptop 20 years ago:
The customer may have heard of various models but would need a salesperson to receive all of the product information, such as different models, specifications, and price points.
Today, the typical journey means that the customer is more informed. They’ve already researched product reviews and spoken to their friends about your product before initiating a sales conversation.
Today, the role of salespeople is more consultative and based on understanding how your product or service fits the customer’s specific needs.
Today’s sales force needs to nurture their relationship with prospects and play a consultative role in advising on the best solution for their problems.
|Sales force of the PAST||Sales force of the FUTURE|
|Poorly informed: They don’t know solutions in depth and improvise during negotiations||Well-informed: They understand the products and the value the products add to the customer.|
|Poorly prepared: They follow standardized, step-by-step process with all customers||Well-prepared: They analyze each customer customer and personalzied the sales approach according to the analyzed data.|
|They don’t nurture relationships: They lack empathy and their relationships are strictly of professional nature||Communicative: They nurture professional and interpersonal relationships by creating empathy with customers|
|They are always in a hurry: They don’t understand customers’ needs.||Business teachers: They know how to listen the customer, in order to offer what is really needed. They teach about trends, issues, and soltuions.|
|Short-termists: They are only concerned with how to close deals as soon possible||Visionaries: They build a future supported by solutions, and demonstrate short, mid and long-term earnings to close a deal.|
A customer who is aware of a problem needs help deciding which solution is right for them and how to implement it.
For example, let’s say you’re a business owner that wants to automate your marketing. If you book a demo call with our team, you’ll learn how to segment your audience for better personalization, build sequences that convert more customers, how to save time by qualifying leads, and so on. Instead of demoing features, the call will be centered around providing solutions to your specific problems.
What is a sales strategy?
A sales strategy is a plan set by your company to sell your products or services.
Think of it as the top-level “how” of your sales department.
Your sales strategy should answer the following questions:
- What are you going to sell?
- Who will you sell it to?
- What methods will you use to sell your product or service?
Types of sales strategies
There are three primary strategies you should consider when developing your plan:
1. Sales strategies for new audiences
You can actively acquire new leads through inbound or outbound tactics:
- Inbound strategies include attracting leads using online content such as blog posts or building a social media presence.
- Outbound strategies are tactics where you reach out to potential customers through cold email, social media messages, or cold calling.
2. Sales strategies for optimizing conversion rates for existing prospects
Cost per lead (CPL) vary significantly based on industry, type, and many other factors. For example, a marketing-qualified lead is easier to acquire than a sales-qualified lead.
On average, SEO and content marketing leads cost $14 per lead, while search engine advertising can cost $60 per lead.
Improving your conversion rates allows you to grow your business by increasing marketing spending. There are many ways to increase conversion rates, such as:
- Targeting the right leads.
- Creating content for each stage of the sales funnel.
- Training your sales team to become better sales reps.
- Creating personalized lead nurturing sequences.
- Implement lead scoring.
3. Sales strategies for gaining repeat business from existing customers
Keeping your current customers is just as vital as finding new ones. On average, repeat customer spends 67% more in their third year of the relationship than the first six months.
The key is to find ways to upsell and cross-sell your existing customers.
Camtasia is a video editing software that offers its customers 50% off if they purchase their newest version.
Just think of a company like Apple once you purchase one of their products, like an iPhone. There’s a good chance you’ll buy their entire suite of products, like the Macbook, AirPods, Apple Watch, etc., in the following few years.
By not strategizing how to sell to more of your existing customers, you’re losing out on a lot of potential revenue.
Some of your customers will be loyal to your brand. They want to purchase everything you have because they trust your quality and service. It’s worth surveying your customers and asking them the type of products or services that will be most beneficial to them.
Why do you need a sales strategy?
The key to a sales strategy isn’t just creating a plan. You need a plan that leverages data and advanced analytics to improve decision-making.
Data points allow you to gain more insight, forecast future projections, and accurately evaluate reps.
According to Experian, 85% of businesses view data as one of the most valuable assets to their organization. Furthermore, about 28% of prospect and customer data is suspected of having some inaccuracies.
Here’s why you to adopt a data-driven sales strategy:
1. Improve sales rep performance
Sales managers and sales enablement teams should work towards the same goal. However, that’s not always the case.
You can see all the weak points in your sales process using data. If you notice that the sales cycle is longer than usual, it may be because your reps aren’t properly following up with prospects or don’t handle objections well.
A sales strategy observes current weaknesses and creates a system that addresses those concerns.
2. Improve customer acquisition
A sales strategy should allow sales reps to be flexible in their approach. Sellers need to meet prospects based on their individual needs.
Your sales strategy might be to create tailor-made case studies for every industry you work with.
In this case study, Encharge demonstrates how we’ve helped financial advisers to leverage email automation into their business.
3. Develop a sales process
A sales strategy encompasses the entire sales process. It creates a system for all of your reps to follow.
Without a system, reps will be wasting time performing inefficient tasks — they might spend too much time researching their prospects.
A sales strategy might entail assigning the enablement or operation team that might provide access to lead enrichment software to help reps quickly learn about their prospects before the call.
Furthermore, all decision-making will be derived from the sales strategy.
If your sales team wants to automate their sales process, you’ll need to implement a CRM, forecasting, and other tools.
Your sales strategy will even determine the type of sales reps you hire. If you’re in high-ticket sales, you’ll want to hire sales reps comfortable with follow-ups and speaking to executives or CEOs.
5 winning sales strategies for startups
Sales strategies help align your salespeople with shared goals and empower them to perform their best. We’ll cover some key tactics to include in your overall sales strategy:
Sell to your buyer’s needs.
The B2B buying process has become even more complex in the last decade. In 2015, it took five to six people to agree on every purchasing decision. Today, Gartner found that a complex B2B solution may involve six to 10 decision-makers.
As a result, you’re not simply selling to one person but a whole group of stakeholders. Even if they don’t have the same job title or demographic information, they all are in the same situation.
You don’t sell to people based on their demographics or job characteristics. Their main concern is whether their current situation is threatening their business goals.
Behavioral change is driven by the challenges in your buyer’s situation, not their professional disposition.
Buyers ask weighty questions that are specific to their current situation.
The customer journey reflects what’s happening in your buyer’s mind, specifically how they think when deciding whether to purchase from you.
Don’t focus on the buyer’s position, persona, or job title. Instead, start selling to their unique situation. What are their struggles in the business that your solution will solve? How will that radically alleviate their current situation’s stress, discomfort, and pain?
Then adapt your sales techniques to every moment of their customer journey.
Here’s an example of how Wordstream, an SEO software company, changed its marketing to appeal to buyers’ needs.
First, they surveyed over 200 marketing agencies and found that 40% of agencies struggled with managing their time.
Even the most skilled advertisers struggle to manage their time between client accounts and other responsibilities. As a result, WordStream crafted its landing page to speak directly to its buyer persona — “busy agencies.”
The key takeaway is to obsess over your customers and discover the pain points that keep them up at night.
Create urgency to change
Most sales reps think the entire sales process is linear — a series of repeatable steps every buyer goes through during the sales cycle. And, at some point, the prospect will choose you or your competitor.
However, your buyers can choose to make no decision. Studies show that at least 40% of pipeline deals are lost to “no decisions” rather than competitors.
People have a “status quo bias” where they’re naturally uncomfortable with doing something different than what they’re currently doing.
For example, implementing a new solution takes a lot of effort. The mental energy of incorporating a new strategy into their business “feels risky” compared to what they are already doing.
As an outsider, you’re fighting inertia, your buyer’s natural tendency to remain in their current situation.
By disrupting your prospect’s status quo, driving the need for change, and creating a buying vision that differentiates you from your competition, you can persuade them to change and choose you.
Nonetheless, you can’t simply start touting the features of your solutions. A prospect won’t care about your solution if they don’t see the need for it.
Focus instead on demonstrating that your prospect’s status quo prevents them from reaching their most important business goals.
Urgency should connect with your value proposition. Think of urgency as the intensity of your buyer’s problem and value proposition as the differentiator in your solution.
Here are several factors to consider to help you increase your sales conversion rates:
- Demonstrate value proposition: As mentioned, the value proposition isn’t just about adding features to your solution. You must connect the dots by demonstrating exactly how the product or service alleviates their problem. The bigger the problem it solves, the greater the value proposition.
- Relevance: Is your solution relevant to your buyer? We recommend focusing on niche markets to appeal to their specific pain points.
- Clarity: You must clearly articulate your value proposition.
- Urgency: Fake scarcity, deadlines, and discounts aren’t very effective in B2B sales. Instead, urgency comes from making your buyers understand how big their problem is. For example, you could explain how their problem could lead to their competitors overtaking their customers.
- Anxiety: Eliminate your customers’ anxiety by giving them confidence in your product. This could be selling your buyer’s vision, or it could be using trust factors. If you’ve worked with reputable brands in their industry, this helps to quell their fears.
- Distraction: Focus on the call to action. Sales reps must explain how getting the deal done is in their best interest, not just yours! There’s a popular saying that “time kills all deals.”
Don’t be a commodity
Based on customer feedback or discovery questions, you’ll be able to connect your solution’s specific capabilities to the needs of your prospect’s problems.
However, your competitors also respond to these same inputs from their customers. This means you repeat commodity messages that don’t differentiate your brand.
When buyers hear and read similar marketing and sales messages from you and your competitors, they won’t see any contrast between their choices. That means there’s no compelling reason to change, so the buyer opts to make no decision.
Instead, you’ll want to tap into your prospect’s “Unconsidered Needs.” These are missed opportunities, shortcomings, and challenges that your buyers aren’t yet aware of holding them back.
“Saving time, getting more clients, increasing conversion” are statements that every prospect hears.
Most companies will try to incorporate “value-added services,” which sounds great in theory. However, to the buyer, they often add complexity and cost to the conversation.
Telling your prospects about pain points they already know won’t make you a trusted advisor. It’ll simply be another sales conversation or pitch they’ve already heard.
This requires uniqueness in your sales approach.
For example, Encharge doesn’t just save time. It offers a scalable solution to turn prospects into buyers based on where they are in the funnel.
Rather than another email provider, we offer behavior-based emails to let you build sequences tailored to your prospects’ and customers’ specific actions.
In this situation, the commoditized conversation is “saving time.”
However, the unconditional need is the stress and complexity of trying to hire the right developer to build a proper onboarding sequence.
Rather than just saving time, users need a simple solution that easily onboards new users or nurtures prospects with little effort.
Focus on your value proposition.
When selling the value proposition to potential buyers, how much overlap is there between what your company provides and what your competitors can offer?
Most B2B sales reps will admit a high overlap between products.
Many companies can do the job in competitive industries with similar pricing and functionalities. And if your prospects don’t see much differentiation between you and other options, they’re more likely to decide based on the price.
Create your value proposition by first understanding the customer. Here are questions to answer about your prospect:
- Jobs-to-be-done: What do they need to get accomplished?
- Gains: What would make your customers happy and make their life easier?
- Pains: What is troubling your customers and preventing them from getting that job done?
Once you’ve listed these answers, you can start crafting your value proposition:
- Products and services: What do you offer to help your buyers get the job done?
- Gain creators: What can you offer to help make their life easier?
- Pain relievers: How will you help your customer alleviate or eradicate their pain?
Now, let’s consider how Tesla fits a specific buyer persona. You can see that they target higher-income people who want to convey an image of success.
Notice how Tesla offers what the persona is looking for.
The upper-middle-class male struggles to find charging stations or fears having a dead battery. They would love a car with a high-tech battery that performs like a sports car and receive compliments from their friends.
Consider what jobs and goals your customers have. Think about their true pain points. For example, a digital agency with 5-10 employees has vastly different problems than an agency with 500 employees.
An enterprise agency might struggle to hire the right people or want to reduce complexity in managing their teams.
A smaller agency will likely be stuck with low-paying and stressful clients.
Understanding what you offer and where you fit into the marketplace is key to delivering an effective value proposition.
Once you’ve determined your exact fit, you must relay the information to your sales reps, so they can sell their prospects on how the solution relieves their pain.
Use lead scoring to prioritize prospects.
Not all leads are created equal. Some aren’t a great fit for your company, while others are the perfect fit. Certain prospects may have a low budget, and others might already have a solution they’re happy with.
Lead scoring allows you to prioritize your prospects based on their likelihood of closing the deal quickly, even before your outreach efforts begin.
Your leads are scored based on their characteristics and behavior. Factors that may affect ranking include:
- Job title or role
- Specific actions that indicate intent
- Company size
Prioritize time on the highest-scoring leads with the best conversion potential on your prospect list from top to bottom.
With lead scoring, your sales reps can spend their time on prospects with a higher chance of closing, thus increasing productivity and revenue for your company.
Encharge lets you automatically score leads. Simply set the criteria, and your leads will be scored based on their characteristics or behaviors.
How to build an effective data-driven sales strategy for your team
All of the tactics and strategies in the world won’t help unless you don’t develop a clear and actionable sales strategy.
This strategy gives you a grand vision that improves decision-making in all aspects of your business.
“Business is like war in one respect. If its grand strategy is correct, any number of tactical errors can be made and yet the enterprise proves successful.”— General Robert E. Woods
Here are the five steps to building a strong sales strategy for your organization.
1. Build the sales goals for your organization
The process of setting goals is much harder than it sounds. As part of your sales strategy, you should set long-term goals aligned with the company’s mission and short-term goals that focus on closing enough deals this month or quarter.
A sales strategy covers many important aspects of business growth, such as:
- Revenue goals
- Target customers
- Selling methods and metrics
- Sale force capabilities
First, start by outlining your goals, which allows you to create a plan for how to achieve them. This should include the following:
The executive summary of your sales strategy: Think of this as your mission statement. What is the big picture outcome you want to achieve, or what is the grand vision you want your company to have?
For example, Airbnb is the leading platform for finding hospitality services.
Business goals and revenue targets: You’ll list out all of the business goals you aim to achieve. Include sales goals, revenue targets, customer lifetime value, recurring sales numbers, etc.
Review prior period performance: Identify how you’ve performed last quarter or year and identify mistakes. You may have to audit your sales activities to help you identify how to optimize your inputs.
Here’s how you can analyze your team’s past performance. You can look at:
- The percentage of closing lead to customer
- Value of each lead
- Monthly leads generated.
Then separate these leads based on the type of customer persona. Every business may be unique in how they track and organize data. The key is understanding which customers are worth spending the most time on.
2. Create a target customer persona
Gaining clarity on who you’re selling to is essential to your sales strategy.
You can build buyer personas based on your actual customers’ demographics, behaviors, lifestyles, motivations, and challenges. Companies use buyer personas to represent the customers who make purchasing decisions.
Evaluate which customers use your product most successfully, and look for common traits. The ideal customer profile will allow your team to focus on deals that can create the greatest value for your company.
Identify what attributes matter to your buyer personas. You need to consider their lifestyles, motivations, challenges, and goals to gain a deeper understanding of their desires. Consider the following categories to build your customer persona:
- Paint points: What problems do they have that you could help them solve?
- Motivations and goals: What are their business goals, and what drives their business decisions?
- Objections: What frustrations do they have with competitors?
- Demographics: What are their job title, industry, and company size?
- Career: How long have your prospects been working in their industry?
- Lifestyle: What are their work responsibilities?
- Brands: What type of products are they using at their company?
- Media: Where do they go to obtain trusted information?
For example, consider the customer persona of Clear Voice, a content marketing marketplace that allows businesses to hire writers and other creative talents.
Notice how Clear Voice tailors its solution and marketing message that directly speaks to the persona’s pain point.
Identifying the target persona allows you to craft your sales messaging to convey your value proposition to potential buyers better.
3. Develop a clear sales process
You need a sales process to guide your team through each step, from first contact to closing the deal.
Throughout the sales process, it covers what a salesperson needs to do for each prospect. This is fundamentally different from a sales strategy.
An effective sales strategy outlines how to achieve sales goals. It provides actionable steps for everyone in the sales department by considering the obstacles, opportunities, and competition.
In contrast, the sales process is a set of activities that salespeople must follow to achieve the defined goal.
Normally, a B2B sales process may include:
- Initial outreach or prospecting
- Qualification and discovery
- Define prospect needs
- Sales meeting or product demo
Your sales process may also include upselling opportunities or customer onboarding.
Choose the specific sales strategies your reps should use at each stage. Are they sending cold emails or making phone calls as part of their initial outreach? Can they schedule a product demo immediately, or will they invite new leads to join a Zoom call?
Plan your strategy based on what you’ve seen work in the real world, but be flexible as things change.
4. Audit and implement the right technology stack that supports your initiatives
Most sales teams have access to a variety of tools and platforms that they use regularly.
However, valuable information could be lost if these platforms don’t share or integrate data somehow.
As a result, developing a technology stack that supports data-driven sales initiatives is crucial.
We recommend the following:
- Make an audit of your team’s existing tools and technologies. Determine which are necessary, which can be replaced, and which can be removed.
- Focus on ease of use and integration. It’s not always better to use the newest, most complicated tools. Make sure the platforms you choose are likely to be used by your team.
- Interview key stakeholders before purchasing new technology. Get feedback from your best reps — after all, they’ll be the ones using it. They’ll know what works and what doesn’t.
5. Apply data to your decision making
Consider standard sales metrics such as average deal size, pipeline velocity, lead response time, and quota attainment.
You might also want to consider less common data, such as how sales enablement content performs or what days of the week prospects are most likely to answer their phones.
A data-driven sales strategy can improve everything from lead scoring to onboarding. Here are some ideas if you don’t know where to start:
- Onboarding: To tailor future onboarding programs, gather data about sales rep training and identify commonalities between the onboarding sequences that lead to successful reps.
- Sales productivity: Analyze your reps’ time usage. Do they spend too much time on administrative tasks? Prioritize tools that minimize menial tasks and use this information to guide your tech purchases.
- Deal analysis: Conduct a win/loss analysis to determine why some prospects purchase your products and others do not. You can tailor your sales outreach based on this data.
6. Provide ongoing sales training and coaching
Before creating a sales training program, you’ll want to know your sales team’s unique strengths and weaknesses.
Melissa Raffoni, a CEO consultant who spoke with the 50 top CEOs of organizations with teams of 10 to 1000, found these questions to determine the quality of a sales team.
- What’s your value proposition?
- Do you have a clear sales process?
- How are you tracking sales effectiveness?
- What are you doing to increase your close ratio?
- Do you have a good sales compensation to drive the right behaviors?
- Do you have the right people?
From these answers, you can gauge how to structure your sales training.
Begin by choosing a format for your sales training that makes it convenient and easy for your employees. Typical formats include courses, in-person workshops, hiring outside consultants, internal team testing, and conferences.
We’ll cover several sales training strategies to foster continual learning for your reps.
- Elevator pitch: Create a universal elevator pitch to help your reps accurately and concisely explain your company.
- Product knowledge checks: Quiz your reps on product pop quizzes. This should test their knowledge of your product or service’s features, benefits, and specifications. Additionally, they should describe why your solution is better than your competitors.
- Objection handling training: Your reps are likely to experience the same objections over and over again. Have your reps perform mock calls with managers to practice their demos and objection handling skills. Keep a running tab of the most common objections.
- Industry news and trends training: Confidence comes from having practical knowledge. If your reps understand the industry inside and out, they can easily explain to your customers why their solution is the right choice.
- Bring in outsiders: Consider bringing in a sales expert to train your team. They could help your team with specific tactic training, such as writing better emails, maximizing your CRM, and using social media for sales and prospecting.
The key to sales training is continually enforcing these strategies into the company’s culture.
About 50% of the content from sales training events is lost in just five weeks. Try to avoid lecture-style training and get reps to start practicing the concepts.
Power up your sales strategy with Encharge
Most so-called “best practices” that you’ll find out there won’t help your sales team succeed. Rather than following a basic “fill-in-the-blank template,” create a strategy that communicates value into your sales conversations.
A sales strategy that leverages data and takes a customer-centric approach will allow you to close more deals. Whether a startup or an enterprise solution, sales strategies are the key to unlocking revenue growth and driving customer loyalty.
If you’re ready to scale your sales, Encharge allows you to automate your marketing and your sales process. Encharge provides deep two-way syncing integrations with leading CRM platforms like HubSpot and Salesforce to help you align your marketing and sales.
New HubSpot integration: We rebuilt our HubSpot integration from scratch. It now supports a two-way sync of contact and company data, 14 flow steps to automate your HubSpot processes, sync of Encharge email marketing activity in HubSpot, and a whole lot more. Learn more about the HubSpot integration.
Sign up for a free 14-day trial with Encharge and build your automation system today!