Tom is a sales pro. He is smart. He is organized. He is proactive. He’s great with prospects.
But Tom has a problem. His company does not have a clear sales strategy. He’s not sure which opportunities to pursue or how best to explain his company’s offerings.
Without a clear sales strategy, sales reps have to figure it all out by themselves. That means they may be saying the wrong things to the wrong people. That also means they are wasting a lot of time—and missing a lot of opportunities.
It’s not a sales rep’s job to determine sales strategy. It’s management’s job.
The CEO must develop the vision. The marketing and sales leaders must convert the vision into a strategy. Then, the sales leader must make sure the sales reps understand it and embrace it.
A clear sales strategy is your #1 sales tool. Don’t send your troops into battle unarmed.
What’s in a Sales Strategy?
An effective sales strategy addresses three questions:
1. What? (Company offering – products or services)
2. Who? (Target market)
3. Why? (How the company offering benefits the target market)
If Tom, the sales rep, doesn’t have the answers etched into his brain, he is like the guy in the picture. He will be trying to figure out whom to call and what to say.
Question #1 – What
This question should be pretty easy to answer. But often it isn’t.
Sales reps love to prattle on about all the features of their products and services. They spend less time (or none) explaining how the offering solves problems.
The sales strategy (with a big assist from the marketing department) should enable the reps to effectively explain the benefits of the offering. That logically leads to the next question—“Who needs what we’re selling?”
Question #2 – Who
The “Who” question has two parts: demographic and psychographic.
The demographics include:
- Industry segment (heavy manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, CPG etc.).
- Company size (measured by sales or number of employees).
- Location (do you do business with companies all over the world or only in your hometown?).
- Title of decision-maker (CEO, CMO, CFO, HR Dir. etc.).
The psychographic part focuses on the prospect’s mindset. .What does the prospect want? What problems does he or she face?
For instance, two companies with identical demographics may have very different goals.
An industry leader is not in the same position as an industry laggard. An industry laggard might want revenue growth. But an industry leader may want higher profits.
Part of the sales strategy is to decide whether industry laggards or industry leaders are better prospects.
Question #3 – Why
“Why” brings “What” and “Who” together. How does the company’s offerings help its target market?
This should drive your marketing effort and the sales reps’ message. It’s your brand.
Marketing plays a key role here in developing the brand, the message, and the appropriate sales materials. Armed with the right ammo, the sales team can begin to sell effectively.
Turning the Sales Strategy into Action
When your sales reps are clear on the “What,” the “Who”, and the “Why”, they can develop an action plan.
Tom the sales rep should not be calling on just any old company in his territory. He should be targeting prospects that meet his company’s criteria. That makes Tom a lot more efficient and increases the likelihood of his success.
It also makes it a lot easier for Tom to get meetings. He knows something about his prospects’ problems and he has something they might actually need.