Sales strategy planning can help you meet both short- and long-term sales targets, carrying you through the first 90 days and beyond to successfully achieve your overall business goals. However, it can get a bit overwhelming in the beginning, which is why some entrepreneurs skip this step altogether.
But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from getting the most out of your sales strategy planning phase. When you break your sales strategy into distinct steps, planning is far easier.
With this step-by-step sales strategy planning guide, you can avoid a lot of the common mistakes made in sales strategy planning and ensure smooth sailing ahead for your business.
Defining Sales Strategy Planning
A sales strategy plan allows you to see the full scope of your sales projects at a glance. A review of the big picture will help you stay focused on your goals and objectives, meet deadlines, and measure the success of your overall sales program.
It’s easy for sales managers to get caught up in how their sales teams are doing. But just because you’re experiencing success right now, it doesn’t mean that you’ve automatically secured success in the future.
The danger in going with the flow rather than following a plan is that it prevents your sales teams and your company from achieving your end goals. For example, B2B sales strategy planning can help you ensure long-term revenue by acquiring and retaining customers on a consistent basis.
Here’s a list of things to consider incorporating into your sales strategy plan:
- Specific sales activities and workflows
- Marketing strategy
- Sales goals and objectives
- Target forecasts
- Sales budget
- Timeline for all activities
Your sales plan should span at least a year, possibly two years. You should also have shorter detailed plans for 30 day, 60 day, and 90 day targets.
The key to keeping the stream of revenue rolling? Make sure your sales department is tying specific sales activities to objectives that are realistic, meaningful, and backed by data. You also need to continuously review your plan – it shouldn’t be static, especially if you want long-term success.
Should You Use a Sales Strategy Template?
There are a lot of sales strategy templates that are readily available and easily customizable, providing you with quick planning solutions for your business. But do you really need a sales plan template to conduct your own sales strategy planning?
The answer is no, but using one will save you a lot of time. Plus, you can reinvest those hours into developing your sales strategies.
Besides saving you valuable time, there are additional benefits when using a sales strategy plan template:
- Makes it easy to modify and update
- Provide a standard for future sales strategy plans
- Improves consistency over your sales strategies
- Eliminates the need to start your outline from scratch in consecutive years
- Helps to organize information so it’s usable
- Produces a presentation-ready sales strategy plan that’s worthy of sharing
- Reduces errors
- Makes your sales strategy plan accessible and convenient
Your sales strategy plan is something that you’ll be revisiting on a regular basis, so it makes sense to use a template to streamline the process as much as possible.
What Are the Most Typical Sales Strategy Planning Mistakes?
Without the right sales training and a thorough sales plan to follow, sales representatives can make a lot of unnecessary mistakes along the way. By developing your sales strategy in a way that mitigates these common issues, things will ultimately run more smoothly in your business as a whole, as well as within your internal sales team or call center.
Here’s a look at some of the most common sales strategy planning mistakes:
- Failing to:
- Allow for sufficient initial sales rep training time
- Account for developing sales skills in sales reps
- Align your marketing and sales departments
- Not training sales reps on the value of the customer experience and the overall customer journey
- A lack of clear profiles for your buyer personas and target audience before your reps start selling
- Going full-force with your sales strategy plan without testing it out first
- Over-relying on 1-2 top sales reps, rather than having a plan to develop teams’ capacities
- Failing to evaluate and test the effectiveness of different sales strategies or workflows
- Not assigning a sales leader or manager to monitor your sales call center
- Failing to establish sales incentives that are challenging, yet attainable
- Purchasing contact lists instead of setting up workflows that generate unique qualified leads
- Overlooking the value of account-based selling and failing to set up workflows that leverage it to generate qualified leads
- Not leveraging the talent of your top performers during team training
- Not establishing clear job descriptions and expectations for sales and management positions
Mapping Out the First 30, 60 & 90 Days of Your Sales Strategy Plan
Although a sales plan ensures long-term success, you should further break it down to short-term goals. There are three primary advantages to breaking your sales strategy plan into shorter timeframes.
- As you hit goals in a short timespan, you become more confident that you can achieve goals over a longer timeframe.
- You get smaller, more actionable steps that will help you reach your long-term goals.
- Your sales reps will have an easier, more productive onboarding process.
Here are some sales planning activities for the first 30, 60, and 90 days that you can incorporate into your sales strategy plan.
- Do some basic research on your company. Review the company’s vision, mission, and history. Read the company’s marketing materials and check out the company’s social media platforms.
- Get a firm grasp on the company’s culture, strategic business plan, and market position.
- Get acquainted with sales trends in the market.
- Identify your competitors, then analyze their strengths and weaknesses.
- Meet with the product manager to:
- Learn how products are developed, what problems they solve, what features and functions they have, and who their target market is.
- Better understand the target market, audience segments, and how you can align the sales and marketing strategies.
- Meet with the customer support team manager to learn more about the types of calls they typically receive.
- Review customer feedback and surveys to gain a better understanding of the practical value of the company’s products and services.
- Familiarize yourself with major accounts, and learn more about methods for increasing their retention rate.
- Review call recordings of top performers, taking note of the phrases and style of speaking they use.
- Create an initial timeline for converting a qualified lead into a sale.
- Ask for insight and recommendations from top performers about what should be included in your sales strategy plan.
- Evaluate your digital tools, including your cloud-based phone system, sales software integrations, etc.
- Explore various sources and identify channels for getting qualified leads.
- Develop clear workflows that correspond to your objectives.
- Test your tools and workflows through mock scenarios.
- Develop outbound calling strategies.
- Set up a workflow that incorporates sales email templates, and save them in your CRM system.
- Write call scripts to be used in various stages in the sales funnel, including lead generation, qualifying leads, nurturing leads, and closing sales.
- Set up teams and establish timeframes for each sales activity (e.g. lead generation, lead qualification, and appointment setting).
- Create a strategy for conducting automated surveys and sales follow-ups.
- Set up a refresher training session for your sales reps.
- Set up powerful and engaging sales meetings to encourage more sales.
- Schedule short individual meetings with sales reps for coaching and feedback.
- Gather data on common objections.
- Fine-tune strategies for setting appointments and closing sales.
- Set up a plan for regularly monitoring call center performance.
- Analyze sales performances for individuals and teams.
- Create sales reports and evaluate strategies for improving conversion rates.
The first 90 days is an essential part of your short-term sales strategy plan. However, depending on the size of your company and how aggressive your sales goals are, your short-term sales plan could span up to a year, giving you more time to ramp up sales activities, test strategies, and optimize processes.
How to Define Your Short-Term Sales Plans
To define your short-term sales plan, it’s best to work with your marketing team. Alignment with your marketing team should help build for long term success. Your short-term plan may focus on new products, services, promotions, and sales, rather than established products which departments are more familiar with. For this reason, launch periods are also a great opportunity to test your sales strategies and ensure that your company is running smoothly.
Here are a few tips for implementing a sales plan for a new product launch:
- Aim for slow and steady sales in the beginning.
- Train staff to leverage current promotions during sales calls.
- Set time limits on promotions to entice customers to make an immediate purchase. This prevents them from shopping around for your competition.
- Train your sales reps to gather as much information about customers as they can and document the details in your CRM.
To establish a good base of clients, try to identify companies or organizations that have large numbers of employees or members. You can make a special group offer to these organizations, and potentially get a lot of sales to build your client base in one go.
For example, if you’re selling a home security system, you might offer a discount for one of your products to members of the National Council of Realtors or the Women’s Council of Realtors. Just be sure to monitor group offers to make sure that the incoming revenue is greater than the cost of the discount.
Your marketing department may also generate leads from sources like PPC advertising, social media advertising, or trade shows – all of which needs to be accounted for, so that you can optimize the joint efforts of both the marketing and sales teams to increase conversions. You’ll need to have your sales workflows ready to handle an influx of leads if a new PPC campaign performs well, because if you wait too long to approach prospects, warm leads will go cold – meaning you lose out on potential revenues from new customers.
How to Define Your Long-Term Sales Plan
While short-term sales strategies focus on bringing in initial sales and establishing a strong client base, your long-term sales plan focuses more on establishing brand awareness and generating consistent revenues. You’ll need to train your sales reps how to enhance the customer experience at every point in the customer journey to increase retention rates and inspire brand loyalty, as well as establish systems for consistently bringing in new leads.
For example, having the right call center software can significantly increase the effectiveness of your sales strategy plan. A cloud-based phone system has purpose-built features which help boost sales representatives’ productivity and optimize customer conversion rates, such as:
- Call routing and skills-based routing, which quickly direct callers to the person best suited to answering their query
- Voice calling features, like power dialing and click-to-dial, which let sales reps increase their call volumes while requiring fewer manual inputs
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or knowledge bases, which give customers a range of self-service options to increase call center efficiency and customer satisfaction
- Call queueing and queue callback, which help ensure that customers are served in the shortest time possible
Contact center software also makes it possible to store and access data in a single source. This is particularly useful in cases when call center software works in tandem with CRM or other sales software. Sales reps will be able to access call history and other details while speaking with customers on the phone, allowing them to tailor their pitch to each individual.
Part of defining your long-term sales strategy is to decide on which types of technology you plan to use in your sales department to optimize your sales funnel. Choosing the best call center software is just one of the ways of doing this, but it’s also one which will potentially impact your sales volumes the most.
Step-By-Step Guide to Perfecting Your Sales Strategy
Want a quick, step-by-step guide to perfecting your sales strategy planning?
10 steps to follow to ensure you’ve covered all your bases:
- Use a sales strategy planning template to cut down on time.
- Keep an eye on your competition. If it works for them, it’ll probably work for you. Keep in mind, though, that it’s always better to be the trailblazer, so don’t be afraid to find ways to innovate in your sales process.
- Invest in training your sales reps to understand yours products, the customer experience, and different sales techniques.
- Ensure sales and marketing alignment.
- Invest in a cloud-based phone system and other sales softwares. Leverage their features and functions to enhance your workflows.
- Start slow. Get all the kinks worked out before you increase sales quotas – otherwise, you may struggle to handle volumes and provide satisfactory customer service.
- Continually monitor your call center. Compare sales results against your sales strategy plan at least every month to ensure you’re on track for achieving your targets.
- Keep testing different sales strategies to see what works best. Keep fine-tuning your sales processes and workflows as you move forward to optimize customer conversion rates.
- Tap the expertise of sales mentors or top sales agents when training call center sales reps.
- Set up appropriate short- and long-term sales plans, continuously review data, and adjust sales strategies as needed to account for changes in consumer behaviors or market trends.
Our #1 piece of advice? Be flexible and ready to adapt as things change. What works today may not be effective tomorrow or next month, so having the agility to stay ahead of the curve will help your company stay competitive in any environment.
This is where your cloud-based phone system’s dashboard analytics come in. They will alert you when there’s a change in call volumes, the average length of calls, or other crucial metrics that signal a changing need within your organization. Then, improve your sales strategy plan based on this data.
Remember, perfecting your sales strategy doesn’t mean that it needs to be perfect right away. If you monitor your sales, align with your other departments, and leverage data, your plan will be a perfect work in progress – and that’s exactly what it should be.