Success in sales requires a solid knowledge of the markets you sell to, a good understanding of how your products or services contribute to the success of your customers, your ability to express the value of what you sell to your customers (product knowledge / service) and of course good sales skills: the ability to listen, understand potential customers’ needs, build trust, and present solutions.
An often overlooked skill in sales training and sales literature is the ability to think strategically so that you can develop a sales strategy along with identifying the corresponding tactics to implement the strategy; In other words, an actionable plan to achieve your sales goals over a defined period of time. hour.
Let’s take a look at the fundamentals needed to create and implement a strong sales strategy and action plan. Let’s start by defining “strategy”. A strategy defines how you will gain a competitive advantage in the markets to which you sell. A well thought out strategy stems from a deep understanding of the needs and trends in the markets you sell to and how your competitors are responding to those markets. Your strategy can address the competitive advantage based on your knowledge of the unmet needs in the market, the new products you have developed, a cost advantage that your company has obtained thanks to the lower cost manufacturing, the geographical proximity to your main markets or a host of other capabilities. The competitive advantage may also lie with the people in your organization: superior customer service, better post-sale technical support, or a sales force with extensive product and industry knowledge.
Often your competitive advantage is the integration of several of the above capabilities. Once you’ve done your due diligence to check where your business advantages lie, you can start developing your sales strategy. In addition to the organizational advantages listed above, your sales strategy should incorporate competitive advantages on a personal level, such as long-lasting customer relationships, experience in a specific sales territory, or well-honed sales skills. A solid sales strategy should always incorporate both organizational benefits and personal benefits.
Once you’ve captured all of these competitive advantages, start thinking about how they relate to your daily sales activities and how they can be integrated into individual sales calls. This will help you integrate these benefits into your daily sales activities. The next step is to put these thoughts in a paragraph or two with the intention of answering the question: why should a potential customer buy from me rather than a competitor? The answer to this question becomes the foundation of your sales strategy.
Once you’ve answered that question, the next step is to review your sales goals over a defined period of time: next quarter, six months, or once a year. Make sure your sales goals are clear and defined in numerical terms such as annual sales revenue, average gross margin on a percentage basis, number of new accounts opened, etc. Now let’s relate these numerical sales targets to our strategy through the competitive advantage statement that we developed. Looking at that competitive advantage statement, how can you contribute to our numerical goals? If you’ve done your homework and identified all its benefits, you should come up with some ideas. At this point, we want to link those thoughts to a series of tactics that are actionable; this will be our implementation plan. The implementation plan must be actionable, that means that we have identified a series of clear steps that will advance our sales strategy and that those steps or actions are under your control, which means that you can unilaterally initiate those actions and not depend on another to institute. the actions.
An example of a tactic or action might be trying to get an appointment with the vice president of manufacturing at a key potential company whose manufacturing plants align well with its product distribution network, as reflected in its competitive advantage scheme.
The actions you identify are also mapped to a timeline so that you can chart progress in achieving those steps over weeks or months and correlate the achievement with your quantified sales goals over a corresponding time period (quarter, half year, or Whole year).
The best way to achieve action steps identification is to think of individual prospects, those companies that are key customers or prospects. Review the current status of each target or key customer or prospect in light of your competitive advantages and the sales strategy you developed earlier. Action items should be tailored for each target prospect, as not all of your competitive advantages will appeal to every prospect, and all prospects and customers will not have identical needs. Once you have your action items, assign realistic timelines to complete them. You want to be realistic in your estimation of the time required, but also be aggressive in striving for achievement.
One tool that will be very useful for planning your sales activities, monitoring progress, and measuring achievement is the Work Plan, which I define as a structured list of “to-dos” drawn up on a weekly basis. The Roadmap is a simple list of action items per account or lead that you have estimated to be achievable in the next week. The purpose is to provide you with a visible outline of the priorities you want to address and hopefully accomplish during the week. It provides a structure to help you manage your time to sell and sets some tough goals for the week. Don’t worry if you’ve identified too many or too few actions to address. With time and experience, you will get better at developing a reasonable estimate. Often times, too, the best plans are interrupted by the unexpected problems everyone encounters. The goal here is to create that “to-do” priority list that helps us stay on track as the week progresses.
Finally, remember that we live in a dynamic business environment – assumptions can be shown to be wrong, industries can change virtually overnight, and the best information becomes out of date over time. So, review your overall strategy, action plans, and implementation milestones or failures at least once a month and be prepared to make any necessary adjustments.