Did you know that 40% of sales professionals find prospecting to be the most challenging aspect of the sales process, followed by closing deals (36%) and lead qualification (22%)?
Hence, developing a successful sales strategy is crucial for every business to increase sales and generate revenue. Strategic sales help brands focus on providing a solution to their target customers while making a sale. By shifting the focus from sales outcome, strategic sales help in building a sales plan that is specific to the company's offerings and its customers.
Strategic sales help in developing better customer relationships and improving sales efforts while molding your team members into exceptional sales leaders. It streamlines the company's sales efforts including customer outreach, sales prospecting process, sales presentation, and more.
In this post, we shall learn how to develop a strategic sales plan for your startup business.
7 Steps to Create a Strategic Sales Plan
Whether you are a novice who wishes to start your small business or an entrepreneur, having a strategic sales plan is crucial for business success. A strategic sales plan offers a detailed guide to the sales team for creating an effective sales strategy for reaching business goals. It shares ideas, processes, resources, tactics, and tech tools that empower the team to excel in their respective roles.
Let us understand how to develop a strategic sales plan.
Step 1 - Conduct a SWOT Analysis
The first step toward building a successful sales strategy plan is conducting a SWOT analysis. This analysis will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses, discover new opportunities, and mitigate the threats in your existing sales process.
Let us quickly look at each of the individual elements of the SWOT analysis.
Strengths - Things or processes that your company is excelling at.
Weaknesses - Things or aspects that your company lacks.
Opportunities - Aspects that would lead your company to success.
Threats - Everything that poses a risk to your company's growth.
To conduct a SWOT analysis, gather your entire team and ask them to present their thoughts about your current sales effort in a grid-like matrix with four distinct quadrants.
Once the analysis is complete, discuss the findings with key decision-makers and convert the pointers into real-time actionable goals in your sales strategy plan.
Step 2 - Set the Right Sales Goals
Outlining your goals and objectives should be the next step in creating a solid sales plan. This helps you stay focused when devising a plan to achieve revenue targets. For example, a SaaS startup might set a goal of generating a total revenue of $1 million annually.
Sales goals need not always be focused on revenue. You can also include goals, such as better customer service, faster lead qualification, quick deal closures, and more in your sales strategy plan.
Ensure that your goals are realistic and achievable. Understand your sales team's potential and assign these goals to the individual team members according to their abilities.
Step 3 - Identify and Qualify the Target Customers
The next crucial step is to identify the target customers and understand their pain points and challenges. To sell better or to provide the best offerings, you must be aware of the customers’ needs. This will help you craft a personalized sales approach for your customers.
Leverage your existing customer data to identify the ideal customer characteristics and use the findings to define your ideal customer profile. You must also recognize the target market you wish to sell to.
Now, divide your target customers into smaller groups based on their behavior, demography, and other criteria to build unique relationships with them while translating your generalized sales approach into a more customized one.
Step 4 - Revise and Define Your Sales Pipeline
Revamping your sales pipeline is the next step in building a strategic sales plan. It streamlines the customer journey making it easier for your team to identify their problems and present them with required solutions.
To outline an efficient sales pipeline, list down the various stages a prospect goes through before becoming a customer. Asking yourself the following questions may make this process simpler.
When does a prospect become a lead?
What happens after lead qualification?
What touchpoints in the customer journey should be considered important?
What counts as a successful conversion?
What should our following up strategy be?
Depending on your responses to the above-mentioned questions, create a sales pipeline for your startup. Some of the stages you might want to consider include prospecting, lead qualification, initiating contact, relationship building, scheduling meetings, making an offer, closing the deal, and following up with the new customers.
A well-defined sales pipeline helps you track the deals and sales activities seamlessly. It accelerates your sales efforts and helps you close more deals faster.
Step 5 - Implement Effective Sales Tactics
Next, you need to decide the methods or tactics that you will be using to promote your products or services. These tactics will serve as a medium for you to reach your customers and inspire them to purchase your offerings with more confidence and clarity. It will take into account all aspects of the sales process including lead generation, sales prospecting, customer outreach, marketing, and others.
Here are a few sales tactics to include in the sales plan that you can use to connect with customers across different stages of the sales funnel.
Listen to what your prospects and customers are saying and craft your sales strategy around it.
Create valuable content that your customers can relate to boosting sales conversions. Focus your content on customers' needs, pain points, and problems. Include case studies, testimonials, demos, comparison charts, eBooks, whitepapers, and more in your content bank.
Utilize social media networks to find leads and engage them with your brand by using the right kind of content.
Ask your existing customers for referrals. Offer incentives, upgrades, or other rewards as an appreciation for their efforts.
Keep in touch with existing customers to maintain relationships. Similarly, follow up with the prospects at planned intervals and boost your outreach efforts.
Step 6 - Invest in the Right Tools
Provide intuitive tools to your sales team to help them work efficiently and achieve their goals. These tools collate data from different platforms, automate existing processes, and carry out complex analytical tasks in a fraction of a second, thereby giving you deeper insights into your sales performance.
Here is a list of tools that you can leverage to make work easier for your sales team.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software - To manage customer information and build long-term relationships with them and enhance customer retention.
Sales intelligence platform - To gain real-time insights into all kinds of sales data, such as customer contacts, customer behavior, business goals, and more.
Sales analytics tool - To track, manage, evaluate and enhance the performance of the sales activities and boost team efficiency effectively.
E-signature - To collect signatures of the concerned personnel on electronic documents, such as sales contracts, proposals, quotes, and more.
Sales automation tool - To automate some elements of the sales processes with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning and speed up the efficiency of the sales team.
Customer success software - To provide a streamlined support experience to the customers and boost customer advocacy.
CPQ - To generate accurate sales proposals and quotes and speed up the quote generation process.
Training tool - To onboard new hires and give them a quick introduction to the company's overall sales strategy.
Step 7 - Define KPIs to Measure Progress
Just like setting sales goals, defining sales KPIs, metrics, and benchmarks are essential to gauge the success of sales efforts. It gives the team a snapshot of their performance by providing them with real numbers and detailed sales insights. The sales team can then leverage these results to identify the bottlenecks and take the right measures to revamp the sales action plans.
Identifying and tracking the right KPIs is important for business success. Here are a few most critical sales metrics that every sales team must track.
Sales cycle length - The average amount of time it takes to close a deal. It is usually the period from the initial contact to the point when the deal is closed (won or lost).
Conversion rate - The number of qualified leads that successfully converted into new customers.
Win rate - The percentage of deals that were won during a specific period.
Churn rate - The number of customers who do not renew their subscription or either cancel it during a specific period. This is a critical metric to track if your business follows a subscription-based payment model.
Average deal size - The average amount you make for each closed deal.
Annual recurring revenue - The total recurring revenue your company makes over one year.
Year-over-year growth - The measure of how well your business is doing this year compared to the business performance at the same time in the previous year.
A strategic sales plan is beneficial for every business. It helps you execute your sales goals with complete focus and dedication. By helping you identify the business risks, it supports you to mitigate sales-related problems and challenges. It measures the sales progress and team performance and helps you build efficient sales teams.
Follow the step-by-step guide mentioned in this post to create your strategic sales plan today.
Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer with 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and all things SaaS.