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What Does “Sales Strategy” Mean Anyway?

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I hear managers and execs talk all the time about the importance of sales strategy. “Strategy” is one of the words that gets used a lot. (In fact, Webster’s Dictionary says it is in the top 10% of most popular words.) After all, who gets heat for talking strategy? C’mon!

The problem I see in the field is that most sales “strategies” are not really strategies at all. If you look at that definition of strategy, you see, “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal, usually over a long period of time.” That means a strategy doesn’t change (or if it does change, this doesn’t happen very often), is long-term, and describes a set of consistent behaviors. Many sales strategies I see are more like tactics: making more calls in a defined period of time, approaching a new group of prospects, or introducing new offers to move the market forward. I am not saying these things are bad, but I am pointing out they are tactics, not strategies. Tactics can be helpful IF they support a strategy.

So, what might a sales strategy look like in real life? Here’s an example:

  • A commitment and process for finding prospects 52 weeks a year
  • A filter to weed out poor prospects and select the ones that meet your company’s Ideal Customer Profile
  • Focusing on getting a quality meeting where you can have a meaningful business conversation
  • Defining the prospect’s unique needs and getting an assignment from that prospect that outlines where he or she would like to see a problem in the business solved or an opportunity leveraged
  • Developing a solution (collaboratively) with that prospect; presenting an idea or plan he or she wants to buy because the prospect helped create it
  • Gaining confirmation that the prospect will buy the plan and getting him or her to take that action
  • Delivering on the plan and implementation you sold, so you can get the next order

Now, THAT’S a strategy. You might have many methods and tools you use along the way, and specific tactics you employ from time to time that support this strategy, but if you stick to these steps, you’ll likely sell more and renew more. 

Strategies are meant as a laser beam of guiding principles. You need one, and if it is the right one, you will do very well (and your customers will appreciate your consistent approach).

What does your sales strategy look like?

30 provocative questions

Topics: sales strategy, Sales, goals