In a prior article, I wrote about what companies should include in their Summary Strategic Plan which focuses on the Corporate Strategy. Of course, the right sequence requires that a Corporate Strategy comes first (i.e. is planned and finalized first) and serves as the foundation for Sales, Marketing, Product, Customer Success and other strategies. Now I want to follow up on that with some insights on setting an effective strategy for your sales force – your Sales Strategy.
In my own experience (when running Sales or both Sales & Marketing departments), I would develop the Sales Strategy that is custom and designed for the company and the right context (as well as the Strategy for the Marketing / Demand Generation groups) typically way in advance of the oncoming new year (i.e. it’s wise to start your general planning and outlining the key areas starting in August which is way in advance of an upcoming year). It’s an operating plan for the sales team and serves as a game plan for how our sales team will achieve or over-attain its annual sales revenue targets as well as the necessary ROI in a cost-effective manner (i.e. in the context of the necessary unit economics for our company and you typically work with the CEO and the CFO as a team to ensure that your are in alignment).
Naturally, our Sales Strategy was also designed to be in alignment with the company’s overall Corporate Strategy (which includes Marketing, Customer Success, Product, etc.). It’s what SBI (Sales Benchmark Index) calls an “interlocked” strategy – all the executives (sales, marketing, product, etc.) work to align and interlock their strategies (and especially Sales & Marketing alignment / interlock). This ensures that the final strategy is cohesive and in full alignment. This means that you need to take inputs from Marketing and Product and others to ensure that my Sales Strategy puts the sales force into a position to succeed and achieve or over-achieve our revenue targets.
Here are the key areas I typically want to cover in my Sales Strategy as an operating plan for our sales:
- Mission Statement (i.e. seems like it’s common sense but – “Common sense is not so common” – Voltaire)
- Sales Team’s Core Values
- Sales Org – Plan & Design
- Territory Design
- Quota Setting
- Compensation & Incentives – with Comp Calculators for the sales team
- Detailed People Plan – Recruiting (based on Capacity Planning Model) & also a sales force Onboarding Plan
- Sales Process
- Sales Playbook (note: while you need to plan it out during your Sales Strategic Planning cycle, the Sales Playbook itself will typically end up as a standalone document that your new reps will be trained on during their onboarding and your existing team will refer to frequently throughout the year)- you have to plan your high-level top plays necessary for your SDRs & AEs to execute (please refer to this article that I wrote a couple of years ago: The 10 Sections You Must Have in Your Sales Playbook)
- Sales Management Playbook (something every company must have but 80%+ are missing this…I’ll write more on this in a later article)
- Channel Sales and Plan
- Pricing – needs to get to the requisite $ASP to hit your targets
- Data-Driven Sales Management & Analytics Playbook – 3 KPI categories: 1) Sales Activities, 2) Sales Pipeline and 3) Sales Results (please refer to some of my published articles and books with more details on this topic: The Right Sales KPIs for Your Sales Team, 5 Key Sales Metrics and KPIs You Should Know, Building a New B2B Inside Sales Team (with Excel Models)
- Sales & Marketing Alignment and the SLA
- Sales & Customer Success Alignment and the SLA
- Sales & Product Strategy Alignment and the SLA (critical yet missing from 80%+ of companies’ Sales Plans)
- Sales System or Methodology (i.e. the CHAMP Selling System, or Sandler Selling Methodology, etc.)
- Sales Team / Rep – Development & Training
- Front-Line Sales Manager – Development & Training (this is one of the 3 top levers in driving your sales team’s effectiveness and yet is missing from 80% of the companies out there)
- Sales Team Support – a. Sales Operations (proactive, not reactive – with data planning, analysis and reporting used strategically and not just tactically), b. Sales Enablement (assessment, content asset plan, training, pricing, contract), c. CRM, Systems, Sales BI/Analytics & other Sales Technologies
- Sales Operating Model – Bottoms-Up Pro-Forma Model with Detailed Capacity Planning Analysis and Revenue Projections based on Leads by Sources, HC of SDRs & AEs, Conversions to Opportunities, $ASPs and % Win Rates by Segments, and Stress Tests
- Sales Budget
It’s time for a 2019 Sales Kickoff – if you are a CRO or a VP of Sales then you need to have your Sales Strategy ready to communicate to the sales team (and marketing and, actually, the rest of the company too or at least in a simplified, summary format).
What else? What are some other thoughts on designing a successful Sales Strategy?