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Sales Strategy Excellence or Are You Flying Blind?

flying blind bird or sales strategy excellence
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Is your sales team flying blind or on course for another successful year? Do you apply Sales Strategy Excellence?

Some companies excel, whilst others scrutinise lines of red on revenue reports. With over three decades of facilitating sales transformations, Sales Focus Advisory has observed two approaches applied by companies whilst managing sales teams and sales strategy, those being:

  1. Sales teams are flying blind. These teams are aimless, looking at the sky, imagining their end goals. They wander from account to account, targeting the lowest-hanging fruit. Typically, these sales cultures are often 20% or greater behind sales targets.
  2. Sales organisations are focused. These teams typically have well-structured plans; they have identified what is required to attain the strategic objectives. They usually deliver over sales goals year on year; they are managed with sales strategy excellence.

In order to ensure that your sales organisation is performing as the latter type, considerations and tactics contribute directly to producing winning cultures.

The process of planning does not come naturally to many salespeople. They have mostly operated in autonomous environments, making decisions on the fly and using gut instinct. These behaviours foster knee-jerk reactions to customer demands and requests. Poor planning may suffice in non-management roles, although when the same attitudes continue throughout managerial ranks, the results can spell disaster for revenue and profit.

Sales managers should present to their CEO a well-articulated and cogent strategy. They should demonstrate concrete terms, the origin and method of income sources, the implementation plan, resource requirements, risk management and measurement.

Often this type of planning has never been presented to the CEO. Sales leaders are experts at selling themselves out of such undertakings. Often when there has been an attempt, it is lightweight and lacking substance. The contents of these substandard reports may have touched on predicted account spend or some form of product analysis, although their contribution does not provide any real benefit to the company.  As such, CEOs can and should expect more from their sales leadership teams.

There are many common misconceptions about what constitutes Sales Strategy. Moreover, a search query will produce hours of reading and cloud the subject further. Adele defines Sales Strategy as:

Sales Strategy Excellence is defined by the operating plan for sales forces. It allocates resources effectively and efficiently that serve to increase revenue and reduce selling costs. It leverages your sales personnel fostering high-performance behaviour and world-class selling organisations’’

Sales strategy is first and foremost linked to the overall company plan. What products and services are required to be sold, which markets penetrated, and the channels to be utilised? It also articulates the practical application and overall objectives of providing a roadmap that guides the team on how to achieve their targets.

There are five components to sales strategy excellence. Apply each of these components sequentially in order to ensure success.

Step 1: Customer Segmentation

Understanding the market, accounts and buyers. This is not just ‘gut feeling’ or judgment-based decision-making. It must be objective and factual. This step ensures the strategy differentiates from the competition whilst being aligned with buyer needs, the corporate strategy and the product strategy. It is a precursor to effective planning.

Step 2: Planning

Using the segmentation findings in step one, develop revenue, budget, and customer plans that, once executed, will allow the company to meet its financial objectives. Establish the metrics of what is to be measured and the frequency. Measurement should focus on the methodology and not just financial outcomes.

Step 3: Engagement

Define the processes of how the sales team is going to interact with prospects and customers whilst also identifying the frequency and decision-maker levels to target.

Step 4: Organisational

An effective strategy will require a change in the company’s organisational chart. Ensure the sales force structure is correctly established so the right people are in the right roles to execute the processes.

Step 5: Execution

Communicate the strategy down to individual people and have them demonstrate how he or she will perform his or her roles. Execute the strategy by focusing on areas such as sales enablement, sales adoption, pipeline/forecast management, reporting, et cetera. The sales leader must assist the sales team in supporting them and creating fluidity between departments.

Each of the above components requires thoughtful consideration with attention to the complexities within each. Upon the adoption of sales strategy excellence, you will attain exceptional sales results.

CEOs must continually monitor what is occurring and pay close attention to indicators outside of sales goals alone.

You may assess whether your company has adopted sales strategy excellence by evaluating the following indicators:

  • Deal sizes are fluctuating and often low
  • Diminishing margins
  • Fluctuating sales results from the team
  • Lack of standard operating processes (they all go their own way)
  • The sales results are reliant on a few individuals rather than the team.
  • Sales reporting is inaccurate.

If any of these indicators are present, then you have a sales strategy problem.

Sales Focus Advisory assists companies with the implementation of sales strategy excellence. Please contact our office to discuss your specific situation.

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About the Author: Adele Crane

A leader in Implementation Consulting.
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele’s experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.