December 16, 2021 The Secrets to an Effective Sales Strategy Written by Karli Stone Buyer dynamics are shifting. The Gartner Future of Sales report predicts that by 2025, 50% of chief sales officers will shift their focus from being leaders of sellers to leaders of selling. But what exactly does that mean? It means that B2B sales organizations will have to move towards implementing digital, innovative selling models and move away from the traditional model of sales reps as a primary sales channel. This doesn’t mean that “the sales rep” will vanish from sales models, but it does signal that sales leaders will have to make drastic changes to their current sales strategies. In today’s fast-paced business world, everyone could benefit from improving their sales strategy, whether it’s making a few minor changes or building it from the ground up! In this blog post, we’ll uncover all the secrets to building an effective sales strategy and how you can use it to send your revenue to the moon. [lwptoc] What is a Sales Strategy? A sales strategy is an end-to-end plan for maximizing the sales of a product or service to qualified buyers. It’s your game plan for driving revenue and closing the sale! Effective sales strategies focus on positioning their product or service in a way that establishes a competitive advantage. It involves identifying your prospects’ pain points and demonstrating how your product solves them. Sales strategies also provide clear objectives and guidance to your sales organization, so they can carry out the best sales processes possible. Effective sales strategies include key information like your target markets, ideal customer profiles, growth goals, sales processes, team structure, competitive analysis, go-to-market strategy, and sales methodology and channels. While creating a sales strategy takes a lot of initial research, analysis, and strategic planning, it is a necessary step for both your sales and marketing teams. The end result should provide you with a clear blueprint to tackling your revenue targets! How to Build a Sales Strategy A thoughtful and organized sales strategy is critical to improving performance. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the essential steps in building a successful sales strategy… Here is a 6-step framework for creating an unbeatable sales strategy in 2022. Build out a Powerful Value Proposition Your sales value proposition (SVP) is a powerful messaging tool for communicating the unique value of your product or service to your prospects. Forrester’s research found that 74% of executive buyers will give their business to a company that illustrates a buying vision. To jumpstart your sales strategy, you’re going to need to create an SVP that can be utilized in your customer interactions and your messaging, helping your buyers understand the real-life value behind your product. Your sales value proposition should be concise, scalable, and justifiable. Ask yourself: What problems would a client need to have for x key feature to be useful?What are the consequences of the customer not addressing the problem?What are the potential needs that the customer might have in relation to the problem?What is the value for the customer in meeting this need? What is the payoff? Questions like these will help you create the useful SVP framework you need to have a successful sales strategy. Define your Ideal Customer Profile For most companies, 80% of revenue comes from 20% of clients. If you can retain customers or make them more than one-time buyers, the chances of revenue earned are much higher. This is why it’s important that your ideal customer profile (ICP) becomes the foundation of your sales strategy. An ideal customer profile is a description of the perfect client for your product. It is essentially a list of characteristics that define the type of company that will find the most value in your product or service. As such, these companies would most likely become long-term customers. To create an ICP, you’ll need to think critically about your product’s value, as well as the pain points it solves. Here are some relevant characteristics you should consider: Industry/verticalEmployee headcount – company-wide and key departmentsAnnual revenueGeographyTechnology usedSize of their customer baseFounded year There are many ICP frameworks and templates that go into heavy detail, but here is an example of a concise, but powerful ideal customer profile: “Our ideal customer is a B2B SaaS company in North America that has a marketing team of at least 30 people and an ARR of at least $30 million. They utilize MailChimp for email marketing campaigns and have a customer base made up of small and medium-sized businesses”. Concise and to the point! Remember, your ideal customer profile will evolve over time! It should be a description that grows and changes alongside your business. Plan a thorough Market-Driven Sales Process Every sales strategy needs a rhythmic, repeatable sales process. A sales process is a set of steps for your sales reps to follow that can predictably convert demand into revenue. While your sales strategy answers larger questions of who, what, and, why, your sales process will tell salespeople how and when to conduct your sales cycle. Consider this sales process graphic used at Gong.io: Not all sales processes need to resemble this one, but it is a great example of a personalized, and easy-to-follow process based on specific personas and the buyer experience. As you create your own sales process, consider your sales strategy holistically. An effective market-driven sales process is: Clearly defined and repeatableCentered on the buying process, not the selling processAdopted by the entire sales force, not just the new sales repsFocused on helping salespeople play to their strengthsAutomated when possible Build Out a Messaging Strategy Research performed by Forrester shows that the number-one inhibitor to sales teams reaching a quota is an “inability to communicate a value message”. In other words, your sales strategy won’t be able to help you close sales if your sales team can’t communicate your product’s value! When building out your messaging strategy, consider building out a customer conversation map – a matrix your sales team can use to understand how they can best communicate with a prospect based on buyer persona, sales stage, pain points, etc. A customer conversation map can help ensure that each message, at every stage, addresses exactly what the buyer is going through at that current moment. Regardless of the message strategy and messaging tools you choose to include, instead of talking about what you offer and why you think you can do it better, create a messaging strategy that defines a new set of challenges your prospects face and how it directly aligns with the strength of your product! Standardize Processes Across Your Sales Team This step might seem obvious, but what good is a sales strategy if it doesn’t create actionable standards? In order for a sales strategy to be successful, your team needs to be trained on it. Find out what works, and standardize it! And this doesn’t just go for new hires… Sales vets and recent hires alike need to be trained on your strategy’s value proposition, ICPs, sales processes, sales methodologies, and anything else that is relevant to sales success! Test and Optimize A sales strategy isn’t something you can “set and forget”. Your customers and their needs are constantly changing. And just like them, your approach to closing deals needs to grow and evolve. To optimize your sales strategy, you need to be rooted in data and analytics. If you want a better idea of where your business can go, you need to know where you’ve been. Find a sales engagement platform with robust reporting and automation features. Track the length of your sales cycle, the cost of customer acquisitions, conversions, open and reply rates, etc. For example, this is what your analytics dashboard would look like at Apollo: Tools like these, ones that provide you with in-depth and relevant data points, are what will help you adjust your sales strategy to the market and stay ahead of the competition! Sales Strategy Example You’ve gone through the 6-step framework, but sometimes it’s helpful to see things in action. Let’s look at an example of a company that has implemented killer sales strategies. Shopify Shopify is an e-commerce company that supports its clients in starting, growing, and managing their businesses. Merchants use Shopify to design, set up, and manage their stores across multiple sales channels, including mobile, web, social media, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops. Shopify set a record for reaching $1 billion in revenue faster than any other SaaS company, and today, the company is valued at over $20 billion dollars. So…how did they do it? By implementing a thoughtful, data-driven sales strategy, of course! Shopify’s sales reps used to manually log phone calls and emails in their CRM, consuming a total of 130 wasted hours a week across their sales force! So, Shopify adjusted its sales strategy and invested in data automation tools and a smart sales prospecting database. As you can imagine, this transformed their sales strategy. They instantly got access to hundreds of automation capabilities and the contact and business information of over 19 million prospects. Alongside their newly implemented data tools, they used the 4/5 Threshold to filter out unqualified leads. Shopify asked that their sales reps have a concrete answer to four out of the five questions before moving through the sales cycle: Pain: Is the prospective customer experiencing a prominent business issue or challenge that requires them to make a change?Power: Is the prospective customer directly involved with the decision-making process?Money: Does our offering fall within their budget constraints?Process: What is their buying process?Timeline: What stage are they at in the customer journey? Will they purchase within a reasonable timeframe? Now, this is just an example of the sales strategy tactics that worked for Shopify. No two sales strategies are (or should be) exactly alike! The key is taking the time to thoroughly understand your ideal buyer and put the processes in place that speak directly to those buyers and their needs. How to Use Apollo.io in your Sales Strategy A recent report shows that 76% of CEOs, across all industries, believe that their current business model will be unrecognizable in five years. When it comes to building and executing your sales plan, it’s no longer viable to rely on your sales reps’ manual input and unautomated sales processes. You need dependable data tools that can be personalized to work with and alongside your sales strategy and give you the right information, every time! As an all-in-one data tool that offers a 220-million-contact database, automation tools, data analytics and reporting, custom outbound personalization, and so much more, using Apollo to help you create and execute a successful sales strategy is an easy decision! Here are some immensely valuable things Apollo can contribute to your sales strategy… Saved Searches for your ICPs Remember how one of the earlier steps to building a successful sales strategy was to develop those ideal customer profiles? Well, Apollo allows you to convert the detailed descriptions of your ideal buyer directly into your prospecting searches! Let’s say your ideal customer profile is something along the lines of “an account manager located in the greater San Francisco area that is working at a banking or finance company that employs over 100 people” Using Apollo’s advanced filtering, your search could look something like this: By selecting Apply Filters, you’ll be given a list of all of the exact personas that fall directly within your ICP and all of their relevant information! How amazing is that? Automate Your Sales Process As we’ve established every sales strategy needs a rhythmic, repeatable sales process. Rhythmic and repeatable? That sounds like something sales automation can solve! Sales automation increases efficiency and productivity. According to McKinsey and Company, one-third of all sales tasks have the potential to be automated. Just imagine how productive your sales process could be if 33% of manual tasks done by salespeople were handled for them! It also helps prevent sales rep burnout and gives them the valuable energy to put elsewhere. Your sales strategy should never suffer due to time waste or human error. That’s why Apollo has all the tools to automate your sales process from end to end. From prospecting straight from LinkedIn with our Chrome Extension to directly receiving job change alerts the moment a potential customer has changed roles, your sales process can run more smoothly than ever with Apollo! Learn more about all the types of automation opportunities you have with Apollo. Execute Your Messaging Strategy with Rules Engine Apollo’s Rules Engine is a game-changing feature that allows you to carry out your messaging strategy perfectly, every time. Rules Engine optimizes your workflow by automatically carrying out specific actions based on conditions set by the user. These automated actions can take place after a “trigger” event or on a recurring schedule, based on the ‘Rule Type’ selected. In other words…you decide exactly what you want to happen and when! Let’s say you want your customers to receive a weekly announcement email every Friday at 1 pm, or maybe you only want a single customer to receive it whenever their account is updated. All of this (and more!) is possible with Rules Engine. Apollo makes it possible for you to execute your ideal messaging strategy (an important part of your overarching sales plan) to communicate with the right people at the right time. Optimize with Apollo Analytics To have a successful sales strategy, you need to be learning and improving from your data. And Apollo provides you with all the real-time reporting tools you’ll ever need. Our Analytics feature provides you with both customizable and pre-built reports. You can measure anything within the Apollo app, from individual and team performance to message effectiveness and ROI. Display related reports in fully customizable dashboards and share reports among team members for total transparency! With Analytics, you can answer any question you have about the effectiveness and performance of your sales strategy. Want to know a specific sales person’s success rates? A contact’s stage in the buying cycle? What about your average deal size on outbound sales? All of this and more are just a few clicks away! Whether or not your business is an enterprise or a startup, putting significant efforts into building, executing, and optimizing your sales strategy will never go unrewarded. At Apollo, we understand that preparation breeds success. By following our framework and integrating all the sales strategy tools we have to offer, your sales efforts will surely be a success. Try us out with a free account today! Karli Stone Karli Stone is copy writer and content creator living in Los Angeles, CA and a proud University of Washington grad. When she’s not wordsmith-ing, you can find her biking along Santa Monica Beach, following the Seattle Seahawks, or catching a flick at her local cinema.