If your team suffers from the same challenge, you can take steps to reverse this trend with great sales leadership and strategy.
How to Lead a Sales Team to Success
Leading your sales team with sales strategy means understanding what is possible in the market and knowing what your team needs from you and how to coach them to success. Here are seven steps you can take as a sales leader.
Step #1: Establish a clear vision and explain to salespeople how they fit into it.
It’s common for sales leaders to set a vision. But, unless you tie that vision to daily selling activities, salespeople won’t be as invested in achieving that vision.
When your sales team has a clear understanding of the company vision and how the team fits into it, they will be more confident in the direction you are going and how they can support it. To set a vision, ask the following questions:
- Why does your company exist?
- Who will your customers be?
- What problem do you solve?
- How do you solve it?
- What makes you special?
- How do you want to grow?
- How big will your company be?
- How do you ideally want to be perceived by the world?
Step #2: Understand how your offerings fit into the competitive landscape.
Positioning changes when the market changes. When your competitive environment changes, create a new strategy and give your team the knowledge it needs to address the strategy with customers. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do you fit in the competitive landscape?
- Does your offering present a practical solution to customers?
- Are you the future?
- Are you a socially conscious choice?
- Are you the customer-service leader?
Step #3: Articulate a winning value proposition.
Your value proposition answers four core questions: 1) What problem do you solve? 2) Who do you solve it for? 3) How do you solve it? and 4) What makes that a better option for this buyer?
It is not your sales reps’ job to figure out the value proposition. Leadership is better able to determine what problem your customers have, how you solve it, and why your solution is best. If you leave it to your sales team members, they will struggle to make something up. Your customers will probably walk away with an unclear answer, and your salespeople will have a harder time making the sale. It’s best if leaders and marketing take the lead on crafting and articulating a winning value proposition.
Step #4: Create your ideal customer profile and prospecting target list.
Be strategic about prospecting. Don’t let your sales team decide on its own which companies to target. Instead, define your ideal customer profiles, then give your sales team a list of targets to pursue.
Your ideal customer is the company that’s the best fit for your offering and delivery system. You can define ideal prospects by size, industry, buying process, their current software systems, or any number of other things that will determine how easy it will be to sell to them and how effective your solution will be for them.
Avoid prospects who don’t fit your ideal customer profile; they’ll be more difficult to sell to and will likely pose unnecessary challenges when it comes to implementation. Focus on customers who will likely need to buy more from you in the future.
Make a strategic target list of companies that meet your ideal customer profile – customers you want your sales reps to pursue or grow. Give each sales rep a manageable list to pursue. Let them know these are the priorities.
Step #5: Create a practical action plan for success.
To achieve a big, strategic vision, you need a practical action plan. Look at what you did last year; then, determine where to go from there. Break down your plan into a series of manageable goals and clear targets. Then, make sure your team knows your priorities.
Here are some other valuable planning tips:
- Determine the overall goal and the best way to achieve it.
- Determine which companies to focus on growing and how much to grow them – even what products to focus on selling them.
- Think about which sectors or verticals you want to sell to.
- Determine how much of which products to sell.
- Think about each region and each sales rep and determine how much potential there is and what capacity you must meet the goals you are setting.
Step #6: Understand how lead generation ties to your revenue goals.
The lead generation process is critical to hitting your revenue goals. You should know the answers to these key questions:
- How many prospects do you need to have in the top of the funnel to close the number of deals you have at the bottom?
- What is your lead-to-close ratio?
To hit your goals, you need to keep the qualified leads flowing. Coach your team so the leads keep moving through the funnel. Be sure to continue to prioritize qualified leads that are likely to close.
Work with marketing to determine the best sources of leads and make sure marketing knows exactly what they are expected to deliver from each activity. (For instance, if you are going to a trade show, you need a plan for getting a certain number of qualified leads from the show.)
Step #7: Create individual sales plans and coach to them.
Sales coaching is necessary to keep salespeople on track and provide support to overcome common selling challenges.
Every salesperson needs a plan to hit revenue goals. Help them create a plan for finding new opportunities, growing existing accounts, leveraging referrals, and moving things through the funnel. Coaching can help them achieve success.
I like to start by understanding not just what my goal is for each sales rep, but what their goal is for themselves. Then, I help them plot out a plan to reach their goals – including how they will spend their time, which accounts to grow, and which leads in their funnel to prioritize – and help them identify measures of success along the way.
While there are lots of strategies your salespeople can use to close more deals, your overall sales strategy is the critical piece to positioning your team for success.
A version of this post appeared originally at https://aliceheiman.com/this-is-how-to-use-sales-strategy-for-success/.
A strategic thinker, sales strategist, Japanist, and Rotarian, Liz Heiman is a coach, trainer, and prolific speaker on the topics of sales and sales leadership. Liz loves sales, and enjoys working with sales leaders to create strategies and processes that make sense and bring in results. Get a complimentary sales strategy consultation with her at https://SalesTalk.as.me/strategytuneup.