A B2B sales strategy is essential to achieving business growth. Without a steady stream of revenue and a continually expanding client base, you cannot hope to propel your business forward. When you’re new to business, or you’ve been in the world of sales for many years, sometimes it helps to strip it all back and start again. These steps can help you do just that, guiding you through six easy processes that help you outline the ultimate strategy.
Step 1: Define your business mission
You can’t make a strategy without a goal. Start by asking, what does my business want to achieve? Why do we need to make sales? What are our growth targets for this year and next year? Define the answers to these questions and establish exactly what this strategy is expected to deliver over certain periods of time. This helps you understand the intricacy your strategy must have and assess its required ability to grow.
From this mission, you can start to identify your sales goals. Make sure these goals are SMART, following this format:
S – Specific- What exactly is the goal?
M – Measurable- How do you plan to measure this goal? What metrics will you need to calculate this number?
A – Achievable – Is it possible for you to achieve this goal?
R – Relevant- Is this goal aligned with your sales objectives and overall business mission?
T – Time-based- How long do you have to achieve this goal? Is it ongoing? In which case, how should it progress over time?
Once you have these goals properly established and documented, move onto the next step…
Step 2: Outline how you will meet these numbers
You’ve got the why and the what, now you need the how. What tactics and techniques will you use to reach these numbers? At this step you need to outline your sales pipeline, identifying the stages each potential buyer will move through to become a client. Ask yourself:
- What approaches will you use to capture new business opportunities? (Cold calling, social selling, email marketing, Lead Forensics)
- How will you qualify these opportunities? (Qualifying criteria, questioning)
- How will you nurture them? (Automated workflows, content, multi-channel communication)
- How will you get them over the line? (Business proposal, negotiation, deals and offers)
All these answers start to flesh out your strategy in helping you understand the how. Every sales approach is different, and your buyers will be very specific about what they expect from your team. Working through these questions ensures you implement the approaches best suited to your team, your buyers and your offering. If you’re struggling, our free whitepaper on B2B sales might help, or our blog feed is full of expert ideas!
Step 3: Identify the kinds of resources you need
Once you’ve established what processes you’re going to use to capture and convert leads, you can start to understand what resources you will need to make them a reality. Some pieces of kit are essential to B2B sales, such as a CRM and effective phone systems. And as we live in the 21st century, they’ll be plenty more software solutions out there you can use to benefit your approach.
Work through each stage of your pipeline and make a list of all the possible resources your team may need. Sort these resources into categories based on their level of importance. This helps you know which ones you need to purchase or source before implementing the strategy, and which ones can be added to the mix later. This makes the next step much easier!
Top tip: It’s also good to consider headcount at this stage of planning, asking how many team members will be needed to meet your business goals. Take time to understand your current sales success, outlining key metrics such as close rates. This will help you understand how many new opportunities are needed to achieve a certain number of sales. From here, you can outline how many team members you will need to produce and convert these opportunities. Be careful not to take on a larger headcount than you need; it’s easier to remove a tool or software from your strategy than it is to remove a person!
Step 4: Set a budget
Budget is vitally important and should always be considered when building a strategy. If your strategy is not cost-effective, you’ll find it very difficult to make any money! Work through the resources you outlined as essential, along with your proposed headcount costs to understand how much this strategy will cost. Analyze these numbers in relation to your revenue targets and possible return on investment.
This is the most grueling part of the strategy building process and can often take some time! You may find that you need to back-track to the second step and rethink some of your approaches to be more cost-effective. Or you may need to readdress that list of resources and ask what is really essential.
Although this takes some time, it’s an essential part of planning and will be immensely beneficial in the long-run. A cost-effective strategy is more likely to aid business growth and deliver a consistent result. Be sure to also consider contingency plans- how much budget will you have left each month in case something goes wrong? Should a member of your team go sick, can you afford a temp? Or can you afford to lose the possible revenue they would generate?
Step 5: Plan a reporting and auditing approach
It’s all very well having a winning sales strategy, but if you have no way to monitor its progress, there’s no way to know whether it’s delivering the right results or how to improve it. Reporting and auditing is a fundamental part of business success. Do not neglect this in your sales strategy!
Understand how you will measure your sales success. What metrics will you consider? How often will these be measured? Will you use these metrics to set KPIs? This ensures you are always able to track your results back to that overall business mission and the target you set at the start.
It’s equally important to consider how often you’ll review your sales strategy and aim to implement changes. Will you keep this process in motion for 3/6/12 months before asking “How can we make this better”? There’s no “right answer” here- how often you undergo an auditing process is completely up to you. Depending on the length of your sales cycle, it may take a good few months to get a new strategy completely in motion. Allow some time to pass before conducting your first audit to ensure you gain insightful results representative of your new strategy.
Don’t forget: It’s also important to outline who will be responsible for this data’s collection, documentation and analysis. It can be the job of your sales managers, or you could look to hire an analyst/advisor who has more time to work through these numbers and convert findings into action plans for future development.
Step 6: Introduce your team
After completing these steps, your strategy is now ready to be introduced to your team. Be sure to talk them through each step and help them understand your decisions. They need to know what the business expects of them, and they also need to know what their daily lives will look like.
6 in 10 salespeople dislike changing their processes, so it may be difficult to help them understand your motives behind strategic developments. This also means you may feel some initial resistance to your strategy- so stick to your guns! You’ve ultimately made these decisions to benefit the business and increase the success of your sales team. You could even realign your team’s incentive structure to better match new strategies encouraging them to commit fully to the change.
Make sure your team understands that you don’t expect them to adapt overnight. Try opening a discussion surrounding a transition period, helping your team welcome new approaches and adjust their old techniques. A lot of sales behavior is developed through habit. Prepare yourself for initial numbers to be lower as your team adjusts.
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