What makes a sales team great?
Is it ambitious team members?
Inspirations sales leaders?
Advanced technological tools?
Great office perks?
The best sales teams in the world probably have all these factors, but each doesn’t guarantee success in sales. Most are the result of another, much broader fact:
Great sales teams are strategic.
Of course, some success comes from taking a tactical approach to sales. Many businesses skip the strategy and sell their products or services wherever and whenever they can. But if you want to take your team to another level, you need to make the move from tactical to strategic sales. In this guide, we provide you with key actions to take to successfully execute this transition.
Create a vision
Every strategy needs a vision, goal, or mission, that is clearly defined and communicated. Defining this will provide two crucial elements in forming a strategic approach to sales.
- Your strategy should outline what you are trying to achieve. This needs to be more specific than ‘to make more sales’ and should tie into the bigger vision of the business.
- Your vision should provide team members with direction. This direction will act as a powerful motivational tool, reminding them of exactly why they do what they do. It will also support them in decision making—they can quickly reference an opportunity and understand its impact on the vision.
Your vision should be easy to understand and well-communicated. One way to do this is to print the vision statement and posting it up on a common wall. Remote teams can have a document available to all employees on a shared drive or posted on the company’s internal site.
Example: If your business vision is to be the most popular London hotel for Asian tourists, your sales vision may be to develop strong and profitable relationships with key travel agents in Asia.
Define key targets
Developing a more comprehensive vision for your sales team will allow you to become more strategic in your approach.
Tracking these targets gives your team Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Example: Defining targets means you should break down which travel agents you plan on targeting to get more Asian tourists. This may involve a combination of setting up regular meetings, attending key events and briefing the marketing team on where to focus their efforts.
Cut out the noise
Creating a vision will also help you focus your strategic sales resources into areas that will benefit your business.
Looking back at our hotel example, a tactical sales approach may see the sales team targeting travel agents from across the globe. Although this will likely result in some sales, it will not help you create momentum in one strategic direction.
Taking a strategic approach with a focused vision will give you a clear direction. This means you can easily define which opportunities are viable and suitable.
Example: A more strategic sales process would have the team specifically targeting travel agents in Asia who would be booking trips for the Asian travelers that the London hotel is trying to attract.
Evaluate strengths & weaknesses
All businesses have different ways of approaching sales depending on their size, industry, position, and ambition.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your process and sales team will help you take a more efficient approach to strategic sales.
Example: Regularly audit your sales process and monitor your team through appraisals and feedback loops.
Teamwork is the cornerstone of all successful, strategic sales teams—each member of your team brings different benefits, skills, and value in the pursuit of your vision.
Encouraging teamwork can be tricky within sales teams where security and success are based on individual achievements.
Taking a strategic sales approach involves balancing individual competitiveness with the benefits of working within a team. A culture of teamwork works when expectations are communicated clearly and are rewarded.
The structure of a sales organization can inherently make individuals competitive, especially since salespeople work on commission. Setting up a sales compensation structure that incentivizes teamwork can help balance a great culture with sales commissions.
Example: Teach your team that individual wins are company wins and vice versa. Consider using team targets, and encourage team members to share their successes and champion one another. You can do this on a dedicated Slack channel or in a sales success round-up email.
Excellent communication will strengthen your strategic approach to sales in every area.
Providing team members with relevant communication tools will allow them to work better as a team and achieve more. These tools can also facilitate communication within the organization.
Communication needs to be strong in every aspect including:
- Internal communication between management and sales team
- Internal communication between members of the sales team
- Internal communication between sales and other teams
- External communication from the sales team to prospects
- External communication to customers and handoff after a sale is made
For internal teams to communicate effectively, mutual channels should be decided and everyone needs to be on the same page for how and when to use the channels.
Example: The TextExpander team uses Slack for conversational communication, and Google Meet for video conferencing. Finding the right channels that work for your team and sticking to them is crucial for good internal team communication.
On the other hand, external communication is often driven by the prospect or customer. By taking the time to understand how your current and desired customers want to communicate, you will quickly build strong relationships and close more sales.
Example: A group of your prospects are in a group on LinkedIn and participate in conversation often, so you have some members of the sales team also join the group to show they can hold their own in a conversation in their industry.
Sales and communication tools can help you better structure your internal and external communications and work more effectively.
The strategic sales advantage
The move from tactical to strategic sales is a powerful way to secure the future success of your business. This approach means your sales team can focus on serving those who can help you achieve your vision. This allows you to build a stronger brand and further strengthen your position in the market.
Is your sales team taking the right steps toward becoming more strategic? Here’s a checklist:
- Find what you’re striving for—have a mission, vision, and goal outlined so you know the “why” behind your actions.
- Define who your target audience is—focusing on a particular target can help you personalize your sales approach and gain more customers.
- Focus your energy where it will make the most impact—with set goals, you can hone in on actions that move the needle.
- Know where you stand—understanding your strengths and weaknesses in the market helps you understand where you shine and where you need work.
- Get your team in place and in sync—the highest functioning teams work together, not against each other.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate—get the right channels in place to foster team and customer communication on every level.
What steps has your sales team taken toward becoming more strategic?