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It's no secret that a well-executed sales strategy is critical to a company's success. However, crafting a winning sales strategy can be difficult - especially if you don't have a clear plan in place. That's where strategic planning comes in.
Strategic planning is a systematic way of looking at an organization's future and developing the best course of action to attain that future. If you want your business to grow and be successful, then you need to have a strategic plan in place.
But what does that mean for sales?
Well, your sales strategy needs to be aligned with your overall business strategy.
In this blog post, we'll discuss how to leverage strategic planning to build a winning sales strategy. Let's get started!
What is strategic planning?
There are many definitions for strategic planning, but the one I use is a time during which the management team detaches itself from the day-to-day operations of the company to take a step back and work on the medium and long-term strategic vision.
The objective is to work on the vision to develop the company so that short-term actions make sense and fit into the medium and long-term strategic vision.
Typically in strategic planning, companies set overall goals and develop a plan to achieve them. The 3 main questions that need to be answered are:
How is the company doing?
- Current situation
- Strengths, weaknesses
Where do you want to take the company?
- 3 or 5 year target
- Vision and mission
What is the plan to achieve this?
- Strategic priorities
- Challenges to overcome
- Financing and resources
Strategic planning usually takes place outside of the company, in a neutral and supportive setting to detach from the daily grind. This is why it is often referred to as a strategic retreat.
What is the purpose of strategic planning?
At a high level, strategic planning aims to define objectives and the action plan to achieve them. This planning can have different focuses:
- Review the business model
- Work on values
- Update the mission and vision
- Develop a specific market
- Launch a new product line
The focus of your strategic planning should be well defined before you begin the exercise.
What method should be used to conduct strategic planning?
There are several approaches or tools for undertake strategic planning:
This business model canvas provides a visual representation of how a company creates, delivers and captures value. The reflection proposed by this matrix focuses on 9 elements.
This tool allows you to conduct a structured reflection on the target customer's profile, concerns and aspirations and to create a value proposition aligned with these elements.
Source: Business Models inc.
The power of a of the one-page strategic plan is that it makes it easy for everyone in the company to know where they are going and what they need to do to get there, without getting bogged down in an overly complex business plan.
Source: Gazelles Growth Institute
The EOS model provides a visual illustration of the six key components of any business that must be managed and strengthened. This model is applicable to both large and small companies in any industry.
Source: EOS Worldwide
How often should I do strategic planning?
The time frame for strategic planning will vary depending on the company.
The sector of activity is one of the criteria that influence the frequency.
For example, for companies in the construction industry, the strategy will have a longer life span than for companies in information technology (IT) for example.
The level of maturity and stage of growth of the company will also have an impact on the frequency of strategic planning. For example, organizations in hypergrowth will have a higher frequency of strategic planning retreats than mature organizations.
How to use strategic planning to build the sales strategy?
Sales and marketing are very important in strategic planning.
At the end of strategic planning, leaders generally identify sales as a priority. However, the strategic elements to act on at the sales level are not defined. The line of thinking sometimes stops at "We want to increase sales by 20%".
Several elements of the sales strategy stem from the corporate strategy. These must therefore be incorporated and taken into account in the sales strategy:
- Value proposition: what will make a client willing to pay more to work with you?
- Ideal client profile: type of company, role of decision makers, geography, company size...
- Positioning: on quality, expertise, service, price or a combination of factors.
All of these elements must be clearly defined, otherwise growth efforts may be hindered by a lack of focus.
Indeed, when it comes to sales performance, focus is a key element for success. Defining these strategic elements and making choices is therefore necessary to bring results.
5 elements of the sales strategy and sales model to be defined
The key to defining the sales strategy and sales model is to have consistency between the elements that will be covered below.
1. The structure of the sales department
To achieve business goals, the sales organization must be properly structured.
What type of sales structure do you need?
- Sales team by market
- Sales team by product
- Sales team by role (hunters, account managers...)
- A combination of structures
In your sales strategy, you need to ensure that your organization will be structured to serve your markets and customers in a cost-effective manner.
2. Sales processes
Sales processes depend on what you are selling and to whom. The sales process tells you what you need to do to sell.
The sales process addresses the following points:
- What are the steps to make a sale and milestones to reach
- What to do at each stage
- Who is involved at what point
- What activities move the opportunity closer to closing
- What criteria move opportunities to the next stage
Working on the sales strategy is an opportunity to review sales processes and optimize them so that they can support the achievement of objectives.
3. Sales team compensation
Often treated more as a Human Resources issue, compensation is a key element of the sales strategy.
An effective compensation plan will provide incentives for activities and results that are aligned with the sales strategy and key results.
This does not mean that the compensation plan is the same for all team members. Effective compensation will take several factors into account and provide options for employees to choose the level of risk versus the level of reward.
4. The sales message
Translating the value proposition into the sales message is a key part of the sales strategy.
This helps to get the right kind of conversations, generate quality
opportunities and convert them into sales. An effective sales message conveys the value of the product, service or solution and of the company in connection with customer issues.
This sales message must be well applied in communications with prospects and customers.
5. The sales technology dimension
Today, the technology component of sales and marketing is highly strategic. Not only is it essential to define where sales opportunities should come from, but you also need to implement technologies to accelerate the creation of those opportunities and their management.
Whether it is with a marketing automation plateform, a CRM and all other relevant technologies, you need to strategize about how to integrate them into the growth plan.
Align and create consistency in sales strategy
To implement an effective sales strategy, you must not address these elements in silos, but as a whole. You have to connect all the elements and see how each piece of the puzzle influences the rest.
The main challenge for business leaders and executives is to align these elements.
That's where we come in to help business leaders ensure that their strategic planning translates into a sales strategy and model that are aligned.
Have you done your strategic planning yet? The next step is to turn your sales strategy into reality and define the plan to execute it. If you are looking for strategic consulting at this stage, contact our experts.