HOW TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE SALES STRATEGY
A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim (Oxford Dictionary).You’ll find strategies everywhere, from business to board games to battles. One of the greatest naval commanders was Admiral Lord Nelson whose naval sales strategy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, destroyed Napoleon’s hopes of invading Britain.
Not content to just win the battle against the combined Spanish and French fleet, he devised a unique strategy to annihilate the enemy and remove any future threat to the British mainland. Despite having six fewer ships, the Royal Navy didn’t lose a single ship, compared to 22 that were lost on the Franco-Spanish side, in a comprehensive victory.
Just like Nelson’s strategy helped him win and achieve his overall aim of safeguarding Britain, an effective sales strategy will enable your sales team to succeed against your competitors. Even if they are larger and better resourced.
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The Importance of Having a Sales Strategy
It’s easy to get excited and charge ahead without a clear plan. You already have an idea about which prospects could use your company’s products and services and you want to start selling. However, this scattergun approach isn’t particularly effective and when everyone in the sales team is doing it, it’s downright chaotic!
If Nelson had have left it up to his individual captains to decide where their ship should attack and which enemy ships to engage, we’d now be talking about a decisive French and Spanish victory. Instead, by having a clear strategy, his captains knew exactly what to do and what the whole British fleet was trying to achieve. With your sales strategy, everyone understands what the priorities are, they have clear outcomes they can measure, guidelines they can follow, and know the goals they are working towards.
5 Key Parts of an Effective Sales Strategy
Vision and Goals
This is the “overall aim” part of the strategy defined in the introduction.
Nelson’s vision was to remove the threat of a French invasion. To achieve this, his goal, which led to the Battle of Trafalgar, was to destroy the French and Spanish fleets. Without a fleet, Napoleon had no way to reach Britain with his army.
So, what’s your company’s vision? What is it try to achieve in the future? From this, you can set revenue goals that align. What value of sales do you want to make in the next quarter? In the next year?
Unique Selling Points (USPs)
What sets your products and services apart from your competitors?
Since the British fleet was better trained and captained than the enemy, Nelson could trust them to carry out his strategy. And while the French and Spanish fleet boasted some of the largest warships in the world at the time, Nelson relied on the speed of his ships to quickly engage with the enemy line and minimize the time the enemy could fire on them.
This is extremely crucial. To be able to develop an effective strategy, you need to understand everything you possibly can about your target customers. Who are they? What are their pain points? Where do they live? What do they do? What are they interested in?
From the answers, create personas or customer profiles that accurately describe your ideal customers. Nelson knew the French Admiral didn’t trust the captains of his combined fleet and correctly anticipated that they would form up in a traditional line to impose the full force of their superior number of guns.
Now that you understand your target market, it’s time to work out your pitch. How are you going to speak to them, show you understand their pain points, and demonstrate you have a solution that will solve their pain?
The daring strategy that Nelson used to counter the Franco-Spanish line was to divide his force into two columns which sailed as quickly as possible towards the enemy.
The risk was until his columns reached the enemy lines, they could be shot at by the enemy broadsides without being able to reply. However, once they reached the line, they were able to split the French and Spanish line into three, preventing any ships from escaping and allowing their superior gunnery, seamanship, and morale to carry the day.
I’ve Devised a Sales Strategy, What’s Next?
Going back to the definition, a strategy is a “plan of action”.
So, the next step is to put it into action. Otherwise, it’s not a strategy! However, before you do implement it, you need to make sure everyone in your sales team knows, understands, and has bought into the strategy. Nelson needed his captains to carry out his strategy, he couldn’t do it on his own.
It’s at this action stage that your sales process comes in. The British ships had a process they followed for engaging an enemy ship in order to capture it. Your sales process is what you use to engage with and turn your target market into customers. You can find out more about why you need a sales process here.
But What If My Strategy Doesn’t Work?
If Nelson’s strategy hadn’t worked, we’d probably be living in a different world right now. The good thing is the stakes aren’t quite so high when it comes to your sales strategy. If it doesn’t work, the first step is to understand why, and the second to look at how you can adapt or improve it.
This is why it’s important to always measure how you are tracking against the goals and outcomes you’ve set.
No strategy is perfect, after all, Nelson was shot during the battle and died not long after its conclusion! But an effective sales strategy can make the difference between your sales team succeeding and failing in a competitive marketplace.
Without a clear, well-thought-out sales strategy for your sales team to unite behind, you’re going to struggle. In a competitive market, an effective strategy can level the playing field and set you and your team up for success.
An effective sales strategy starts with your company’s vision and your team’s goals to achieve this. It understands your target market and how your products and services are different from your competitors. This information is used to create a compelling pitch that will convert your target market into profitable paying customers.
Finally, you need to take action – putting your strategy to work and adjusting if necessary. If you’d like to discuss how you can create a sales strategy that will transform your company’s bottom line, you can get in touch with one of our sales experts here.
Sharn Piper – CEO
M: +64 27 733 4333