Savvy business executives understand that sales aren’t just about selling – it is about positioning and planning to ensure long-term success. An effective sales model has always laid the framework for a go-to-market strategy across all areas of the business. However, sales models today vary substantially from their historical counterparts.
Modern businesses face more rapid change and more complex logistics than ever before, which means their sales models have to follow in stride. Traditional sales models are failing to keep pace with the number of potential buyer touchpoints that B2C and B2B businesses manage.
Today’s sales model must be strategic in nature – integrating sales, marketing, distribution, and promotional considerations.
This checklist will help you align business functions with the end goal of a strategic sales model in mind:
- Sales Funnel
- Buyer Journey
- Buyer Personas
- Customer Profiles
- Sales Tools
- CRM Data
- Unique Differentiators
- Product Details
- Plans for Innovation
- Org Chart
- Sales Goals
Documented Sales Funnel
How does your organization move buyers from the awareness stage to the purchase and re-purchase stage? Is this process methodically cataloged?
Most businesses understand how their existing resources and tools aid in transitioning prospects between stages. However, without documenting the sales funnel process, it’s impossible to scale operations across product lines and interest groups.
A detailed sales funnel helps to identify gaps in content, misaligned positioning, inadequate training, and other weak spots. These shortcomings serve as areas for improvement across not only sales functions but also marketing.
Clear Buyer Journey
Evaluating the sales funnel from a buyer’s perspective gives a clear picture of a typical journey before they buy.
Which touchpoints do prospects encounter before buying, while buying, and after buying? How long do they spend with each? How do they perceive the resources and tools available to them?
These questions are essential to understanding the buyer’s journey for your most valuable demographics. Connecting their needs, expectations, and experiences gives your organization the chance to tailor the experience for them which results in more conversions.
Formulated Buyer Personas
Buyer personas allow organizations to outline and organize key buyer segment traits across demographics and psychographics. The surveys, focus groups, and other market research used to gather valuable consumer information form the basis of buyer persona assumptions, which aim to understand their buying patterns. The result is a semi-fictional depiction of your company’s buyer segments that allows analysis of assumed needs and wants while aiming to predict future behavior. This actionable model can inform sales and marketing decisions with the customer in mind.
While buyer personas are valuable tools across sales and marketing, they also have some noteworthy limitations. Developing a strategic sales model requires a more dynamic look at consumer behavior that can closely mimic true buyer behavior instead of intent, which is where customer profiles thrive.
Ideal Customer Profiles
Customer profiles assume less and test more – resulting in ongoing learning about potential customers.
Much like buyer personas, organizations develop customer profiles to better understand the needs of those who will use their product or service. Unlike buyer personas, customer profiles aim to illustrate the changing needs of consumer segments more accurately to create a reliable, ever-evolving behavior model.
Dynamic customer profiles detail consumer pain points, limitations, and goals to arm organizations with the tools that they need to solve consumers’ problems, overcome barriers, and share success.
Sales tools like sophisticated CRM (customer relationship management) systems, sales kits, and sales-oriented content make sales representatives’ jobs easier. Effective sharing and utilization of these resources fuels organizational growth, which is why they should be updated regularly and maintained properly.
Functional CRM Data
A CRM platform stores a plethora of customer information and data, which is both a pro and a con. Some systems contain far more data than the average organization needs, making it hard to find functional data to drive decision-making. Others do a poor job of tracking the metrics that matter most to your business.
The best CRM systems provide access to important data, such as:
- Purchase history (including the total amount of a customer’s lifetime value)
- Engagement in the form of email click-throughs, site visits, help desk tickets submitted, etc.
- Company feedback from online reviews and ratings, survey results, complaints, etc.
- Customer location, interests, and preferences
Rich CRM data gives a complete picture of each consumer to better segment them for more targeted sales and marketing efforts.
Does your CRM provide the data to track your KPIs (key performance indicators) as well? KPIs will vary by industry and individual organization, but regardless of which metrics make the most sense for your business, ensure that you have the right tools to accurately track them. Once you have historical data, you can analyze changes over time in relation to specific sales and marketing efforts to identify areas where there is correlation.
Knowing what makes your organization special is crucial to the sales process.
An organization’s sales strategy does not occur in a vacuum. Buyers are always evaluating other options, which means your product or service must go beyond basic needs – it must also be better than everything else available. Convincing a potential buyer to choose you over a competitor hinges on proving that your solution is better on important criteria.
A strategic sales model relies on a deep understanding of all product variables from inventory levels to manufacturing and shipping lead times. The interplay between these crucial details and your sales strategy is something that organizations often overlook when business groups are too siloed. However, without aligning these factors, sales teams can end up promising what they can’t deliver and customer satisfaction can suffer as a result.
Which pricing model are you using currently? Will you maintain this pricing strategy indefinitely, or will it evolve as your offerings do? Will you segment prices by product line, region, or other criteria? What will the market bear?
These pricing questions are essential for executing a successful sales strategy. Pricing is the one variable that organizations of all sizes struggle with throughout their lifecycles, which is why business consultants pay so much attention to these details.
Create a list of competitors for each product line and elaborate on how their offerings differ from yours. Be honest in your assessment of how your offerings compare and explore which strategies and tactics they’re using to win new business.
Do a full competitive analysis for your biggest competition and update it regularly to reflect changes in their strategies as well as market changes that can affect the entire industry.
Looking at your entire organization and the competitive landscape that surrounds it, perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. Understanding where your company is succeeding as well as falling short of expectations provides a road map and aids in prioritizing internal initiatives. Similarly, identifying areas where your organization can take steps forward as well as areas where its existing position is under attack helps shape strategic decision-making.
Plans for Innovation
What is coming next for your organization? What needs to occur before that change can happen? How far down the pipeline is it? Does your innovation mirror (or lead) the industry?
Once you know where your organization is headed, you can plan for innovation. Align business teams to prepare for and drive change together to create a stronger organization that grows together.
Expandable Org Chart
As your organization grows, your staffing needs will expand as well. A detailed org chart identifies who reports to whom and where frictionless expansion can occur. Fitting new personnel into an expandable organizational chart is easier than creating a new reporting hierarchy with every major hire (especially at change-resistant organizations).
How will you quantify success? What kind of timeframe do you expect? What are your monthly and yearly goals? How will you respond if you don’t hit a goal? How will you respond if you exceed your goals?
A crucial component to any sales model is setting milestones and a destination that you want to reach. Planning strategically will get you to your end goal faster and more effectively than figuring it out as you go because it will serve as an organizational guiding vision that influences everything from hiring and investing decisions to project prioritization.
Once you’ve completed this checklist, you’ll have the right elements in place for a strategic sales strategy that’s comprehensive, cohesive, and most importantly actionable!
We work with companies of all sizes that need help developing and executing sales strategies for today’s complex market demands. Contact us here to learn how we can help take your organization to market more effectively and grow profitable revenue.