Sales leaders are under more pressure than ever. Not only are we expected to hit sales targets amid a tough economic climate, we’re also called on to run a predictable revenue organization in a time of great uncertainty.
What’s more, burnout among sales teams is high—89% of B2B sellers recently surveyed by Gartner reported feeling burnt out from work, citing a disconnect from leadership as a major reason.
So what’s a sales leader to do? Build an effective sales strategy.
It may seem like a shockingly simple — and obvious — suggestion for a complex problem, but the truth is, too many of today’s sales leaders are trying to tread water without any kind of sales strategy in place. With the right one, it’s possible to predictably create and close more pipeline — and empower sales teams in the process. Here, I’ll walk you through my approach:
Every sales strategy needs a solid starting point. In other words, you need to identify how and where your current sales strategy is preventing you from achieving your goals.
Maybe your deals are getting lost in a sea of stakeholder approvals. Maybe your reps aren’t reaching out to the right prospects. Maybe your sales enablement materials aren’t a good fit for the specific buyers you’re going after. To identify these gaps accurately, you need to ask the right questions.
I recommend asking the following questions to get a good feel for where you’re starting from:
Once you’ve answered these questions honestly and with as much detail as possible, it’s time to group your answers by focus and priority. The key to an effective sales strategy is consistency, and clearly organizing and ranking your problems will help you build a strategy that’s consistent in its focus and tactics. Ultimately, this step will help you build the foundation for a healthier sales process.
The right sales strategy will help your team do two things: create and close pipeline. The goals you set as a sales leader should do the same.
In Step 1, you laid the groundwork necessary to understand where your team is starting from. You also organized and prioritized each of your problems. Now it’s time to use that list of prioritized problems to set goals.
The goals you set for your team should be specific and tactical and eliminate ambiguity.
Your list of goals should be as specific as the list of problems you created in Step 1. It’s not enough to tell your team to “do more.” Each goal should be tied to a priority that will either help to create or close more pipeline.
Your goals also need to be tactical. For example, do you know exactly how many people need to be put into a sequence to get to your pipeline number? You should. When you do, it’s easy to hold your team accountable with crystal-clear expectations they can tie to their own performance.
It’s one thing to give your teams specific goals, and it’s another to show them how to achieve them. You can’t give your reps a number to hit and then expect them to figure it out for themselves.
Coach your reps on how they’ll reach the goals you’ve set for them. This requires specific, frequent feedback and conversations. You should be able to coach your reps through which motions can help them both create and close more pipeline.
Understanding where your sales team is starting from and which goals they should be achieving is a great start to building an effective sales strategy. Now it’s time to put that strategy into practice by creating more pipeline.
When your team creates more qualified leads, they’re less likely to lose them later on in the sales cycle.
Driving an effective sales strategy means keeping a close eye on prospecting efforts to amplify what works and iterate on what doesn’t. Using a tool like Outreach’s Sales Execution Report helps you do exactly that.
Using a report like this helps me assess all prospecting efforts in one single view, so I can understand team performance for any given timeframe.
The final stretch of a solid sales strategy? Closing more deals. Coaching your team to do this requires a different set of problem-solving skills than creating pipeline. Here’s how you can help.
Don’t wait for problems to surface to solve them. I use Outreach’s conversation intelligence solution to search recorded meetings by topic, call trends, or call insights, allowing me to intervene early if a deal is going south. For example, a major indicator of whether a deal is going to close is discussing next steps. When you listen to your team’s calls, are they touching on next steps in the last five minutes? If not, coach them toward that. I also look at mutual action plans in Outreach to monitor deal progress. Lastly, deal health insights in Outreach let me quickly see where my sellers’ deals have risks, and help me coach them with the right actions to take to get back on track.
I spend the first half hour of every morning going through all of my team’s existing opportunities in Outreach and identifying next steps (or creating them if they don’t exist yet). With the deal grid in Outreach, I can investigate if my team has enough early-stage pipeline, if I have deals that are stalled in the middle, and other key details to continue tracking. Setting aside this time to make a clear plan for the rest of the day sets the tone and ensures nothing falls by the wayside.
Your sales strategy is only as good as the sales tech stack that you’re leveraging. To ensure that every action your team takes is consistently building pipeline without sacrificing deal velocity or pipeline conversion rates, you need a single source of truth. Investing in an AI-powered sales execution platform gives you a complete picture of the entire sales cycle so you can effectively implement your sales strategy to create and close more pipeline.
Interested in learning more about the latest capabilities from Outreach? Learn how to leverage Outreach as the only complete platform for all selling activities this October in Seattle. Visit the Unleash 2023 event page to see the full agenda, keynote speakers, and special events!