The 3-Step Sales Strategy

The 3-Step Sales Strategy

Step 1: Sales Planning

The planning step helps you develop sales and data plans that will allow the organization to make the number. You will know what data you need along the way to help you make decisions. With the right plans in place, you improve your chances of success.


Phase 1: Markets

Understand the playing field completely.

The Problem

Growing revenues faster than the industry and competitors is hard. Market intuition is not enough. Science needs to be applied to find hidden revenue growth opportunities. Deciding whether to add headcount or get more out of the existing sales team requires a deep understanding as to where the growth is going to come from.

The Solution

  • Market segment definitions
  • Market attractiveness criteria
  • Market adjacency identification
  • Market share
  • Total available market
  • Market problem analysis (frequency, pain, willingness to fix)
  • Product win strategy

Phase 2: Accounts

Go after accounts that are going to spend a lot this year and avoid those that are not.

The Problem

Not all accounts are created equally. Some will spend a little, and others will spend a lot. Some will spend this year, and others will spend next year. Some will respond well to your value proposition and others will respond well to your competitor’s value proposition. If you cannot rank accounts best to worst on revenue potential and propensity to buy, you will miss the number.

The Solution

  • Ideal customer profiles
  • Customer acquisition cost by product
  • Customer lifetime value by product
  • Account potential
  • Account scoring
  • A propensity to buy formula by product

Phase 3: Buyers

Understand how executives make purchase decisions.

The Problem

Executives are changing the way they make purchase decisions. Some are altering their evaluation criteria. Others are involving more people in the decision-making process. Some are changing their preferences for how they want to engage with your sales team. Decentralized decision-making is becoming centralized, and centralized decisions are now being made regionally. And on and on. Failure to exactly understand how executives are buying will prevent you from growing revenue.

The Solution

  • Buyer personas
  • Buying process maps
  • Buyer value chain analysis
  • Critical success factors


Step 2: Engagement

The engagement step is where you define how the sales team interacts with prospects and customers. This begins with prospecting to generate early-stage buyer interest. Even if you are supported by a world-class marketing team, the reality is that sales will still need to source at least 50% to 70% of your opportunities. This process definition continues through the sales process. The sales process must match the way buyers turn their initial interest in a decision to buy.


Phase 4: Prospecting

Fill the funnel with real sales opportunities.

The Problem

Marketing is going to contribute ~30% of the pipeline, which means sales need to generate ~70% of the sales opportunities. Pipeline per rep varies too much without a standard prospecting process used by all. Lead quality and lead-to-opportunity conversion rates suffer when prospecting is left up to each individual sales rep.

The Solution

  • Critical success factors
  • Prospecting process:
    • Social selling program
    • Referral generation program
    • Offline prospecting program
    • Certification process
    • Gamification methodology

Phase 5: Sales Process

Win more deals. Win bigger deals. Faster.

The Problem

Standard one-size-fits-all sales methodologies no longer work. The competitors can license the same sales methodologies from the same vendors you can, so there is no competitive advantage to be had by adopting the latest sales methodology from the sales training industry. To increase deal sizes, improve win rates and shorten sales cycles, you need to adopt a custom, proprietary sales process/methodology.

The Solution

  • Buyer process maps
  • Sales methodology
  • Sales playbook job aides
  • Technology implementation plan
  • Certification program including:
    • Reinforcement plan
    • Certification process
    • Awards
  • Gamification program
  • Dashboards for sales reps, managers, and executives

Phase 6: Organizational Design

Determine the right number of “feet on the street,” what type of reps you need, and the best organizational chart for you.

The Problem

Too few reps and you will miss the revenue number. Too many reps and you will destroy profits. Hire field reps when you need inside reps and frustrate the customers. Organize in a hunter farmer model when you need industry verticals or product specialists and the revenue goal will be harder to hit than it needs to be.

The Solution

  • Sales organization design assessment
  • Buyer value chain analysis
  • Optimal Structure Design and org chart
  • Roles and responsibilities by role
  • Top-down and bottom-up headcount model
  • Time study
  • Headcount plan by role
  • Pro forma revenue and cost model
  • Rapid build vs. safety build vs. pay as you go rollout plan
  • Transition plan

Phase 7: People Plan

“A” players generate 5x more revenue than “B” players and 10x more than “C” players.

The Problem

Relying on the heroic efforts of a few eventually catches up with you. When 20% of the sales team produces 80% of the revenue, something is wrong. The labor expense associated with the sales team incurred by the company has to be justified, or a headcount reduction is warranted. Tolerating underperformers, hiring mistakes, and very long new hire productivity cycles all lead to missed revenue targets – and job loss for the head of sales.

The Solution

  • Hiring profiles
  • Talent assessments
  • Recruiting process
  • Candidate selection process
  • Onboarding plan
  • Sales training program
  • Sales coaching playbook
  • Performance management program

Phase 8: Channel Optimization

Cover the market completely with direct and indirect sales channels.

The Problem

Selling to customers directly when they want to buy from partners is a surefire way to miss the revenue goal. Selling to customers through partners when they want a direct relationship with your company is equally devastating. And within the direct and indirect channel model, there are multiple sub-models to consider. Coverage model decisions have never been this complicated for we live in the Omnichannel era.

The Solution

  • Channel assessment
  • Buyer channel preference
  • Ideal partner profile
  • Channel segmentation
  • Channel coverage model
  • Channel product fit
  • Competitive channel analysis
  • Channel mix and financial model
  • Channel selection
  • Channel enablement
  • Channel manager organizational model

Phase 9: Inside Sales

Drive profitable growth through an inside sales channel by covering select markets with a telephone-based, web-enabled sales team.

The Problem

The buyer is changing, and the sales channels we go to market with must do the same. Buyers are more comfortable than ever purchasing virtually. Inside Sales organizations are handling larger deals than ever before. As companies seek to increase their coverage, they continue to invest in lower-cost sales channels. Whether to scale a young organization or restructure a mature organization, Inside Sales is can be an innovative route to market.

The Solution

  • List of products that will be sold through inside sales
  • Market segments inside sales will sell to
  • Accounts and personas that inside sales will focus on
  • Inside sales hiring profile
  • Inside sales compensation plan
  • Inside sales territory design
  • Inside sale quote setting
  • Inside sales headcount number

Phase 10: Territory Alignment

Balance customer requirements, company revenue expectations, and sales rep workload to grow revenues.

The Problem

Some reps only make their revenue objectives by selling to easy accounts. Others are spending too much time with accounts that do not fit the ideal customer profile. And yet, some sales reps have so many accounts to cover they cannot serve all of them correctly. Territory misalignment is a common cause of missed revenue targets.

The Solution

  • Territory assessments
  • Account potential and scoring
  • Territory potential and goals
  • Workload capacity modeling
  • Fact-based account assignments
  • Balanced territories
  • Transition and communication planning

Phase 11: Quota Setting

Link company objectives to sales rep targets.

The Problem

A company’s revenue goal needs to be intelligently allocated to divisions, regions, districts, territories and sales reps. Unfortunately, it rarely is. Quota attainment, a metric tracked by most sales teams, often lies to executives. Reps who make quota do so because their quota expectation was based on the potential of a sales territory. Reps who miss quota do so because their quota expectation was not based on the potential of the assigned sales territory.

The Solution

  • Quota setting assessment
  • Account potential
  • Territory potential
  • Rep production capacity model
  • Quota assignment model
  • Quota setting process
  • Quota stress testing
  • Communication plan

Phase 12: Compensation Planning

Incentive compensation plans that get you to your revenue goal.

The Problem

Compensation plans are often too complex, and other times they are too simplistic. As your company evolves its strategy and you evolve your sales strategy, the compensation program needs to keep up. Old compensation concepts are both a blessing and a curse. Stick to the way you have always done things and you are sure to miss your revenue targets but over-rotate to the new concepts, and you will push talented reps out the door. It is imperative to refresh the incentive compensation program at least once per year if you want to hit the revenue target.

The Solution

  • Benchmark assessment by role
  • Compensation plan by role
  • Compensation calculator by role
  • Automation technology
  • Communication plan
  • Financial models
  • Comp committee approvals


Step 3: Sales Support

Help your sales team be effective in perpetuity by supporting them and making your internal organization easy to do business with. Support is where you help your sales team’s effectiveness by removing their non-selling responsibilities and streamlining those that can’t be offloaded. With sales operations, you will improve the efficiency of the team through a process, technology, metrics, and best practices. With sales support, you will make the internal organization easy to interact with. With systems, you remove the administrative burden by automating the core business process.


Phase 13: Sales Operations

Improve the efficiency of the sales team.

The Problem

Sales ops have become a catchall phrase. The sales ops leader gets assigned all the work no one else wants to do. Often underfunded and understaffed, sales operations leaders fail to deliver a meaningful revenue contribution. Yet, the best growth executives understand that sales ops is the most strategic sales function in the company. They understand that when deployed correctly, sales ops can impact revenue growth in a very meaningful way. Do not starve this key department. If you do, you will miss the revenue goal.

The Solution

  • Sales operations assessment
  • Sales operations charter
  • Data planning
  • Analytics
  • Reporting
  • Sales systems
  • Sales support
  • Quote to revenue
  • Sales operations department organization design

Phase 14: Sales Enablement

Drive revenue per sales head up and time to productivity for new sales hires down.

The Problem

Getting an increase in sales headcount is difficult. The expense cops expect all the current sales reps to be at quota before they agree to add any new heads. And when new salespeople are hired there is little patience from the executive team members, who want each to generate revenue as quickly as possible. The sales enablement function exists to onboard new sales hires and to drive revenue per sales head up. Neglect sales enablement and forgo adding headcount in the future.

The Solution

  • Sales enablement assessment
  • Sales enablement charter
  • Content development process
  • Mobile sales enablement playbook
  • Technology roadmap
  • Sales training program
  • Certification process
  • Gamification program
  • Coaching methodology
  • KPI dashboards

Phase 15: Customer Success

Grow revenues by retaining, and growing, customers by proactively managing the customer life cycle.

The Problem

Business models are changing from transaction-based revenue models to subscription-based revenue models. Companies dependent on recurring revenue must pay special attention to customer renewal rates, revenue retention, and customer lifetime value. As a result, reactive customer service approaches, built to lower the cost to serve, are being replaced with proactive customer success approaches, built to increase the revenue per customer. When your customer becomes more successful as a result of using your product, they buy more of it. And when your customer is unaware of how you have contributed to their success, they attrite.

The Solution

  • Analysis of the percentage of revenue that’s recurring
  • Analysis of customer renewal rate
  • Defined revenue retention rate
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) analysis
  • Analysis of time-to-value for a customer
  • Analysis of Net Promoter Score (NPS) response data

Phase 16: Systems

Improve the productivity rates of your sales team with smart sales systems design.

The Problem

Too much technology and sales reps never meet with customers and become data entry clerks. Too little technology and sales reps waste countless man-hours on administrative tasks that could have been automated. Revenue growth sits between these two extremes.

The Solution

  • Sales systems assessment
  • Salesforce automation
  • Marketing automation
  • CRM
  • Mobile playbooks
  • Knowledge management
  • Partner resource management
  • LMS
  • Gamification
  • Compensation automation
  • Contract administration
  • Configure-price-quote
  • Territory optimization
  • Social collaboration
  • Online collaboration
  • CMS
  • Predictive analytics

Phase 17: Back Office Support

Be a company easy to buy from and sell for.

The Problem

Taking days to get a pricing decision frustrates customers. Delaying the closing of a deal because of lengthy legal reviews reduces win rates. Paying a sales rep incorrectly, and late drives up a turnover. It is hard enough to grow revenues faster than the industry and competitors. Try to not add to the level of difficulty by being hard to buy from and sell for.

The Solution

  • Sales support assessment
  • Pricing process
  • Competitive pricing analysis
  • Compensation administration
  • Pricing strategy
  • Price level definitions
  • Price exception approval process
  • Contract support
  • Contract review process
  • Contract approval process
  • Field support
  • Incentive comp administration
  • Order management
  • Channel enablement


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