6 Ways to Jumpstart Your Sales Execution Today
Sales Execution: The actions, activities, and process which guide a lead through a sales funnel and close the deal. These actions, activities, and processes are generally a collaborative effort of different teams, each with a skillset applicable to different stages in the sales funnel. For example, marketing teams are likely to focus on lead generation.
Depending on your perspective, the sales execution might only refer to the stages of the sales funnel itself. However, this narrow way of thinking can be harming your sales execution strategy. After all, what good is a solid, well-polished sales strategy if the customer experience is a negative one? And how does your sales team connect with prospects in the first place? Does your sales team even have access to the necessary tools and training?
A proper sales strategy is going to be holistic, looking beyond the sale itself in order to improve your odds of bringing prospects all the way through the funnel. This highlights the importance of understanding the difference between strategy and tactics, as well as the relationship between the two. In common parlance the words can be used interchangeably, but in the results-oriented, data-driven world of business and marketing there is far less fluidity in their denotations.
Strategy is ultimately the angle you are approaching the situation from in order to meet a specific objective, your ‘what?’ and your ‘why?’. Tactics are the steps you take to get there, your ‘how?’. In other words, your strategy is oriented around doing the correct thing while tactics ensure you are doing things correctly. In this context ‘correct’ means both accurate and informed.
If that sounds a bit too pedantic for your tastes, consider it from a military context instead. Say a commander wants to seize an enemy fortress. There are two to choose from- one is in a geographically advantageous location and taking it would disrupt enemy communication and supply routes, and the other is in a place abundant with natural resources that decrease the need for supply routes and allows the fort to be relatively self-sufficient. The commander already has access to the necessary resources, so while taking the second fort may result in a loss for the enemy there is far less benefit than there would be in taking the first. In other words, taking the second fort would result in an enemy loss but it yields no net gain for the commander. Choosing to take the first fort and the reasons for doing so are the commander’s strategy. The tactics are the plans made in order to make that vision a reality, and seize the fortress.
Here are six simple yet effective steps that you can take to enhance your sales team’s chances of success, boost your numbers, and create a noticeable difference in your team’s overall performance.
1. Identify Your Targets
Yes, targets, plural. There is more to targeted advertising than having a target audience in mind. An ideal client profile is necessary if you want to deliver a stronger and more appealing message. Your target audience is the group which you want to appeal to with a new product, or the group which market research suggests will be the most inclined to purchase your product. The ideal client is found by hyper-focusing on that group until you narrow it down to a very specific individual. The goal is to connect with people, not demographics, so messaging that is meant to resonate with an entire group is likely to fall flat. You can’t appeal to everyone, after all. By instead focusing on a very specific person you not only grab their attention, you also grab the attention of people who are similar enough to them to also have a vested interest in what you’re offering.
If the ideal client is so important then why not forgo the target audience altogether? Simple- you need one to determine the other. You can start with a general idea of who it is you want to reach and narrow it down from there, or you can have a profile in mind and reverse engineer that to a broader group. One is always going to inform the other.
2. Craft a Plan
Without having a definitive plan that you can implement then you might as well blow out birthday candles, because a goal without a plan is just a wish. When creating your plan it is important to remember that a good plan not only accounts for the sale itself, but your team’s performance as well. No matter how good your teams are at lead generation, organic outreach, content creating, and branding, their performance will remain subpar when they do not feel properly motivated. Nothing motivates someone better than feeling appreciated, so make sure your teams feel involved and heard every step of the way. Listen to any ideas they have for the marketing and sales plans, and seriously consider them. Ensure that they have access to the best resources in order to meet their goals, and have them properly trained on every aspect of their job description and software that they will be using.
Pizza parties, contrary to what many companies may seem to believe, don’t inspire genuine enthusiasm for one’s work. They only inspire asking the question ‘What’s the bare minimum effort that I need to put in so we can have another pizza party?’. This is hardly the cornerstone of a powerful business ethos.
As for creating the plan itself, you should keep these things in mind:
- Develop goals for your team and goals at the organizational level
- Measure performance for teams and individual team members
- Have one-on-one coaching sessions and performance reviews with team members
- Tracks sales activity through sensible KPIs
- Monitor for patterns to rectify bottlenecks and repeat successes
3. Build Your Funnel
A funnel is a useful tool that both helps you visualize what a successful sale entails, and to quantify demand for your product. A funnel is ultimately a journey that you take your prospects on, and each step in the funnel is meant to entice them further while simultaneously weeding out the unqualified leads. The picture above is an example of a sales funnel where TOFU means ‘top of sales funnel’, MOFU means ‘middle of sales funnel’, and BOFU means ‘bottom of sales funnel’.
The stages of your funnel can be as simple as the point in which a buyer identifies they have a problem or unmet need, then they evaluate their situation by defining their specific pain point, and finally they are ready to purchase and are deliberating between you and your competitors. Other companies might have much more elaborate funnels with more steps which are much lengthier. Building your pipeline can involve numerous tactics:
- Dropping dead leads right away and reevaluating your process for lead generation
- Giving your sales teams generated lists of pre-qualified leads
- Keeping your sales cycle short, or shortening your existing cycle
- Collecting leads through visitors by strengthening your inbound market content
4. Align Your Teams
As mentioned above, the members of your sales team aren’t the only key players in your sales execution strategy. Any customer-facing teams in your organization will have a significant impact on the number of deals your sales team closes, as they are the ones who interact directly with the prospects who your sales team will convert. Integrate your sales and marketing programs in a way that allows for transparency, prioritizes cohesion, and encourages communication. These will translate into stronger collaborative efforts, which in turn will translate to more conversions, closed deals, and revenue.
5. Measure Progress and Adjust Your Strategy
This step is possibly one which you will have to repeat multiple times before you can reach the next and final step. It can be argued that you will need to continue adjusting your strategy indefinitely, as your definition of success is likely to change over time. Be sure to keep track of what works, what doesn’t work, what’s being changed, and why it’s being changed so you can identify patterns and other indicators to inform future decision making. What gets you from A to B will not be enough to get you to Z, but it will offer insight on how to reach C so you can realistically plan for D.
An example of adjusting your strategy could be introducing automation. While often hailed as a must-have for all companies, automation is a solution that should only be resorted to if the problem it’s meant to address actually exists. Otherwise you could be wasting time and money on choosing software or apps that do not benefit you as much as they might another entity. An entity with a small team and smaller goals will not need to free up more time to focus on direct selling if those small goals are already being met. An entity that is growing or working on developing a growth strategy, on the other hand, will want to utilize automation software for data entry and built-in analytics.
6. Deliver Results
This step is rather straightforward. Much like the previous step though, this is also one that you will need to alter and adjust as time goes on. Just as measurable progress will look different for your company in five years, and even more so in ten years, success will look different too. Partnering with a results based growth marketing company can help you set realistic goals and predict your growth.
The Bottom Line
Sales execution isn’t a difficult concept to grasp, but sales and marketing strategies can be difficult to create and carry out. There is no ‘one size fits all’, and a great deal of trial and error or experimentation is necessary. Even if your team has a history of performing well there is always room for improvement, but improvements are only possible when you know the basics and pay attention to the finer details.
When combined with constant evaluation and consistency in your process you can create an effective and informed strategy that puts you on the road to success.