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What Is a Sales Strategy? Playbook and Templates for Success

We all want a united and successful sales organisation, don’t we?

But there’s no magic word or secret trick that’s going to help you scale up into a revenue wonder kid fast.

There is, however, one thing that’s proven to help align sales teams and empower them to give their very best - your sales strategy.

In this comprehensive guide, we’re looking into the top sales strategies and initiatives that work. Plus, we provide actionable steps for building your own strategy for sales success.

Also included are:

  • The most popular types of sales strategies.
  • How to build a successful sales strategy.
  • A free sales strategy template.
  • Three sales methods that work!

First, let’s look at the sales strategy definition:

What is a sales strategy?

A sales strategy is a structured plan that outlines the actions, decisions, and goals necessary for a sales team to position a product or service and acquire new customers. It outlines sales procedures, activities and product placement to help B2B sales teams achieve sales targets.

The major benefits of implementing a sales strategy are improved team performance, more effective targeting and a higher ratio of closed-won deals.

Discover the activities that make up an effective sales strategy - watch this video! 👇

The 2 most popular types of sales strategies

No matter what industry or organisation you work for, there will always be two types of sales strategies:

Inbound and outbound.

You can choose to do one or the other, or you can do both.

Here’s a breakdown of their meanings:

1. Inbound sales strategy

Inbound can be considered a marketing sales strategy. Why?

Because marketing collateral captures a buyer’s attention. Inbound leads already know what your company is selling through this process; they enter the sales funnel warmer than outbound leads.

Content is then used to inform, educate, and nurture prospects through the decision-making process.

2. Outbound sales strategy

Outbound lead generation is different from an inbound sales strategy. It focuses on reaching out to target customers via email, cold calling and social selling. These buyers have shown no interest and often don’t know anything about your company, so it’s your SDRs’ job to convince them that your solution is a good fit.

For an outbound sales strategy to work, you need to hire well. A cohesive, well-aligned team is the key to achieving your business goals.

And if you think that both of these methods sound good, you’d be right. According to a WebStrategies report on inbound vs. outbound marketing budgets, 84% of companies use an omnichannel sales strategy for more effective lead generation. There’s no reason why you can’t, too!

💡 Click to learn more about the differences between inbound and outbound.

Developing a sales strategy in 5 steps

It doesn’t matter how great your product is - if you want to win B2B sales, you must be strategic.

That means implementing a winning sales approach, so your team can stay on top of your sales goals, like closed-won deals.

And the better your strategy, the more incoming revenue.

This infographic explains the importance of a good sales strategy:

Five reasons why having a good B2B sales strategy is important in SaaS sales.

An effective B2B sales strategy is made up of many different elements, although they all relate to one another. Each part of the strategy is connected, creating a feedback loop that drives efficiencies and improved performance.

These are the five steps to building a powerful sales strategy:

1. Set up a sales process

This is the initial phase of a well-crafted sales strategy. Take a step back and take note of where the business currently sits.

By looking back at the analytics, you can set sales goals, metrics and KPIs and plan how to achieve them.

Here are five tips for establishing your sales process:

Define B2B sales goals

Start with revenue generation. How much would you like to generate each quarter and year?

Work out your business revenue target, then build your strategy around that number.

Create a sales model that drives growth

The bedrock of your sales strategy is your sales generation KPIs and metrics. B2B sales metrics are the numbers you monitor to ensure your team stays on the right track.

Your sales tech will produce an avalanche of figures – too many to stay on top of. Your task is to identify the key sales metrics that matter.

Top tip:

Focus on your revenue goals and point your efforts at improving them. If you see the numbers dropping, you need to take action.

Identify your ideal customers

Develop a profile of the type of customer who will get the most value out of your solution. This will be your ideal customer profile (ICP).

Look at factors such as their company size, qualitative data, and buying process. Then, outline how your product and its features will benefit and solve your target customer’s pain points.

Define your Total Addressable Market

How many of your ideal customers are ready for your sales pitch right now?

A TAM calculation will give you all the knowledge you need about your target market.

Develop and manage a sales pipeline

The process of qualifying potential customers, initiating engagement with them and guiding them to the next phase of your SaaS sales strategy.

To help you implement and manage a B2B sales strategy, you’ll need to employ a team of lead generation specialists, including:

  • Sales directors: Responsible for planning, setting sales goals and communicating selling strategies to their team.
  • Sales leaders: Responsible for the day-to-day management and training of your sales team.
  • Account Executives (AEs): Conduct demos, negotiate contracts and close business with prospects.
  • Sales development representatives (SDRs): Help generate new leads, making the initial contact with prospective customers via cold calls and booking meetings.
  • Marketing development representatives (MDRs): They follow up with the targeted leads the marketing team generates via content marketing.
  • Sales operations: Responsible for the technical implementation of new solutions, products and processes.

2. Implement sales tactics

Sales tactics are the practical application of an effective sales strategy. You know how you want to sell – now you need to make sure every part of the process runs smoothly.

The question you need to ask yourself is:

How are you going to reach your ICP, and what messaging will you use?

Create buyer personas to help you work out what channels to use, then create a sales process playbook to help you get the best results.

For example, if you believe cold calling is the best way to reach your prospects, create messaging your salespeople can use that relates to pain points and positions your product as the solution.

Here’s a quick rundown of the proven strategies that increase sales:

Lead qualification

The process of understanding more about your customer personas and evaluating if they’re a good fit for your product.

Cold calling

The core sales activity for SDRs. Cold calling is the process of conversing with sales-qualified leads over phone calls and persuading them to schedule a meeting.

Outbound email

The digital companion to the cold calling section of your sales strategy. With outbound email, SDRs contact prospects by sending them electronic messages.

Social selling

A relatively new outbound sales discipline. Here, SDRs leverage the power of social media platforms and lead sources to boost conversions.

Video prospecting

The latest sales technique for sales reps. Video prospecting involves recording personalised video messages that initiate and nurture relationships with potential customers.

Sales cadences

A cadence is a series of outbound emails in daily or weekly sequences. SDRs often deploy video and audio messages via email in this activity.

Negotiating and closing

The core part of your sales plan. After AEs conduct a product demo, they liaise with external stakeholders until the deal is confirmed.

3. Optimise sales performance

The optimisation phase is crucial when developing a sales strategy.

Here, sales leaders and representatives analyse results and develop inside strategies to improve their work. It includes:

Team structure

How will you arrange your sales department for peak performance?

A typical structure should consist of these sales professionals:

  • SDRs (Sales Development Reps).
  • AEs (Account Execs in charge of account based selling).
  • Customer Success Reps who keep the customer happy after they’ve signed on the dotted line.

You may need sales managers for each of these groups of reps. You may want to create separate teams to look after prospects and sales leads if this is part of your go-to-market sales strategy.

Time management

How to maximise time and improve productivity. It’s important to note that managing time well is crucial for both sales leaders and reps.

Sales skills

The best sales teams improve performance by sharing winning tactics and knowledge.

Learning and development can be outsourced but are best managed in-house. Consider setting up weekly staff meetings for training and roleplaying.

4. Measure performance

The analytical phase of a data-driven sales strategy. Sales leaders should set goals and KPIs for reps to work towards. Individual and team goals should be linked to wider company goals for the best results.

Here are the best metrics to track:

SDR metrics

These include productivity and success rates, such as the number of phone calls made/emails sent, the number of meetings booked, and meetings attended.

AE metrics

These include individual, MRR, demo and pipeline metrics, such as average deal value, demo attended to closed-won rate and the total number of closed-won deals.

Team metrics

The overarching business objectives behind every sales team. These include inbound and outbound conversion rates and the total amount of revenue won.

Top tip:

Read this article if you need help unpacking all these business terms.

5. Adopt sales tech

Finally, you must decide which of the thousands of sales tech solutions you’ll use to power your sales strategy.

Here are three types of software you’ll need to get started:

  1. CRM - Your CRM is the bedrock of your tech stack. It records all your interactions with prospects and customers, making sure salespeople and managers have all the data they need at their fingertips. Salesforce is the market-leading CRM.
  2. Email tools - If you choose cold email as a channel to reach your prospects, implement specialist sales automation software to schedule emails, log responses and more.
  3. Sales intelligence - Sales intelligence or B2B prospecting tools are an integral part of any sales strategy as they identify potential customers. You can also use these tools to locate the details needed to reach prospects, including email addresses and direct-dial phone numbers.

Did you know that Cognism is the market-leading sales intelligence solution?

Drift books 70% of its outbound meetings with our mobile data. Its Director of Marketing and Sales Development said:

What are the best strategies for buying B2B technology

Our advice is to research the market to find what tools are suitable for your chosen selling tactics.

Then do the following:

A tech audit

Carry out a thorough audit of your tech stack before buying a new tool. Always aim for full utilisation of your current tech.

Setup a sales tech stack

The process of reviewing and choosing the best tech for your business. Thousands of sales tools are available on the market at any given time; performing due diligence is essential.

Adopt new tech

The onboarding stage. Here, the sales leader will sign up for the sales automation tool and arrange training for the rest of the team, if necessary.

Evaluate existing tech

A B2B sales tech stack is never static; it should constantly be evolving and improving.

Conduct regular reviews of the tech you use. If something isn’t working as well as hoped, remove it.

Free strategic sales plan template

Cognism has developed the ultimate sales strategy template.

It’s called The Blueprint and it contains all the insights we learned on our journey from $10M to $50M ARR.

Click 👇 to access our guide to business success!

Cognism Blueprint Sales Strategy

B2B sales strategy: examples from successful brands

Successful sales strategies are the secret to the world’s highest-performing B2B companies.

To wrap up this guide, we’ve studied how HubSpot, Shopify and Cognism have used various B2B sales strategies for revenue success.

1. Shopify: people-first approach

Our first sales strategy example is Shopify. Its revenue and GMV have grown 54% year on year, leading it to make history as the only SaaS company to cross the $1 billion revenue mark at such a fast growth rate.

How did they achieve this?

They believe in people - in entrepreneurs and in new hires. Firstly, when hiring, they don’t just look for great sales reps; they look for people with great potential. People who showcased the following traits: intelligence, work ethic, history of success, creativity, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness.

Another key factor in their sales strategy plan is to focus on the facts, and that means embracing a data-driven approach to sales prospecting. Every sales team and individual rep has to track their average deal size, average sales cycle length, lead-to-deal conversion rate, calls per day, and the number of deals in the pipeline.

2. HubSpot: walking in the customer’s shoes

HubSpot currently brings in around $510 million in annual revenue and is valued at over $23.81 billion.

Part of their sales team strategy is to hire reps via an established and repeatable process. This way, they evaluate every individual on the same criteria and only hire the best of the best.

The second factor in their strategy to improve sales is to encourage every rep to walk in their customers’ shoes. This hands-on approach to training new hires allows them to experience each customer’s pain points and discover innovative ways to solve them.

3. Cognism: aligning sales and marketing

Cognism is a sales intelligence provider that’s taken B2B prospecting to a new level. Our B2B software sales strategy incorporates a number of different strategies - one of which is to align sales and marketing.

By aligning our goals and encouraging communication across the business our teams were able to generate 190% over our revenue target month on month.

When sales and marketing align, anything is possible - including exceeding targets.

At Cognism, we like to experiment with different sales tactics to see which works for us. After all, every business is different. You need to find a strategy that works for yours.

Here’s a list of links to six powerful sales strategies that we swear by:

  1. Social selling on LinkedIn
  2. Generating leads on LinkedIn
  3. Creating demand
  4. Account based marketing strategy
  5. Go to marketing strategy
  6. B2B marketing strategy

Develop a winning sales strategy with Cognism

For a sales process to work, you need customers. Preferably decision-makers!

Fortunately, with Cognism, finding your prospects’ contact information has never been easier. Our solution gives you the accurate mobile phone numbers and B2B emails of people you want to do business with.

Click 👇 to book your demo.

Book your Cognism demo