How do you generate new business?
This is a question even the most seasoned leaders seem to always ask.
Selling, consulting, and designing sales strategies across industries (Software, Financial, Commodities, Heavy Mfg, etc.) and across geographies (Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Middle East) have taught me that all the best sales teams have a few main commonalities.
The sales strategies and sales approaches that have always worked for the most successful companies I know are built from the ground up, one commitment at a time.
The basics are a given, of course, they know exactly who the perfect dream client is and have an ideal customer profile. Of course, they understand the market, the competition, and the industry. Yes, they have value statements, clear goals, and understand the need to talk with decisions makers. That is not strategy, that is just the price of admission. The real strategy comes next.
What sets the best teams apart is the focus, the accountability, and the coaching.
From my experience with Fortune 500 companies all the way down to 10-person startups — the most robust, effective, and innovative sales strategies have 3 main pillars. They include major elements from Design Thinking, LEAN, and Systems Thinking and then roll it all up into an agile process.
Those focused strategies are first built on the foundation of empathy (care, curiosity, concern) though. Those leaders and teams who care the most, serve the most, help the most, and therefore sell the most.
The only sales strategy that will ever work is the one that is put into action.
In order for a sales rep to execute the best strategy, they need to have one defining trait: tremendous courage.
Courage is the ability and willingness to act in the face fear, pain, or grief. Courage is about being vulnerable and still taking action. Courage is not knowing the outcome but still making the choice and committing to serving and helping the customer. All fear is mitigated with action.
Connection through stories is the way the best teams apply the foundation sales skills.
Because of their courage and empathy, these sales reps develop the skills they need to help make important connections with the right people. They connect by consulting (diagnosing) and then selling value. They usually do this through stories, memorable stories. The best sales reps use stories to demonstrate real (aligned) value while setting up unique positioning with relevant differentiators.
Some people think strategy is mainly about ideas. Some people are wrong.
The best sales strategies include accountability and coaching as part of the strategy. It is not something they add on later or do once a year. Being accountable for your results and actions is integral to making any sales strategy work. Yet, the top leaders also know that you can only hold someone accountable if they have been shown the way. That is accomplished through continuous coaching.
When a great strategy is aligned with outstanding sales reps, revenue growth is automatic.
The ingredients needed to craft a world-class sales strategy are:
- EMPATHY (care, curiosity, concern)
- Design Thinking
- Systems Thinking
- AGILE Processes
- Sales Storytelling (Relevance, Meaning, Impact)
- Consultative Diagnosing (Questions, Needs, Pain)
- Value Differentiation (Insights, Outcomes)
- Solution Positioning (Pathway Forward, Guided Future State)
Take those elements, apply yourself, focus, care just a bit more, and you will craft a great strategy that will help so many others.
**Your Turn: What else is needed for a truly customer-focused sales strategy? (comment and share your experience)
P.S. — Some reading material:
Here are a few books every sales leader needs to own, especially if they want to create and execute sustainable sales strategies:
1. Agile Selling by Jill Konrath
2. Beyond the Sales Process by Steve Andersen and Dave Stein
3. Sales Differentiation by Lee Salz
4. Sell With a Story by Paul Smith
5. Combo Prospecting by Tony J. Hughes
6. Sales Manager Survival Guide by David A. Brock
7. Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions by Keith Rosen
8. Sales Management. Simplified. by Mike Weinberg
9. Sales EQ by Jeb Blount
10. The Challenger Customer by Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner, and Nick Toman
11. Sales Leadership by Keith Rosen
12. Selling From The Heart by Larry Levine
13. Seven Stories by Mike Adams
14. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
15. Applied Empathy by Michael Ventura
16. Eat Their Lunch by Anthony Iannarino
17. Gap Selling by Keenan
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