The 4 Most Powerful Sales Tools
The 4 Sales Cornerstones for Sustained Revenue Growth
- The Sales Plan, Strategy, Process and Methodology are the four cornerstones of sustained revenue growth. They collectively maximize sales results and are your most powerful sales tools.
- For example, sellers with optimized sales methodologies achieve an 11% higher win rate than those with informal sales methods.
- When the methodology is integrated with a structured sales process and CRM technology, the win rate increases an additional 6% above sale methodologies alone.
The 4 Sales Cornerstones for Sustained Revenue Growth
The four most powerful sales tools that collectively drive the most significant and sustained revenue growth are the Sales Plan, Sales Strategy, Sales Process and Sale Methodology.
When any one cornerstone is improved individually, revenue performance improves but is incremental, often inconsistent and sometimes temporary. When the four cornerstones are improved holistically, management creates systemic, significant and sustained revenue growth.
Consider the below insights to accelerate your revenue engine.
The sales plan forecasts the revenue target, identifies the actions to achieve the goal, and mobilizes resources to execute the actions. Data-driven planning, clear objectives and prescriptive methods significantly increase the likelihood of achieving the financial target.
Sales plans also accelerate revenue generation by directing marketing and selling efforts to the customer markets most likely to buy. The planning analysis uses customer and market data to identify the shortest route to the most profitable customer markets. This roadmap is the most efficient path to your revenue goal.
As management guru Peter Drucker said, "Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right." That's why the sale plan is so critical. Pursuing the wrong customer markets is futile even if you find a temporary way to make it work.
A big challenge of sales planning is to choose what to stop doing. Planning is about making choices and trade-offs. It is about choosing to do fewer things better. The Plan must define what to do differently and what to stop doing.
A secondary challenge is disciplined execution. Business leaders must maintain focus and apply rigor to avoid organizational distractions and competing priorities. They must be able separate the urgent from the important. They must manage the temptations to relax objectives, hedge their bets, imitate rivals, pursue unplanned goals, make non-strategic compromises or give in to pressures born from daily fires.
Ineffective sales plans simply deliver more the same. Or worse, they are hurried efforts to complete an annual exercise and deliver rote plans copied from prior years which propose ill-defined objectives backed with unsupported actions. These plans are built on GIGO (garbage in garbage out) are then discarded. That leaves the company with no real plan and reliant upon opportunistic chance.
Fortunately, when done pursuant to a framework, creating the sales plan is generally a short exercise. And it is the precursor to all actions that come after. An inaccurate or incomplete plan will most certainly delay or derail subsequent execution. But an accurate and complete plan leaves the remaining journey to be tackled with clarity of focus, measured execution and the realization of targeted objectives.
The sales strategy is the design to win sale opportunities. It shows how to win customers and drives the win plan for each deal.
Sales strategies are not defined by your company or product capabilities but by your differentiation and ability to deliver customer value. By focusing on differentiation and unique value, the sale strategy shifts the selling proposition from a commoditized experience to unique positioning among less distinguishable competitors.
Where the sales plan defines WHO we sell to, WHAT products we sell and HOW we organize our resources, the sales strategy defines WHY we win deals.
The most effective strategies are built on the four building blocks of competitive advantages, customer strategy, Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and the company's core competencies.
The sales strategy will morph into a win plan for each sale opportunity. The salesperson will surface each customer's pain points and engineer the most important buyer outcomes by extracting and personalizing key points of the strategy.
A primary challenge is knowing exactly what customers most want from vendors. That's why your sale strategy must start with customer insights, and identify precisely what customers want, how they measure value and how they make purchase decisions.
A secondary challenge is believing your sales strategy is strategic when it's not. Strategies built on wishful thinking, immeasurable benefits, aspirational goals or self-platitudes will not withstand customer scrutiny nor increase sales effectiveness.
To be strategic, the strategy must demonstrate clear differentiation that delivers unique customer value. Many business leaders fall short as they claim differentiation that is similarly touted by competitors. If your sale strategy is uncertain, a design thinking workshop is both the fastest and best method to create something that is truly strategic.
A tertiary challenge is roll-out. Many companies suffer a disconnect between the leadership team who develops the strategy and the sales force who is unclear. If a majority of staff cannot recite a consistent sales strategy, it's time for a communication plan and management cadence.
A predictable sales process is a roadmap that guides sellers through sequenced activities to systemically convert leads into customers.
The process is all about execution – doing the right things right. It advances each sale opportunity through a series of progressive stages. Each step provides guidance, prescribes actions and concludes with a verifiable outcome that either disqualifies the opportunity or advances it to the next step.
Every company has a sales process. Most are generic and deliver inconsistent results. A generic process defines sales pursuit sequence but by itself is without impact. Generic or high-level sales processes are not helpful and do not promote learning, optimization or increased performance. They are mostly ignored by the salesforce.
Fewer salesforces have an optimized sales process, that is, a process that saves reps time and maximizes conversions. An optimized sales process is a simplified, streamlined, repeatable, predictable and scalable framework that replicates the behaviors of top producers, levels-up the broader salesforce and increases win rates.
Optimized sales processes deliver four key capabilities: actionable insights to support customer engagement, assets to drive repeatable delivery, process automation to save time and metrics to deliver real-time information. They know how and when to make intelligent recommendations, flag incomplete actions, highlight signs of vulnerability, promote learning based on history and advise sellers of what they don't know.
Research published in the Sales Excellence Report shares overwhelming evidence that salespeople who apply optimized sales processes outperform those who don't.
While sales cycle efficiency is important, process metrics prioritize effectiveness over efficiency. Small increases in measures such as the win rate produce large revenue impact and generally offset more negligible variations in sales cycle duration or customer acquisition cost.
Sales process steps, such as those shown above, should be measured and automated with CRM technology. CRM software provides the customer data, process automation and information reporting to bring consistency, repeatability and scale to process execution.
Successful processes also align the buyer's purchase process with the seller's sales process and apply the company's sale methodology to create action and impact at each step in the journey.
Sales process steps bring structure to the sales cycle, which is essential, but by themselves lack the prescriptive or recommended methods and tactics to be successful in those steps. That's why a sale methodology is needed.
A sale methodology is a prescriptive but dynamic framework of selling actions, tactics and responses that aid the buyer in completing their purchase decision, systemically advance the sales cycle, and maximize the sellers win rate.
Your sale methodology changes the focus from what you sell to how you sell. It provides the methods or directives to advance prospects within each step of the process. For example, it defines the investigative questions to qualify a lead, the path to align buyer pain with solution benefits, the input to create a win plan, the negotiation methods to preserve revenue, the incentives to get the deal done and many other tactics to win competitive deals.
The sale methodology integrates seamlessly to your sales process. Your methodology is the glue between Sales Strategy and Sales Process. It creates the link between what needs to be done and how to best do it. It shows how to influence and direct the buyer's journey with a clear path toward slated outcomes. Sellers lead the buyer in a way that aids the buyer's purchase process and the seller's outcome. In short, it defines the methods and actions that most influence results.
The Sale Methodology also integrates to your selling strategy, including your competitive advantages, unique value proposition, competitor differentiation and customer value. Each of these items must be progressively carried through each step of the sales process in order to resonate and stand apart. Where sales process is about efficiency, sale methodology is about effectiveness.
Sellers with optimized sale methodologies achieve an 11% higher win rate than those with informal methods. Success is further maximized when an optimized methodology is integrated with a predictable sales process and CRM technology. These three components create the sales trifecta and increase win rates 6% above sale methodologies alone.
Most seasoned sellers use a commercial methodology such as the Challenger Sale, Strategic Selling, Revenue Storm, RSVP, Solution Selling, SPIN selling or Target Account Selling. The right sales methodology is the one that produces the highest salesforce win rate.