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Building a Strategic Sales Plan


A few years back, I did a lot of talking about salespeople thinking like marketers.

Somewhere I dubbed it the strategic salesman or something of the sort.

As I was flipping through my notes this morning, I came across some ideas I had about this concept from about 2 years ago and thought I would revisit the idea now.

Start by thinking about value:

The foundation of sales planning has to be with the end in mind. Too many organizations jump to the idea of action equals results.

It doesn’t.

Anthony Iannarino wrote a few weeks back about, “I’m not your prospect.”

The same goes for any prospect or business.

Far too much, we spend time thinking about how we can sell something undifferentiated to similar companies. It is through the base of this lens that we see commoditization take place.

But I am more of a fan of the Abraham Lincoln concept of “sharpening” your sales ax before you start.

Which in this case means spend some time thinking through the value you want to create for your prospects and who can actually use that value at this time.

If you spend a bit more time thinking about where the value you want to creates fits two things will happen:

  1. You’ll have a smaller pool of prospects.
  2. You’ll have more success talking with those prospects because you are offering something of value.

Understand your buyer and your influencer: 

The idea behind Account Based Marketing (ABM) seems to be that if you have more people advocating for you in a company, the more likely it is that you will be successful breaking into that company.

There is another idea that floats around as well which is that decision making is by committee now. This one I struggle with because I’ve found that there are a ton of people that can say no, but there is typically only one person that can say “yes.”

Why do we think we have to impress everyone?

It is likely because of two things:

  1. We aren’t clearly identifying and expressing our value.
  2. Because we aren’t clearly identifying and expressing our value, we are getting shuffled around from person to person because what you are talking about might be a good idea, or it might be something someone thought about, but you haven’t done a good job of increasing the urgency of your solution.

How do you overcome that?

Begin by understanding your value.

Second, once you understand your value figure out who is the person that will ultimately benefit from that value.

Not the person or people that will use it, but the one that will reap the rewards.

This is likely the person that can say yes.

Spend your time focusing on the person that will accrue the benefits.

Just as importantly, spend as much time as you can communicating the benefits in terms of outcomes to the person that is going to benefit.

Prospecting isn’t a one size fits all proposition:

I’ve been thinking of putting together a training or learning program called “The Discipline of Prospecting.”

In this program, I would talk about the need to continually take some sort of prospecting action each day, but also the need to use the proper means to reach your target prospects.

In far too many sales organizations, the sales cycle is kickstarted by only one form of prospecting…maybe, phone calls; maybe, door to door; maybe, something else.

We have a tremendous number of tools at our disposal now to connect with people.

We have the phone, email, social media.

We have in-person through networking or speaking.

Referrals can be a pretty good tool.

On and on and on we can go, but the question is do we do nearly enough of them?

The answer is likely no.

But my challenge to you and to me is how can we use more of the tools we have to make sure we are connecting with prospects in a way that is likely to impact them?

You combine these three ideas and you come up with a more strategic selling plan.

What do you think?