How to align your sales strategy to your business goals and approach the Future of Sales with confidence
Following the COVID-19 crisis, many sales leaders have naturally looked at the external effects; the effects on their customers. However, it’s also important to look at the effects a little closer to home, and consider how the crisis has impacted business goals, sales strategy and will likely impact on the future of sales management.
Shifting business goals
The impact of the outbreak has been felt differently across different sectors. Some have paused spending due to uncertainty, while others have turned to spending more to create new experiences for their own customers, and streamline operations to meet increasing demand. Business goals are changing in line with this, with many companies rethinking goals such as who they want to sell to, and what they want to sell to whom.
Shifting business goals, without adapting the sales strategy at the same time, is creating a significant and ever-widening gap between sales teams and the core business. What is happening across many organisations is that sales teams are continuing to work as normal, even though their efforts are failing to align with the new goals of the business.
This is something that must be addressed if leaders are to approach the future of sales with confidence. Taking measures to adapt the existing strategy to align more closely with future business goals is key to ensuring sales teams keep driving results.
How to align sales & business
Both a ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ approach are needed to better align sales and business, with contributions from both areas of the organisation absolutely essential.
From a ‘top down’ perspective, it is the responsibility of the board - led by the COO - to work to define new business goals and key parameters in light of the COVID-19 landscape. Once agreed and established, these business goals can be broken down and communicated clearly to different sales regions, departments, and their teams.
However, a ‘top down’ approach alone isn’t enough. For close alignment, sales leaders must play an active and instrumental role in the process. To ensure that new business goals are set in a way that is ambitious yet realistic, a ‘bottom up’ approach led by the sales team must also be taken at the same time. So how can you and your team help?
We believe in a simple 8-step process for developing a new, business-aligned strategy:1. External analysis
The starting point of any new business-aligned sales strategy is to consider how key external developments are impacting the core of the organisation. It’s vital to take a close look at how the pandemic has affected different segments in different ways, and how this effect is impacting budgets, customer journeys and the buyer decision making process.2. Internal analysis
Along with external analysis, it’s also important to understand how the crisis has affected the business. Sales leaders should take a look at the existing strategy that they’ve developed, working to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities that have arisen as a direct or indirect result of the pandemic which could hinder future successes.3. Consideration
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to sales. Sales leaders and their teams must work to develop a number of potential strategies, exploring various options that enable them to see which of the possibilities most closely aligns with business goals. By considering a broad range of strategies, it becomes easier to identify the most suitable.4. Market ops vs. capabilities
It is important that the market opportunities that have been identified by the board are weighed up against the capabilities of the sales team. This can prevent unrealistic goals from being created, and also helps sales leaders to adapt their approach and process to allow individual team members to play to their own unique strengths and talents.5. Focus
Understanding new business goals allows sales leaders to develop global, regional, and local sales strategies, depending on what the organisation is striving for overall. This can make it easier to narrow the focus and develop a strategy that attracts, engages, and persuades the right people, through the right storytelling in sales communications coupled with targeted channels and precise, effective messages.6. Organisation
Sales leaders must take an organised approach to developing new sales strategies, but a vital prerequisite is asking ‘how do we organise?’. Organisation must take place across the team, so it’s important to include all team members into the process; a technique that can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page during change.7. Gap analysis
Despite best efforts, sales leaders may be unable to devise a new strategy that fully aligns with new business goals using the resources that are already available. A gap analysis must be conducted, highlighting what’s currently happening - and what needs to happen - allowing leaders to access sales management training, to retrain, coach, upskill, and hire as deemed necessary.8. Short term wins
Designing and developing a new sales strategy isn’t always straightforward, and it’s possible that tweaks and changes will be needed along the way. Sales leaders should work to launch a number of quick win campaigns that can provide a ‘sneak peek’ of the impact of the new strategy, allowing for it to be further optimised as required.
Approaching the future with confidence
While it’s impossible to say with complete certainty exactly what the future of sales - and sales management - will hold, what is clear is that big changes are taking place at an organisational level. Sales teams must be willing to head out of their comfort zone and adapt their approach to remain in line with needs, requirements, and expectations of the core business, and to head into the sales world of tomorrow with confidence.