10 Sales Hacks For 2022

Hack Number 4

Sales Strategy

05/09/2022

by David Powell, Regional Director – Yorkshire & North East England

Welcome again to our series of blogs and accompanying videos on great sales hacks. The small but dedicated band of my regular readers will note that 10 sales hacks were planned over the course of 2022, but I have been offline for a few months and am now running a little behind schedule. It has been very busy.

That famous Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” has never felt more appropriate in our post-covid, warmongering and inflationary 2022.

This blog looks at sales strategy and why you absolutely must have one that is robust, honest, and effective. Our CEO, Andrew Milbourn covers the points I raise here in the video in far more detail and probably more effectively. The video was recorded during lockdown – the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed Andrew sporting a haircut that could only have come into existence as a result of all hairdressing establishments being closed.

As with all things in business, strategy is essentially a very simple idea that just so happens to be very challenging to develop and execute. Strategy is simply “a well-developed plan or method to achieve a goal”. Done well, a strategy will unite a team behind a common purpose, allocate resources and tasks effectively and make your objectives far easier to achieve. Done badly – or put off constantly until next month or quarter and your business will flounder.

I think I have used the word “effective” a few times. Being effective is about doing the right things and is not to be confused with being efficient – doing things well. Without a great strategy you risk doing the wrong things efficiently.

So do start with that ambitious, thrilling objective you want to achieve. Do some “what ifs” and dream of the success you want and deserve. Do not be constrained.

However, if you are lost, knowing where you want to be is not of any immediate value. The first priority must be to find out exactly where you are. Only then can you plot a course to your intended destination. This requires some hard thinking and a dispassionate review of your performance, your customers, your competition, and the trends that are emerging around you. For example, I know that some businesses right now are doing pretty well, thank you very much. Revenues are up and budgets are being achieved. But when we look under the bonnet things are often not as they seem. Inflation is driving costs and costs are driving price increases – quite substantial ones. Is your revenue increase hiding real volume (I mean actual physical volume sales) decline? That could mean market share decline, and customers shifting supply or finding substitute solutions. This can become a dangerous complacency.

So, once you are absolutely sure that you know where you are, think long and hard about why you are there. Look at the decisions you have made and the paths that you have taken. How confident are you that the sales process is robust, that skills within the team are as good as they need to be, are you communicating as a leader and motivating the right behaviours? Established B2B businesses often focus sales resource almost exclusively on existing customers. New Business Development (often referred to as cold calling to make it sound frightening) takes a very distant second place. It’s hard work and promises no easy wins. But if your existing customers are starting to slow down, it is only by increasing your distribution points that will secure the growth you need. Insight is everything – talk to your best customers and do as much research as you can to determine what the situation really is.

Once you know where you are and why you are there, it is right to set the BHAG.

The Big Hairy Audacious. Goal. Even though you thought of it at the beginning, this is where it fits into the plan. This is the point where the senior team need to sign on the dotted line. Researched, tested, debated, fought over, challenged, and finally agreed. Consensus. Now you can demonstrate the leadership skills that will energise and focus the business and the sales team.

“We are here, we know why we are here, we want to be over there, and this is how we are going to do it”

Now you can set the strategic activities and plans. Review resources and where they are deployed. Do you need more business development, a bigger pipeline of prospects, different skills? Are there markets you haven’t fully exploited or new products ideas that haven’t been developed? Set the activities and plans for the whole team that will drive the results you want. Set performance measures and simple, effective metrics to measure performance and progress. Review rigorously and often.

And finally, remain agile. The only constant is change. The world today is as volatile as it ever has been. Review strategy regularly and ensure that you are on track. If not, be prepared to regroup and change course. Being hidebound by a failing strategy is no better than not having one at all. Practice your agility skills with some quality contingency planning. Look at scenarios which could change the landscape dramatically and model how you would be able to respond. For example, after inflation comes deflation (possibly). How will you react? Two competitors merge – what is your response?

I appreciate that this all feels like very hard work. That’s because it is. You may lack the skills within your business to address this process properly. Please call me or one of my colleagues if you need some help, or just a chat about options. We are sales professionals and so pride ourselves on supporting potential clients and making them more successful.

Thank you for reading.

Stay safe and be the best you can.

How To Create Sales Strategy
with
Andrew Milbourn

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