Whether you run a B2B SaaS or product-based company, sales is the driving force of your business. Without solid sales strategies, it’s difficult to communicate your value proposition, stay profitable and meet company revenue goals.
Your sales strategy is the roadmap for directing and guiding your salespeople to do great work, make customers happy, and measure their success.
In this article, we’ll show you the 8 best strategies for planning your sales growth in 2023. We’ve also included sales strategy templates to help you create a successful sales strategy.
But first, let’s quickly define sales strategy.
What is a Sales Strategy?
A sales strategy refers to decisions, actions, and initiatives that help your sales organization reach more prospects, close deals, and hit revenue goals.
It’s more of a long-term sales plan that outlines the sales goals, processes, and tactics your salespeople use to position your differentiated value proposition, win new customers and grow your revenue.
It also informs the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring performance.
Regardless of size and industry, every organization benefits from having a sales strategy.
For one, it creates alignment between all sales team members, thereby unifying your messaging. This helps your salespeople target the right prospects, develop and nurture better customer relationships and increase their ratio of closed-won deals.
When combined with proper execution, an effective sales strategy turns your sales organization into a well-oiled machine that consistently produces the desired results: increased revenue year after year.
What Are the Types of Sales Strategies?
There are two main types of sales strategies any B2B business adopts. That is inbound sales strategy and outbound sales strategy.
While some organizations execute inbound or outbound, others combine both to grow their revenue and business.
Let’s discuss these strategies in detail.
1. Inbound Sales Strategy
Inbound sales go with inbound marketing, which involves attracting potential customers into your funnel with online marketing materials.
Here, you use website copy, blogs, webinars, downloadable materials, social media posts, and SEO to educate prospects about their challenges, nurture them through a decision-making process and woo them into choosing your solution when they’re ready to buy.
By doing so, the prospects who enter your sales pipeline are warm. They’re problem aware and familiar with your brand.
At this stage, your sales reps become consultants, answering questions and addressing concerns to further educate these prospects on how your solution can help them. Then, with the proper interactions, they can convert new leads into paying customers.
How Inbound Sales Works
In inbound sales, the customer defines his unique journey through the sales funnel to a purchase.
Normally, this journey starts when the prospect is experiencing a problem and wants to learn about it: the awareness stage.
From the awareness stage, it is expected that he’ll get into the consideration and decision-making stages and then reach out to sales.
Source: Uhuru Network
However, the buyer’s journey is nonlinear. So, the prospect is less likely to follow a predictable trail. Instead, he may advance from one stage to another at any time.
Now, your team’s job during this journey is to support the prospect with educational, helpful content, whether he starts at the top of the funnel or the bottom.
Marketing takes the lead at the beginning of inbound sales, providing relevant, valuable resources to nurture the prospect down the funnel until he becomes a sales-qualified lead (SQL) and is handed over to sales.
When he gets into sales, your team follows up with consultation calls and conversations to convert the prospect into a customer.
Keep in mind that this process can look different for every company.
2. Outbound Sales Strategy
Outbound focuses on finding and introducing your business to potential customers through outreach activities.
These people haven’t heard about your business or consumed your marketing materials. So, they enter your sales pipeline completely cold.
How Outbound Sales Works
It begins with your SDRs prospecting for potential customers who fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) but haven’t discovered your company on their own.
These prospects may be experiencing a problem that your solution can solve.
In this case, sales reps will make first contact via cold email, cold call, or LinkedIn.
The goal is to get their attention, introduce your business, identify an opportunity or pain point and then show how your solution can close the gap.
Once you get their attention and pique their interest, your salespeople will follow up proactively to guide the prospect through the customer journey with valuable, personalized information.
This may include a series of emails, sales calls, and demos to pitch your solution and communicate the value of your offering, how specific product features can help them accomplish their objectives, and why your company is the right fit, until the prospect is ready to purchase.
Done right, outbound sales efforts can generate significant revenue for your B2B business and grow your network, and you can ramp your sales efforts up or down more easily than you do with inbound sales.
But, again, this process can differ for every company.
Read on to discover the best sales strategies to plan your sales growth.
Inbound vs Outbound Sales, Which One Should You Focus On?
The simple answer: it depends.
The main difference between inbound and outbound sales is who initiates the first contact. Forgoing one for the other could mean you’re missing out on opportunities to win over new business for your company. On the other hand, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin: if you lack the resources and experience to do both outbound and inbound at the same time, choose one.
But if you can, start using outbound sales strategies to generate quick wins and get new leads into your pipeline, while also working on your inbound marketing strategy for sustainable long-term growth.
Successful sales managers who understand the ever-changing world of B2B sales use this hybrid sales strategy to keep their pipelines full and stay profitable.
Liam Bartholomew, the Global Head of Demand Gen at Cognism, says they combine inbound and outbound sales to drive quality leads through their funnel.
Also, Luke Genoyer, Business Development Manager at United World Telecom, says:
“Our most effective strategy has been a combination of inbound and outbound sales.
“Inbound sales is a matter of casting a wide net and fishing for shrimp (high volume, short sales cycle, lower ACV). Outbound allows us to go out and spear whales (longer sales cycles, lower volume, but huge ACV).”
Now, at the center of every inbound and outbound sales effort is the customer, whether you’re selling to startups, small businesses, or Fortune 500 companies.
So, as you develop your strategy, keep your customers’ needs front and center and prioritize sales processes that allow you to fulfill those needs in the best possible way.
Ahead are the 8 best sales strategies to plan your sales growth in 2023.
Successful sales leaders swear by these strategies as they combine inbound and outbound sales methods to generate leads and close better deals.
8 Best Sales Strategies to Plan Your Sales Growth in 2023
1. Lead With Your Ideal Buyer in Mind
Not everyone is (or should be) your customer. That’s why you want to define your target market. And for your sales team to have more closed-won deals, they need to spend time with good-fit leads.
Your ideal buyer, also called your ICP (ideal customer profile), refers to the perfect customer for your company’s solution—a good-fit lead.
Taking the time to define your ICP helps your salespeople
- Prospect the right targets.
- Develop a proper lead qualification process.
- Align your solution to the ideal buyer’s pain point.
- Communicate in a more profound, meaningful way.
To create an ideal customer profile, consider the following:
- Company size and industry
- Annual revenue
- Business objectives
- Decision-making factors
- Pain points
- Benefits they’ll derive from your solution.
Companies that do not meet these criteria may not be able to buy from you. So, it’s useless spending your time and sales resources on them.
Once you define your ICP and your salespeople identify companies that fit this profile, it’s time to create buyer personas.
Buyer personas are the people your sales reps should be talking to within your ICP. These are decision makers responsible for making the purchase.
And since B2B purchase decisions are now made by buying groups (research from Forrester shows that 63% of B2B purchases have more than four people involved), you may need to create multiple buyer personas for the different buyer roles.
The goal is to understand the decision maker’s demographics, pain points, concerns, motivators, and goals. That’ll then help with setting goals for your own sales team.
It’ll help you tailor your sales message and process to the persona’s buying journey. So, your sales reps can communicate in a personalized, value-first approach, increasing their chances of closing the deal.
2. Understand Your Ideal Buyer’s Journey and Align It to Your Sales Process
The B2B buying process is nonlinear. Today’s buyers go back and forth, take forward leaps, detours and even pause during their journey from prospects to customers.
Regardless, sales managers can increase effectiveness and maximize reps’ efforts by aligning their processes to the buyers’ needs at every stage of the journey.
This means you should take a step back from viewing your buyer journey-sales process as a sequence of product/service first interactions.
Instead, focus on the buyer’s specific needs and challenges at every stage of your sales process.
The classic buyer’s journey-sales process looks like this.
The problem with this traditional adaptation is that it centers your process on a scripted sequence that doesn’t prioritize the needs of your target audience.
But an aligned buyer’s journey-sales process focused on the buyer’s needs and challenges is flexible and guides them through the buying journey.
Here’s what the sales process looks like when aligned with the buyer’s journey (real sales strategy examples in practice).
This aligned buyer’s journey sales process is customer-centric.
It allows your sales reps to have more impactful conversations and engagements with buyers, making it easy to close the sale. It’ll also bring to light which sales tools you should be employing to help reach your prospects the way they’re primed to engage with you.
With this, it doesn’t matter where or how buyers enter the pipeline. Because your sales team stays ready to offer value, share prescriptive advice, and help them overcome obstacles and objections.
3. Leverage Social Selling
With 4 out of 5 company decision makers on LinkedIn, the platform remains the top social media channel for reaching B2B customers.
B2B buyers are spending time on social media. While most prefer to use LinkedIn, others choose Twitter or Facebook to share their experiences, engage with thought leaders, and consume information.
It’s tempting to join every social media channel and jump on trending topics. But that’s not a wise approach for driving B2B sales with social.
Instead, develop a strategic sales plan to meet prospective customers on their preferred platform so you can proactively connect with them.
Use creative thinking and quality content to create one-on-one relationships with your target customers.
Start meaningful conversations. Educate them about their present and future challenges, establish yourself as an expert and then introduce your solution. It’ll help fill your inbound pipeline with good-fit leads and earn you referrals.
Social channels are also excellent for outreach activities like cold messaging. Think LinkedIn InMails.
The most important thing is to use the platform your ICP and buyer persona is most active on. Then, diligently create a social media plan that’ll help you communicate your message in a natural, value-oriented way.
4. Develop an Intelligent Prospecting Plan
A carefully planned and executed cold outreach campaign can help your sales reps close large deals.
Beginning with research. Take the time to define your ICP, select your prospects, and get to know them. Look for personal information that can positively impact your first conversation before you write any cold email or place a call.
Then, use proven cold email templates or cold calling scripts as a guide whenever you reach out to prospects. They’ll help you send powerful sales pitches, anticipate objections and handle them easily.
Next, use a CRM like Close to automate all your outreach activities, from cold calls, to emails, and SMS. Our CRM with built-in sales automation features will ensure you stay top of mind for your prospects with powerful, personalized email sequences and follow-ups.
5. Prioritize Inbound Leads
Leads that reach out to you first are highly interested in your business but don’t know enough yet to make a decision.
Prioritizing them and reaching out as soon as possible can increase your chance of closing the deal.
Ideally, you should reach out within 24 hours. It shows you’re reliable, helpful, and respectful of their time.
However, remember that your sales reps must adopt a consultative approach. Their job is to guide the lead towards the sale with valuable, solution-oriented information. So, coach them to forget pushy sales tactics with prospects.
Instead, they should help prospects overcome doubts and better understand how your solution can create value for them.
Again, remember that not all leads who call into sales are ready to buy. But constant follow-ups can keep you at the top of their minds, and fetch you a response should they decide to make a decision.
Never forget that the most successful salespeople are persistent.
6. Align Sales and Marketing Teams
Sales depend on marketing to produce leads, while marketing relies on sales to provide insights for lead generation. So, both departments need each other.
However, viewing them as independent creates misalignment when it comes time to execute your sales strategy.
When your marketing and sales teams work together, you target better opportunities, achieve better conversion rates, and accomplish the overarching business goal—increased customer acquisition and revenue.
To achieve this, sales leaders must encourage the feeling of camaraderie between sales and marketing people.
Instead of assuming separate roles in the sales strategy, they should collaborate and work towards taking a buyer-centric position.
By doing so, you create a powerful value proposition and delight buyers with a seamless buying experience. Ultimately, this will increase team performance, attract the right prospects, and keep your pipeline full.
7. Tilt Towards Account-Based Selling
Since multiple people make B2B buying decisions, it makes sense for sales teams to target all members of the buying group instead of individual buyers.
This approach is called account-based selling and involves all departments in your company, from sales to marketing, customer success, sales development, finance, and even the C-suite.
With account-based selling, your teams work together to pursue multiple stakeholders within your target company as a market of one. This means engaging multiple people with different pain points, motivators, and goals across multiple channels.
Account-based selling allows your people to close target accounts with an approach that is unique to them.
You can offer personalized marketing content and sales advice, provide a custom onboarding experience, identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and develop custom features to meet their specific needs.
These help your organization ensure customer satisfaction, nurture existing customer relationships, increase retention, reduce churn and earn referrals.
8. Maintain Flexibility
A great sales rep can’t afford to be rigid.
Particularly when dealing with multiple personas within an organization, you must be able to accommodate their unique needs and desires.
Instead of saying “no,” “I can’t,” or “it’s impossible,” be willing to consult with other members of your team to see if you can help each customer fulfill their needs.
Saying no negates the consultative, problem-solving approach expected of salespeople.
But remaining flexible and accommodating helps you close better deals faster. Sales managers should convey this approach in their sales training sessions.
Managing and Adapting Your Sales Strategy to the Real World
As you take the time to create your sales strategy plan, remember to put the needs of your buyer front and center.
The entirety of your strategy should revolve around delivering a unique experience that attracts ideal buyers into your pipeline and encourages existing ones to remain loyal to your product and brand.
Whether this means using outbound or inbound sales, you can use Close to manage your prospects, launch targeted outreach campaigns, keep your pipeline organized, close deals faster, and build a high-performing sales force.
You can start keeping a pulse on your workflow, prioritizing leads, and tracking sales activities today with a 14-day free trial of Close.
Get Our Free Sales Strategy Template
This easy-to-use template will show you how to develop a successful sales strategy, even if you’ve never created one before.
It guides you step-by-step through the process of creating an ideal customer profile, defining your value proposition, producing sales documentation, establishing benchmarks, deciding on lead generation strategies, building your lead qualification process, and much more.
Whether you’re building your sales strategy from scratch or already have one in place, this template will help you level up your sales organization.