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Business-to-Business (B2B) sales have come a long way. It is no longer about pushing the customers to purchase a product. B2B sales is all about building and nurturing relationships with prospects, understanding their needs, and adding value through a relevant solution.
The B2B sales industry has a lot of opportunities.
However, this also means that the competition in this industry will also increase in the coming years.
So what is the way out?
To begin with, B2B sales teams should follow a strong sales strategy framework that generates and converts leads seamlessly. In this comprehensive guide, we will let you know the steps to create such a sales strategy plan from scratch.
5 Steps to Build a Sales Strategy Plan for your Business
A sales strategy framework is the cornerstone of your entire sales process. From defining target buyer profiles to converting leads, a sales strategy includes all critical details in a single place.
Here is the step-by-step plan to build your sales strategy framework:
Step 1: Create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
A B2B business cannot sell to everyone. It is a common misconception that a larger customer base is synonymous with high revenue. In fact, B2B businesses should invest more in customizing their products to make them suitable for their target audiences.
The question that pertains here is, how can you customize your product for the target audiences? And the answer would be by creating dedicated ICPs for different customer segments.
You can start creating your ICP by asking the answers to following questions:
- What are the demographics (location, age, etc.) of your prospects?
- What are the challenges they are dealing with?
- How can your product solve their pain points?
Finding the answers to these questions can help your sales team in the long run. It will ensure that they have a clear idea about the prospects and there is no room for assumption. With a specific ICP, sales teams can:
- Interview prospects and offer them a solution that exactly matches their pain points
- Understand how to approach a prospect with a significant buyer persona
- What objections to expect from each user persona and how to find a solution for the same
- How to create a personalized sales process for each ICP
Step 2: Research your target market and develop a USP
Once you successfully define your ICP, the next step is to conduct in-depth research in the target market for a clear understanding of the competitors’ strategies. This will help you identify the gap and develop a unique USP.
Some of the key questions to get started with competitor research are:
- How many competitors are present in the market?
- Who are the key players and what are their value propositions?
- How fast the market is growing and what are the scaling opportunities?
The answers to these questions will help you gain better insights into the market. The sales reps will use these datasets to figure out the gaps in the target industry and accordingly they will develop their sales strategy.
The next step is to identify a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) based on the target market and competitor information. It is one of the most critical steps as a value proposition or USP can make or break your sales strategy.
An ideal USP should answer one question - why should the prospects invest in your solution when there are some existing competitors/alternatives in the market?
To find an answer to this question, you need to address the following aspects:
- The pain point you are trying to solve
- The solutions you can offer to solve it
- The products you are offering and how they differ from what your competitors offer
- The problem that none of your competitors can solve
Your USP should be a combination of all these factors that specifically highlights why prospects must invest in your product.
See how Slack has summed up the value proposition in a brief yet specific way. With a single glance, you will know what Slack does and who should use this tool.
The value proposition should be crafted in a way that leaves no room for confusion.
Step 3: Define your sales process
The integral part of any sales strategy is the sales process. Sales teams should document the steps that the sales reps will follow to convert a lead into a customer.
A common B2B sales process is:
- Identifying the target prospects
- Reaching out to the targeted prospects
- Performing nurturing strategies to qualify them
- Conducting in-depth market research
- Drafting a unique sales pitch that addresses prospects’ pain points and offers a solution
- Handling objections from the prospect
- Closing the deal
However, it may vary based on the organization and its target market.
Here’s a blog that explains the concept of B2B sales process and the steps of the B2B sales cycle in an in-depth manner - B2B Sales Cycle - Length, Stages & Process - A comprehensive Guide for Sales Teams in 2022
Step 4: Map the process of converting leads to customers
Converting leads into customers is the ultimate goal of any sales strategy. Mapping the lead conversion process can help the sales teams to repurpose the same template as per their requirements.
The customer conversion map must include the following aspects:
- The targeted business challenge
- The ICP you are considering
- The respective stage of the sales process where the prospect belongs
For each problem identified by a business, it is the sales reps’ responsibility to navigate the prospects toward the solutions. The possible steps in this process can be:
- Validating the business challenge and identifying different pain points
- Identifying a solution based on the cause and the possible approaches
- Mapping an ideal solution that matches each pain point
- Performing a value analysis to understand the long-term impact of implementing the solution
- Presenting proof to the prospects on what results they can expect and why
The purpose of mapping your customer conversion process is to ensure that at each stage of the buyer journey, customer pain points are addressed.
Step 5: Develop and execute a coaching framework to train the reps
A major step in forming a sales strategy is to plan a consistent sales coaching and training process. Regular training and upskilling are essential for the sales reps to stay updated about changing industry trends. Such training can help them know what's working and what’s not so that they can personalize their sales approach.
This is true for experienced sales reps as well as new sales reps.
What is better than a regular sales coaching program?
A data-driven, automated, real-time coaching program where the sales reps can get 1:1 assistance and improve their sales approach.
It is possible with Salesken. Salesken’s sales coaching software helps sales reps to:
- Identify the points of improvement, having a built-in emotion detection engine
- Personalize training for each sales rep and provide constructive feedback to improve their sales pitch
- Generate and convert leads faster with the Good Call engine that creates winning call profiles for each prospect
Mistakes to Avoid while Developing your Sales Strategy Framework
Now that you know what to do while building a sales strategy framework, you must also know what NOT to do. Here are a few mistakes that sales reps often make while developing their sales strategy:
1. Imitating a competitor’s vision
Every organization should have a different vision that matches its own value proposition and target prospects. Even though two organizations are operating in the same industry, it is unlikely that their visions will be similar.
Startups often make the mistake of imitating their competitors’ vision while starting. It can not lead businesses to long-term success. Ideally, refining a competitor’s vision should be done and personalizing it based on your brand positioning.
2. Crafting a sales-y USPs
Clearly, sales-y USPs and pitches won’t help here. For B2B audiences, reps should rather focus on crafting unique USPs that match their requirements and that show how you can solve their challenges.
B2B decision-makers don’t like to feel that something is being “sold” to them. Rather, they prefer selecting a product that adds maximum value.
3. Neglecting prospects’ expectations
B2B sales reps should prioritize prospects’ emotions and needs over everything. The sales calls should be more about how reps can help the prospect and less about how good a product is.
A large part of buyer decision-making is based on the emotional aspects. If the prospects feel that your product can solve their problem, they will consider buying it. It is all about winning their trust and navigating through their needs.
4. Neglecting the marketing team
Sales and marketing teams go hand-in-hand. Hence, both teams should communicate the same brand messaging to the prospects. The marketing team is responsible for creating content for different channels of an organization and content plays a key role in brand communication.
When your marketing and sales teams scream the same brand message, it becomes clearer for audiences to develop trust.
A sales strategy framework helps businesses to streamline their sales operations and strengthen their lead generation game. The steps mentioned here can help new sales reps to get started with building their sales plan.
It is common to face some challenges in the process but the long-term gains of developing a sales strategy are exceptional. B2B prospects are consistently self-educating themselves and a definitive sales strategy can ensure that you get noticed in this highly competitive world of B2B sales.
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