No sales strategy is perfect, but the best ones are dynamic. They evolve with the business.
Think about that for a moment. When was the last time you updated your sales strategy? If you haven’t refreshed anything in years, you’re at a serious disadvantage.
Because like most things in the business world, outdated processes can mean the difference between being out-of-touch with clients, or not. It’s also a weakness that your competition can exploit.
Of course, it is difficult to quantify a transformation if you already have a successful strategy in place, especially if it’s been the same for years. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?
Chances are, it’s still outdated and deserves to be revamped. Fortunately, there are a few signs that will tell you when it’s time for a sales refresh.
1. Your Sales Team Is Unhappy
Your people are down in the trenches, so they know what’s working and what isn’t. If they are unsatisfied or unhappy with existing strategies, it’s time to change things up.
Incorporate their feedback into future plans. Do they have any suggestions for improvement? What do they have the most difficulty with? What are some common problems they encounter when trying to close a sale?
2. Identifying Your Target Audience is Difficult
You can’t make a sale unless you know how to spot the right buyers. Even if you do, you won’t be able to replicate the success.
To understand a target audience, you need valuable insights about your ideal customer. What’s the demographic and what are their relevant traits? What are they looking for? What questions do they need to have answered?
Some of this information can be gained through new leads, others must be discerned during or after the sale. If your current strategy doesn’t allow you to obtain these insights, you need to shake things up.
81% of sales reps believe it is important to have a connected view of data across the entire customer journey. A lack of integrated systems, for collecting and processing this information, is what is likely holding many businesses back — only 49% says they have fully integrated systems.
3. Your Team Is Not Properly Trained
Part of the sales process involves training current, future, and potential candidates. They must understand not just how to close a sale, but how your products and services provide for customers, and how to support them in the long term. After a sale will they need to follow up to collect additional information or discuss a service plan? Would upselling be beneficial, and why? How do they use the tools at their disposal?
A sales call can cost from $90 to $500 — or higher depending on the type of call — and that loss grows even more when an opportunity is missed. Every team member that’s untrained and unprepared is throwing money away, likely with each correspondence. That’s why proper training and guidance are so vital to a healthy process.
Salespeople may come to the table with talent and skill, but that doesn’t mean they should be thrown to the sharks as soon as they sign on. They need training, guidance, and sometimes mentorship. Your sales strategies should incorporate this, and if they don’t, it’s time to improve your employee onboarding process.
4. Leads Have Fallen Off a Cliff
Sales isn’t just about the wins, it’s also about generating new leads and potential revenue sources. Typically, you’re passing those leads on to your sales team, who will close the deal. But they can’t do anything if there are no new opportunities.
Review your lead generation methods and compare them to historic data to understand how they have progressed. If you’re generating more leads, and the total continues to grow, then you’re all set! If the numbers are declining, or have fallen off completely, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
5. You Have Something New to Offer
You don’t have to update your sales strategy every time you introduce a new product or service, but you should definitely assess the playing field. Sometimes, your budget, marketing, and sales can fall out of alignment with the new direction you’re going.
Take some time before and after each change, whether that’s a product launch or a new marketing campaign, and consider changing up your sales ops. For example, if you go from selling a product to selling one with a subscription or service tacked on, those are two very different sales opportunities. You’ll need to adapt your strategies to match.
6. You’re Lacking Necessary Support
According to Data Dwell, 1 in 5 sales teams doesn’t have the necessary resources to reinforce workflows. What’s more, 65% of sales managers say a lack of resources and time are the biggest barriers to closing more sales.
Do you have support in place for all of the foundational elements? Those include:
- Discovering potential prospects
- Managing new leads
- Conducting sales and follow-up interviews
- Scheduling meetings, appointments, and more
- Communicating with clients
- Invoicing and financial reporting
- Sales auditing
If there are bottlenecks or slowdowns at any of those points, you either need to upgrade your sales system, find a new tool, or revamp the entire strategy. Contention with any one of these requirements will hinder your sales team and your ability to utilize sales data.
It May Be Time, Anyway
If you’re looking at all of these signs, but you haven’t refreshed your sales process in two years or more, then it’s overdue anyway. The best sales processes are dynamic and will evolve with the business, new offerings, and even customer or employee demands. If your sales team is unhappy, for example, then it’s time to shake things up a little.
You should also consider a refresh if you’re not getting the insights you need if you’re lacking some of the foundational support and resources, or if most of your leads have begun to dry up. You should also have a program in place to train your sales team and continue honing their skills the longer they stay with the company.
If you recognize any of these things, you should kick it into gear and begin revising your sales strategy.
Guest Author: Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.