A Sales Leader’s Blueprint for 2014


Share on LinkedIn

Your Sales Strategy

It is one thing to have a sales strategy. It is entirely different to have one you and your team can execute. You know you need to begin planning for 2014 now. VPs of Sales are asking the question “What have I done before?”. You start building from that point. This is flawed. Why? Market conditions 12 months ago were very different. If you take the easy approach, your plan will have incorrect assumptions.

VPs of Sales are asking questions like:

  • Is our Sales Process good enough?
  • How should we be using social media?
  • How many heads do I need?
  • Should I push my boss to change the comp plan?
  • When should I replace my ‘C’ players?
  • Are my Sales Managers good enough?

Do This—Start with a Sales Strategy Blueprint.

The Sales Strategy Blueprint Tool

To have a sales strategy you can execute, it must follow a structured path. Sign up for SBI’s free onsite research session here. By doing so, you will receive:

  • A copy of a Sales Strategy Blueprint. It is the best framework we have seen to build an executable sales strategy.
  • Detailed set of questions that guide you through developing your strategy.
  • Guidance of what to do vs. what not to do. Over 125 sales executives participated in vetting this approach.

An Example—The visual is an example of the Sales Strategy Blueprint. There are 4 sections. The two most important things when building your sales strategy are prioritizing and order. You will choose initiatives this year to prioritize. Which ones? Secondly, you will want each initiative to build on each other. The order of your initiatives is critical. This is what makes a strategy go from theory to execution.Vps of Sales

Phase 1 – Develop the Sales Strategy – This section aligns corporate strategy for the upcoming year with the sales strategy.

Why This Matters—The size of your addressable market has shifted. Key buying personas have changed how they buy. Generating demand inside these customers is different. Your reps utilizing social and mobile tools consistently was not in your ’13 plan. You sell to a more informed buyer.

Phase 2 – Develop Go To Market Plan – Many sales VPs don’t know the best route to market.

Why This Matters-The optimal routes to market have changed. You may need more partners. You may need to increase the size of inside sales. The need for distributors may have become more critical.

Phase 3 – Sales Force Design – How many reps and what type?

Why This Matters- Your region may need more hunters than last year. You need to add vertical specialists because your group struggled with the new product. Because of this, the number of reps you have is impacted. Too few, you leave money on the table. Too many, you erode profitability. You must match selling capacity with market demand.

Phase 4 – Sales Infrastructure – Create optimal performance conditions. Territory design, quotas and compensation plans. Talent Management and gamification sit in this area.

Why This Matters-These items will only be effective when tied to proper review of the first three. They are the enablers when the first three sections are done correctly.

An Example

Steve is a VP of The Americas of a large enterprise software company. Steve asked us to stress test his 2014 sales plan. Steve’s quantitative goals:

  • Grow revenues 14%
  • Improve new logo acquisition by 11%
  • Launch a new product
  • Reduce turnover from 33% to 20% (had an unfortunate spike this year)

Steve told us he was going to build 3 elements into his plan for 2014.

  1. Change the compensation plan to incent new logo growth by adding an accelerator.
  2. Increase base pay by 7-9% across the board to help with retention.
  3. Sales training. Steve wanted to roll out an updated sales process for the new product. It was to be led by corporate trainers.

Steve’s plan was flawed. Why? He was out of order. Steve went with what he knows. These are the common tweaks companies deploy. Compensation plans come last not first. How does increasing base pay improve how his team engages with the changing buyer? Why are reps not being taught how to generate demand in the new prospects? Shouldn’t the front line sales managers be leading the training and it be buyer centric?

Steve’s new plan

  1. Account Segmentation—Steve had not defined the size of the market. He had not clearly defined the TAM for new logos or the new product
  2. Lead Generation—Steve had not built leads into his plan. How was he going to teach his team to generate appointments inside their target prospects? (Steve is going to use social selling to solve this)
  3. Sales Process—Steve’s was using a sales process from 2008. They had not built a new process aligned to how their customer buys.

What Sales Leaders Should Do Now

  1. Pull out last year’s sales strategy
  2. Review it with this example. This will help you complete your own gap analysis.
  3. Complete the Strategy Blueprint Tool for 2014. Register here to get it. By doing so, you will see in which of the 4 areas you are strong or weak. You will test your thinking against a best in class blueprint.

The ability to stress test your plan against others is a unique opportunity. You cannot make the ’14 number running the ’13 plan and a few updates. Do not start your planning with “what have I done before?”.

The question you should ask is “what is possible?” This tool will help you come up with the answer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Sharrers
Matt Sharrers serves as Partner of SBI. Matt works primarily in the Fortune 500 with clients including: Ryder, Integrated Device Technology, Informatica and Danaher. Matt is the author of "Promoted to VP of Sales: The Year 1 Toolkit". His work has been profiled in Sales and Service Excellence, Sales Journal Constitution and Leadership Excellence.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here