Strategies to Increase Sales: Planning Ahead for Success
Visualization is an important sports psychology technique that the best athletes use. It has a demonstrable effect on individuals and teams, too: if you can see victory in your mind’s eye, and if you can imagine it in fine detail, you have a better chance of making it a reality.
For sales leaders, visualization is just as important. You may have goals for your team, such as increased sales volume, year-over-year revenue growth or improved rep performance, but what would that success look like in practice? How would a high-flying team operate? How would they be different from the team you have now?
This is future state planning – figuring out the exact conditions required to increase sales. For example, if you know you can’t reach your targets without growing your client base, you know that your ideal future state needs to involve improved demand generation. That addition may require some structural changes, as many do.
Thinking about future state is really about figuring out where you need to focus your resources TODAY. There are several things you need to consider, such as:
1. Do we have the right coverage in the marketplace?
If your future state involves significant growth, it seems logical that you will have to commit to greater market coverage. After all, you can’t have more customers unless you have more salespeople operating in a wider area, right?
It probably will be the case that you’ll have to commit greater resources, but before doing so you should focus on market coverage optimization. Is your current team everything you need to pursue opportunities, build pipeline and maximize return on investment? Make sure you’re making the most of your existing resources before you start adding to the team.
2. Does our organization properly support our people?
To optimize market coverage and promote sales, you need to ensure that your team is set up to succeed. That means providing them with the right sales tools, ensuring they are familiar with every aspect of the solutions they’re selling, helping them to manage objections such as Do Nothing and Do It Internally, and assigning them to markets with significant revenue opportunities.
It can also mean reviewing your expectations for their performance. One common mistake we see often with sales managers is too much of a focus on the short-term, pushing reps to focus on the current forecast and not thinking of the greater opportunity within a territory or account. Reaching your future state and increasing sales in the long term means thinking beyond the next quarter. The focus may need to switch to identifying and pursuing opportunities and maximizing the lifetime value of each client relationship.
3. Do we have the right marketing alignment?
The relationship between sales and marketing has never been more important. Gone are the days of clear hand-offs and the lines are now blurred. Increased integration demands improved sales and marketing alignment.
How will your marketing alignment work in your future state? Will you invest in sales enablement, bringing marketing and sales closer together? Will you continue to focus on traditional sales channels or move toward more creative strategies to increase sales such as social selling? Whatever your future state, remember that having the right relationship between sales and marketing is crucial to success.
4. Are we underinvesting in any areas?
As you build a detailed version of your future state, you should start to develop an idea of areas that need more development. This may mean improving the sales tools available, restructuring the organization to maximize market coverage, putting more resources into marketing, or just hiring more people to aid expansion.
Once you have identified an area of underinvestment, you should address the problem immediately. Underinvestment in sales is, by definition, the most urgent priority in any business. If revenues aren’t where they need to be, other areas of the business will miss out on vital resources. Fix whatever needs to be fixed in order to reach the desired future state.
5. Are we over-investing in any areas?
This is where future state planning can truly help you. Chances are, not all of your current resource usage is essential for reaching your goals. For example, you may have people working on low-yield accounts, or focused on selling solutions that don’t offer the best opportunities for future up-selling.
If you know the precise details of your future state, you will be able to identify those areas where resources are utilized in a way that isn’t complementary to the overall strategic vision. You can then align these resources with your goals, ensuring that everyone is heading in the same direction.
Winners leave nothing to chance. Tiny details can mean the difference between success and failure. Own the detail vision of your ideal future state. Having a clear picture of success means you can develop a road map to get there.