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Strategic Sales Execution: The Flywheel of Creating and Implementing a Winning Sales Process 

Aparna Shah
October 19, 2022

Benjamin Franklin’s adage- “ If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, readily applies to the B2B sales cycle. 

If your sales team fails to have the plan to win specific opportunities, you will likely lose more deals than win.

According to a Harvard Business Review, sales organizations are most effective at managing their sales pipelines if they define a credible, formalized sales strategy and put structures and processes in place to deliver on them consistently.

 

Creating a deal strategy is good, but executing it as planned is what makes the forecast accurate

Strategic sales execution doesn’t transpire overnight but results from thoughtful planning, sales enablement and reinforcing key behaviors during execution. You might argue, “But we’ve already trained our reps on the sales process and methodology; isn’t that what leads to great sales execution?” 

While sales leaders may create an end-to-end sales playbook, there is a notable gap in its execution.  The problem is that most forecasting processes — although designed to provide real-time information on current opportunities — only give you a point-in-time snapshot. But to understand how your opportunities will land, you must understand their buyer journey: What is the buying process? Are you in touch with all relevant stakeholders? How clear is the value proposition and aligned with the buyers’ priorities? Does the champion agree with this?

If your sales playbook doesn’t help your sellers uncover and navigate these nuanced situations, they won’t adopt it, further leading your sales managers to spend more time in pipeline and deal reviews to uncover potential risks. 

How do you ensure your sellers are doing well? 

Knowing what great sales execution looks like is only half the battle, but working towards consistent adoption to win deals will take time and effort. So what does it take to execute a winning sales strategy? In this blog, we’ve categorically highlighted four critical factors that influence your sales execution strategy.  

 

1. Know Your Relationships 

In an enterprise sales opportunities, there are three critical challenges that sales reps encounter: 

  1. Decision-making groups are more diverse and complicated today than they were yesterday. 
  2. Key stakeholders have priorities that often differ, making it hard to create a consensus decision among buying stakeholders for your solution. 
  3. The most lucrative key accounts have many sellers competing for their attention, further increasing the difficulty of breaking through to contacts blockaded by outsiders. 

Identifying buyer stakeholders, the influencer maps in buying groups while multi-threading to win trust is critical to get a collective ‘yes’ in moving the deal forward. And enabling your frontline seller to do that is critical to sales execution.

2. Aligning with buyers’ buying process 

There are two big stages in any sales process - becoming the vendor of choice and signing the contract. So many things need to fall in place for you to win a deal. One bad step, and whoop! Your deal slips into the next quarter. Once the opportunity becomes real, the seller should uncover: 

1. What is the evaluation criteria: what specific problems, solution, or proof point does the buyer need as part of the evaluation? What does it take to get a collective yes?

2. What is the buying process after the vendor of choices: Is there more scrutiny on new purchases? How does commercial negotiation work in this company?

3. Who needs to be involved in the evaluation: How do you ensure they are all operating out of the same playbook and delivering the best buying experience?

4. Have you purchased anything in your company before? If so, can you share what that buying process looks like?

The seller's ability to uncover specific nuances in the buying process for a particular opportunity is what will help them win deals in a predictable timeframe. How are you ensuring your sellers are doing that? 

3. Aligning on Pain-Gain-Value 

In the modern B2B buying process, Value > Solution. How well your sellers identify real challenges and show how your solution can uniquely solve that problem is what will help them win deals predictably. How would your salespeople do that consistently?

  1. Active reinforcement of pain-gain through the sales cycle: Start every call with an opportunity by summarizing your understanding of pain-gain-value and get buyers to provide feedback. Ensure your sellers document the Business Objectives and one-page Executive Summary that can be reviewed by the buyer(s) and the internal teams. You will be able to separate the real opportunities from others.
  2. Do champion deck from call 1: While most sellers create champion decks towards the end of the sales cycle (when they have a champion who will carry them to the finish line), have your sellers to create champion decks as part of every strategic pursuit. This will force your sellers to think hard about the unique pain-gain-value your solution can offer. 

Selling in the modern world is much more about clear value than what it was 5-10 years ago. Ensuring your sellers do that consistently is foundational to sales success

4. High-Impact Activities 

In any enterprise sales cycle, there are some high-impact activities. For example, value workshops, custom demos, POVs etc. While your sales playbook can provide recommendations, the actual execution is left to individuals. For example, let's say you are doing a 3-month POV. The seller and the sales engineer must work with the buyer on the scoping, aligning and executing of the POV. There are several moving parts - POV success criteria, action plan to make the POV successful, ownership of tasks and sequence of events etc. How well your sales team executes, these high-value activities will be the difference between winning and losing. 

What now? 

We have been winning deals by taking control of the sales process for years. While that will continue to be true, the new world requires giving some of the control to the buyer and using that to drive accountability. 

Unfortunately, this is not a training or enablement problem. This goes into the core of your sales strategy - sales execution. What are you doing to redefine your sales execution for modern buyer preferences? 

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