How to Sell Strategically

If you want to maximize your sales performance, take a strategic approach to selling. After all, wouldn't you agree that "the 80/20 rule" applies to customers, where approximately 20 percent of customers produce approximately 80 percent of sales?

The starting point for strategic selling is figuring out a) which customers produce the bulk of your sales, and b) what they are buying. Armed with this information, you can strategically plan how to increase sales.

Critical Data Elements

If you want to sell strategically, you need to have access to specific data elements. Plus, you need to be willing to perform data analysis.

Which data elements do you need? This list provides a reasonable starting point:

  • Customer Name
  • Revenue by Month by Customer
  • Gross Margin or Gross Profit by Month by Customer (this is only necessary if it impacts your performance measurements)
  • Product or Service Name (for each product or service purchased by each customer)
  • Product or Service Quantity (for each product or service purchased by each customer)
  • Product or Service Unit Price (for each product or service purchased by each customer)
  • Product or Service Extended Price (quantity x unit price)
This data can be used to analyze the buying habits of your customers. Sort it in various ways to answer the following questions:
  • Which customers buy the most from you?
  • What is the trend for each customer's purchases? Are they buying more or less when you compare the current month to preceding months? How about when you compare the current month to the same month in the previous year?
  • Which products or services are they buying?
  • Are the amounts purchased in line with your expectations and the commitments that have been made by your customers?
  • Which products or services are they not buying?
  • Why aren't they buying these other products or services?
Once you have completed the first stage of analysis, consider this next set of questions:
  • How much time should you allocate to each customer in your territory? (Tip: You should spend 80 percent of your time with the customers that buy the most and/or offer the greatest potential for sales growth.)
  • What is your plan for increasing sales to each of your customers? (This includes selling more of what they have already been buying, and selling other products or services that they haven't purchased from you previously.)
  • Which new prospects should you pursue? (Tip: Which prospects can your existing customers refer you to? Which prospects have the greatest potential to produce significant sales?)
It may not be easy for companies to extract the data that is required to support strategic selling. However, arming salespeople with this data is the best investment a company can possibly make. Strategic selling enables salespeople to maximize their sales, which in turn maximizes the company's overall sales and profitability.

How frequently should the data be made available to salespeople? If sales cycles are relatively short, it would be ideal for the data to be available on demand, with the minimum frequency being weekly. For longer sales cycles, providing the data on a monthly basis may be adequate.

Strategic selling begins with data availability. If you are going to maximize sales, you need to be able to analyze your customers' buying patterns to determine how to prioritize your efforts. Which customers should you spend the bulk of your time with? How much time should you allocate to each customer? How will you increase sales to specific customers? Which new prospects should you pursue?

Plan your work, work your plan, and compare your results frequently against your quota and personal goals. Sell strategically to maximize your sales, minimize unpleasant surprises, and maximize your earnings!

Copyright 2005 -- Alan Rigg

Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling: Why Most Salespeople Don't Perform and What to Do About It. To learn more about his book and sign up for more FREE sales and sales management tips, visit http://www.8020performance.com.

In The News:

Why Women Are the Future of B2B Sales  Harvard Business Review
Label & Marketing Manager  Pedestrian TV
Your Family Business Needs a Deep Bench  Harvard Business Review
MOVING AHEAD  Daytona Beach News-Journal
Gary Harp  Bloomington Pantagraph
Leistritz Hires John Ross as Sales Manager  Pumps & Systems Magazine
Mortgage Processing Manager  Charlotte Agenda

Generous Donor Refused (how qualified business slipped away)

Generous Donor RefusedPicture this. You are a fund development director... Read More

Getting Off The Advertising And Sales Rollercoaster

Seeing the results of advertising your business can be like... Read More

Transforming Your Sales Force by Creating Specific Expectations

I just finished a phone call with a potential client... Read More

How to Sharpen Your Sales Message with Do-it-Yourself Focus Groups - Small Business Power Tools

You've probably heard of focus groups. It's a tool that... Read More

How To Become A Better Sales Manager

YIPPEE! Kendra won, or should I say, "She was hired,"... Read More

Hiring--A Vital Key In Sales Management Success

Recently, I was asked to spend some time on the... Read More

Sex, Drugs, & Rock-n-Roll: Trade Show Traps and Tips

Sex, Drugs & Rock-n-RollHere's the Scenario...You're at a trade show.... Read More

Shorten Sales Cycles in Complex Sales Environments

Help buyers discover the answers they need to understand and... Read More

Sales & Marketing Plan Strategies

Design and Implementation of a new Sales & Marketing campaign... Read More

Effective Sales Territory Management

How you prioritize your sales territory management activities depends upon... Read More

3 Secrets That Set The Context For Sales Success

In today's competitive environment, every organization is trying to improve... Read More

7 Tips for Testing Your Sales and Marketing

One marketing technique may work wonders for someone, but that... Read More

Sex, Drugs, & Rock-n-Roll at Trade Shows

Here's the Scenario...You're at a trade show. Out of town.... Read More

10 Things to Help Your Business When Sales Are Slow During the Holidays

Twiddling your thumbs and waiting for some business to come... Read More

3 Steps To Getting A Sales Meeting

The best way to get a new customer is to... Read More

It?s Time For A Sales Management Revolution

Are you dog tired because of the way you manage... Read More

The Spirit Of Change

A Highly Conscious Approach To Business Management. For more on... Read More

Make Time, Not Excuses

There are four primary activities that successful salespeople engage in... Read More

Sales Plan? Whats a Sales Plan?

In the past, if you said the word "plan" to... Read More

To Increase Your Sales and Revenue Make Sure To Add Value

What are you and your company's services and products worth... Read More

Energize Your Organization

No matter what you do, it seems, your employees do... Read More

How to Improve Your Management Procedures Usability

Are your people consistently following your procedures? Each year, organizations... Read More

Producing Premium Performance

One of the major issues that arises in managing a... Read More

Raise Your Fees Overnight!

Do you want to make more money?Yes, I guess that... Read More

Discounting Your Way Into Sales Oblivion

I don't even like saying the word d---------g. I have... Read More