The Difference Between Sales Process and Sales Strategy

Sales strategy and sales process both matter

Sales Process and Sales Strategy Matter
Far too many sales teams confuse sales process and sales strategy – much to their disadvantage. This is because a sales team with a viable, well-considered sales strategy is far more likely to be successful than a team that simply follows a proven sales process…even if they follow it “by the book.”

Sales Strategy
Good sales leaders start by creating a sales strategy that is aligned with the overall business strategy by outlining the clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take. Our organizational alignment research found that strategic sales clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing sales teams in terms of revenue, profitability, customer retention and employee engagement.

Sales Strategy Questions
A solid sales strategy answers the following questions:

  • Who is our ideal target client where should we win the majority of the time?
  • What differentiates us from the competition in the eyes of our target clients in a way that allows for premium pricing, increases qualified leads and improves customer retention?
  • How will sales success and failure be measured?
  • What are the top barriers we face over the next 12-to-36 months?
  • What critical few actions will we take in the next  12-to-36 months to execute our sales strategy and overcome the obstacles we identified?

Sales Process
While the sales strategy answers who, what and why, a sales process is important because it tells you how and when to conduct the sales cycle from beginning to end in a way that makes sense for your unique sales strategy. A consistent sales process is paramount for effective sales pipeline management and is associated with higher quota attainment, increased win rates and lower sales force attrition.

Attributes of an Effective Sales Process
From our experience, an effective sales process has the following attributes:

  • Buying process-centric, not selling-process-centric.
  • Clearly defined, repeatable and simple, not random or informal.
  • Enforced and modeled by sales leadership on a consistent basis, not just when times are tough.
  • Adopted by the vast majority of the sales force, not just the new folks.
  • Periodically reviewed and continuously improved based upon market conditions and sales strategies, not left along to languish.
  • Enables the sales force to play to their strengths and to focus on helping clients to succeed, not a one-size fits all.

The Bottom Line
Both sales process and sales strategy matter. Just don’t think you have a sales strategy when all you have is a sales process or visa versa.

To learn more about sales process and sales strategy, please download: Is Your Sales Strategy Clear Enough to Act?

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