Sales Strategy: Playbooks and Templates for Successful Teams

Dave Cherrie
August 12, 2022

A B2B sales strategy helps your sales team identify and achieve goals by describing the best ways to sell to your ideal customer.

Seems simple, right? Maybe not.

In a 2022 survey, Gartner found that 83% of B2B buyers prefer a digital approach to ordering and paying for purchases. That means your sales strategy requires more thought and a mix of methods. An effective sales strategy can help your company reach B2B buyers wherever they feel most comfortable. 

But don't scrap your traditional sales tactics or plaster the web with ads just yet. Here are some of the best ways to craft a winning B2B sales strategy that keeps your sales team engaged and your leads interested.

Motivate your sales team with simple compensation.

Arcade found the best compensation plan to keep sales teams motivated and streamline your payroll process. Get your free copy now.

What is a sales strategy?

A sales strategy is a plan that goes over the actions, decisions, and goals your sales team needs to know to succeed. A good sales strategy guides your team from lead generation to the moment they close deals.

Some common types of sales strategies include:

  • Cold calling
  • Product or service demonstrations
  • Social media advertising and content
  • SEO and educational content
  • Thought leadership
  • Word-of-mouth and referrals

It’s worth noting that a compelling sales strategy should include more than one tactic. A multichannel approach can target customers in the areas they regularly use, such as social media or Google search. This is much more powerful than an approach that targets only one area.

The biggest takeaway to remember about your sales strategy is that it should be customized for your ideal potential customer.

Inbound vs. outbound sales

You may see the words “inbound” and “outbound” paired with different sales strategies, but what’s the difference?

Inbound sales is a newer approach that focuses on the buyer’s actions to determine the right sales process, including using data to optimize the sales pipeline. Inbound sales also requires marketing and sales to work together to offer the value and information a buyer seeks.

The goal of inbound sales is to add value to every stage of the buyer’s journey — from awareness to consideration to finally making a decision.

Outbound sales is a more traditional approach that revolves around the actions of the seller — usually cold calls, emails, and paid advertising. Data is still used to optimize the sales pipeline, but marketing and sales are kept separate. This can cause a confusing experience for the buyer, especially if marketing and sales content don’t match.

Outbound sales can still succeed when approached the right way. According to HubSpot, 60% of buyers still prefer to chat with a sales rep after they’ve researched their options.

Why is a sales strategy important?

A clear sales strategy keeps your sales team — and entire company — from charging in blindly and leaving success to chance. It identifies a set of realistic goals and processes that act as a roadmap for your sales reps and marketing professionals. 

Not only will a strategy allow you to successfully reach your ideal customer at the ideal time, but it can help you differentiate your brand from the competition.

Your sales strategy can also inform future decisions made by your sales and marketing teams. Change is guaranteed, and a strategy can guide your teams as they adapt to new challenges and opportunities throughout the sales cycle.

Need help starting your sales plan?

Download our free sales strategy plan template.

How to write an effective sales strategy and plan

A good sales strategy plan should explain the who, what, where, why, when, and how regarding questions the sales team may have as they source, qualify, and nurture leads. Your sales plan is also an excellent chance to spot any missed opportunities or potential roadblocks and guide your team to success.

Here’s a guide to the sections your sales plan should include, plus seven free sales plan templates to get you started.

1. Set marketing and sales goals

Goals should not only be exciting for a company in terms of opportunity but also motivating for your sales and marketing teams. That means each goal should take into account how both teams can contribute.

Each goal should be SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive. When setting goals, be sure to identify and provide the necessary systems, tools, and resources each team needs to meet their target quotas and initiatives.

Potential sales goals or KPIs can include:

  • Qualified leads
  • Organic SEO traffic
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Lifetime value of a customer
  • Return on investment (ROI)

2. Identify your key customers

If you haven’t already, you should take this opportunity to dive into audience research and pinpoint who exactly your prospective customers are. 

Be sure to note relevant demographic details, as well as their role in the company, whether they’re a decision maker (or report to one), their pain points, and their needs.

Identifying these key characteristics can help you create a buyer persona. You can also use a tool, like HubSpot’s free Make My Persona tool, to create a visual customer profile to share with your sales and marketing teams.

3. Conduct a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. When you look at it in relation to the sales goals you outlined in step one, the SWOT analysis shows you a clear path toward those goals.

A SWOT analysis includes highlighting the things your company does well, along with your strongest product or service. This, in turn, helps you narrow down your value proposition. The threats section can reveal competitors’ strengths and market share so your team can formulate a strategy to show customers how your company is better or different. 

A SWOT analysis can also reveal current trends that may become opportunities, giving your team a head start when it’s time to enter a new market, create a new product, or address new customer pain points.

Dealer Cheatsheet
New call-to-action
New call-to-action
New call-to-action
New call-to-action
New call-to-action
New call-to-action
New call-to-action
Drive ROI for Your Company with Gamification
Automotive Performance Engagement Platform | Arcade
Arcade Retail Product Brochure

e-book, Sales Compensation: Motivating Toward Success

Keep it simple: Simple sales compensation plans are cheaper, easier to administer, and yield better results than complex plans.

Download now

4. Bring sales and marketing together

You’ll notice we keep mentioning sales and marketing teams in the same breath, and there’s a reason for that. Even if your company employs traditional outbound sales strategies, it’s ultimately more beneficial to keep sales and marketing on the same page and working together.

According to the Oxford College of Marketing, your sales team can share valuable insights about customers’ issues, allowing your marketing department to help tailor assets that speak to those issues.

When you bring these two teams together, make sure they’re aligned on the same vision and goals. Be sure both teams speak the same language with a shared set of definitions. Software, like account-based marketing (ABM) programs or communication and collaboration apps, can also ensure these two departments work in tandem.

5. Set strategies to identify, qualify, and nurture leads

While inbound sales needs a strategy for attracting leads, outbound sales needs a strategy for making initial contact. 

You’ll want to identify the best sales tactics for qualifying and nurturing leads under both the inbound and outbound umbrellas. These might include the following strategies for each stage of the sales funnel:

Buyer’s journey stage                   Inbound strategy                           Outbound strategy

Attract / identify                   Social media posts, PR, SEO                       Audience research

Engage / outreach        Landing pages, educational content           Cold calls, cold emails, ads

Close                                        Personalized emails, CRM                                     CRM

Delight                              Content, events, customer service                   Customer service

The right sales tactics likely depend on who your target customer is and where they are in the buyer’s journey. But every sales tactic should include a meaningful conversation that resonates with the buyer.

Other sales tactic best practices include:

  • Keeping it simple and easily understood
  • Highlighting the benefits to the buyer
  • Showing how your solution fits into their world
  • Remaining respectful, regardless of the current contact’s role in the business

Once you’ve solidified the ideal set of tactics, record them in your sales playbook and share them with the team.

6. Track performance and adjust

Data talks. Make sure you’re tracking the right types of data to optimize your sales and marketing performance, and use that data to update your sales plan regularly.

Some of the most common types of sales metrics to analyze include:

  • Lead conversion rate
  • Lifetime customer value
  • Monthly sales growth
  • Average time to close
  • Sales pipeline coverage

Along with tracking the right KPIs and SMART goals, you’ll want to check in on individual sales performance metrics. Personal performance indicators can help employees keep themselves on track and manage their own productivity.

These metrics could include:

  • Emails sent
  • Sales calls made
  • Time spent selling
  • Leads generated
  • Response time
  • Follow-up time

7 Free sales strategy templates

Get a head start on crafting your sales strategy plan with these sales plan templates:

  1. Sales Strategy Plan template by Arcade
  2. Sales Plan Template by Asana
  3. Sales Plan Maker by Venngage
  4. Sales Plan Template by Fit Small Business
  5. Microsoft Word Sales Plan Templates by TemplateLab
  6. Marketing Strategy Template by
  7. Sales Strategic Plan by Gartner

How to implement and manage your sales strategy

Once you have a sales plan in place, it’s time to share it with the rest of your team and company. After all, a successful sales strategy performs only as well as it’s communicated. 

Here are some general steps to ensure everyone is on the same page.

1. Communicate sales goals

Your strategy should include goals for the entire team as well as for each sales rep. Common sales goals include:

  • Grow month-over-month or year-over-year revenue
  • Reduce customer churn
  • Boost profit margins
  • Increase customer lifetime value
  • Raise the number of qualified leads

Along with sharing goals with stakeholders, the sales leader should also communicate goals across teams so the whole company can support each other. 

Including a visual of each goal can have a major impact on sales as well. A visual sales leaderboard promotes improvement and friendly competition while simultaneously tracking personal and team goals.

2. Create a sales playbook 

A sales playbook includes best practices on how salespeople should act in situations that commonly arise. This can include the sales pitch, demos, and the best approach when establishing new client relationships and maintaining relationships with current customers. 

Your sales playbook should also contain tips on how best to cold call new leads. A 2021 survey by HubSpot found that 58% of buyers want to talk about pricing on the first sales call, but only 23% of sales reps plan to cover pricing in their initial pitch. The playbook ensures your sales reps meet the needs of buyers, especially on the first call.

Creating a playbook can also inspire new conversations about how to approach opportunities, balance resources, and communicate across teams and functions.

3. Set expectations

Expectations are typically set during a new employee’s onboarding, but they should be revisited regularly. This ensures everyone on the team has a continuous, clear idea of desired results.

Setting expectations can include training on essential tech and the company’s existing processes. It’s also important to cover how and when each rep should communicate to the rest of their team and company.

Finally, setting and communicating expectations should be done on a rep-by-rep basis. This ensures each team member understands the expectations and how they apply to their individual role.

4. Keep your teams on track

Additional incentives can help keep the momentum going, even when the going gets tough.

Monetary rewards, like sales commissions and bonuses, can help. But don’t let those overshadow the value of recognition and praise. This can include private feedback that positively reinforces the behaviors and strengths you’d like to continue seeing.

It’s likely your teams are craving recognition and feedback, even if it’s a simple check-in on Slack or Zoom. Gallup found that only 21% of U.S. workers strongly agree they’ve received meaningful feedback in the last week. Don’t leave your teams in the dark — use praise and feedback to let them know they’re on the right track.

Quick tip: Gamifying goals can lead to friendly competition and incentivization.

5. Share daily sales reports

Sales managers should create reports detailing how well the sales team is doing in terms of revenue and overall sales. But if you only share these reports with the higher-ups and leave it at that, you’re missing an opportunity to incentivize your team further and help them adapt.

It’s recommended that you create and share a daily sales report so everyone on the team can see daily trends in performance — and more importantly, talk about those trends. This gives your team a better understanding of the entire sales pipeline.

Regardless of company size and industry, every business benefits from having a smart sales strategy in place. Book a demo today and find out how Arcade can help you automate aspects of your sales strategy.

Recommended Articles