21 Impactful Sales Strategies + How To Create Your Own [Free Template]

2023-11-21

Behind every successful sale is a winning strategy that made it happen. From cold calls to social selling and everything in between, the strategies and selling tactics you use are imperative to reaching your sales goals. 

In this guide, we’ll uncover what a sales strategy is, 21 different sales strategies your team can utilize to turn those leads into loyal customers, and tips for building a clear sales strategy plan. Once you understand the concepts involved in creating a winning strategy, download our free sales plan template to get started in building your own plan.  

What is a sales strategy? 

A sales strategy outlines the tactics your team needs to implement to reach their sales goals and close deals. It includes key information on your ideal customers, your unique selling propositions, how you plan to vet and qualify leads, and all the necessary steps in your sales pipeline. 

Ultimately, a clear sales strategy outlines who you plan to target, what you hope to accomplish, and how you’re going to get there. 

A proper strategy is important because it can: 

  • Motivate your team: When your sales strategies are clearly outlined and sales goals are established, it makes it easier for sales reps to know exactly what steps they need to take to close deals. This can increase your team's productivity and motivation, decreasing sales burnout. 
  • Establish consistent messaging: A major part of creating a sales strategy is clearly articulating your brand’s value propositions and unique selling points. This ensures your team is aligned and can deliver the same messaging across all touchpoints. 
  • Inform strategy decisions: KPIs and other tracking metrics are clearly defined within a successful sales strategy. This makes it easier to monitor performance and make adjustments to your approach as needed. Consistently reviewing your plan can help you understand what’s working, what’s not, and when it’s time to pivot to reach your sales goals.   
  • Foster long-term growth: At the end of the day, your sales strategy directly impacts your long-term business growth. A good sales plan aligns with your company objectives and helps you set future goals that can increase your revenue.  

Inbound vs. outbound sales 

When it comes to determining your selling strategies, there are two different approaches to consider: inbound sales vs. outbound sales. 

  • Inbound sales strategy: This strategy organically attracts potential leads to your company. For example, you may see organic leads come from customer referrals, forms on your website, or free trials. 
  • Outbound sales strategy: This is a strategy in which your sales team reaches out to companies and potential customers. For example, your sales team might capture leads by cold calling or social selling. 

The key difference between inbound vs. outbound sales is the initial customer interaction — they either come to you (inbound) or you go to them (outbound). 

21 successful sales strategies to convert qualified leads

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to closing deals. Combining multiple approaches into your overarching strategy can provide your team with endless opportunities to close deals — so don’t think you have to stick to just one. 

Below, we’ve outlined 21 different types of sales strategies you can implement to convert leads into loyal customers. 

1. Target your ICPs  

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a representation of your brand’s ideal customer, featuring their unique buying behaviors, characteristics, and challenges. 

When creating your sales strategy, your ideal customer profiles will help you pinpoint what customers you want to target during outreach. This strategy requires significant research upfront but can lead to more qualified leads in your pipeline. 

To execute a successful ICP sales strategy, start by gathering data on your target customers — including firmographic, psychographic, and demographic data. 

To do this, you can run surveys with existing customers to gain insight into their preferences or utilize tools like HubSpot or Google Analytics to uncover patterns and trends in behavior. Analyzing the data you collect can help uncover consistencies in customer pain points and needs, as well as your target market’s geographical location. 

From there, you can map the customer journey to understand each step of the purchase process. This ensures you’re meeting prospects’ needs as they progress through each stage of the sales funnel. 

By honing in on your ICPs, you can approach your outreach efforts with confidence that your prospects can benefit from your product or service. 

2. Consider consultative selling  

Consultative selling is a sales strategy that takes a personalized approach — essentially, you act as a consultant to your prospective customer. This is different from traditional sales techniques because it focuses on nurturing relationships with prospects and understanding their needs, challenges, and goals.

This strategy involves careful listening and understanding while asking the right open-ended questions. Once you understand your customers' pain points, you can present them with uniquely tailored solutions that can help solve their problems. 

For example, a software company may offer a personalized demo of its product to show a potential customer how the software can be tailored to fit their unique needs. 

Because this strategy can be very time-consuming, it’s ideal for a B2B setting instead of lower-stakes B2C transactions. 

3. Implement audience segmentation

Niching down and splitting your target market into smaller groups, also known as audience segmentation, allows you to create a more personalized and effective outreach campaign. 

Segment your market based on shared interests, pain points, demographics, or buying behaviors, and create a sales pitch based on those common needs. Once you’ve nailed down your segments, test different communication channels and outreach strategies to determine which are the most effective for each segment. 

For example, a Gen Z audience might be more influenced by social selling on TikTok, whereas a Gen X audience might be more swayed by Facebook or face-to-face sales tactics.

This targeted approach allows you to tailor your strategy to deliver the most value to potential customers and reach sales goals.  

4. Apply a lead scoring system  

Lead scoring is an effective way to rate your leads and streamline your lead qualification process. It helps you determine which leads are worth pursuing and which ones aren’t worth the effort — ultimately leading to an increase in conversions and positive ROI. 

Lead scoring models work on a point system. With each action a prospect takes in the sales funnel, they receive a certain number of points or deductions. You can then evaluate those points to help you prioritize which leads to target. Once a prospect reaches a certain number of points, they’re considered qualified. 

Every business’s lead scoring system may look different — it all depends on what criteria align best with your sales goals. 

5. Master the PAS formula 

The PAS formula — problem, agitate, solution — is a framework that evokes an emotional response (agitate phase) by identifying a prospect’s problem and its effects. From there, you offer a solution (your product) to help solve those problems and alleviate the associated stressors.    

Let’s look a bit closer at the three phases of the PAS framework: 

  • Problem: Identify the prospect’s problem or pain point. 
  • Agitate: Show your understanding of the prospect’s problem and emphasize the frustrations and challenges they’ll face if they don't find a solution. 
  • Solution: Present your product or service as the solution and show how it can help alleviate those frustrations.

When outlining your sales strategy, this simple framework can help you create a convincing dialogue to turn leads into customers.  

6. Apply gap selling 

Another framework similar to the PAS formula is gap selling, which focuses on finding the gap between a customer’s current state and where they want to be in the future. Your goal is to bridge that gap and offer a solution for how they can get to their goal state. 

Before selling your product, you need to ask intentional questions to identify your prospect’s problems and where they want to be once those problems are solved. You can then pitch your offering as a way to help them get to their desired state. 

7. Don’t be afraid of cold calling  

Cold Calling Statistics

When an average person thinks of selling strategies, cold calling is probably the first to come to mind. Though it comes with many challenges — and may be perceived as annoying — it’s still a beneficial strategy you can utilize to gain qualified leads. 

Cold-calling scripts can help your team know what points to hit during initial calls and follow-ups. It typically takes 18 cold calls before you reach a buyer, so stay consistent and don’t give up after the first ring. 

8. Double down on cold emailing 

Similar to cold calling, cold emailing involves contacting potential customers via email outreach. Focus on these areas to boost click rates on cold emails and entice an open:

  • Engaging subject line: This is the first thing a prospect will see, so grab their attention and give them a reason to open your email. Look at analytics from past outreach campaigns to see the subject lines that resulted in an open or reply. 
  • Simple structure: Nobody wants to read a super lengthy email from a stranger. Craft a clear, easy-to-digest email showcasing your expertise and introducing how your product or service can help your prospect.   
  • Personalization: When possible, reel your prospect in with personalization. For example, use their first name and consider doing a little sleuthing on LinkedIn to compliment a past accomplishment. This can grab their attention because it shows you put effort into the connection and aren’t just using the same email template over and over. 
  • Low-effort CTA: You don’t want to come on too strong this early in the sales funnel. Make it easy for your prospect to move onto the next phase of the journey by asking them for a quick phone call or providing them with a link to schedule a meeting.  

9. Practice SPIN selling  

Much like gap selling, SPIN selling is a question-based technique that focuses on asking specific questions to help uncover customers’ problems, the implications of those problems, and how your product or service can provide a solution. 

SPIN selling questions focus on these four categories: 

  • Situation: These are questions that help you understand your customer's current situation, like, “How are your current processes structured?”
  • Problem: These questions help identify the problems your customer faces, like, “What day-to-day challenges do you currently face?” 
  • Implication: These questions help uncover why the problems your customer is experiencing need to be solved, like, “How does this impact your ability to achieve your goals?”
  • Need payoff: Finally, these questions help your customer understand the impact of the solution, like, “What goals would you be able to accomplish by finding a solution?”

The questions are the core of this strategy and help create a tailored and productive sales conversation. 

SPIN Selling Questions

10. Launch automated drip campaigns  

A drip campaign, also known as an automated email campaign, sends personalized emails to potential customers based on user actions — delivering information at the perfect time. 

For example, let’s say a customer downloads a free guide from your website or signs up for your newsletter. That information will trigger a series of automated emails you customize ahead of time, providing users with the information they need at that moment. This helps nudge potential leads and opens the door for more communication as you gradually introduce them to your offerings. 

Automated drip campaigns allow you to monitor user behavior and provide a large pool of interested prospects — saving you the time you would’ve spent on manual outreach. 

11. Lead with urgency  

Urgency in sales gives potential customers a nudge to act quickly to make a purchase. Here are a couple of ways you can create urgency and push leads further down the buyer’s funnel: 

  • Offer time-sensitive deals: Discounts or special offers to new customers can entice them to act quickly and make a purchase.  
  • Simplify the purchase process: The easier the purchase process, the faster the transaction can happen. For example, accepting multiple forms of payment can make the transaction easier. 
  • Be quick to respond: If prospects have questions, be sure to respond quickly so you don’t risk losing the sale. The more time you let pass between touchpoints, the faster the prospect can lose interest. 

12. Build a consistent follow-up framework 

Don’t underestimate the power of a good follow-up — data shows that 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups. 

Whether you’re sending an email follow-up after a phone call or sending a message on LinkedIn, every interaction after the first point of contact can make or break the sale. 

Building a proper sales cadence (which we’ll cover below) helps create a set schedule for follow-ups so you know the best times and communication channels to reach leads. 

Utilize sales outreach services like Smith.ai to help you maintain a consistent sales cadence through automated outreach with SMS and email follow-ups. Personalize follow-up messages for any scenario and let our agents send the follow-up for you. This ensures you never miss an opportunity to help move a lead down the sales funnel. 

13. Harness the power of networking 

Networking in sales is a great way to meet qualified leads that match your ideal customer profile. To build your sales network, you can: 

  • Attend industry events 
  • Build your social media presence
  • Ask existing customers for introductions 

Once you build up your network, you can start fostering trust with your connections. A prospect will be more inclined to buy when that trust is established ahead of time. 

Focus on connecting with important stakeholders — usually someone in the C-suite — who have purchasing power and can help push a sale forward. If you’ve connected with someone without much purchasing power, ask them questions to help guide you to the right person. For example, you can ask who is involved in the buying process and what the approval process looks like. 

To get ahead of the game, you can also connect with decision-makers from the jump. Utilize LinkedIn to research the company and look for important stakeholders based on their job titles. From there, try to find a common interest to make the connection natural. 

14. Leverage social selling 

Social Selling Statistics

Social media is a powerful tool, even in sales. Social selling is all about building relationships with prospects via social media platforms. It’s a great outbound sales strategy that can help you find qualified prospects and gather information about your target customers. 

Data shows that social sellers are 51% more likely to reach their sales quotas than those who aren’t implementing this strategy. 

Instead of the traditional cold emailing or calling strategies, social selling focuses on nurturing relationships with connections on social media and building your brand presence to find and attract qualified leads. 

15. Participate in trade shows  

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to make connections with potential customers and raise brand awareness on a larger scale. When attending these types of industry events, it’s important to go in with a strategy.

Here are a few tips to make a lasting impression on trade show attendees: 

  • Make your booth hard to pass up: With many companies participating in these events, you want to make your booth stand out and give attendees a reason to stop by. For example, interactive activities like a game may lure more people in. 
  • Offer some company swag: Who doesn’t love free stuff? Provide some “swag” people will actually use, like a T-shirt or a fan if you live in a hot climate. That way, when they use the product, they’ll be reminded of your brand. 
  • Be inviting and personal: Connection is important when it comes to attracting customers, and your professional demeanor can make or break a sales opportunity.
  • Be friendly and engage with everyone you come in contact with: Their first impression of you may be their first impression of your company, so make it count. 

16. Become an industry thought leader 

By establishing trust and authority in your industry, you can attract a following of potential customers while increasing brand awareness. Ultimately, that trust can increase their likelihood of purchasing your product or service. 

To establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you can create valuable content on social media, write blog posts, host a podcast, or speak at industry events. All of these avenues widen your reach and can bring on highly qualified leads. 

17. Ask for referrals 

Though not every prospect turns into a devoted customer, you can still make a potential sale by asking uninterested prospects for a referral. They might not benefit from your product or service right now, but chances are they know somebody who will. 

Gather the referral's contact information and be confident knowing that even though one sale didn’t work out, you may still have another opportunity. 

18. Schedule sales demos 

Sales demos are your opportunity to showcase your product or service to prospective customers, highlighting its features, benefits, and how it can provide a solution to their problems.    

You can host an in-person or virtual demo. Consider using sales demo software to enhance your presentation and create a memorable experience for potential customers. 

19. Offer free trials 

Another common sales strategy — especially among SaaS companies — is free trials. This “try before you buy” method allows potential customers to test your product or service before committing. 

Data shows that 32% of sales professionals offer free trials to prospects, and a whopping 90% of them say it usually turns them into paying customers. 

Free trials are a great way for prospects to determine whether or not they can benefit from your offerings. It’s also a great way to establish trust and nurture those relationships with leads. 

20. Nurture existing customer relationships 

Once you convert a lead into a customer, the deal doesn’t stop there. There is power in maintaining valuable relationships with your existing customers. Not only does it increase customer loyalty and reduce customer churn, but it can lead to future selling opportunities. 

Research shows that more than half of a company's business comes from existing customers. Here are a few ways you can leverage your existing customer relationships: 

  • Cross-selling: This process involves offering additional products or services to customers that complement their original purchase. 
  • Upselling: This method encourages customers to make a more expensive purchase — like an upgrade or add-on — that will enhance and add value to their original purchase. 
  • Referrals: Finally, referrals are an easy way to gain leads from existing customers through word of mouth. 

21. Streamline the sales process with the help of AI 

Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm, and sales teams are using it to their advantage. While there is still the need for human connection, AI helps streamline processes and saves sales reps time so they can focus on converting leads.

Here are a few AI capabilities that can help sales teams: 

  • Tailored conversations: Generative AI can create naturally-sounding responses to potential customers. These tools, like Smith.ai’s Live Website Chat, can scrape information from your website to provide leads with the most accurate and reliable answers to their questions. 
  • Lead screening: AI can work hand-in-hand with your team to qualify leads based on your custom criteria and target audience. This significantly reduces time and ensures your team only speaks to qualified leads. 
  • Translation capabilities: AI can easily translate conversations to a lead’s primary language so you never miss an opportunity to speak to and qualify incoming leads.  

How to create a clear sales strategy: 8 key steps 

Converting leads into customers isn’t always easy, but you can make it happen with a proper sales strategy. 

Aside from sales tactics, a clear sales strategy plan should outline your goals, unique selling propositions, buyer personas, sales pipeline steps, and any additional information your team may need to carry out the strategy from start to finish. 

Below, we’ll dive into eight important steps to create a clear and effective sales plan. 

8 Steps To Create a Winning Sales Strategy

1. Set clear sales goals 

While your strategy includes the steps needed to convert leads, your team needs to be aware of what they’re trying to accomplish — in other words, what goals are they trying to achieve? Without clear goals, it can be hard to properly measure and analyze performance. 

The S.M.A.R.T. goal model is especially effective when defining your sales strategies because it gives your team clear and specific direction. When your goals are too broad or if they just seem flat-out unattainable, it can be hard for teams to stay motivated.  

When using the S.M.A.R.T. model, follow the following criteria: 

  • Specific: Your goals should be clear and precise so they’re easy for all team members to understand. 
  • Measurable: Quantifying your goals sets criteria and makes it easier to monitor your progress.  
  • Achievable: Your goals should be realistic and within reach — meaning your team should be able to easily accomplish the goal within the timeframe and criteria you outline. 
  • Relevant: Your goal should be worthwhile and align with your other sales efforts. 
  • Time-bound: Set a clear timeline for your goals, including the start and end date. This will help your team stay motivated and work with a sense of urgency.  

Let’s say your goal is to increase monthly revenue. This goal isn’t specific, measurable, or timely.

Now, let’s make that goal S.M.A.R.T. by shifting it to: “By the end of the fiscal year, we will increase monthly recurring revenue by 22% by acquiring 100 new customers. We’ll do this by meeting the needs of our customers and prioritizing inbound marketing campaigns.” 

2. Create ICPs and buyer personas 

Developing ICPs and buyer personas is crucial so you can target the right people during outreach. ICPs and buyer personas may seem similar, but they have different functions. Ultimately, they work together harmoniously and are needed when executing your sales plan.  

ICPs give a high-level overview of your ideal customer — usually B2C or B2B companies — and highlight the characteristics, pain points, and buying behaviors of those companies. This makes it easier for your sales team to pinpoint customers who can benefit from your offerings. 

On the other hand, buyer personas are fictitious examples of your ideal customers. These personas pinpoint the different types of people you might encounter within your ICPs. Buyer personas include information like a fictitious name, title, age, pain points, and goals. 

In short, ICPs represent the ideal companies you want to target, while buyer personas get more granular and provide specific details on target customers to make qualifying leads easier.   

Once you have your ICPs and buyer personas nailed down, your sales team can execute an outreach strategy that caters to these markets.   

3. Define your USP

A unique selling proposition (USP) will make you stand out from your competitors. It details why your product or service is better, how it can help solve customers' problems, and what differentiates your product from what’s already out there — hence why it’s called a unique selling proposition.  

Here are a few tips to follow when constructing a memorable USP:  

  • Put yourself in your ideal customer's shoes: Your USP should align with your customer's values and what they care about. A USP is only unique if there’s some sort of connection attached to it. Ask yourself why they would choose your company over others, what motivates their purchase decisions, and how you can help solve their problems. 
  • Analyze the competition: A good place to start is looking at your competitor's USPs. Find gaps in their offerings that you’re confident your company can help solve. This can help you pinpoint exactly what differentiates you from what’s out there. 
  • Align with industry trends: Customer needs are ever-changing, so you must stay on top of industry trends to properly cater to your target market. Keeping up with these trends allows your team to pivot your strategy to ensure your USP aligns with what’s current. 

4. Create a plan of action to follow  

Once you’ve nailed down your goals and established who you want to target, it’s time to make a plan of action and determine what unique selling tactics your sales team can use to generate and convert leads. 

Evaluate the different tactics we outlined above and determine which selling strategies will be most effective for your team to focus on. From there, you can establish and perfect your sales cadence. 

A sales cadence is a communication sequence that outlines the outreach methods your team should follow to push potential customers through the sales funnel — including all touchpoints and channels. 

A sales cadence might look something like this: 

  • Day 1: Initial email
  • Day 3: Follow-up call
  • Day 5: Connect via LinkedIn
  • Day 9: Send a valuable resource via email 
  • Day 14: Second email 
  • Day 21: Second follow-up call 
  • Day 28: Send a message via LinkedIn
  • Day 35: Final phone call 

Remember, your approach may look different depending on whether your lead is inbound or outbound, so keep that in mind when creating your sales cadence. 

5. Develop a sales pipeline 

From there, you’ll want to plan the steps for your sales pipeline — a framework to track how potential customers move through the different stages of the buyer’s journey. This makes it easier for the sales team to manage tasks during each stage of the pipeline.  

Your sales pipeline should include the following stages:

  • Prospecting: Detail your ICPs, buyer personas, outreach tactics, and sales scripts for your team to follow. 
  • Qualifying: Include the process for qualifying leads, like your lead scoring model or qualification questions. 
  • Connecting: Highlight the steps for making initial contact with prospects, including communication channels and touchpoints. 
  • Meeting: Get clear on your USP and messaging to present in initial meetings and sales demos.  
  • Proposal: Reiterate how your company can meet customer needs and how your pricing structure will provide a positive return on investment. 
  • Negotiation: Provide steps on how to handle the negotiation process so team members are equipped with the tools needed to seal the deal (or walk away).   
  • Closing: Wrap up with the steps needed to close the deal, including the payment and next steps after they become a customer.  

Make sure to also include any additional team members involved in each stage of the sales pipeline. For example, you may need to pull in a sales director to assist with the negotiation process. 

6. Create proper documentation 

Sales documentation is a collection of materials and information for your sales team to reference and use during their sales efforts. This ensures your team is aligned on messaging and provides consistent communication, both internally and externally. 

Your sales documentation should include materials like: 

  • Sales scripts
  • Sales playbooks 
  • ICPs and buyer personas
  • Marketing materials 
  • Proposal templates
  • Contracts 
  • Reports 
  • Legal documents 
  • Sales forecasting 
  • Customer feedback records 

7. Implement sales tools 

Executing your sales strategy with the right tools can streamline your strategy and accelerate the time to close. These tools can automate processes to improve productivity and provide impactful insights into performance so you can make informed business decisions. 

Some sales tools you may consider adding to your tech stack include: 

  • CRM software 
  • Sales Intelligence 
  • Automation tools 
  • Analytics software 
  • Productivity and workflow management 
  • Document and signature software 
  • Lead generation tools 

8. Monitor and analyze your performance 

Tracking sales KPIs allows you to accurately measure the performance of your sales efforts. For example, you may consider tracking monthly sales growth to measure revenue growth or loss during a given month, or customer acquisition cost to measure the average cost of acquiring new customers. 

These metrics allow you to analyze the effectiveness of your strategy, identify what can be improved, and help you make informed future strategy and business decisions. 

Sales plan template 

Sales Strategy Template
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Execute your sales strategy with the help of Smith.ai 

With over 20 different sales strategies, you’re bound to find the perfect mix no matter what your sales pipeline looks like. Implementing a proper strategy can help your team establish consistent messaging to close deals and make important business decisions that will increase your ROI. 

At Smith.ai, we can help you execute your sales outreach strategy by providing a quick and streamlined process. Our team of agents and virtual receptionists can help you screen leads, send follow-ups, book appointments, and improve speed to lead to create more sales opportunities for your team. 

Book a free consultation to learn more about how Smith.ai can help streamline your sales strategy.

Tags:
Business Education
Sales Tips
Written by Maddy Martin
Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's SVP of Growth. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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Affordable plans for every budget.