The best way to start the year off right is to gather your sales and marketing team together for a series of planning sessions to get everyone aligned and headed in the same direction. Follow these steps to learn from the past, dream big, and put together a sensible plan for achieving your goals in 2016!
How to Develop Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
1) Analyze Your Previous Sales and Revenue Trends
Where did your sales and revenue come from last year? Is most of your company revenue from existing customers or new customers? How long was your average sales cycle? Who were your best (and worst) customers – why? What are your best lead sources? Are prospects getting stuck anywhere in the sales cycle? Why did you lose the opportunities you think you should have won? Could your close rate be improved? Document your lessons learned, and start thinking about improvements you’d like to make in 2016.
2) Analyze Your Marketing Trends
How much traffic did your website get? How many leads did you generate online and offline? How many leads converted into customers? Did certain blog posts perform better than others? Are you happy with the return you’re getting on your investment?
3) Define Your One-year Company Vision
Where do you picture your company by the end of next year? Write a one-page description of what things will look like 12 months from now – be specific, and don’t be afraid to dream big! Don’t forget to include the ideal picture of what your sales and marketing would look like if you had a magic wand!
4) Set Your Company Priorities and Goals
What’s standing in the way of achieving your vision? What projects need to get done in order to achieve your vision? Make a list, and pick 3-4 things to focus on in the first quarter. How are you going to measure success? Make sure you have metrics that you can track! We like to use the Vision Traction Organizer (V/TO) from the Entrepreneurial Operating System for this step.
5) Review and Update Your Ideal Customer Profile and Personas
Look back at your best customers and make sure you identify the characteristics that make them profitable and enjoyable to work with. Make sure your ideal customer profile and buyer personas are accurate and reflect the kinds of customers who will help you reach your growth goals.
6) Document Your Buyer’s Journey
You’ve got your buyer personas, but have you plotted out every step they take along the path to becoming a customer? Your prospects take lots of tiny steps along the way to becoming a buyer. Plot out every interaction point your personas will have with your content or your company.
Start at the end—what will they do immediately before signing a contract with you? What’s the step before that? The one before that? At each point along the way, identify the persona’s main questions, motivations, and potential objections. Then identify the kinds of content you’ll need to create to meet the persona at each point along the buyer’s journey.
You should also determine what CTAs to include in order to lead them to the next step.
7) Check Out Your Competitors
You accomplished a lot – chances are your competitors have been busy too! Get into intelligence gathering mode and complete an analysis of your top three or four competitors. Take a look at their websites to see what may have changed, look at their company profiles on LinkedIn, and spend some time on Google looking for news and press mentions. Run their websites through the HubSpot marketing grader and see how their online presence compares to yours.
8) Confirm Your Differentiators
Make sure you are clear on what makes you different from your competitors. Talk to some of your customers and find out why they chose to buy from you – and what could make them switch teams and buy from your competitors instead.
9) Review and Organize Your Marketing Collateral
Make sure that your printed and digital marketing materials are written and designed to attract your ideal customers and communicate your company’s unique qualities to prospects and customers. Make sure copyright dates are updated, that your style guidelines are being followed, and that everyone on your sales team is using the right version!
10) Review Your Website and Online Marketing
Take a look at your website and social media channels to make sure they’re designed to attract and educate your ideal customer. Is your branding and messaging consistent? Are you engaging with the right target audience? Is your content compelling and educational? TIP: HubSpot’s Marketing Grader can give you a quick snapshot of what you’re doing right, and where you could improve.
11) Review and Document Your Sales Process
Is your sales process set up to close the quality and quantity of customers you need to reach your company’s growth goals? Does everyone on your sales team follow the same process for qualifying and nurturing prospects? Is your process documented? Is your CRM (customer relationship management) system set up to support your process efficiently and effectively? Could you be using any automated tools to make your process more efficient?
12) Review Your Proposal Templates
Ask a colleague in another department (or company) to review your proposal templates to make sure everything is as clear as you think it is. Be sure everyone is using standard language where appropriate, and consider using a tool like BidSketch or PandaDoc to streamline your process.
13) Identify Gaps in Your Sales and Marketing
Document any issues you uncover while you’re reviewing your collateral, processes, and templates. Look for “dark pools” – areas of your process where prospects or customers get lost or ignored due to lack of time/energy/resources.
14) Document Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
Prioritize the issues you have identified and develop a phased approach to tackling them over the next four quarters. Depending on the issues you have identified, you may need to develop tactical plans for content/inbound marketing, social media, lead generation, lead nurturing, or account development.
15) Set Your Budget and Get to Work
Make sure you have allocated enough resources (people and money) to accomplish the priorities you have identified. The size of your marketing budget will also depend on how much you have available to invest, and how quickly you want to see results. If you have caviar dreams and a tuna fish budget, you’ll be disappointed by your lack of results, and your team will be frustrated by their inability to meet your expectations. Once your budget is aligned with a realistic plan, get to work and start collecting data!
16) Track Your Progress and Evolve Your Tactics
Make sure you have metrics defined for measuring success, and have assigned individual team members to be accountable for solving each issue. Set up regular meetings to review progress, identify and solve issues, and align activities across teams. Learn from your mistakes and victories, and evolve your tactics as needed to maintain your traction!
Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do here, and it can be tough to be objective about your own company when you’re so close to it. Some companies choose to engage a consultant or agency to facilitate this process for them and it can be completed more quickly and efficiently.