Coming up with a best-in-class sales strategy can be cumbersome and complex. After all, today’s buyer is different than the buyer of the past. They’re more discerning, knowledgeable, and questioning. So how can you differentiate yourself in this selling game? Here’s some advice from the country’s leading sales and marketing executives, as compiled by Forbes:

“Use lead scoring to determine who you send to sales and when you send them to sales. Identify fit based on demographic information, and then pinpoint interest and buying stage by watching prospect behaviors.” – Jon Miller, VP Marketing at Marketo

Your buyers are no longer going into the sales process blind, which means neither can your sales team. Just consider this: Your prospects probably know a great deal about your company before they ever speak to one of your representatives thanks to the Internet, online forums, and social media. So shouldn’t your sales team know just as much about your target market?

Today’s sales strategy needs to be centered upon big data and actionable insight. In other words, it’s about sifting through the qualitative and quantitative data to figure out how to use such information to your sales advantage. For instance, understanding your target market’s past purchasing behaviors and corporate hierarchy will give you a leg up in the sales process. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know that Bob, the CMO, has traditionally made purchases that cost more than your flagship offering? Whether you aggregate buyer information on your own—or team with a third-party provider—make sure you’re developing accurate buying personas for prospects so you can sell intelligently.

“Sales-driven cultures can really differentiate you from the majority of your competition. That doesn’t mean being salesperson-oriented, just sales-oriented: winning deals, smelling the blood and going in for the kill.” – Josh James, CEO of Domo and former CEO and founder of Omniture

To have a winning sales strategy, your company needs a sales-driven culture. Here are a few things to keep in mind to achieve such an environment:

  • Hire Smart: Your reps need powerful leadership, so hire smart. Recruit those who understand newer concepts like “insight selling” and “customer-centricity;” seek the candidates who have abandoned archaic selling tactics like cold calling and rolodexes, and pinpoint sales leaders who will keep your entire force motivated, passionate, and inspired.
  • Invest in Tech: The only way your sales strategy—and culture—will really take off is if you invest in the right sales technologies, the tools that will enable your force to do their jobs better. Cast your eye toward sales automation, CRM, and sales intelligence platforms. Moreover, consider how data cleansing and hygiene programs will enable your reps to get more out of big data. Arm your team with the technology needed to sell in today’s modern environment.
  • Incentivize: To really see your sales strategy efforts soar, you’ll want to consider implementing incentive programs or gamification. Your reps need more motivation than just hearing you spew out “always be closing.” Give them extra enthusiasm to win the next deal, and additional reason to look for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.

“Ultimately, this age of the hyper-educated, constantly connected consumer requires that marketing and sales work more closely together than ever before.” – Mick Hollison, CMO at InsideSales.com

Sales and marketing alignment has never been more paramount, especially for those companies looking to develop a winning sales strategy. In fact, organizations characterized by marketing-sales alignment achieve 20% revenue growth on average annually, as opposed to companies with poor alignment that see their revenue decline by 4%, according to HubSpot’s e-book Unifying Your Sales & Marketing Efforts.

As Hollison contends, a modern day sales strategy needs to foster sales and marketing alignment to keep up with today’s all-knowing buyer. To work on your alignment, start at the executive level. Make sure your CMO and sales director understand the end goal. Then encourage them to come up with some implementable tactics to bring back to their teams to move collaboration forward.

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