If sales strategy was a puzzle, then your sales model would be a corner piece: it helps frame your approach to businesses and determines how the other pieces of your strategy will fit together.
The keystone nature of sales models makes choosing the right one all the more important. In this guide, we’ll detail everything you need to know to pick the perfect sales model for your business, including:
- What is a sales model?
- Why do you need a sales model?
- What’s the difference between a sales model and a sales process?
- Types of sales models
- The ultimate checklist for choosing and implementing a sales model
Let’s dive in.
What Is a Sales Model?
A sales model refers to a business’ overall approach to selling. There is no one right sales model; each organization’s approach will vary depending on its product, industry, and revenue model. Common models include inbound sales, outbound sales, account-based selling, or a combination of multiple models.
Why Do You Need a Sales Model?
Choosing a sales model helps revenue leaders understand how and where they need to invest to grow their business.
For instance, if you choose to pursue an account-based sales model, you may organize your sales team very differently than if you chose an inbound strategy. In the case of the former, this approach would require heavy investments in sales. The latter, on the other hand, may require a deeper investment in content marketing and SEO.
What’s the Difference Between a Sales Model and a Sales Process?
Think about sales models and sales processes as two sides of the same coin: your sales model determines how you’re going to generate leads for your business and your sales process puts that approach into action.
For instance, if you adopted an outbound sales model, you would likely hire a large business development team to perform outreach to buyers and generate sales-qualified leads. But how do those business development reps know what they need to do to achieve this goal? This is where your sales process comes in. Your sales process should detail step-by-step exactly what this team — and other supporting go-to-market functions — must do in order to transform potential buyers into customers.
Types of Sales Models
Sales models can vary based on your approach to demand generation, sales organization structure, and more. That said, here are a few types of popular sales models to consider:
- Inbound sales: This approach focuses on generating demand by pulling buyers to your website using SEO, digital advertising, and content marketing
- Outbound sales: This model relies on salespeople to generate leaders, typically through prospecting techniques like cold calling or social selling
- Account-based selling (ABS): Using this approach, sellers typically work a handful of accounts with a highly personalized approach, tailoring all elements of the deal to meet the customer’s demands
- Self-service sales: This model allows buyers self-service the entire sales process on your website, from education to solution purchase.
Whichever sales model you choose, it’s essential to ensure that your pick meets your business objectives. For example, if you are selling a complicated, innovative solution, your business may be best served by an account-based approach, which allows you to build deep connections with buyers. On the other hand, if your solution is easy to purchase, a strong outbound approach to sales may help grow your business quickly.
It is also possible that your sales model will change as your business and offerings evolve. Thus, it can be helpful to continuously evaluate your sales model’s performance.
Finally, many businesses use a combination of models to support different buyer segments — so don’t be afraid to mix and match.
The Ultimate Checklist for Choosing and Implementing a Sales Model
Now that you know what a sales model is, it’s time to decide which one you’ll use. Here are the key factors you’ll want to consider — and how best to put your chosen model into action.
1. Define Your Buyer Personas
First, define your buyer personas. As mentioned above, your sales model will determine how you bring new leads into your sales funnel. But that approach will vary based on who your buyers are and how they want to buy.
For instance, if your buyers tend to be mid-level employees who prefer to do their own research, a self-service model may allow you to quickly and efficiently generate new business. On the flip side, if your buyers are C-suite executives who demand tailored solutions, an account-based approach will serve you better. Knowing who you buyers are will help set you on the right path to choosing a sales model that meets them where they are.
2. Build Your Buyer’s Journey
Next, map out your buyer’s journey. Similar to understanding your buyer personas, a deep understanding of your buyer’s journey will help you determine which sales model is best for your business.
Consider how and where you are interacting with your buyers throughout the sales cycle, how buyers respond to the resources and tools you provide them, and how long they spend with each. The answers here will reveal buyer expectations, allowing you to select a sales model that is tailored to their preferred experience.
3. Hone Your Sales Strategy
Now it’s time to look at your sales strategy. Think about your product, pricing, and current competitive landscape. What kind of solution are you selling? Who else is selling it? How do they attract buyers? Will you beat them on value or on price? How do you expect the market to evolve over time?
The answers to these questions will help you determine which sales model is best for your business. For example, if you are selling a relatively simple solution and a saturated market, you are unlikely to find success with a highly personalized approach to sales — and may very well lose money pursuing an account-based sales model. Here, it would be best to choose a self-service model and double down on customer service and marketing.
4. Uplevel Your Sales Stack
By now you should have a clear understanding of who your buyer is and how your sales strategy will move them towards purchase. That means it’s time to consider how you will put your sales model into action with sales technology.
Here, it’s better to match your technology to the sales model you’ve selected rather than the other way around. Consider both current tools and future investments you will need to support your buyer’s journey. Possible technologies to consider include sales engagement platforms, a sales enablement platform, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, and marketing automation platforms. Read our complete guide to essential sales tools to explore your options in-depth.
5. Enable Your Team’s Success
Once you have your model, strategy, and tech stack in place, focus on putting your sales model into action. The key to successfully implementing a sales model is to enable customer-facing teams with the content, training, and guidance they need to elevate buyer conversations.
What does that look like in practice? You’ll need to support customer-facing teams with robust onboarding, on-going training; guide their conversations with detailed sales plays; and drive effective interactions with powerful content. Learn more about best practices for building exceptional enablement programs with our complete guide.
6. Maximize Your Impact
Finally, think about how you are going to measure the success of your sales model. As we mentioned earlier, it’s possible you may outgrow your initial selection. Alternatively, you may choose to incorporate a second or third sales model in order to reach new and different buyer personas.
Therefore, it’s essential to continuously examine whether or not your sales model is meeting your goals, and where opportunities for optimization exist. Some metrics to consider are revenue by product, segment, territory, or market; market penetration, acquisition costs, average length of sales cycle, and conversation rate by sales funnel stage. These numbers can help you uncover whether or not your sales model is bringing in the business you want it to, or if it’s leaving money on the table that could easily be captured by a different approach.
Delivering Sales Success
Whether you decide to go all-in on account-based sales or prefer an inbound approach, the best practices above are sure to help you secure long-term success.
Looking for more to explore? Our guide to optimizing sales productivity can help you continue to fine-tune your revenue engine — download your copy today.