Every chef has their secret sauce. For some it’s an actual product: a unique amalgam of ingredients no other chef has yet discovered or marketed. For others, “secret sauce” designates less a specific concoction, but instead an approach to the craft – a body of experience and intuition that shapes a chef’s strategy for every dish they cook.
We all know when we’re in the hands of this second kind of chef. Everything they make simply tastes better, even those dishes we’ve had a thousand times before. Heat gets applied a little more precisely. Seasoning choices are more interesting. Familiar combinations are elevated by unexpected additions.
It’s this second kind of secret sauce that lifts a great chef above a merely good one. Give both chefs the same ingredients, and the good chef will produce an enjoyable meal. A great chef will produce something magical.
The secret sauce of sales
Though most of us aren’t lucky enough to have attended culinary school, we can all recognize the same dynamic in the world of sales. Most sales leaders, after all, begin with the same ingredients: a good product, a strong team, a great CRM system, and so on.
Yet as with cooking, it’s not simply acquiring these ingredients that produces success. What pulls us past our competitors is what we do with them.
In a competitive market, what pushes companies ahead isn’t just what they sell – it’s also how they sell. Today, winning in the market isn’t just about having the best product. Your product is a known quantity. Your customers are already researching it. Your competitors are already trying to steal it.
Rather, success today comes from the methods sales leaders use to set up their team and take down a market. It comes from the way sales teams set up territories and quotas, measure their effectiveness, and adapt to changes.
In sales, we call this collection of approaches your go-to-market strategy. But it’s just as useful to think of it as your secret sauce.
Your go-to-market strategy, after all, encapsulates all the knowledge and experience you bring to your job. It gives you a leg up over your competitors, even if you all start with the same ingredients. Most of all, it’s secret because it’s yours – it’s unique, it’s powerful, and a true differentiator.
The key ingredients
As the sales world becomes more advanced, those teams that come out ahead will be those with the smartest go-to-market strategies. The days of one-size-fits-all quotas and blanket pipeline multipliers are gone. Territories today can be optimized to an unprecedented degree. Quotas can be tailored to each rep. Technology allows sales forecasts to finally achieve the accuracy we’ve all been waiting for.
To manage these components, I like to break a go-to-market strategy down into three priorities.
- Sales planning – Sales planning includes things like Territory and Quota Planning, Sales Coverage, and Account Segmentation. It’s the glue that connects high-level boardroom strategy to field execution, telling your team how to attack your market, while making sure you wield the strengths of individual salespeople to most effectively serve your sales goals.
- Sales incentives – Sales incentives motivate your team to sell the products that matter to the customers that matter. Today these are becoming increasingly sophisticated and individualized, and sales leaders are using advanced technology to make incentives more reliable.
- Sales insights – Sales insights are the information you need to gather and analyze to make the right decisions. This includes pipeline management, sales forecasting, and other important measurements. As sales continues to grow more technologically advanced, the companies that harness sales insights most effectively will be those with the greatest advantage.
Like a quality meal that balances dishes against one another so they create a harmonious whole, go-to-market strategies work best when they’re optimized in all of these areas.
Putting it all on the plate
As go-to-market strategies become more complex, it’s crucial that sales leaders are able to keep track of all of their constituent parts. Good chefs know what’s sitting in their walk-in fridges, and what adding any new ingredient to a particular dish will do to it.
Likewise, good sales leaders need to know how the various parts of their sales teams are working, and how each of these parts affects the whole.
Today’s advanced technologies are able to give sales leaders a view into their entire go-to-market strategy, combining high-level and granular perspectives so that sales leaders can see what parts are working and what parts aren’t. These technologies also offer robust modeling capabilities that can better predict how changes in one aspect of the strategy will impact all the others.
For sales leaders looking to transform their go-to-market strategies and outpace their competitors, today’s technologies offer fantastic solutions.
Do ingredients matter? Certainly. But more important is what one does with those ingredients. Today, a sales leader’s secret sauce isn’t just a specific technique – it’s a whole recipe for success.
Jason Lo is global head of sales solutions at Anaplan, makers of a connected planning platform enables organizations to accelerate decision making by connecting data, people, and plans across the business.