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A sales strategy is a plan including goals and actions businesses can use to increase sales and secure new customers. An effective strategy can help connect a team to the company mission and products and services, which will ultimately bring in more leads and increase sales over time.

But a sales strategy’s success is only as good as the planning and intention that goes into it.

After all, failing to plan is planning to fail. That’s why taking the time to map out an effective sales strategy plan is so important for all businesses—from startups to major corporations.

How does a startup know where to begin with creating a sales strategy plan? Let’s dive into how to build an effective sales strategy to start growing your new business.

Identify your target audience

Knowing your target audience is the very first step in building a sales strategy plan. If you don’t have the key demographics or the wants and needs of your future customers, you won’t have a clear, cohesive strategy to generate leads and make sales.

For instance, if you plan to sell lawn care services or lawn care equipment, you don’t want to spend time and effort marketing to a general audience of people who rent apartments and don’t have lawns.


You likely already had a target audience in mind when you set out to start your business. But to better define your target audience, there are some steps you can take, including:

  • Creating buyer and reader personas, by defining demographics, interests, and challenges of your target audience

  • Reviewing Google and social media analytics to obtain insights on demographics for your website users and social media followers

  • Educate yourself on industry trends and competitors’ audiences

  • Interview existing clients to learn more about their interests and any challenges they face when shopping with your business.

Target audience types

Target audience types can vary based on what the potential customers are interested in, what they are shopping for, or even what experiences they share as a group.


    • Interests: You can analyze potential target audiences by what they are interested in, such as their hobbies, favorite foods, music tastes, or movies.
  • Purchase intention: Break down target audience by what products or services people may need.
  • Subcultures:  You can also define your messaging and products or services based on subcultures, or groups of people with shared experiences, like music or entertainment genres.

By knowing target audience types, you can use the audience data to refine your products and services and marketing messaging to draw in potential clients and make sales by meeting their wants and needs.

Set clear goals and objectives

Another important factor in building a sales strategy is to lay out detailed sales goals, because without clearly defined objectives, you won’t have anything to build your sales strategy plan around.

It’s not enough to say, “I want my startup’s sales to increase this year.” You’ll need to analyze data and bring hard numbers to the table. For instance, you might notice your business had $500,000 in sales for the previous year, with $200,000 of those sales in the fourth quarter, a busy holiday season, alone.

So for the new year, you may set out to make $750,000 for the entire year, and you’ll know to break up your sales targets by quarters, setting a target to make $300,000 in Q4.


In addition to the sales goals, you can also set targets for generating leads and even help your team set their own goals and objectives for converting leads and closing deals. Maybe you want to generate twice as many leads as last year, or you want to help your sales team increase their closing ratios by 10%.

As part of your sales strategy, you’ll want to have goals and objectives that are easy to understand and measure, and that your team can relate to when they are reaching out to clients and making sales.

Analyze your competitors’ strategies

Competition is important for a healthy business, and reviewing your competitors’ strategies can actually help you build and strengthen your own. The goal isn’t to mimic what your competitor is doing — instead, you can identify what they are doing well and their weaknesses, and improve upon those points to make an effective sales strategy plan that also sets you apart from the competition.

With your target audience in mind, you can check out the competition and gather insights as to how you can tailor your own sales strategies. Are they selling products on a website, through social media, or primarily brick-and-mortar? You might find that your competition only offers sales at a brick-and-mortar location, but the target audience is also looking to make purchases online.

On the other hand, you might notice competitors are making many sales through social media, an avenue you hadn’t considered doing business on just yet but may incorporate into your strategy. 

You can use tools like SparkToro to analyze how your audience engages with competitors, and you can also gain insights into competitors’ demographics and even their behaviors to find where you can tap into what competitors’ audiences need. Similarly, the Competitor Analytics tool from Social Status allows you to compare competitors’ online posts, determining the types of posts that get the most engagement to help you shape your own social media strategies to draw in sales.

If you’re looking to reach more people through email marketing campaigns, MailCharts allows you to analyze competitors’ emails to consumers, including subject lines and send frequency, to help influence your own emails. Owletter is another popular tool for gaining insights into how often competitors send marketing emails, even alerting you when their frequency changes, and keeps up with industry trends.

To keep in tune with how competitors’ online content ranks in search engines and draws in potential new leads, you can use Semrush to get an idea of keywords and topics you can target on your own website.

Whatever insights you find, you can then use that information to tailor your strategies and approaches to meet the target audience where customers are most active, meet their needs quickly, and offer outstanding products and services that outshine the competition.

Analyzing the competitors will help you define your startup’s value proposition, which will lay out how your products or services will meet potential customers’ needs and how your business is different from its competitors, whether that be through prices, customer service, unique experiences, and other characteristics that can lead to satisfied and returning customers.

Develop an effective pricing strategy

As part of an effective sales strategy, you’ll need to spend a good amount of time and effort developing a pricing strategy. Part of this process includes the time you spend analyzing competitors, since you can better determine fair prices based on the amount of money competitors are selling products and services for. But you’ll also need to consider demand and market trends in determining the right pricing strategy for your business.

Pricing strategy types

There are many different types of pricing strategies to consider. What works for a competitor may not work for you, and you may want to review multiple types of pricing strategies and tailor these methods to suit your specific needs.


Some of the most common pricing strategies include:

  • Competition-based: This refers to setting your startup’s product or service pricing based on what competitors are charging.
  • Dynamic pricing: This method involves raising prices with demand and is typical for industries with fluctuating demand, like events and travel industries.
  • Freemium: With this pricing strategy, you offer a free version of your product or service that entices users to upgrade to the paid, full version.
  • High-low pricing: This pricing strategy involves discounting products when they are no longer new or in-season.
  • Premium pricing: Entering a luxury market? Adding high costs to products may allude to prestige, but this model will work best for products that customers perceive as rare or luxurious.

Create a distribution plan for your products or services

You’ve nailed down the demographics and interests of your target audience, defined a value proposition after analyzing your competitors, and found a pricing strategy to suit your startup. Now, it’s time to map out the best way to get your products or services into the hands of your customers.

That’s where a distribution plan or distribution strategy comes into play. Will you have your own warehouse to store and ship goods and receive returns, or are you selling digital goods and services like software or online courses? 

You may need multiple different distribution plans to meet different target audience types or to distribute different types of products and services. The goal in determining the right distribution plan for your business is to consider the most efficient ways to get products and services to users — to help boost customer satisfaction — while also choosing methods that are cost-effective to help maximize your revenues.

Utilize the right tools to measure results

To determine whether or not your sales strategy plan is effective, you’ll need tools to measure the results of your methods. First and foremost, you want to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) technology to help track interactions with customers and sales data. 

Sales Hub - Deals GIFWith the right CRM, you can analyze sales data to compare it to your business and team members’ goals, find and improve on weaknesses, and build on sales strengths. This tool can also help you manage interactions with clients and even track various metrics, including pipeline and deal data.

Measuring performance

Using a CRM can make measuring performance simpler, but you’ll need to know what metrics to keep track of to determine how efficient your sales strategy is.

One of the most important tools for measuring results is KPIs, or key performance indicators, which can range from the number of cold calls or follow-ups a team member makes to the conversion rate of in-store visitors who make a purchase.

Here are examples of metrics to measure for KPIs when determining sales strategy:

  • Customer acquisition cost: This metric measures how much a business spends to turn a lead into a customer.
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS): Compare how much money you spend on advertising to how much revenue you bring.
  • Conversion rate: This refers to how many visitors, whether to your website, on your email marketing list, or in your stores, convert into customers by making purchases.
  • Customer retention: New customers are important, but retaining existing customers is also crucial for a healthy business. Tracking customer retention can help you tune into what your existing clients appreciate from your business, as well as their pain points that can help you improve.
  • Customer satisfaction: Similarly, you can track customer satisfaction to determine how likely customers are to make more purchases or refer you to their friends and family, which could generate new leads and increase sales.

Hire a revenue operations manager to optimize performance

A revenue operations manager (or RevOps manager) oversees the intersection of marketing, sales, and customer service and how these elements of the business drive revenue.

With a RevOps manager, a customer can have a seamless and enjoyable experience, from when they first find out about your startup to long after they’ve made a purchase and become a client.

The RevOps manager can help different teams in a business work together to provide the best experience to leads and clients. This hire means better communication and more sales data and analysis, and can even result in more lead generation, higher conversions and increased sales.

Monitor progress and make necessary adjustments along the way

By using tools to manage customer relationships, track sales data, and measure performance, you can keep a finger on the pulse of your business. This is essential because your sales strategy plan will need to grow and change as your business does.

Over time, you’ll need to refresh your buyer personas and re-evaluate your sales strategy strengths and weaknesses to keep up with changing trends and company growth. You may even need to expand or niche down your target audience to better meet customer needs.

To keep in tune with your startup’s progress, you can use weekly, monthly, and annual reviews to analyze sales data and evaluate team members’ performances.

Another way to stay connected with your target audience is to conduct periodic surveys, interviews, or polls with clients. Not only can this help you gauge customer satisfaction, but it can also tell you more about what products or services your audience wants and any challenges they face when shopping with you. All of this valuable information can then go into shaping your sales strategy.

Building an effective sales strategy plan can feel daunting, and it’s a long process. But it is an essential component to any successful business, and it can adapt as your business grows and changes. By mapping out a sales strategy, you are simultaneously making stronger connections to your audience, carving out a niche to stand out from your competitors, and ultimately generating more leads, increasing sales, and turning higher profits.

Picture of Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett

Aside from writing for INSIDER and the main HubSpot blogs, Paige also serves as an editor of Inhabitat and a freelancer for EuroCheapo. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.