Sales: sales plays are not just for juniors!

Sales: sales plays are not just for juniors! 1024 512 Bruno Sireyjol

In the world of sales, the spotlight often shines on charismatic individuals closing deals with apparent ease. These sales superstars exude confidence and an innate ability to connect with customers. They have conversations with decision-makers, while the average salesperson makes presentations and gravitate towards users. They enable customers to see solutions, while the average salesperson focuses on product features and functions.


Some would say they have charisma and stamina. They don’t need sales tactics or game plans, or even a sales process. Our point of view? We must dispel immediately the misconception that sales superstars rely on apparent inborn abilities. They may not live by the sales play book, but they use them as tactical weapons to serve their ultimate goal: winning more and faster.


The myth of the sales genius.


Let’s put it bluntly: we have never met a sales eagle who was relying on his or her so called instinct to make it consistently to the top. Well, we did in specific industries, including software, where the challenge boiled down to positioning a simple product and addressing a limited number of personas through a pretty straightforward sales choreography.


From customer engagement to closing, the sales play could be summarized by basic components: identifying the need, connecting with a champion, understanding customer buying process and differentiating through obvious unique selling points. No need for strategizing but rather one simple imperative: monitoring a simple, well-crafted game plan fueled by objections handling techniques and competitive landmines. Not surprisingly, success here hinges on basic ingredients: getting the most valuable accounts, building a decent pipeline, and completing predefined activities.


However, when analyzing data and factoring out accounts propensity to buy to measure real performance we came to the following conclusion for this kind of uncomplicated sales environment : more junior reps actually win more: more deals, namely competitive ones, and more net new revenue. What’s more, the larger the product portfolios and the more complex the offers, the more sales superstars admit to relying on game plans to design and fine-tune their sales tactics.


Inner drive and changing sales landscape.


Sales superstars leverage sales play for two main reasons.


The first reason is internal and relates to superstars’ growth mindset. They acknowledge that, whatever their experience and expertise, there is always something new to learn and improve. Some of them are meticulous. Others are more scattered. They all rely though on sales plays to check they leave no stone unturned and don’t miss the detail that will make a difference. Please note that they do not rely on sales plays. They learn them, implement them, assimilate them, question them until they create a better version.


The second reason is external. The above-mentioned complexity is not confined to the depth and breadth of product portfolios. Well, to be accurate, this complexity generates various sales opportunities, various sales situations, various problems to solve, diverse stakeholders to address at different phases of their sales journeys. No “one-size-fits all’ competitive strategy. No simple, repeatable use cases. And ever changing customer expectations.


Even sales superstars may struggle. While adaptability and foresight are needed more than ever, well-crafted sales plays help them navigate these complexities, make sound decisions, and anticipate future developments. Sales plays are not their north star, they are rather a roadmap they check to make sure they are heading in the right direction.


Effective Sales Plays.


Sales plays are not a sales process unless you always sell the same product to the same person in the same industry. Even if you have implemented multiple sales processes to address distinct types of business opportunities, simple or strategic ones for example, you simply can’t create as many sales processes as there are possible sales plays.


Nor are game plans sales strategies. Rather, they are tactical reminders displayed at specific stages of the sales process based on specific situations encountered in real business life. These reminders incorporate data and insights, allowing sales reps to pivot strategies swiftly and stay ahead of the curve.


Ideally, In the era of big data, sales plays should be triggered by real time data analysis including the identification of customer needs, personas, steps completed, competitors involved, customer objections to deliver real time insights, pivot strategies swiftly and stay ahead of the curve. This connection of AI and human touch, the symbiotic relationship between sales and technology, is one of the most promising and game changing combinations that will impact sales productivity and effectiveness.


To come back to sales plays, we are not covering here all the possible scenarios. Let’s take a very simple example: launching a new product to dislodge a competitor from strategic accounts. Please note that we do not include the steps or activities of the sales process, although some of our customers may recognize certain key elements of our W10 qualification process. A simple and effective sales strategy would be to list the following information:


  • Where: list of targeted accounts and the criteria used to target them.
  • Who: personas to be addressed, including roles, missions, concerns and metrics.
  • Why: business problems to be solved, including current metrics and expected outcome.
  • Why us: unique selling points and alignment with decision criteria.
  • Why now: metrics and the customer’s personal value drivers to create urgency.
  • What: everything from Challenger Sales ‘ cherished insights, silver bullets and key sales messaging.
  • What if: most likely scenarios and objection handling.


The best soccer players don’t rely on their natural qualities to reach the top. Their contribution to collective success depends on their ability to assimilate game tactics. Likewise, sales superstars don’t rely on charm, charisma or fuzzy innate skills. They recognize the growing complexity of the sales world and thrive by integrating game plans into their hard work, strategic thinking and execution.


Sales plays are not just for beginners. Investing time in developing and refining game plans is key to sustained success, for aspiring and established sales professionals alike, from Onboarding to competing for President’s Club.