Create a Sales Plan That Actually Works
True success in any business enterprise always starts with a plan. To meet sales and marketing targets, a strategic sales plan has to be devised and mapped out.
What is a Sales Plan?
“A sales plan is a strategy document developed to list sales strategies and map out strategies needed to achieve them in black and white“. For the most part, the said document establishes a plan for growth in revenue or other metrics for measuring success and growth in sales.
It is designed specifically to assist in driving sales. It also gives a ‘binocular view’ on where you’re at and where you want to be in reference to your set goals. Perhaps, more importantly, it shows you how to get there.
A sales plan is distinct from a marketing plan as it employs more direct and purposeful approaches. While marketing plans are designed to help you identify your business’ target and create strategies to reach them, a sales plan highlights in detail the exact strategies the business needs to implement to sell products and services and hence increase revenue.
A properly developed sales plan consists of sections defining in clear terms goals, customer attributes, tools, metrics, necessary strategies, and estimated expenses.
What Is Included in a Sales Plan?
Business sales and growth can be unpredictable and is usually subject to uncontrollable conditions. However, a sales plan helps us gain a certain level of control over our businesses.
The following are guidelines to follow in developing your next sales plan.
(1) Executive Summary And Scope Of Sales Plan
This section summarizes the goals of the business and strategies to be enforced in achieving them. It gives an overall view of the contents of the document and states the time period over which the contents of the document are valid.
An executive summary is a brief and standard way of introducing key details of your business to potential investors. It must define what the problems, as well as needs, are in the market with a view to highlighting how you are uniquely able to solve the problems.
An executive summary should;
- Give people unfamiliar with your type of business and idea about what you do and the potential for you to succeed.
- Touch on your marketing, management and financial strategies. It should also be able to show projections for your business going forward. In general, it should touch every part of the information given in your sales plan as a whole.
It is important that this part of your sales plan is brief and direct. To achieve this, you could use bullet points, graphics or any other form of visual representation.
(2) Define Business, Product and Revenue Targets
This section follows the Executive Summary and clearly highlights the goals and revenue targets of your business enterprise. It may also include associated business goals such as optimizing lifecycle value through customer success programs among many others. Essentially, it should flesh out all the details provided in the Executive Summary.
In ideal situations, you should provide more information on who you are and what you sell. In general, you should
- provide briefs on how and when your business was formed, where it is located and its form (partnership, PLC, LLC or sole proprietorship)
- highlight the value your product or service brings to your consumers. It should describe in concise grammar the benefits your product brings to its target population
- detail your business goals and revenue targets. It is important that you map out what your short and long term goals and the revenue you predict to rake in at every milestone.
(3) Appraisal of Prior Period Performance
This section analyzes the performance of a prior period in your business or previously developed sales plan. This is done with a view to identifying mistakes as well as decisive actions that helped to arrive at positive outcomes. This would also help you in forecasting and predicting outcomes of implementing an approach.
In general, this section is included to identify and adopt only techniques and actions that work so as to optimize subsequent sales plans.
(4) Conditions of the market and industry
This section provides a summary of conditions such as government policies and brand bias that might have a direct or indirect impact on sales performance.
Also, it identifies other major players in the industry and your position relative to them. This gives you an idea of what to do differently. It also gives you hindsight on the weaknesses of your competitors for you to exploit.
In analyzing your industry and competitors, the following points are salient.
- Clearly establish your position in the market and document the exact niche of your product or services.
- Project the growth of your business by studying market trends and consumer wants.
- It is also necessary you consider the geographic limits of your market.
(5) Strategies and Methodologies to be Adopted
This section is perhaps the most important part of your sales plan. Hence, it should be written in very clear language. This section is designed with a view to recommending proven selling techniques, communication sequences and marketing tactics to be implemented. To get an idea of these proven methodologies, an understudy should be done on competitors in the same niche.
The following should help you in laying out your strategies and methodologies
- Establish a pricing strategy and stick to it. Conduct research on similar products and services and set prices for yours accordingly
- Define in clear terms your advertising medium. Determine when and whether to use websites, television advertising, magazine publications, and banners.
- It is essential that you document the sales strategies that have proven effective in the past.
- You should also outline the approach your sales team would apply in the short and long term runs to generate leads and close deals.
(6) Customer Segments
This section includes information on renewals/referrals/upsells as well as new prospects in the market. In clearer terms, you outline your target demographics, that is, who you sell to, the social status of potential customers and how many of those customers exist in the market.
Take for example; if you sell feeding bottles, your target demographics would be nursing mothers.
Also, it cites all the potential revenue generated and opportunities available for the business to exploit.
(7) Team Capabilities and Resources
This section centers on the abilities – strengths, and weaknesses – of the members of the team. It highlights the current state of all production inputs, including human resources, sales team, assets on ground and transport means needed to close sales deals.
(8) Action Plans for Individuals and Teams
In this section of a sales plan, tasks, activities, and assignments are assigned to individuals and teams. Tasks assigned include product presentation, trade fair demos, meetings, and appointments.
(9) Performance Monitoring
This section is included to set benchmarks and metrics for accessing performance and progress in sales. It also includes systems and processes to monitor the said metrics.
A sales plan is not optional for a business that wants to see continuous growth. Asides its obvious benefits, it promotes diligence as well as a discipline on the part of individuals and team members.
A documented sales plan helps you execute all your best ideas as against thought-up goals, plans, and strategies all bottled up in the head. Essentially, a plan not written is mere talk!
The Benefits of a Sales Plan
- A Sales Plan defines a set of sales targets for the business
- choose sales strategies that are suited to your target market
- A Sales plan identify sales tactics for a sales team
- A Sales plan, activate, motivate and focus a sales team
- budget and clarify steps you’ll take to achieve your targets
- A Sales plan helps to review your goals periodically and improve your approaches to sales.
In summary, a sales plan must be designed to contain goals, SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), strategies, and tactics to reach your target, among others.