Before you begin, it’s important to understand the rationale behind why you need one. The simple fact is – sales is the very essence of every business, no matter the size. Through the act of selling, you acquire customers who purchase your products and services. Without the revenue earned from those sales, your business cannot flourish. Sales are crucial to your business success, so you can’t afford to approach it haphazardly – you need a plan that aligns with your overall business objectives. Think of your sales plan as your guide that defines the “who, what, where and how” of achieving your sales targets.
Sharing your overall business objectives with your sales team brings everybody together, working towards a common goal. While you don’t need to create a sales plan that’s pages long, it should provide your team with the strategic direction they need to achieve your revenue targets. Typical sales plans include monthly revenue goals, target markets (customers), market conditions, team structure and responsibilities, as well as strategies and tactics (actions), along with available resources (tools) for the team to use in pursuit of their individual objectives. Done right, a sales plan empowers your sales team to perform at their best, ultimately helping your business to succeed.
Here are 6 key steps to help you create an effective sales plan:
Set clear goals
Get clear about your sales goals. Define what you are trying to accomplish, when and why. What are your revenue goals? Do you need them broken down into monthly or quarterly quotas? Are you entering a new market or launching a new product? Once you know what success will look like for your business, you can build a plan to get there.
Define your target market
A sales plan can’t be effective if you don’t identify your target market. This part of your plan should identify your target market, their characteristics and which accounts you plan to pursue. These accounts on your wish list will have a need for your product or service and are your buyers. Collect as much insight about your target market as you can, including any challenges or obstacles they face, including market conditions. Focus your team on the right customers to engage and those most likely to help you realize your revenue goals.
Outline your plan of action
Describe the sales methodologies you will adopt to help guide your sales team, including the strategies, techniques, tools and materials they can use throughout the buyer’s journey. This section of your sales plan is where the rubber hits the road and should map out each stage of the sales process to convert a prospect (potential buyer) into a paying customer. A structured approach to sales will enable your team to reach your sales targets consistently. Defining your plan of action also includes determining how many sales you need to close each month, the number of prospects converted to buyers (average closing rate) and how long it should take to close the deal (average selling cycle).
Establish team structures & align resources
This section of your sales plan must identify who you need on your sales team, as well as their role and responsibilities. Define a high-level structure of how your team will function and then get specific on roles and responsibilities for each team member. To avoid confusion or miscommunication, every member of your sales team needs to clearly understand what’s expected from them on a daily basis to achieve the revenue targets set. Aligning resources is more about providing your sales team with the right tools and resources to help them sell more effectively, such as phones, laptops, iPads, and access to software applications. As an example, giving your team access to a CRM tool can help team members sell more by boosting their efficiency.
Execute your sales plan
Executing your sales plan is all about figuring out when you want to put the plan into action. When do sales targets, campaigns, activities, milestones and possibly recruitment efforts need to be completed? These can be mapped out on a weekly, monthly or on a quarterly schedule. The schedule you select should be based on your business priorities and revenue goals.
Develop performance metrics
The only way to know if your plan is working is to measure your results using key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPI metrics you use should align with your goals and sales activities and should be assigned to each member of your sales team. As an example, you might want to measure the number of sales calls made in a month or the number of conversions (prospect to buyer) in a defined period. KPIs help you understand what is working and what isn’t working, giving you time to adjust and recover. Best to keep these simple and easily tracked consistently throughout the year.
Incentives & Team Rewards
Lastly, an essential component of any sales plan is rewarding and recognizing sales team successes and efforts made. An effective sales plan is an invaluable asset for any sales team. Although sales plans can be far more complicated and detailed, they don’t have to be – sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. Creating a sales plan helps you define your sales strategy, targets, processes and metrics. It also helps your sales team understand what is expected of them and how to reach their goals. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it’s certainly not static. As your business grows and changes, so should your sales plan. If you need help creating a sales plan or understanding the steps needed to build an effective plan, Vexxit can match you with a sales consultant to walk you through the process.