The DriveSales™ | Here is the ultimate guide to develop a successful sales plan for your business!
A sales plan is a strategy that sets out the key objectives, sales targets, and tactics, target audience, potential obstacles with corresponding solutions, and any other information needed to meet the targets. In other words, it’s a business plan focusing specifically on the sales strategy.
An effective sales plan should include the following key elements:
Communicate revenue goals and objectives
Contains all necessary information relating to key target customers
Provides detailed tactics and strategies for smooth execution
Defines budgets and resources necessary for achieving the targets
Outlines roles and responsibilities for the sales team(s) and the leadership
Monitors the sales team’s progress compared to the organizational goals.
A sales plan always acts alongside or within a marketing plan, never in isolation, to drive the efforts of the sales team. The sales goals are typically revisited periodically, every 6 or 12 months, and are recalibrated as per the market feedback.
Sales Planning Process
It’s important to note that sales planning doesn’t only encompass the creation of a sales plan document. For that document to be useful for execution, a high-level strategy is required:
Gather historical sales data from the previous year and search for any trends
Clearly state the objectives and sales targets that lead to achieving the revenue goals
Determine the metrics that will be used to measure and gauge success
Assess the current situation, including weaknesses that manifest into roadblocks and strengths that will be beneficial
Make sales forecasts based on current demand trends and historical data
Identify any gaps that need to be plugged to achieve the targets
Brainstorm new initiatives by thinking out of the box and trying completely new ways of execution
Get all stakeholders such as Marketing teams and Product teams on the same page with their valuable feedback
Outline action items based on capability, capacity, and quotas assigned
This article briefly explains the steps to create an effective sales plan, which will help to develop, implement, and review the sales plan for businesses of all sizes.
1) Company mission and positioning:
This is the first section of any sales plan, which includes the following information:
· Company mission: This includes information defining the purpose of existence of the company and the value it brings to the market and its’ customers.
· Competitors: This section includes information on both direct competitors (those offering similar products and services), as well as indirect competitors (those solving the same problem in different ways).
· Value proposition: Capture the USP (unique selling proposition), features, benefits, and solutions that the product or service delivers.
2) Goals and targets:
After encapsulating the company’s mission and defining the raison d’être, the revenue goals and other targets need to be captured in a sales plan. Sales goals are generally aligned with business goals. Revenue goals shape the sales strategy, reverse engineer sales quotas, sales activity planning, and the human resource required to execute it. Historical sales activity data and past performance are used to calculate sales targets. This should be broken down by activity conducted by sales teams across the different verticals and the pipeline stages of the customers.
3) Sales organization and team structure:
With the goals and targets defined, identifying the talent pool and expertise needed to achieve them is the next priority. The targets must be used to identify hiring strategies as part of the organizational structure. For example, if an average sales rep can send 10 cold emails a day, but the requirement is to send 100 to achieve the goals, then it is clear that around ten reps are required to achieve the targets. The team structure captures the roles and responsibilities of the overall sales organization such as the roles of business development, SDR, and account teams must be clearly defined.
4) Target audience and customer segments
Target audiences are an important piece of the puzzle. Clearly defining customer personas and segments is critical to success. It should include firmographic information such as the industry, size, revenue, etc. This step demands the collection of as much insight as possible relating to their organizational challenges. This may include hiring bottlenecks, barriers created by legislation, and growth hurdles. These target accounts comprise the buyers. These businesses or individuals need the product or service, but each having its own unique set of goals and challenges. Thus, selling to each buyer varies, even within the same organization.
5) Sales strategies and methodologies
With the bedrock of a sales plan in place, now comes the execution part which thoroughly outlines every aspect of the sales strategy to achieve the goals and targets. This includes techniques, strategies, and methodologies required to get the offering out to market. This part of the sales plan is of utmost importance and has the capability of being the longest part of the entire sales plan. It also includes the sales stages which are the different steps in a customer’s journey to convert from prospective customers into paying customers. Sales playbooks are also an inevitable part that elaborates on the tactics and techniques needed to guide prospects through every stage of the sales process.
6) Sales execution plan
After taking care of the “who” and “what” of the sales plan, it’s time to look at the “when”. A structured sales execution must be able to precisely communicate the time in which the key milestones need to be reached to fall in line with the goals. It outlines when different activities and projects will be complete, along with other parameters such as recruitment timelines, alignment with the marketing and product team, etc. as the sales ramp up across every quarter. The order of implementation of the plan will also depend on the priorities. Many sales teams prefer to front-load the activity making a bigger impact on the bottom line of the organization.
7) Measuring performance and results
If you don’t measure, you can’t improve. Finally, the sales plan must outline details on the most important sales metrics and activities to measure success, along with the technology required to track them. While metrics are important in every aspect of any business, they are especially critical in sales.
Performance metrics indicate the effectiveness of the entire sales process and planning. The chosen metrics can be broadly categorized into two categories — primary metrics act as the precise, concise, and mandatory set of metrics that need to be followed diligently to provide a defined direction to the organization. A very good example of this metric is new business revenue generated. Secondary metrics are the ones that indicate the performance of specific areas of the sales process such as average purchase value and lead response time. The metrics selected must closely align with the goals and sales activities.
An effective sales plan is the guiding light for any sales team. Preparing it can prove to be a game-changer as it defines the entire plan of action including the sales strategy, targets, metrics, and processes, helping sales teams to understand their goals and targets and the different means to achieve them. Providing such supportive and comprehensive resources is one of the best ways to motivate sales teams.
Now, as an effective SALESPERSON! We can do three things from here.
1. Not ignoring the opportunity and blaming the situation for revenue loss.
2. Taking necessary notes and revisiting your sales strategy with a growth mindset.
3. Reach out to The DriveSales™ in case you need any specialized help.
To conclude, what you believe also provides some idea of your development as a consultative salesperson. For more, please be connected to team The DriveSales™ as these are the foundations for our culture and ways of working!