Now that you know what’s in a sales plan, it’s time to start building one specifically for your business model and goals, and for your sales team.
While the actual contents may vary for every business, a sales plan would normally have these five categories:
1. Goals and Targets Setting
2. Customer and Market Research
3. Strategies and Tactics
4. Deadlines, Deliverables, and Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs)
5. Monitoring and Data Analysis
The following tips will address all these five categories and, more importantly, help you build your sales plan.
15 Strategic Steps to Building Your Sales Plan
Goals and Targets Setting
1. Set SMART goals
You need to establish the reasons the sales plan exists in the first place: your goals. When you set your goals for the business, the sales quotas, and revenues, as with all goals, remember to keep them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based.
Be very clear about your goals; be as specific as you can be. These goals will provide direction, focus, and motivation for the sales reps moving forward.
Customer and Market Research
2. Identify your target market
You probably have an idea on who you’re trying to target. However, an idea can be vague. You have to zero in on your ideal customer, whether an individual or a company. Creating an Ideal Customer Profile will make it clearer. A buyer persona is even more detailed and helpful. A buyer persona outlines everything—from demographics to needs, interests, buying behaviors, goals, motivations, aspirations, values, and even frustrations. You can even assign a name and a photo to your buyer persona. Think of your buyer persona as a real person, not a statistical figure. You should build your buyer persona to include in the sales plan.
3. Locate your audience
Where can you find these ideal customers, your target market? And we don’t just mean physical location. Find where they are online too. In social media? Which one? What are they reading? What sites are they visiting? Locating your target market helps you strategize for your selling and marketing.
4. Know the conditions of the market and industry
Pricing is one of the things that will help drive your sales, and it’s an important part of your sales plan. Knowing market and industry conditions will help inform your pricing. Make sure that you base everything on extensive, accurate, and updated research.
5. Plan for your customer’s journey
Knowing your market means knowing their purchasing history, buying behavior, and understanding their buyer’s journey. Your historical data will provide you with the information you need to understand buyer's journey and plan for it. Performing a sales pipeline analysis will generate the data you need.
Strategies and Tactics
6. Position your brand
Identify your competitors and determine how your product is different. This will also help you create your unique value proposition, which is very important in selling effectively. Note that it says “value proposition”. That’s because you should highlight the unique value you provide customers, not so much your list of features.
7. Develop your strategies and tactics
You should strategize for the following:
• Increasing awareness for your brand
• Prospecting and generating leads
• Gaining new business
• Exceeding quota (hitting the quota must be a given)
• Getting referrals
• Retaining existing customers
8. Identify challenges
You have your strategies in place. Now what challenges, problems, or issues do you foresee? It’s best to identify those early on so you can strategize for them as well. There is nothing worse than getting caught with your pants down midway of the selling process.
9. Determine your budget
Itemize the costs you will be incurring in the implementation of your sales plan. This is essentially your customer acquisition cost (CAC) and it normally includes, among others: salary and commission; sales training; representation; tools, equipment, and resources; travel or commuting; mobile phone subscription and other third-party subscription costs. Identify which expenses are one-time and which are recurring.
Deadlines, Deliverables, and Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs)
10. Establish your team
Who’s on your team? Identify your manpower.
11. Assign roles and responsibilities
What will each one have to do to attain the sales goals? Assign very specific tasks, roles, and responsibilities for every person in the team. Remember that you want to create accountability, and this is the way to do it. Tasks may be direct (pitching to client, cold calling, etc.) and indirect (writing content, managing data, etc.). There are also tasks that will be performed by an individual and by a team. Identify those that require team effort as well, and assign the person in charge.
12. List resources
What tools, software, gadgets, device, equipment, and other resources do you need to fulfill all these tasks? Identify the ones you have and those that would require purchasing and/or subscription.
13. Create a timeframe with milestones and deadlines
Break down your goals with little goals or milestones. These little goals add up to the big or end goal. But you have to be very specific about what these little goals are (e.g. 10 quality leads a week) and indicate the deadline for each milestone.
Monitoring and Data Analysis
14. Formalize KPIs
You now have a list of names of team members. For each person, establish his/her Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You need to formalize the KPIs to form basis for performance monitoring and assessment.
15. Decide on your sales metrics
How do you plan to measure the success of each strategy or tactic? You need to identify the sales metrics for evaluating each one. Having these sales metrics will help you assess if your sales plan is on track or off. It will also help you jump in when an issue breaks out, preventing the matter from getting worse.
By identifying sales metrics, you will also determine the reports you need for successful monitoring. List those down and note the frequency—do you need it every week or every month? Having a CRM will help you monitor every report and generate the actionable insights you need. In fact, having a CRM is a must for executing and tracking your whole sales plan. It will allow you to manage every task, every activity in real time. We suggest you create workflows and modules on your CRM, and customize them as you see fit.
These 15 steps will help you formulate your very own sales plan. If developed and executed thoughtfully and strategically, your sales plan can really help you realize all your sales goals. Good luck!
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