Do you have a sales plan? And if you do, is the content really helping drive you closer to your sales goals?
A sales plan is a document that outlines your strategies for hitting sales targets, improving sales performance, and/or meeting other sales goals within a specific timeframe. When defining these strategies, you specify your goals or objectives; the specific, concrete steps you will take; the necessary resources; your target market; and even the challenges that can potentially derail your plans.
Why do you need a sales plan?
A sales plan shows you how you can achieve the end result. We like to compare the sales plan to an elevated blueprint. The foreman shares the plan with his workers, to guide them while they’re doing their individual work. And each one is working separately towards one goal: building and finishing the house.
Your sales plan is that and more. It's something you build and share with your sales reps. It serves to guide them so they can execute the actions needed to accomplish the sales goal(s). And if developed and executed correctly, a sales plan will really make a difference in the execution of all your ideas, tasks, and tactics.
What are the other reasons for needing a sales plan?
- It sets a very clear direction for you and the team. The sales plan content (which we’ll outline below) is very specific. It details the “who, what, where, when (including starting when and ending when), why, and how” of your sales strategies. Its specificity sets clearer tasks and actions for everyone in the team.
- It gives the team focus. They know exactly what needs to be done and how. Their work hours will prove to be more productive because they know what to do and what to accomplish every day, every week.
- It keeps the team aligned. You lessen the risk of miscommunication and/or misguided actions when the whole team is on the same page.
- It instills discipline and drive among sales reps. The need to focus on the actions stated in the sales plan helps impress methodical and strategic behavior upon the reps, while the defined goals help keep them motivated.
- It helps you monitor your progress. You have something to help you gauge if your daily, weekly, and monthly milestones are in sync with the end goal.
- Progress development allows you to take on proactive measures. If you see that you are even slightly off-track, you can re-strategize to keep the team on track to hitting the sales plan goals. Given all that information, you can also quickly identify problems, bottlenecks, and weak points.
- It also helps you track your team’s performance. A sales plan outlines resources needed for the accomplishment of goals. Those resources include manpower. A proper sales plan answers the question: “Who does what?” And if it’s clear who’s responsible for which action, it allows you to monitor every sales rep’s performance based on the work output.
- A sales plan also promotes accountability and responsibility within the sales team. As noted in the aforementioned, members are given specific tasks. Ownership of those tasks makes them accountable to fulfilling the goals of the tasks. And when people have full accountability for their tasks and actions, they deliver more outstanding work.
- It can help you forecast more accurately. Because all tasks and goals are detailed and performance monitoring and progress tracking are optimized, you have more data to help you inform your sales forecasting.
- Sales managers become more productive. For newer or junior sales reps, the outline will guide them without sales heads needing to micromanage them. This is actually true for everyone in the team, new or experienced. And this allows sales managers to do other work, and focus on growing the business instead of the day-to-day tasks.
What’s in a sales plan?
What is included in a sales plan that makes all these benefits possible? There is no ONE template to follow. A lot of what’s inside your sales plan will depend on your business model and goals.
But here’s an outline of what standard sales plans have. Your sales plan can have some or all of the items below. It can even have more than what we’ve outlined.
- Business Goals
- Revenue Goals / Targets
- Target Market
- Market Segments
- Specific Strategies for
- Lead Generation
- Qualifying Leads
- Closing the Deal
- Customer Retention
- Action Plan (Methodologies, Tasks, and Tactics)
- Monitoring and Reporting
- Data and Reports Analysis
- Team / Manpower
- Tools and Resources
- Historical Data
- Timetable with
- Marketing Strategies
- Market and Industry Conditions
So how do you put everything together and build a sales plan that actually works for you and your team? That’s in our next post.
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