Building a Sales Plan

Building a Sales Plan

Building a sales plan is new to us. We’ve never made a planned out way to get leads and work leads. What should we use as a template? How can we make sure the plan works?

Thoughts of the Day: Most small businesses start out with the intention of building a sales plan but end up not following through on that. And not having a plan can get in the way of producing consistent results. Mapping out sales strategies gives you and your employees the same roadmap to follow. So you’re all going in the same direction. Consistency in approach allows you to measure what’s working to tweak what’s not. Knowing how one stage relates to the next helps forecast what it will take to get the results you want.

The best way to produce results in any area of a small business is to put on paper a process you think will work.

Then implement the process to test your assumptions. As the plan unfolds, you should find new customers and expand relationships with the right existing customers. Sales are the lifeblood of every business. Building and implementing an effective sales plan is a critical success tool for any business. Want a thriving business? You need to know how you improved revenue and profit, with which customers, market segments, and against which competitors, so you can repeat the successes. That will result in a business that thrives.

Elements of a sales plan include identifying idea customers and vertical markets, documenting competitive advantages, clarifying pricing and pricing variations.

Define which people play supporting and front-line roles in sales, including duties and key performance measures. Put together a budget of what you plan to spend to support sales efforts. Use historical data to figure out how much work typically “just shows up”. Compare that to goals for the company and that will tell you how much additional work your team will have to identify and bring on board. Consider outside influences such as the economy, new innovations, competitor entrances into and exits from your market, and changes in buyers’ needs and tastes. Take a guess as to how all that will help or hinder your team’s sales efforts.

Map out a daily, weekly, and monthly plan. Include goals for numbers of new leads, new calls, new qualified prospects, proposals, and closes. Identify and track where they come from. Compare them with how you’re currently doing now.

Starting out, be conservative in your estimates at how well things could go. Decide what’s realistic for your sales team. If they’ve historically delivered 1 sale/month, expecting them to jump to 10 sales/month is probably unrealistic. Better to under-plan and be thrilled when the team exceeds results, rather than over-estimate and fall short of your goals.

Once you’ve laid out your plan, get everyone on board. Ask them to sign on to do their part to support the plan.

Anyone with reservations, hear them out and decide if they have the ability and will to participate, or if they need to be reassigned. Put the plan in motion and carefully monitor results weekly. Look for examples of what works and repeat that. Areas that aren’t delivering, try something else.

Once you have experience with your plan, you can start working backward from results to actions needed to deliver those results. Figure out the formula based on results: X number of sales calls yields Y number of qualified leads, gets you Z number of proposals, which then yields one or more sales. Define the number of sales you want in each area and you’ll be able to calculate the number of sales calls, qualified leads, and proposals you’ll need.