“I know sales can benefit from the guidance of a sales and marketing plan. But we don’t have one. What goes into that kind of plan? How do you make a plan that will be as effective as possible?”
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Define on paper what results you want to achieve in sales and then in marketing. Describe how resources will be allocated to achieve the goals you’ve set. Then measure results and adjust.
When it comes to sales, you want to define what’s supposed to happen.
How much revenue is expected from current and new clients? Which clients are top and low priority and why? Which are the expansion clients, with significant potential to buy more of your current products and new ones as they’re introduced? What changes to prices and what discounts or premiums will come into play? Who handles what roles in sales and will there be any additions to the team during the year? What potential customers and markets are top priority for development? Some of this should be written out in commentary format. And there should be a grid predicting how growth in clients, pricing and gross profits should affect the bottom line throughout the year.
Creating a marketing plan can be a bit more complicated given the number of options available. Start with an estimate of how much velocity marketing needs to generate. Answer these questions on a scale of 1 (unlikely) to 10 (highly likely).
• Can the sales group hit this year’s revenue goals without additional marketing help?
• Is the company well- entrenched in the markets it currently serves?
• Can the company easily withstand competitive threats this year?
• Will the company’s growth needs be met by the current client base?
• Does the company know everything it needs to know about pricing, offers, competitive threats and new products likely to hit the market?
The lower score to each answer, the more velocity is needed from marketing.
There are clues from the sales plan as to where marketing should focus.
Look for high-payoff solutions that support sales efforts with existing and high-potential customers and target markets. Use the marketing plan to ward off competitive threats and dive into high-potential marketplace opportunities. A grid of competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can be helpful in conveying information at a glance.
Describe how resources will be allocated to achieve the goals you’ve set.
Figure out how much money you can afford to spend on marketing. Divide that budget into major categories: trade shows (attendance and booths); internet marketing options; physical presence (website, billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, directories); cold and warm lead approaches (email, direct mail and phone call campaigns); and hosted and sponsored events (bring together groups of customers and prospects).
Set goals for each major marketing category:
• How many prospects to attract.
• Likely conversion from prospect to client.
• Projected cost per prospect and cost per client acquired.
• Likely contribution to sales efforts in downline years.
• Yield in terms of additional sales this year.
Compare the goals you plan to achieve in marketing with revenue needs as described in your sales plan.
Keep tweaking things until your sales and marketing plans match.
Don’t be afraid to take educated guesses — each time you go through the exercise you’ll get better at figuring out how things work. Consider front loading the year with a lot of marketing efforts to reduce pressure at year’s end. Or, start your marketing calendar three months earlier than the calendar year to build up a head of steam.
Then measure results and adjust. Compare performance vs. goals each month. See if results are anywhere near what was expected. Make adjustments up or down to match performance to needs. Don’t wait until the end of the year to implement fixes if you’re way off, as marketing takes time to build results.