Every business needs to have a strategic sales plan. Yet I see so many companies skip this crucial step in the sales process.
Whether you’re a sales manager, sales executive, or business owner, your sales team will greatly benefit from an effective sales plan.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a sales plan?
A sales plan will essentially outline the objectives and tactics that your company needs to use for selling. It will also focus on your target audience as well as any potential threats or barriers that you might encounter along the way.
Your sales plan is very similar to a typical business plan, except for the focus will be primarily on the sales strategy. A traditional business plan outlines the goals of your business, while a strategic sales plan details exactly how those goals will be executed.
How to Create a Strategic Sales Plan
Now that you know exactly what a sales plan is and understand its importance, it’s time to move forward and create one for your business.
For those of you who have never done this before, it may seem a bit intimidating. But as long as you have a guide or a template to follow, creating a strategic sales plan won’t be too challenging.
That’s what inspired me to create this guide. I’ve identified the components of a typical strategic sales plan. Follow this template and use it as a reference to create your own.
A mission statement will be the very first step of creating a sales plan.
By stating the vision of your company, it ensures that your entire sales department is on the same page. Ultimately, this will help improve the performance of your sales team.
Yes, the ultimate goal of your business is to sell and make money. That goes without saying.
But the mission statement will include essential information about the background and purpose of your business as well. It’s also helpful to include a brief history of how the business got started and mention the inspiration for its inception. At times, this story can be a powerful sales tool.
Your sales department needs to have clearly defined roles. Everyone should know their position and know who they should be reporting to.
For those of you with larger companies, you may have several sales managers overseeing different salespeople.
If you have a smaller company that’s planning to scale and add members to the sales team in the future, include this information in the sales plan as well. You’ll want to explain those job titles and exactly when you plan to add new roles to the team.
Properly identifying your target market is arguably the most crucial step of any strategic sales plan. Your company isn’t selling to everyone and anyone.
Define your niche. Know who your customers are and what industries they’re in.
Understand their wants, needs, and position yourself to solve problems that these people might be facing on a daily basis.
Depending on what you’re selling, your target market might be segmented into different categories. For example, let’s say your business sells enterprise software. The buyer personas for accounting software will be different from the buyer personas for marketing software.
Even though you might be selling both to the same business, you’ll be targeting different people within that organization.
What will your sales team use to drive conversions?
Your sales plan needs to include any software and tools that you’ll be providing to your staff.
Giving your team the proper resources to set them up for success will ultimately increase your sales productivity.
Your strategic sales plan should also outline the sales training process as well as any other documents or guides that your staff will be using as a resource.
Market position and strategy
Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. There are outside factors that will have a major impact on your sales.
Identify the biggest competitors.
Know their products and how they compare to what you’re selling. Compare their pricing strategy to yours. Use this information to figure out how you’re going to market yourself to your previously defined target audience.
Have a strategy for all of your products. Monitor how the strategy impacts your sales.
For example, you may realize that a 10% price reduction for a specific product yields a 20% increase in monthly sales. Whereas a 5% price increase could cause an 8% drop in sales for another product.
Define your lead generation strategy. Then explain how your sales team will qualify those leads.
Make sure that your team isn’t wasting time with consumers who don’t meet all of the criteria for your prospecting strategy.
Actionable goals and objectives
Most sales goals are based on revenue. But with that said, you need to make sure that you have an actionable plan and objectives to meet those goals.
Let’s say your overall goal is $15 million in annual revenue. That’s a big number to reach without breaking it down into specific objectives that will bring you to that total.
For example, you could have specific objectives based on increasing referral rates by a certain percentage each quarter. Then, explain the actionable steps that your team will need to take in order to reach those percentages.
In addition to revenue, you can set goals based on sales volume as well.
Whatever approach you decide to take will need to include steps and milestones in order to achieve those objectives.
Don’t just pull numbers out of thin air. Look at your past. Using figures from last year or last quarter to help you create benchmarks will improve the accuracy of sales forecasting and ensure that your goals are realistic.
It’s also worth noting that your sales department will likely have several goals.
Include all of them in your strategic sales plan. But rank them in order of importance. This way everyone will be on the same page and they’ll know what to prioritize.
Outline all of the costs associated with your sales plan. Your budget will likely include things such as:
- Employee salaries
- Training costs
- Sales resources and software
- Prizes and incentives for your sales team (other than commission)
- Team building events
- Travel costs
- Food and drink
Then compare your budget to your sales forecast to make sure that the budget is reasonable. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure that you’re not overspending.
Your company needs a strategic sales plan.
This will benefit everyone from the sales team to mid-level managers, all the way up to the owner and executive level of your organization.
You should be creating sales plans on a regular basis. For example, you can have an overall plan for the year. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make changes as time passes.
Create a 30-day sales plan, 60-day sales plan, or 90-day sales plan to meet your short term goals.