How to create a sales plan (plus a template)

I love a good sales plan. It really sets the tone for any business by laying out how you’re going to find those customers and get them to pull out that credit card. It’s something any business owner can positively obsess over — and for good reason.

A business without a sales plan is like a ship without a rudder. If you don’t have one, drop everything and get started. The sooner you have a sales plan in place, the sooner you will be able to make big moves as a business with the confidence that you are moving in the right direction.

Sales plans are a basic part of the sales process — you simply can’t effectively run a business without one. So let’s talk about what a sales plan is and what yours should look like.

Overview: What is a sales plan?

A sales plan is a framework that establishes targets for finding and closing paying customers for your business. This plan outlines a sales strategy for how a business will go about building its customer base. It solidifies what tactics the business will use and assists in formulating what kind of budget needs the organization has that will influence these strategies. It also establishes deadlines for achieving sales targets.

What should you include in a sales plan?

Sales plans should include a clear objective, so avoid vague goals such as “quickly increase sales” and establish specific dates and numbers such as “achieve a 20% increase in sales within the next fiscal quarter.”

The sales action plan should identify potential obstacles to success so the team can plan mitigating actions. It should also determine the strengths and weaknesses of not just the team but the approach and the business development plan itself. A sales plan should lay out the specific needs of the team to achieve success and map out an action plan the team can follow.

Sales plan template

Sales development plans vary greatly depending on the organization, team, personalities, industry, and a host of other factors, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a sales plan. However, you can choose from a variety of sales plan templates online. Some are simple and describe a list of sales objectives, while others get far more detailed. Choose one that most appeals to you to increase your chances of success.

Here’s a basic plan I created to show what yours could look like. As you can see, this doesn’t need to be complicated — it just needs to show what kinds of actions you expect your team to take and associated deadlines. You can add more detail if you want, but this gives you an idea of the general structure.

How to create a sales plan for your small business

Creating a sales strategy plan seems like a daunting task, but it’s actually a straightforward process and will give you and the members of your organization clarity on your business plan.

1. Determine your target market

The first step is to determine which market you are trying to break into. Identify your target customer’s demographics and build a customer profile. Understand what your typical customer’s general income and budget levels are, as well as their buying habits.

Do you sell jeans to general consumers, or do you run a small IT firm that sells specialized services to the CEOs of small businesses? Factor in all of the external impacts from the business landscape of your market, and consider anything that may influence buying habits — for example, a drop in the real estate market resulting in a lower demand for a video production service for realtors.

Key questions to ask:

• If you were to define your ideal customer, what would they look like?

• What position would they hold?

• How much income would they make?

• What do they value most?

• Why would they buy from you?

2. Define your revenue targets

With a target market identified, you should define your revenue targets. Generally, quarterly is your best bet since weekly or even monthly targets could fluctuate widely. Choose which metrics you will use to evaluate the success or failure of your plan and look at past quarters for guidance on what you can reasonably project for the upcoming quarter.

You must be flexible because every business faces some unforeseen obstacles. If you miss your goals or exceed them, take a look at why that was and factor in those forces in the next quarter.

Key questions to ask:

• How much revenue do you need to grow at the pace you want as a business?

• How many sales would that take each week? Each month? Each quarter?

3. Outline your strategies and tactics

Now you must lay out your battle plan. Create a strategy for how you will generate leads and hit your revenue targets. Look at some past campaign approaches and how those fared for ideas about what you could do differently to further improve sales.

Constantly reevaluate your approach and focus your efforts on what is working while cutting out what is not. Again, flexibility is key — you can’t stick to a rigid plan in the business environment, particularly when it comes to sales. Do what works, not just what you want to work.

Key questions to ask:

• Where are you currently struggling and therefore may need to spend more time?

• Should you be generating more leads?

• Should you spend more time qualifying those leads?

• Should you be making more calls?

• Should you be setting more appointments?

• Should you be attempting more closes?

4. Determine deadlines and directly responsible individuals

Assigning some directly responsible individuals (DRIs) is key to sales plan success. These DRIs are responsible for ensuring certain tasks are executed. Choose a team member or members to be responsible for certain tasks such as making a certain number of calls in a day.

Give them clear deadlines that are realistic but still provide some sense of urgency. Use timelines and clearly defined responsibilities to make sure that all of your team members are accountable. Be flexible and ready to reassign team members to other tasks if need be.

Key questions to ask:

• What skills does each member of your team possess, and which tasks are they best suited for?

• What is a realistic timeline to complete certain tasks?

• Are you being aggressive enough with your goals to motivate your team?

5. Evaluate your results

Once you’ve reached the end of the quarter, you should have gathered some solid data on how you performed. Use this data to evaluate the results of your sales plan and whether it is working out the way you hoped or needs adjustment for the upcoming quarter.

Measure the outcomes against the metrics you set earlier and assess the performance of members of your team. Compare these performances against past quarters to see how they stack up. Reward team members who performed exceptionally well. Then identify ways you could improve. Should you be spending more time on qualifying leads? Should your sales team focus on setting up more appointments?

Key questions to ask:

• Which data tells you the most about how your sales plan is performing based on the goals you set?

• Is there data you should be tracking that you aren’t?

Try out CRM software first before you draft a sales plan

A sales plan is no good if you aren’t collecting the data you need to refine it, and that’s where CRM software comes in. This software will gather information on how many calls your team is making, how much time they’re spending on prospecting or qualifying sales leads, and how much revenue each salesperson is bringing in. They also have important features such as a lead tracker or a sales roadmap.

The first step you should take is to select software you will use to execute the plan since many software options allow you to design your sales strategy directly through the software itself. Browse through some of the top software options to see which ones appeal the most to you and try a few out.

With a software platform selected, you can start following the steps described above to lay out the sales strategy, and, with the new software, you will be able to monitor your progress from start to finish.

The post How to Create a Sales Plan (Plus a Template) appeared first on The blueprint and is written by DP Taylor

Original source: The blueprint

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