Guest post by Tamara Zhostka.
A sales plan is a document that helps you better organize your sales process and reach specific goals step by step. Sales plans vary in form depending on the number of sales objections, budget, deadlines, and the number of resources needed.
Whatever the form of the sales plan, it must contain all the necessary information in a convenient and easy-to-understand form. Note that a sales plan is only a part of a bigger sales planning process that doesn’t end with writing a document, but may stretch for years and even decades for large companies and projects.
- Why should I use a sales plan?
- Sales Plan Structure
- Sales Plan Examples
- Five Tips to Create an Efficient Sales Plan
Here’s why a sales plan should be the foundation of any sales strategy.
Why should I use a sales plan?
Sales planning is a must if you want to keep all your ideas and strategies in one place and manage your sales operations in a well-organized fashion. In addition, sales planning offers the following advantages:
- Avoid risks. Creating a sales plan requires you to pay attention to aspects of your business that enable you to better predict the possible bottlenecks that may occur during the sales campaign. As a result, planning saves you a lot of time, effort, and anxiety.
- Track goals and progress. Planning helps you keep track of your sales, adjust your goals and tactics along the way, and calculate the results. With a comprehensive sales plan at hand, you are able to reduce the chances of failure and build up more realistic expectations.
- Work as a team collaboratively. A sales plan is a document that allows you to quickly exchange information between your departments and teams. Planning is a way to improve the sales management in your company.
A sales plan is a multifunctional tool to control your sales process and achieve more predictable results in a given time span.
Sales Plan Structure
A sales plan is a free-form document, so every project and business will have its own unique version. It depends on the company’s structure, number of employees in the sales team, duration of the plan, and other factors. Generally, a sales plan includes the following elements:
- Target revenue. This is the amount of money that a company projects to get from a sales campaign for a given period. It’s important to estimate your target revenue based on realistic numbers and understanding of the competitive landscape; otherwise, you risk setting up unfair expectations that are impossible to meet.
- Ideal customer and buyer personas. Taking a customer-centric approach to sales is crucial, so you need to learn as much as possible about your audience. This includes their demographic information, like age, gender, location, their behavior patterns and habits, as well as their preferences and tastes. It will help you produce better content, segment your audience, and offer more relevant products.
- Sales team. Describe your sales team’s goals, objectives, and KPIs in great detail. The more thorough the plan you provide your coworkers with, the fewer mistakes and delays they will make. In turn, it will require less energy for communication, which is crucial in large projects with a big team.
- The online sales tools your sales team have at their disposal that will help you achieve your sales goals. These may include apps, promoted posts and stories on Instagram, video and photo content, drip campaign tools, influencer ads, merchandise, and published media stories.
- Position in the market. Describe your competitors’ market share and how your company compares, think about trends in your industry, and try to predict risks that come with your sales strategy.
- Prospecting strategy. It shows how you’re going to generate qualified leads and what inbound and outbound methods your sales team will use. It may start with a simple sales funnel and a giveaway on top of it and end as a vast multichannel marketing campaign with plenty of lead nurturing required.
- Pricing strategy. This refers to how you plan to change the price of your products within specific periods of time. This is especially important for companies that sell seasonal demand products.
- Action plan. Describe your step-by-step strategies and supporting tactics that will be used to achieve particular goals in your sales plan.
- The costs associated with your sales goals. The larger your budget is, the more tactics and resources you can utilize to implement your plan.
Now that sales plan structure has been covered, here are some examples to inspire you.
Sales Plan Examples
Here are four types of sales plans that fit various goals and needs.
30-60-90-Day Sales Plan
This type of plan demonstrates the measurable goals for your sales campaign divided into three-month periods. A 30-60-90-day plan shows how to collect leads, onboard and nurture them, and later move them down the sales funnel towards the purchase.
This type of plan gives your team an idea of what a successful sales campaign will look like in the first 30, 60, and 90 days. It helps point your sales reps in the right direction.
The example below is a personal plan for a salesperson looking for a job in a company. It is divided into three parts. The first focuses on finding opportunities and analyzing the market, the second is all about testing and implementation, and the last one systemizes the insights taken from the previous two months.
Territory Sales Plan
A territory sales plan is designed for targeting specific groups of customers within a certain location, industry, or customer type. Segmentation and personalization is key for this type of plan. You need to acquire a lot of specific data about your customers via Google Analytics, feedback from your manager, marketing research, and other channels.
A standard territory sales plan, like the example below, consists of the following steps:
- territory and business analysis;
- in-depth customer behavior and motivation analysis;
- SWOT analysis;
- and objective identification.
Sales Plan for Specific Sales
This type of sales plan focuses on specific sales tactics, such as prescribed cold call sequences, automated email series, scheduling appointments, etc.. A sales plan for specific sales is similar to an annual or weekly sales plan, but it’s designed to measure and improve results for a single task or goal.
Finally, here are a few best practices that will make creating your sales plan easier.
Five Tips to Create an Effective Sales Plan
Here are five killer tactics to help you craft an efficient sales plan.
- Back up your plan with research and statistics. Sales shouldn’t be a guessing game, but it will be — if you base your strategy on abstract estimations. It’s best to gather data from your companies’ departments, and collect stats from social media ads, Google Analytics or other analytical tools. You can also make use of open government sources or paid services, like Statista. Based on the comprehensive data you’ve collected, you can plan your moves and predict your sales’ success more accurately.
- Use SWOT analysis to analyze your capacities. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Analyze your business with this method to clarify assumptions and better understand your company’s potential in terms of sales. Just like the previous point, SWOT analysis is a way to back up your plan with specific data and insights.
- Split your sales plan into specific tactical plans. Divide your overall plan into smaller units to cover individual areas of sales such as SDRs tasks, sales enablement, sales operations, and customer success. This will help you see more details within the larger picture paying closer attention to different processes, thus eliminating mistakes and coming up with better ideas for your sales along the way.
- Use past performance data. Include insights from your previous sales campaigns in your research when you develop a new sales plan. This will improve your sales strategy and help you focus on the most beneficial ideas of your project.
- Highlight the tracking methods you’ll use. While your ultimate goal is closed sales, your sales plan shouldn’t end with just that. You also need to consider ways to track and analyze the efficiency of your sales campaign. For that, determine your KPIs, and choose the analytical tools to help you sum up the results of your campaign. A deep analysis based on sales tracking and data will help you craft even more efficient sales plans next time.
Creating an effective sales plan requires a lot of in-depth thinking, time, and patience. To achieve great results, you need to acquire and analyze tons of data about your business, competitors, situation on the market, and also try to predict the outcome of your sales campaign as realistically as possible.
It’s best to utilize classic marketing and sales tools, but get creative and invent your own tricks for sales planning since there’s no one who knows your company better than you.