Planning is important in every aspect of life but it’s essential when it comes to business matters. A solid business plan can determine how successful a business venture is, however a solid sales plan can secure the necessary income for a company to maintain its operations and to possibly expand them in the future. In today’s article, we’re going to leave the complexities and intricacies of a business plan and we’ll expand on the latter. As always, fetch your preferred refreshment of choice, and let’s plow ahead, shall we?
What is a sales plan?
In the intro, we also briefly mentioned business plans. To clear any possible misunderstandings we want to set a clear dividing line between a business plan and a sales plan. A business plan is a more comprehensive document that includes the overall strategy of how a business operates, the company’s mission and vision, market analysis, product or service offerings, marketing, and sales strategies, financial projections, and management structure.
A sales plan on the other hand focuses specifically on sales-related goals and strategies of a business. It is an accurate strategic outline of a sales objective and generally includes details about target customers, sales channels, sales activities, and sales metrics.
The main purpose of a sales plan is to help an organization or a single individual to achieve their sales goals in the most efficient and effective way possible, by providing a clear framework for all sales activities. Sales plans also assist with:
- Precisely distributing resources
- Setting clear goals and expectations for team members
- Sales forecasting
- A better understanding of risks and opportunities
- Measure your sales team’s progress
Why are sales plans important?
A solid sales plan can help an organization deal with unexpected events and acts as a benchmark for where your company is and where you want it to go. Overall, it is a powerful tool for any business or individual looking to achieve specific sales goals. It helps to define a clear roadmap, align sales efforts with business goals and provide a means of tracking progress.
Here are several reasons why sales plans are important:
- Increase efficiency: By having a step-by-step guide on how to achieve certain sales goals a business ensures that the process of achieving them will be less chaotic.
- Improve communication: When a team has specific roles assigned and is given a certain goal to aim for in a defined period of time they are likely to be more aligned and effective in communication.
- Foresee obstacles: When laying out a sales plan businesses can better identify challenges and potential obstacles which can arise later in the executing phase, and prepare properly.
- Set up for improvement: Having predefined goals helps with measuring performance. Sales plans provide a means of measuring progress and businesses can make adjustments when moving toward sales targets to ensure success.
- Aligns sales efforts: By outlining specific sales goals a sales plan ensures that everyone on the sales team shares a common objective and is focused on achieving it.
How to create a sales plan
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all template for creating a sales plan. Every business is more or less unique and has to answer to different demands. There are numerous templates floating around the internet, most of them free, which can make the process of creating a sales plan a bit less daunting. When it comes to creating the plan, there aren’t specific rules which companies or individuals must follow. However, there are several steps that can act as guidelines in order to make it easier. Remember that a sales plan is a living document, so it’s important to review and update it regularly to reflect changes in the market, competition, or your business.
- Set clear sales goals: The first and probably most important step. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, the company has to increase sales by 5% in the next three months.
- Identify the target market: Pinpoint the needs and pains of the business’s ideal customer and use him as a reference.
- Analyze the competition: Conduct thorough research on competitors and make sure that the product/service discerns enough from them so that it can become more enticing.
- Define a unique sales proposition (USP): This is what basically sets apart the business’s product/service and should come naturally after analyzing the competition. The USP is generally exploited in order to further distinguish a business from its competitors and to increase sales.
- Develop a sales strategy: This step describes in detail the tactics and specific ways with which the business will achieve its sales goals.
- Create an action plan: The action plan should outline the specific steps the business will take to implement its sales strategy. It can include creating a sales pipeline, setting sales targets for your team, creating a sales forecast, etc.
- Allocate resources: Determine the resources you will need to implement your sales plan, including personnel, technology, and marketing materials. Consider your budget and how much you can afford to spend.
- Set metrics and track progress: Last but not least, set metrics to measure the progress towards your sales goals and track it regularly. This will allow you to adjust your strategy as needed and ensure you are on track.
Planning is vital for any business, especially when dealing with sales targets. While any business can set bold sales goals, creating a sales plan outlines how your team will achieve them. It will help establish baselines for accountability and identify optimal strategies, tactics, and the tools needed to make your team as efficient as possible. When there is a clear plan of action, a business can know how to proceed in order to obtain its goals.