Given the uncertainty around the current Covid Pandemic, I’ve been spending much of my time talking to business owners about how they plan to restructure their business in order to make the most of whatever new opportunities they see as we start to come out of lockdown.
For some this is a complete business planning exercise, for others we’ve been focussing primarily on their sales activities. What’s clear is that for many business owners, especially those who are what you might think of as “technical specialists” i.e. they’re incredibly passionate about a particular product or service they provide and can tell you about it in the minutest details, they don’t have any formal background in selling so struggle to know where to start to build an effective sales plan.
An effective sales plan should do the following:
1. Communicate your company’s goals and objectives to your sales team.
2. Provide strategic direction for your sales team.
3. Outline roles and responsibilities for your sales team and leadership.
4. Monitor your sales team’s progress to organisational goals.
Sales Plan Template
Sales plans don’t need to be complicated, so use a sales plan template to get started. A typical sales plan includes the following sections:
1. Mission and background
Begin your sales plan by stating your company mission and vision statements. And write up a brief history of the business — this will provide background information as the plan drills down into more specific details.
Next, describe who is on your team and what their roles are. Perhaps you manage five salespeople. If you’re planning on adding headcount, include the number of employees, their job titles, and when you’re planning to bring them on the team.
3. Target market
Whether you’re writing your first sales plan or your fifteenth, knowing your target demographic is crucial. What do your best customers look like? Do they all belong to a specific industry? Exceed a certain size? Struggle with the same challenge? Keep in mind you might have different buyer personas for different products. This section of your sales plan can also change dramatically over time as your solution and strategy evolves and you find product-market fit. In the very beginning, when your product was in its infancy and your prices were low, you may have found success selling to startups. Now that the product is far more robust and you’ve raised the price, mid-market companies are likely a better fit. That’s why it’s important to consistently review and update your personas.
4. Tools, software, and resources
You should also include a description of your resources. Which CRM software do you plan on using? Do you have a budget for sales contests and incentives? This is where you’ll lay out which tools your salespeople should use to succeed in their jobs (e.g., training, documentation, sales enablement tools, etc.).
Now, name your competitors. Explain how your products compare, where theirs are stronger than yours, and vice versa. In addition, discuss their pricing versus yours.
You should also discuss market trends. If you’re a SaaS company, you should note vertical-specific software is becoming more popular. If you sell ads, mention the rise in programmatic mobile advertising. Try to predict how these changes will influence your business.
6. Pricing and Promotion strategy
In this section, describe your pricing and any promotions you’re planning on running. What key actions will you take to increase brand awareness and generate leads? Note the impact on sales.
Here are some examples:
Product A: Increasing price from £40 to £45 from 1st Feb. (2% reduction in monthly sales)
Product B: Free upgrade if you refer another customer from 1st Janto 31st Jan. (20% increase in monthly sales)
Product C: Decreasing price from £430 to £400 on 1st March (15% increase in monthly sales)
Product D: No change
7. Prospecting strategy
How will your sales team qualify the leads that are generated by your marketing strategy? Don’t forget to include the criteria prospects should meet before sales reps reach out. And identify which inbound and outbound sales methods your team will use to close more deals.
8. Action plan
Once you’ve outlined where you want to go, you must figure out how you’ll get there. This section summarises your plan for hitting your revenue targets.
Here are a few examples:
1. Objective: Increase referral rates by 30% this quarter
Run three-day referral techniques workshop
Hold sales contest for referral sales
Increase commission on referral sales by 5%
2. Objective: Acquire 20 new Enterprise customers
Identify 100 potential prospects
Hold two executive-level events
Give a bonus to the first individual / team to win three target customers
Most sales goals are revenue-based. For example, you might set a total target of £1 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). Alternatively, you can set a volume goal such as 100 new customers or 450 sales. Make sure your objective is realistic, otherwise your entire sales plan will be largely useless.
Factor in your product’s price, total addressable market (TAM), market penetration, and resources (including your sales headcount and Marketing support). Your goal should also be closely tied to your high-level business goals; to give you an idea, if the company is trying to move upmarket, your goal might be “Acquire 20 Enterprise customers” rather than “Sell X in new business” (because the latter will encourage you to solely chase deals rather than focus on the right type of customers). Of course, you’ll probably have more than one goal. Identify the most important, then rank the rest by priority. If you have territories, assign a sub-goal to each. That will make it easier to identify over- and under-performers.
Lay out your timeline too. Having regular benchmarks ensures you’ll know if you’re on track, ahead, or behind in meeting your targets. Suppose your sales goal for the first quarter of the year is selling £30,000. Based on last year’s performance, you know January and February sales are slower than March.
With that in mind, your timeline might be:
You should also identify the individuals who are directly responsible for delivering these targets. For example, maybe Rep Carol’s January target is £5,000. Rep Peter, who’s still fairly new, has a £3,000 monthly target. On a smaller team, this exercise helps people avoid replicating each other’s work — and shifting blame around if targets aren’t met.
Describe the costs associated with hitting your sales goals. That usually includes:
Pay (salary and commission)
Sales tools and resources
Team bonding activities
And once you’ve completed your plan and rolled it our across the team, make sure you continuously monitor performance against it.
If you’d like a free sales plan template then get in touch.
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