Picture this – you’re about to get into your car and go on a road trip to somewhere new. You know your location. You know you have a limited amount of time to get there. At this point, a lot of people would open their phone and use a GPS or crack open a good old-fashioned map. (The kind that you have to fold up! How Novel!) Without using a roadmap, it’s difficult to understand where you’re going and how quickly you’ll get there. I can’t remember the last time I drove anywhere new without a GPS. Can you?
It’s the same when you’re working in sales. You’ll know your targets and when you’re expected to hit them. And you’ll need a sales plan to make sure you do. A sales plan helps salespeople of all levels. From entrepreneurs to sales directors, sales assistants to sales managers, every person in sales can benefit from creating one.
But what is a sales plan, specifically?
A sales plan really does what it says on the tin. It’s a strategic document that outlines a company or person’s goals for increasing sales within a specific time period. It should include your targets and objectives, the tactics that’ll help you achieve those targets, the audience you’ll be targeting with those tactics, revenue goals and any other resources or strategies that you might want to dip into.
Let’s break that down a bit. A sales plan covers a lot of ground and you have to make sure you’re confident with each part. Otherwise, you’ll have holes in your roadmap, you’ll get lost and eventually be stranded out in the woods and left to be eaten by a bear. Maybe it’s not that dire, but it definitely is important… So listen up!
Here are 9 sections you have to include in your sales plan:
1. Can we wrap this up?
Summary and scope – This is a bit like your sales plan’s blurb. It should be a quick overview of the overall document that highlights the goals you’re looking to achieve and the tactics you’ll be using to do so. It should also state the time frame and any other necessary details that someone would need to know at a glance.
2. Keep your targets in sight.
Targets and goals – Let’s talk money. In your second section, you should be outlining all your revenue targets and any other goals that you need to reach. Keep things simple by dividing your goals up into different categories. Divide and conquer, that’s what we say! (Or, that’s what Julius Cesar says, but you get the picture.)
3. On last week’s episode…
Reviewing previous performance – It’s time for a recap. At this point in your sales plan, it’s a good idea to do a bit of reflection. Look over the last quarter and channel your inner middle-manager. Really nitpick over everything and identify where you could improve. Leave your ego at the door because this is all about optimising your techniques as much as possible.
4. Trends come and go, but sales is forever.
Market trends – When you’re planning your road trip (yes, we’re using that metaphor again,) you’ll definitely want to avoid all the traffic and potholes if possible. Maybe you’ll ditch the motorways and go for the more scenic route. It’s the same when you’re making your sales plan. By using a PESTLE (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analysis, you’ll go into your sales plan with your eyes wide open and a good knowledge of what may affect your sales performance.
5. Strategic selling sends Sally sailing (to) sunny Spain.
Tactics and strategies – I think we’d all like to be like Sally and have a sunny holiday in the nicer parts of Spain. The difference between hitting that big target (and getting that big bonus) is a good selling strategy and a bad one. You want to ensure you’re using one of the good ones. Make sure that you outline your tried and true techniques, communication sequences and playbooks… and make sure to pack your suncream!
6. Know thy customers, so you need not fear the result of a hundred sales pitches – Sun Tzu.
Customer analysis – This section should be like your plan of attack. (Thanks for all the tips, Sun!) You should outline all the potential areas for targeting like referrals, renewals, new prospects, upsells and any new customer segments that you’ll be looking at. It’s definitely a good idea to keep track of any new segments in the market that arise so you can tailor your sales techniques accordingly.
7. It takes a village.
Additional resources – There’ll be a lot that could go into this section. Could be any technology that you use to make your life as a salesperson a little easier. Could be your specialised sales team that helps out with leads. Whatever extra help you’ve got, make sure you note it down and utilise it to its fullest extent.
8. Lights… Camera… Action!
The action plan – We’re finally in the home stretch. At this point, you’re ready to start handing out tasks and responsibilities to team members (or just to yourself, if this sales plan is a solo venture.)
9. Get ready to bring home the bacon.
Results monitoring – The last part of your sales plan should be laying out some performance monitors to make sure you’re always on track. Establish your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) early and check up on them every week. That way, you’ll be able to see what’s going well and what needs improvement to get you to your targets.
If you’re still hungry for more sales advice, why not tune in to our B2B marketing magazine that features top salespeople like Seth Godin and Rand Fishkin. Or, if you’re after a more bespoke sales solution,contact us today for a free consultation.