If you find your business consistently struggling to hit sales targets, you might be missing a solid sales plan.
Entrepreneurs, sales managers, SDRs, and even marketing teams all benefit from well-thought-out sales plans. After all, you need to know where you want to go and how to get there. Only then will you be able to hit your targets effectively.
What is a sales plan?
A sales plan is a document that outlines your company’s objectives and the strategies that need to be employed to meet those goals.
Think of it as a blueprint or a roadmap. It presents the bigger picture and then the resources and actions necessary to achieve your sales objectives. At the same time, the sales plan can also be used as a progress monitoring tool.
Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re aiming for higher targets, a solid sales plan can help you get there.
6 key elements your sales plan must have
First things first. What should be in a sales plan?
While there’s no single template of what a sales plan should look like, it must have some specific elements for it to be considered a concrete sales plan.
Target market analysis
To develop effective sales strategies, it’s important to define your target market. That way, your sales team can execute accurate strategies.
The target market analysis section should contain a detailed description of your user persona. This usually includes:
- Demographics (age, profession, location, etc.)
- Needs and pain points
- Purchasing habits
- Offline and online behavior
Aside from the user persona, the target market section must also include information on the current conditions of the market and industry.
Sales goals and objectives
This part presents the goals of the sales team only and not the entire business. Goals and objectives must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) so they can provide a clear direction for the entire team.
The document must also detail the strategies that need to be employed to meet the objectives. Strategies usually include lead generation, referrals, outbound strategies, etc.
Keep in mind that the sales plan is not just a list of strategies. It must have an actual guide on how to implement them.
Budget and resources
Did you know that one in five sales representatives feel that they don’t have the right resources to help their sales processes? No matter how good a plan is, it cannot be executed without budget and resources.
- Compensation for existing personnel
- Additional personnel or revised team structure with corresponding roles and responsibilities
- Sales collaterals
- Sales tools
Timelines and point persons
The timeline section is essentially the entire sales plan broken down into concrete actionables with due dates and directly responsible individuals. This will help your sales team monitor their progress, regardless if the sales plan spans a quarter, a year, or even five years.
Monitoring and evaluation plan
Here’s the truth: 81% of sales and marketing teams don’t allot time to review and correct their processes.
While you have a sales plan, there may still be some unpredictable factors that can lead to delays or changes. Including a monitoring system will help you track progress and make necessary adjustments.
(Don’t feel bad about not being able to follow the sales plan strictly. It’s there for guidance, but it’s important to acknowledge that there are things that may be out of your control.)
How to build a solid sales plan in 5 steps
Now, how do you go about completing the elements of a sales plan? Here’s a quick step-by-step guide.
Quick note: A sales plan is more than just a document that gives an overview of the elements enumerated above. It is a comprehensive roadmap that contains high-level strategies drawn from intensive research.
1. Gather data and factual information
You can’t just rush in and start planning without establishing your current and past situation. The sales team and everyone else involved need to understand where you’re coming from.
Having this information on hand can help you craft realistic objectives and strategies. Make sure you have the following data:
- Your sales history and all other relevant data like the total number of leads and clients in the past years, revenue, and other important sales metrics.
- Data on industry trends will give your sales team an idea of
- Data on competitors
2. Set your objectives and metrics for success
SMART sales goals will provide clarity and direction for the entire team. What exactly are SMART goals?
- Specific – Be as detailed as you can about what you want to achieve. Instead of setting a goal to “increase sales and revenue” you can specify your goals as “increase sales by 20% in the next month”
- Measurable – Include quantifiable metrics so you can track progress effectively. That way, you know just how close or how far you are to your goals. For example, instead of setting a goal to “increase MQLs,” you can set a goal to “generate 5 MQLs per week.”
- Attainable – While it’s important to aim high, goals need to be a perfect balance between challenging and attainable. If goals are too easy, your sales team may not be motivated enough to put in the effort. On the other hand, if goals tend to be too difficult, your team can be discouraged.
- Relevant – Don’t get carried away with crafting too many goals. Each goal should be relevant to your overall business objectives at that point in time. If you’re focused on increasing your market share, you may want to push goals like “improve employee retention rate” to another quarter.
Time-bound – Set a specific time frame for each goal, whether it’s a week, a month, a quarter, or a year. This will keep you on your toes as well as provide a regular touchpoint.
3. Determine your actual strategies
Outline each part of your game plan. Go through each objective one at a time, and list down the strategies you will execute. Here’s a quick example:
- Objective: Generate 5 MQLs per week
- Launch one lead magnet monthly
- Optimize “Book a Call” form on the website
- Revamp email nurture workflow
Don’t forget to include the team or individual responsible for each strategy.
4. Consult relevant stakeholders
Who are your stakeholders? These are individuals or groups who are involved in your business in one way or another. This also includes other departments within your organization.
For example, customers and partners may have valuable insights that can help with the formulation of sales strategies. With partners especially, you can even explore collaborations and referral strategies.
Meanwhile, your marketing and operations team can provide different perspectives that will help you come up with a smooth and efficient sales planning strategy.
5. Clearly define your actionables
Once you’ve outlined your goals and strategies, it’s time to plot your actual action items. Some examples include revamping the sales call script or signing up for a new CRM. Don’t forget to plot out these actionables with doable timelines.
Wrap-up: Failing to plan is planning to fail
Overall, a sales plan is a crucial tool for any business that wants to grow and succeed this 2023. It’s still the first leg of 2023—if you don’t have a sales plan yet, there’s still enough time to craft your own.
If you need some guidance, feel free to book a consultation with our experts at TaskDrive so you can take your sales planning to the next level.