If you have never prepared a sales plan, the task may seem daunting. Fortunately, this is an exercise that can be very simple.
Your sales plan is like your roadmap for the next year. You record the specific sales goals you have set for your business and a description of the means you plan to take to achieve them. Done right, this plan can help you take a more strategic overall approach to grow your business.
You do not have to write a 50-page report. For a small business, the sales plan should be simple and concise.
It could be a few pages in Word or even a simple spreadsheet, Business Advisor at BDC. The vital thing is to build your marketing and sales struggles so that everybody from your team is touching in the same direction.
Go through four crucial steps to making an operational small business sales plan.
1. Set your goals
Start by determining what goals you desire to get. These can be targets for revenue and margins or more general growth objectives. Do you desire to go into a new market? Expand your team? Launch a new product or service?
Write down everything that comes to mind. At this stage, think big, without censoring yourself. When you are done, share your goals with your team members and ask them for feedback or suggestions to expand on them if needed. At the end of the day, everyone should buy into the goals you set.
It is crucial to contain your team in the groundwork of the plan. The more your workforce feels you are listening to them; the more people will be willing to help you implement it later.”
2. Specify your goals
Once you have set your overall goals for the year, you need to work out the details. If you want to break into a new market — the United States, for example — be clear about which states you want to focus on.
Do some research to make sure your goals are realistic. Test your assumptions. Is there a request for your service or product? Who will be the competing companies? This step gives you another opportunity to engage your team members by asking them to do some research to find all the information you need.
3. Assign resources
Once you have established your goals and targets, you need to determine what is achievable within your means. Do you have enough full-time and part-time staff to implement your plan? Will a member of your team be on vacation or parental leave? Can you count on teams other than sales and marketing to help you? How much money will you need to invest to reach each of your targets?
Also, take stock of your tools and systems. Will you need to invest in a CRM system or do you already have what you need? What marketing resources do you have to support your sales team?
4. Define your key performance indicators
The only method to identify if your plan is functioning is to monitor your results utilizing important performance indicators.
For example, you could monitor revenue by salesperson and by region, or the percentage of potential customers who pass all stages, from qualification to closing the sale.
Keep it simple if this is your first sales plan: choose no more than three to five metrics and track them consistently throughout the year.
Communication is one of the key elements to measuring progress. Throughout your first sales plan, Diana Da Silva recommends having periodic meetings with your team to update you on what is going well and any challenges. Encourage open and relaxed discussions to ensure you get the facts straight.
Manage the schedule
Often, planning is an activity that is added to all our other usual tasks. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, spread the planning process over a week and focus on one section of the plan at a time. The key is to keep moving forward, to avoid falling victim to what Diana Da Silva calls “crippling analysis”.
“Your plan will never be perfect,” she said. Your business will grow and change, and so should your plan. Start small, see what works after a month or two, then add things and tweak others along the way.”