Regardless of what your business offers or to whom you offer it, doing business is all about making sales. Success hinges on revenue (unless you own a nonprofit), which hinges on the number of people turned into paying customers. Making a buck or two isn’t something to be ashamed of, but it’s not something you can do without a sound plan.
As such, a sales plan should always be at the core of any attempt at making a sale. It contains everything you and your team need to know, from the marketing strategy to handling specific sales situations.
Drafting one is tedious work, but any business will manage as long as it has the following elements:
- Strategies and Tactics
Think of a sales plan like a war plan. Just as the military drafts war plans for peacetime and wartime, business owners create sales plans for the present and the future. There are as many certainties in war as in doing business—in this regard, none at all.
For every present and future sales plan, you outline your business’s sales strategy and tactics. Synonymous as they may seem, they have their distinctions. To quote one venture capitalist’s words: ‘Strategy is easy, but tactics…are hard.’
- Strategy refers to the way the business wants to achieve a particular goal. It’s more concerned with long-term objectives, considering factors that will change or remain throughout a given timeframe.
- Tactics pertain to the things the business must do to enact that strategy. They’re the polar opposite in the sense that it focuses on short-term objectives, primarily involving activity plans, best practices, and other details.
From these definitions, it’s easy to see the gap in difficulty between the two. Being vocal about your aspirations for your business in the coming years is a piece of cake, but doing the things to achieve them can be challenging. You can take your time making changes in your strategy, but you have to make snap decisions when your tactics don’t perform as well as you hoped.
Nevertheless, both are equally important in a sales plan. If you browse through a typical sales template today, it encourages entrepreneurs to input strategies and tactics. For instance, a sales proposal deck can outline a business’s roadmap and the ‘dos and don’ts’ in staying on track.
Creating a sales plan warrants being specific about objectives. It’s not enough that a business aims to increase its sales by the next quarter. How much of an increase does it want? If it falls short, how does it plan to make up in the next period?
Sales quotas are an ideal way to set tangible goals in a sales plan. They indicate how much an individual or group should achieve by a set period, usually a month or quarter. The leadership generally determines the quotas to know their top performers in the workforce. (2)
The type of quota can be anything. However, companies typically use any of these five metrics depending on the personnel involved.
- Activity – the number of sales-related tasks completed (e.g., call or email marketing)
- Volume – the number of units of goods or services one must sell
- Profit – the net difference of goods or services sold by a person or group
- Combination – any two or more quota types employed
- Forecast – the calculation of sales expected for the next period
Setting quotas isn’t as simple as picking out a random number. Any quota not based on existing data will always end in failure for your business. Big plans that fall short of their goal will be an excruciating experience for everyone involved.
- Target Demographic and Territory
A sales plan must contain information on the people who’ll be targets for its sales endeavours. Not all businesses benefit everyone; a roofing company can’t hope to convert a tenant in a flat into a paying customer, but it has a better chance with that flat’s landlord.
Narrowing your target demographic and territory may result in fewer customers, but it’s more idyllic than trying to appeal to every human being. Those with a more pressing need for your product or service will be the most vocal in spreading the word about your business. The spike in sales will come the sooner you nurture your niche.
In this case, the plan must mention the tools necessary for surveying the proper demographic. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) suites work well for such a task. (3)
The elements detailed here are among the many others that go into a sales plan, but they’re the most crucial. Never engage in any marketing campaign without one, lest risk it failing before it begins.
- “Strategy Vs Tactics,” https://www.intrafocus.com/2019/07/strategy-vs-tactics/
- “The Ultimate Guide to Setting Sales Quotas,” https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/sales-quotas
- “Sales Strategy Guide: 6 Elements of Successful Sales Strategies,” https://www.masterclass.com/articles/sales-strategy-guide