Many sales leaders and managers do not understand the importance of having a sales plan and some do not even know how to create one. In this article I will discuss the definition and importance of having a sales plan and the steps that I personally use to create such a plan.
A sales plan is simply defined as a document that lays out a company’s plan for improving sales results in a specified period of time ; In other words the sales plan establishes the company’s sales objectives and develops the necessary strategies to achieve them.
There are various steps to create a successful sales plan. Some consist of seven to nine steps, others consist of ten to fifteen steps; I personally try to keep the plan as simple and short as possible, that is why I rely on a 4 step sales plan, as shown below:
Step 1: Setting the Goals
My first step of creating a sales plan is considered the most important step for me and it is to set the goals. In general, setting goals can help in 2 main things: triggering new behaviors and guiding one’s focus. I personally tend to use the SMART goal setting strategy. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.
Step 2: Analyzing the Current Situation
This step is about the current company situation, I tend to state the company’s situation using a SWOT analysis which is a methodology that identifies four factors for any company: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This step will make it easy for me as a sales leader to understand which strategy to use and when, and what strategies or ideas to eliminate.
Step 3: Preparing an Action Plan
The third step that I tend to use in my sales plan is outlining a plan of action, which is basically charting out how the sales team will reach targeted customers and market segments. This plan can include: Existing business growth strategies, New business acquisition tactics, the resources to be used, etc…
The above being said, an action plan can be divided into 2 parts: a team action plan and an individual action plan. This is usually done by assigning tasks, activities, and responsibilities to different teams and individuals.
Step 4: Setting and Monitoring Performance Metrics
The fourth and final step of my sales plan is the laying out performance metrics and monitoring them. Performance metrics are defined as figures and data representative of an organization’s actions, abilities, and overall quality. There are many different forms of performance metrics, including sales, profit margins, ROI, customer satisfaction, market share, etc… As a sales leader, you should be able to define the right metrics for your industry, organization, and team. Many Sales managers tend to measure the wrong performance metrics, which wind up having a negative effect on the overall sales performance of the organization.
The main benefit of a sales plan is that it helps you as a sales leader execute your ideas in order to increase the sales and profits of the organization, in addition to helping you and your sales team stay on the same page with the marketing , operations , and finance teams ; which can minimize the mistakes and issues facing the company and improve the overall performance and profit.
My advice to anyone trying to create a sales plan is to keep it as short and clear as possible and most importantly to implement the plan in full. Remember You don’t have to follow the exact steps above or in the exact order, as you can always tailor a plan that suits you and relates to your company and team, but speaking from my experience as someone who lead sales teams in various industries and different markets, I believe that you do have to make sure that the plan includes the above steps in order for you to improve the overall sales and profits of your organization.
Written by Adham H. Fayad. Have you read?
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