Creating a Sales Plan - How Important is it to Your Business?


An ancient Roman philosopher once remarked: "When a man doesn't know which harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind." The point he made is that no one can arrive at the place they want to be without clear goals. It's true for individuals, and it's true for businesses. If you want your company to enjoy sustainable success, year after year, then it's crucial that you develop and pursue the right objectives that will make your vision a reality. A sales plan plays a critical role in this regard.

Let's talk about a sales plan, some of its goals, and how you can develop a winning strategy for your team.

Creating an effective sales plan - Business professionals in an office analyzing different sales data and graphs.

The Definition of a Sales Plan

You could think of a sales plan equivalent to a traditional business plan. Your sales plan includes your overall objectives as a department, high-level tactics that your team should use, and information about your target audience, your competition, and the resources you have at your disposal. 

Put another way... your sales plan tells you which "harbor to make for," and how best to get there.

What Should be the Goals of Your Sales Plan?

Some goals may vary from one business to another. That being said, there are certain basic objectives you want your sales to plan to accomplish. These include:

  • Communicating your company's sales goals. We're not necessarily talking about metrics and quotas at this level (although those are important, too). Rather, your sales plan will likely include direction on what you expect from your sales team. It will also include how your company will increase its revenue/audience/market penetration over time.
  • Outlining strategies to accomplish your stated objectives. Your sales team needs guidance on how to reach the goals laid out for them in the plan. For example: If you're focusing on lead generation, which channels should your reps give special attention to? Social media? Email marketing? It's good to get into some of the specifics in your documentation.
  • Establishing boundaries and expectations. Your sales reps need a measure of freedom to put their passion and creativity to good use. They also need clear boundaries to avoid "stepping on one another's toes" and wasting precious resources on duplicated efforts. Your sales plan should set up those boundaries, along with well-defined responsibilities and expectations for each role on your team.

Of course, these are just a few of the many goals you may want your sales plan to accomplish. How detailed it ends up being will likely depend on factors like the size of your team and the nature of your business, among other things.

How Can You Set Up an Effective Sales Plan?

At first, developing a sales plan for your company may seem overwhelming. And without a doubt, it can take quite a bit of time and effort on the front end. Nevertheless, you can succeed in crafting (and ultimately implementing) a winning plan by following these steps:

Compile and analyze your available sales data.

Before you even "put pen to paper" in terms of your sales plan, it's a good idea to gather all the recorded sales data available to you and then identify key trends within that data set that are impacting your industry in general and your company in particular (for good or bad). Such an analysis will provide you with a kind of baseline for the next steps in this process.

Define your objectives and KPIs.

We've already talked about the importance of setting clear goals. Along with those objectives, you should also track your progress by means of key performance indicators (KPIs). For instance, some common digital marketing KPIs include conversion rate, leads generated, time to follow-up, and bounce rate. Perhaps the most important sales KPIs you'll ever use are net profit and return on investment (ROI).

Take stock of your company's current status. 

As you define your primary goals, remember what would be most impactful and realistic for your current business needs. It makes sense to keep track of your company's unique strengths and weaknesses — that way, you'll be able to "double down" on what's working and take decisive steps to fix any bottlenecks in your sales pipeline.
Team of sales professionals having a meeting in an office about creating a sales plan for their business.

Identify gaps that need to be filled. 

These gaps could include opportunities to tighten workflows or provide your reps with focused training to make them more effective at lead nurturing and closing. Some key questions you may want to ask yourself include: "What tools and skills do my team members need to succeed? What is the best way to procure those elements within my organization?"

Keep your key stakeholders in the loop.

Everyone in your organization needs to be on the same page for your sales plan to yield optimal results. This is especially true of your marketing, product development, and customer service departments. For instance, set up guidelines for regular collaboration between your sales and marketing teams, such as weekly inter-departmental meetings and designated contacts on each side.

Include action items. 

Any plan is only as good as the action it prompts. To put your high-level strategy and granular tactics to work, you need to include clearly defined action items in the conclusion of your sales plan. These will help each team member contribute to the company's overall objectives and keep everyone focused on the necessary tasks to achieve their major business goals.

Review, refine, repeat. 

A sales plan isn't a one-time, "set it and forget it"-type deal. It should be a dynamic document that changes with the market, business growth, and new opportunities and challenges. Periodically review your sales plan's effectiveness, make any needed adjustments, and then repeat the process sometime later. (Try to do this at least once a year!)

It's true, creating a workable sales plan takes some time and effort. However, if you put in the upfront work, your sales team (and your entire business) will reap the benefits! To learn more about how you can create an exceptional plan for your company, reach out to our friendly sales experts at OverGo Studio for a free consultation.

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