The biggest problem many businesses face when it comes to developing their sales business plan, is that they don’t do it. The only time most companies look at building any kind of business plan is when they need to find investment capital or talk to their banker. Building a sales budget is not a plan. It,s a goal. If you want to achieve that goal, you need a plan with the strategies and tactics you will use to achieve it.
Building Your Sales Business Plan To Hit The Number
Usually a sales manager is given the number. What they must produce for the year, each quarter, and each month. The goals have been established. Now it’s up to the manager to develop a sales business plan to achieve those goals. Here are six steps to help build your sales business plan:
1. Establish The Sales Planning Team
The first step in developing your sales business plan is to establish a team. There are multiple stakeholders in achieving your sales goals, so get them involved. This team could consist of individuals from sales, marketing, accounting, operations, and service. The goal of establishing your sales plan team is to involve people in the process to gain their support. The secondary reason for the team is to spread the workload and gain additional insight.
Once the team has been selected, schedule your first sales plan development meeting to outline the task ahead. In that meeting you should be prepared to explain what will be involved in the sales business plan, the task that must be completed and set major and minor miles stones for the project. The last thing that you want to do in this meeting is assign individuals to each of the task.
2. Use Historical Data As The Base For Sales Business Plan
One good thing about someone presenting you with a target number, is that you don’t have to come up with one. You don’t have to worry about establishing goals and target, because they were just handed to you. Your sales business plan is your methodology to achieving those goals.
The best indicator to use as a base line for how you will produce the desired results is to look to the past. What did you do last year? As an example, last year your team produced $1.5 million in sales. You sold $800,000.00 of product A, $400,000.00 of product B, and $300,000.00 of Product C. That’s the base line. Now you should determine how many sales are required, in each product group to hit your new number. If total number of sales for product A were 450, that tells you the average sale was approximately $1,777.78. You want to do this for each of your product lines. Once thats completed you will need to gather sales information on:
- How many leads did it take to make each sale?
- How may presentations did it take to make a sale?
You want to ask these questions and more to ensure that you have a good base line of what you did and how you did it through the entire sales process. If the number is the same as last year, and it never is, you now know what it takes to hit the number. If the new number represents a 15% increase, just up everything by 15%.
This is an important part of the sales planning process. Knowing your key sales indicators and ratios tells you what you need so you can plan accordingly. If possible key indicators like: lead to appointments, appointments to presentations, presentations to proposals and presentation to close. After that, you should categorize your sales. One way is product, territory, and salesperson. Now that you have a good idea of what you need to do to establish your baseline numbers, who will you assign to this task?
3. Know Who Your Ideal Customer
We call this customer profiling. If you have a new business, profiling your ideal customer is based on a hunch and market research. You’re guessing. If you’ve been selling for a while, all you need to do in look at your clients and determine what sets them apart from the rest of the world.
To develop a solid sales business plan you must make sure you are going after the right targets. Make a list of your top clients and determine:
- Where are they located geographically?
- What industry are they in?
- What is their size by employees or annual sales?
- What is their Standard Industrial Classification, (SIC) code?
- How was the lead developed?
- Who was the decision maker?
- What department is the decision maker in?
Once you know what your ideal customer looks like, you can describe it and add it to your sales business plan.
4. Make Sure Your Market Will Support Your Plan
Once you know your key indicators. You understand the type of customer you are looking for, It’s time to make sure your market will support your needs. How many of your ideal customers are in your market area? On of the best ways to find this out is to go to any list company and ask for a count base on industry and geography. Now you can assign this task to a member of your sales business plan planning team.
5. Develop Your Marketing Strategy
In step two, you determined how many prospects you need to hit the number. In step three, you determined who your prospects are. In step four you found out that your market can support the number. So how are you going to get to them? As a rule of thumb you should have five sources for developing new business. As an example her are five that you may want to look at:
- Your sales people
- The internet
- Trade or local shows
- Direct mail
A good way to evaluate this is to go back to your customer profile and see where your existing customers came from. One important note that I want to make here, is that if you are not generating business from your web site. You need to rethink your marketing plan.
Don’t Forget the Importance Of The Internet
For years businesses invested thousands of dollars a year on yellow page and directory adds. Why, because that”s where people went when they wanted to find something. Today, if someone is looking for your services, the first place they will go is to the internet. It’s not enough to have a web site. You need an active SEO program that allows you to reach those that can use your services.
6. Evaluating Your Sales Team
Is your sales team capable of delivering? This is always a bib question for sales leaders. When you build your sales business plan, look at the skills required for your salespeople to execute that plan. Once you have defined the skills needed and the tactics they will need. Its time to get the team ready.
You need to develop a training structure. This is another part of the planning process that gets left behind. How do I make sure that my team is ready to play? You do it by developing an ongoing training program. In your sales business plan, have a section that provides a training schedule for the year. This insures that your team is ready to go.
Building a sales business plan is more that just having a goal. It means you have developed the strategies and tactics to achieve that goal.