It is possible that you have never considered writing a sales plan before; you are not alone. Most organizational leaders are not even aware that they need to create such a document. So that leaves the question hovering in the air: what is a sales plan? The answer is quite simple and extremely relevant to the modern company.
A sales plan is an important piece of your marketing plan; it is the actionable portion. While marketing becomes increasingly important, getting the attention of your prospective consumer is only step one of many in the buying processes. Another very important component is actually getting customers to make a purchase or place an order for the product or service that has been so cleverly marketed. And that is what the sales plan outlines: sales goals and how to achieve them.
Some strategic planners choose to make the sales plan part of the overall business plan; sometimes tucked away in the operations section of the business plan. However, in order for the document to be effective, it needs to be very well thought out and easily attained by the person responsible for sales– most likely, the Sales Manager.
Like all well thought out strategic planning documents, the sales plan needs to have a summary that is written last but serves as an overall statement of the purpose and vision for the document and organization’s goals regarding sales. It should sight the company’s philosophy about sales and discuss the culture of the sales department.
The next section needs to include quantifiable objectives, outline any and all success factors as well as discuss sales avenues. This brief and typically bulleted overview serves as the overall sales plan & strategy.
Since customer relationship management [C.R.M.] is becoming a vital part of organizations, it is important to have a section outlining feasible customer retention & loyalty programs to track such interaction. This section does not outline the C.R.M. package itself but rather the programs that drive repeat and referral traffic.
The sales force organization section of the sales plan is as equally as important as discussing the customers, as this section discusses sales personnel. This portion answers such questions as:
1) How will the sales department be managed?
2) What territories will each sales person cover?
3) How will sales people be compensated and rewarded?
Prospect management & lead systems is the opportunity for companies to think about exactly what C.R.M. packages will be utilized and the best way to track leads and manage conversion rates. In this section, strategic planners can clearly outline the processes that new and prospect customers will go through and what sort of technology [if needed] will manage the transition.
Use the next section to create a detailed list of annual sales activity; called a sales activities timetable. A chart format or spreadsheet layout is easiest to maintain and update. The information should clearly identify the ROI as well as the overall expense of each activity.
When each sales effort, as recorded in the sales activity timetable, is complete it will become important to develop a sales effectiveness summary that monitors the success of each sales campaign. This can be a simple review by management or team members.
Create a tracking system for the sales plan as a final portion of the sales plan. This allows managers to meaningfully forecast business levels and allows for accountability among sales representatives.
The sales plan should be between approximately five to ten pages. The detailed plan will add action items to your marketing plan and give Sales Managers clear direction on how to lead the sales team. Such a document should be given as much time and attention as the marketing plan itself.
By Daniel Rray