10 Steps for Building a Sales Plan
Experienced and effective sales planning is critical to bottom-line success.
While the art of sales has some definite tried and true processes, successful selling is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. In order to ensure success, many pieces of the puzzle need to be assessed and organized for clarity. Only then can targeted sales efforts begin.
Sales Planning Steps
1) Define goals and objectives
- Clearly define business or brand’s specific objectives and KPIs
- Identify any wider strategic business goals and initiatives plus commercial considerations with which the marketing activity should align
- General challenges within the business and potential barriers to implementation of the project
- Timing: realistic, cross-checked with objectives and KPIs
- Budget: realistic, cross-checked with objectives and KPIs
- Managing expectations - agreement on achievables, ROI
2) Market characteristics and trends
- Assess internal data (e.g. brand / business) and any available external data on consumer or business trends, markets, stakeholders, competitors etc.
- Determine timing involved to gather additional research, if necessary
- Are there any wider issues re: marketplace, industry, economy, trade association reports, etc.
3) General audit (analytics, reports, data)
- Review any and all analytics, existing transactional data (sales/management reports, raw source data, etc.)
- SWOT analysis
- What has worked well to-date? What has definitely not worked? Why?
- List any other elements and considerations
- Review marketing efforts to supplement sales (on-brand, support tools)
4) Competitor audit
- Primary competitors - 5 W’s
- Note differentiators
5) Customer / Stakeholder audit
- Describe ideal target customer (include personas)
- Gather research from marketplace; poll/survey existing customers, if possible
- Identify customer wants or needs and where they turn today to meet those needs
- Understand how to best reach this target customer
- Determine general sentiment from feedback loop or reviews, if available
6) Influencers in the market
- Who are the primary influencers? What do we know about them?
- How can we reach and engage influencers?
- Share functions - contacts, resources, public engagement, etc.
7) Specific marketing, media and digital audits
- Assess any media (social media, advertising, PR), if applicable
- Assess marketing and/or technical considerations
- Determine ideal tools for support
8) Additional research
- If any gaps in understanding, decide whether to commission research (via external or internal support)
- Invest in industry-specific white papers or more in-depth research (per budget considerations)
9) Sales strategy development
- Develop the overarching sales strategy based on information gathered, to include:
- Summary of discovery insights, including opportunities, identification of priorities, personas, etc.
- Key points that set direction
- Breakdown of achievables and outline of sales plan
- Resources required (by description only); reporting structure/frequency, responsibilities (outline all according to key deliverables)
- Timing, costs
- Sales tracking tools
10) People involved
- Who re: Approvals and sign-off; ensure agreement to process, budget, timing, KPIs, expectations, etc.