Sales Plans: Why Use One and What Should Be Included

sales plan

Working without a sales plan is like driving across country without a map or GPS. You may eventually get there, but it will take you longer and cost you a lot more. The sales plan should help focus the salesperson and the sales manager, as well as set the benchmark for how progress will be tracked and measured. A sales plan should be a simple, concise, usable document. I suggest no more than 5-10 pages that includes:

1.     Solution Offerings

This should include what products/services are being sold and the unique value proposition for each (what value they provide the customer).

2.     SWOT Analysis

    • Strengths of the company and products/services
    • Weaknesses of the company and products/services
    • Opportunities for the company’s products/services (problems they solve)
    • Threats to be aware of and how to avoid, if possible

3.     Competitive Edge

This should be a spreadsheet that highlights your products/services and the value proposition for each that compares the same categories against your top competitors.

4.     Target Markets

    • What industries will they target?
    • What size companies?
    • Who are the buyers/decision makers they will go after?
    • What geographic territory will they focus on?

5. Objectives/Forecast/Sales Activity Metrics

This should include:

    • Their quota (minimum amount of business they must produce)
    • Goals (goals beyond their quota where they will make the most money)
    • Sales Activity Metrics(# of new qualified prospects identified each week, # of sales meetings, # of proposals submitted, etc.)

6.     Sales Strategy

Without a sales strategy, you might not close any business. Or—in an even worse scenario that most companies don't even consider until it’s too late—you may end up closing deals that are not a good fit for your company and ultimately end up losing money. It is critical that your salespeople have a formal sales strategy and process to follow.

7.     Compensation/Incentives/Recognition

8.     Sales Management (weekly plan and review, CRM reporting, etc.)

A common mistake of many salespeople and managers is focusing on the end result of closing a sale. To be truly effective, you should establish, track, monitor and measure the activity that leads to a sale. This includes how it will be tracked (CRM/reports) and when (weekly one to one) it will be reviewed.

9.     Account Management (If applicable)

If the salesperson is responsible for account management, then those accounts should be listed along with a plan that includes target objectives for growth, who they will build relationships with, the sales strategy for how that will be accomplished and sales metrics for how frequently they will “touch” those accounts.

10.  Career Development/Training

Great salespeople and managers understand that on-going training is critical for success. The Sales Plan should identify areas for improvement for the salesperson and include a specific plan for obtaining that training.

Conclusion:

  • A plan without action results in nothing.
  • Action without a plan produces mistakes.
  • A plan with persistent implementation produces results!

What else do you feel should be included in a sales plan, and how do you use it to help increase sales results?

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