Sales Plan For Small Business: A Must or Waste Of Time?
Find out how to increase your revenue through well-organized sales processes
Table of Contents
Why Do You Need a Strategic Sales Plan?
What Are the Basic Sales Strategies?
Components Of a Good Sales Plan
7 Steps to Writing a Sales Plan
How to Create a Sales Plan That Will Actually Work
Are you one of those small business owners who believe that only big companies and multinational corporations with millions of revenues need a sales plan? But in reality, this belief is wrong. A well-structured sales plan with clear business goals will help your employees sell more. And as you know, good sales drive growth even in a highly competitive environment.
Read this article to write your first sales plan for your small company that will help you make it big.
Without strategic planning, you move blindly in the dark. With a plan, you know what you want to achieve and what you need to do. There are three pillars on which every successful sales plan is based:
- Company's revenue goals
- An action plan to achieve these goals
- Resources that you will need to implement the strategy
Here are some benefits of planning sales activities for a small business:
Revenue growth. Precise revenue targets act as a quality incentive for your sales managers. They will have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how they can contribute to the company's financial goals.
Motivation. Your sales reps will work more diligently, with a task-oriented approach, if they know they have to make a certain number of sales by the end of the month.
Control. With a sales plan, your employees’ work becomes more controllable and predictable. You'll be able to not only track but influence performance all the way to the end goal.
However, hours spent on planning will not guarantee you will get all of these benefits. To be effective, a sales plan has to be done right.
There are several proven strategies you can use to build your sales plan. Let’s have a look at some examples:
- Enter a new market by adapting an existing product/service to a new environment
- Increase an average customer purchase by 10% with upselling and cross-selling techniques
- Grow profits from existing customers
- Increase the number of prospective customers
Depending on the strategy chosen, the sales plan template will vary. However, there are some important points every successful sales plan has in its structure.
Before you start, get ready the following information:
You should know the sales figures of your products/services for at least a year. This is the information that will determine your performance at the current point as well as improve it in the future. Regular record keeping and reporting for months, quarters, and past years should become your good habits on your sales plan journey.
Sales history is also needed for forecasting future performance. With this data, you will be able to foresee the future activities of the company: the seasonality of sales, the number of new/lost customers and goods/services sold in different periods, and other important data.
This is the number of sales you need to make in a certain period of time to avoid losses and make a profit.
Your sales managers and reps have to be aware of these numbers. But all this is still not enough for creating a plan that really works...
In addition to an unbiased view of your business and some planning skills, creating an effective sales plan means you have to take the time to thoroughly review existing processes and build new ones. To do so, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Identify your company's business goals
Determine one primary sales-related goal that your employees can achieve through the plan and outline an exact timeline for it. For example, selling 200 items per month might be a good goal for a start-up online store.
Step 2: Describe your sales team
Describe the team that will actually execute the sales plan to know which employees will be involved in achieving the set goals. Take into account their skillset, positions, and specializations. Technicians will not be able to increase the sale of cell phone covers but they can do more repair work. Customer relationship managers, in turn, can influence customers' purchasing decisions. The goal and the skills must be comparable!
Step 3: Spot your target market
Determine who your plan is designed for — the target audience that your employees will work with to achieve your business goals. This is so that you can set achievable sales goals and avoid situations where the revenue growth of tens of thousands per month outlined in your sales plan may not be realistic because your low-income customers are simply not willing to spend that much money.
Analysis of the market and the existing audience will allow you to understand who your potential customer is. Also, by comparing your goals with your existing customer base, you will understand whether it is possible to realize the full potential of your company. Maybe, you will have to enter new markets and attract other audiences.
When drafting your sales plan, describe:
- The target market segment in which you are working
- the audience of that market and your ideal customer profile
- the market segment for expanding your prospective customer base
- the number and capabilities of your competitors
This kind of market analysis will allow you to understand why there is a demand for what you offer, the weaknesses and strengths of your company, and the market strategy for further growth. But not only that. Market trend overview will also help with customer relationship management allowing you to improve the customer experience.
Step 4: Strategic resource planning
Evaluate all of your company's current resources. Will your sales team be able to increase sales without new knowledge or should they take some courses? Does it make sense to hire an employee who will deal exclusively with sales or is it better to implement a new incentive system for managers? What tools are available now and which of them could help you achieve your goals: communication solutions, a CRM system, or invoicing software?
RemOnline, for example, is a program for automating sales that allows you to manage customer profiles, information on their work orders/purchases, and payments in one place. You will also have your inventory and finances under control so your team will save time on managing sales allowing them to focus on increasing their number.
Screenshot of the Sales module in RemOnline
Step 5: Sales and marketing budgets
Now, it’s time to decide on your budget. How much are you willing to spend to meet your goals? Expenses that are part of sales will include salaries, employee motivation, sales tool fees, training, etc.
To increase your annual revenue, you need to set clear goals and define financial limits. This way, you will be sure there are enough funds to implement your sales plan and that the actions it describes will bring in more than they take away.
Step 6: Marketing strategies
Marketing defines your company's position in your chosen target market. A good marketing plan will help you improve:
- your reputation among your competitors
- your customers' awareness of your ability to meet their needs
- your customers' opinion of your products/services
Marketing strategy affects not only your sales approach but also your customer engagement because every sale starts there.
Step 7: Motivate your sales and marketing teams
Build a transparent incentive system for your employees to encourage them to work more efficiently. Motivation can come in the form of percentage rewards, coefficient pays, and commissions. To make it really work and at the same time not take a lot of time for company managers to calculate salaries, it makes sense to automate the processes.
In RemOnline, you can easily set up a fixed rate, percentage rewards, and coefficients to be automatically calculated depending on each employee's experience, time worked, and tasks completed.
Setting Payroll in RemOnline
After you complete all the steps above, it’s time to set specific, measurable, achievable, and time-limited sales goals for your employees. Read on for some practical tips to help you make them happen.
In this section, we've put together some insights for you on how to create a sales plan that will help you reach your targets in the easiest way possible:
- When creating your sales plan, pay attention to your competitors: what sales tools they use, what strategies they implement, and what was successful and what failed.
- Maintain a customer database in CRM to consider the proportion of repeat and regular customers when building your sales plan.
- Collect historical financial data to track the dynamics of their changes after implementing your sales plan.
- Create multiple sales plans for different periods: months, quarters, and years to provide a clear benchmark for employees.
- Create individual sales plans for each of your teams depending on the organizational structure of your company. Each employee should understand what to strive for within the company.
- Ask your employees for feedback on the challenges they face in working with customers and the specifics of how customers interact with your company.
- Update your sales plan regularly (at least every 6 or 12 months). Treat the document as a living, changing organism, reviewing and revising it depending on circumstances and results.
Once your sales plan is ready, it's important to effectively communicate it to your employees because it's up to them to make it a success. Learn more about employee management techniques here.
Without a well-thought-out sales plan, it’s impossible to make as many sales as you want. Fortunately, creating one is not as difficult as it may seem at first glance. Analyze past performance, available resources, and your budget to at what point you are now and where you’d like to come. Select a strategy, motivate employees, and control the implementation. And soon, you will see the positive results of your and your team’s hard work.