How do you plan to sell your products? To sell your products, you need to think of specific steps how you can move your products. This is the process of creating your sales plan, which can go hand in hand with your marketing plan.
A sales plan is basically your strategic and tactical plan for achieving your marketing objectives. It is a step-by-step and detailed process that will show how you will acquire new business; and how you will gain more business from your existing customer base. It involves making and/or exceeding our sales quota within our sales territory. The key feature of sales plans is its use of unit projections and associated dollar values. Sales plans are about targets and numbers!
Here are the steps to help you develop a successful sales plan for your business:
1. Segment your target audience.
The first step is to clearly identify your target markets. Who are more likely to buy your product? The more defined your target market, the better. Your target market can be defined as high-income men ages 30-60 who loves to buy the latest electronic gadgets; or mothers with babies 0-12 months old living in urban areas. If you are targeting several markets, the next step is to prioritize your target market to ensure that your resources are directed towards your key target market. Prospects are more likely to purchase if you can talk to them about solving their problems.
2. Look at your industry.
Check the current trends in your industry, and how your business fares with these trends. Look at the range of similar products now available, and compare how your products or services stack up to competitor products. Take a bigger picture of your industry and find out your prospects.
Also check who your competitors are and what are their consumer buying patterns. See how your competitors are doing from various angels — if you have data on market share, search engine rankings, mention in the press, mention in the blogs, and other areas.
3. Develop your sales strategies.
Your sales strategies will include determining how you can reach your sales quota, how you can get more sales from existing customers, and how you can raise awareness in the marketplace and in your community about your business.
Your sales strategies also involve making a decision on who is actually going to do the selling. Will you do it yourself? If so, do you think you have the skills to do it? If not (but you have no choice but to do it yourself), you may want to take courses on how to improve your confidence and presentation skills. Or you can get a mentor or business coach to advice you on what to do and how you can improve your sales techniques.
Another strategy would be to have a sales force. A sales force can be internal, meaning you will hire sales representatives for your business. Another way is to use independent sales representatives. The first question of course is whether you can afford to hire a sales force (another way around is to ask yourself if you can really afford NOT to hire a sales force). If you will hire, how many do you need and can afford to hire? How will you recruit them, and train them?
4. Think through your sales plan.
This is the meat of your sales plan. You need to write down your sales strategies based on the analysis you’ve done of your business and what you can do. Will you attend trade shows or do cold calling? Will you use search engine advertising or other forms of online advertising? How are you going to reach exactly your target audience?
It is important that you break down your sales strategies into quantifiable activities. For example:
Objective: To increase sales of my website by 10% at the end of the month. This will be achieved by increasing targeted traffic to my website
- Sending out 2-6 press releases about new products and new deals
- Getting at least 10% click through rate to pay per click advertising
- Sending out 4 newsletters announcing special customer deals and repeat buyer deals to existing customers.
In crafting your sales forecast, make it as conservative as possible or as realistic as possible. Many small business owners make the mistake of setting unrealistic sales expectations.
5. Measure and improve.
A sales plan is not something that you create – and then hide inside your drawer. Put it up somewhere that you can be reminded every day of what you need to do, maybe your bulletin board or beside your daily planner.
Check if you are actually following the activities and tasks outlined in your sales plan. All the planning in the world is worthless if you cannot or do not implement any of it. Keep track of how you are performing vis-à-vis your sales target. If you are falling short of your targets, assess the situation and think of how you can improve your performance.
Recommended Books on How to Write a Sales Plan:
- New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development
- Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness
- The Ultimate Marketing Plan: Target Your Audience! Get Out Your Message! Build Your Brand!
- Action Plan For Sales Success: Not just what to do, but how to do it!
- Action Plan For Sales Management Success: Not just what to do, but how to do it!
- Marketing to the Right Audience
- 10 Ways to Improve Your Business Operations
- How to Create a Marketing Plan
- Basics of a Business Plan
- Top 7 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Sales Coach