Sell with a Plan
A sales plan is a guide to hit the sales goals for the year by “who, where, why, when, and how”. The guide covers the first steps that you should take to get your sales underway.
Selling your product or service is very important to run a business successfully. Even if you are selling toys from a shop or laptops from an office, you must have a plan to understand your customers and sell efficiently. It is important to see selling as a process where you need to reach the last step that is an actual financial transaction. You may use your marketing strategies to create awareness among your targeted audience, but you will still have to work on analyzing your customers and selling them. Sales plan covers your specific niches, market concerns, your targeted customers, how you are going to find, engage, and sell to them, as well as past sales.
To create a best sales plan, you need to focus on three distinct sections as follows,
- Sales forecasting and goal setting
- Market and customer research
- Prospecting and partnership
Each section works itself into the next, each section is complimenting the next one. Starting with sales goals which lead you to consider the important market factors and then finding more prospects to step forward towards your sales goals.
Sales Forecasting and Goal-Setting
Be realistic while setting your sales goals.
Before talking about how you are going to get your sales this year, it is important to look into the goals first. Sales Plan is made to set and achieve the goals at the end. You need a specific number whether in terms of sales or customers or whatever you are considering more. These numbers will tell you during the process that if it is useful or not what you are doing.
You can set your sales goals realistically on the basis of the size of the market, your company experience, and the goals and number of resources in your sales team. There are few things you must be aware of while setting goals, i.e. You might be over-optimistic in developing your goals but first, look at the last year’s forecast and results to analyze what is actually needed. Forecast on the basis of your assumptions about the market. Your sales teams have the most interaction with your customers. So you should ask your team opinion and then come to an agreed target to go into your sales plan.
Clear deadlines and milestones.
The second most important thing in the sales forecasting and goal-setting section is to define clear deadlines and milestones in your sales plan. Milestones help you incredibly identify whether your sales plan is on the right path or not. A big number (sales goal) when broken down into smaller expectations with strict deadlines, let you know whether or not your assumptions in the sales plan are close to the mark.
Manageable milestones and clear deadlines take time to develop but ultimately helps your sales team to keep their morale high.
Market and Customer Research
Pick a niche to focus on.
Now you know what you want to hit, it’s time to understand which market and the niche you focus on. What is a business niche? It’s not just the products you are specialized in, but it involves the specific areas of your interest, your company culture, your message, and branding. Instead of start looking for a niche, ask yourself these questions first
1- How big is your market
2- Is there a built-in demand for what you’re selling?
3- What’s your current market position
4- Who are your competitors?
Understand your target customers.
After knowing your niche, it’s time to know your customers deeply to properly sell to them. You can define your audience in your sales plan by looking into your company size, geographical information, job title, industry etc. All this information helps you to identify perfect customers for your business. After identifying the customers, start looking into the deeper details that can help your business operations to work at the best.
1- If they are on social media?
2- Have they joined any Facebook or LinkedIn groups?
3- What resources do they use?
4- Can you answer their industry question on Quora?
Map out your customer’s journey.
With an ideal customer profile, the next step is to address how that customer becomes your customer. You can do this by mapping the customer journey from prospects to long time customers. If you have good past experience with your customer, then this time think of ways to give something extra in new interaction and differentiate yourself with your unique value proposition. If you have a bad experience, then try to tell them how you would fix that situation.
Prospects and Partnerships
Build a prospect list.
Use your ideal customer profile to find the target companies. You can build a list of prospects by doing the following things
1- Search LinkedIn
2- Attend networking events and meetups
3- Do simple Google searches
4- Check relevant local business networks
5- Check online groups
At each organization, target up to 5 people, this will give you better odds for connecting on a cold outreach as well as a better chance that someone can connect you and know you personally.
Identify strategic partners.
At the end of your sales plan, you must include any strategic partners. Those partners could be individuals, organizations, or companies that reach the same customers. We can call them as Complimentary Service Providers (CSPs) as they are not the competitors but offer some products or services that complement yours.
Plan to build a relationship with those groups via
1- Giving speeches at seminars
2- Providing resources for their website
3- Writing for their publication
4- Exchange cards
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