How to Create a Strategic Plan
Looking for a way to take your company in a new and profitable direction? It starts with strategic planning. Keep reading to learn what a strategic plan is, why you need it and how you can strategically create one.
When it comes to business and finance, strategic planning will help you allocate your resources, energy and assets. When implemented, a strategic plan will begin to move your operations in a more profitable direction. The primary goal of the plan is to ensure you and any other stakeholders are on the same page and striving to reach the same goal.
Creating a strategic plan requires a disciplined effort. Once you put the plan into action, it will influence the segment of customers that you target, how you serve those customers and the experience those customers have.
Assess the Current Infrastructure and Operations
The first step in creating a strategic plan is to carefully assess your existing infrastructure and operations. You can do this through a SWOT analysis, which is an analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The goal here is to pinpoint the resources that you use to carry out your day-to-day operations, to look at your monthly revenue patterns, to list any company challenges related to the customer experience and, most importantly, to look at your marketing methods and ways to improve the overall customer experience.
Creation of Mission Statement and Objectives
The next step is to create a mission statement. You may already have one, but it’s important to note your mission at the top of the strategic plan document you create. This ensures everyone is focused on the same goal. Your mission statement should cover why you started the company and what you intend to accomplish through the products and services that you offer.
In addition to the mission statement, make sure to outline both short- and long-term objectives. List the objectives according to their priority and designate certain managers or employees to be responsible for each one. Also, jot down the resources that will be used to achieve each objective.
Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve and who is responsible for each goal, it’s time to deploy the plan and measure its progress. A weekly meeting is extremely important for all managers and stakeholders provide feedback. Your goal is to determine if the company is headed in the right direction. If not, you’ll need to revise the strategic plan accordingly.
Strategic Plans Are Ongoing
Once your strategic plan helps you achieve several objectives, it’s smart to regroup and set new objectives. As your company grows, you can set new goals to ensure the company keeps moving forward. You can share the success of your strategic plan with potential investors as a way to tap into new capital funding.
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22 Best Sales Strategies, Plans, & Initiatives for Success [Templates]
Discover sales strategy examples, templates, and plans used by top sales teams worldwide.
FREE SALES PLAN TEMPLATE
Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
A strong sales strategy plan creates the foundation for a cohesive and successful sales organization.
Sales strategies and initiatives also align salespeople on shared goals and empower them to do their best work — keeping them happy and successful, too.
In this guide, we'll dig into some sales strategies and initiatives that can help you generate more leads and close more deals. But first, let’s define what a sales strategy is.
What's a Sales Strategy?
Types of Sales Strategies
Building a Sales Strategy Plan
Inbound vs. Outbound Sales
Sales Strategy Examples
What is a sales strategy?
A sales strategy is a set of decisions, actions, and goals that inform how your sales team positions the organization and its products to close new customers. It acts as a guide for sales reps to follow, with clear goals for sales processes, product positioning, and competitive analysis.
Most strategies involve a detailed plan of best practices and processes set by management.
Why is a sales strategy important?
A clear sales strategy serves as a map for the growth of your business. Your sales strategy is key to future planning, problem-solving, goal-setting, and management.
An effective sales strategy can help you:
- Give your team direction and focus. Strategic clarity can help your sales reps and managers understand which goals and activities to prioritize. This can lead to improved productivity and outcomes.
- Ensure consistent messaging. Your sales strategy can help your team deliver a consistent message to prospects, partners, and customers. This can increase both trust and effectiveness.
- Optimize opportunities. Strong sales strategies will help you target the right prospects and customize your approach. This can help your team make the most of every sales opportunity.
- Improve resource allocation. Your sales strategy outlines priorities and resources. In turn, this can help your sales team use their time, effort, and resources efficiently. This efficiency can boost your team's ability to focus on high-potential deals.
Let's cover some popular sales strategies — including inbound sales.
- Increase online sales through social media.
- Become a thought leader.
- Prioritize inbound sales calls as hot leads.
- Properly research and qualify prospects.
- Implement a free trial.
- Don't shy away from cold calling.
- Offer a demonstration of the product.
- Provide a personalized, clear end result.
- Be willing to adapt your offering.
- Close deals with confidence.
- Nurture existing accounts for future selling opportunities.
1. Increase online sales through social media.
Social media is one of the most popular ways that people consume information these days. That’s why nine out of ten retail businesses are active on at least two social platforms. With the data on your side, increasing online sales through social media is attainable with some creative thinking and strategic planning.
Although it may be tempting to jump on the hottest social media trend or go where your competitors are, that probably won’t be your best choice. Time is precious and you’ll want to build your pipeline as efficiently as you can. So, be diligent about figuring out where your target customers are spending their time and meet them where they're most active.
Keep in mind that your tone and voice may need to adjust to the platform so that you can connect with your audience. You’ll want your content to blend in naturally with the platform and not seem out of place.
Featured Guide: 37 Social Selling Tips for LinkedIn
Download the Guide
2. Become a thought leader.
Sharing your advice, tried-and-true best practices, and niche expertise are some of the most long-lasting ways to build your personal brand and lend more credibility to your organization. I’m sure we all can agree that nobody wants to feel like they’re being sold to. Instead, it’s better to help people by offering solutions to their problems.
Thought leaders do exactly this, and it’s even been backed up by Edleman data . In its 2022 Thought Leadership Impact Report , Edelman found that "Thought leadership is one of the most effective tools an organization can use to demonstrate its value to customers during a tough economy – even more so than traditional advertising or product marketing, according to B2B buyers."
According to the study, 61% of decision-makers said thought leadership could be moderately or very effective at demonstrating the value of a company’s products compared to traditional product marketing. Additionally thought leadership becomes even more important during economic downturns with 51% of C-suite executives stating it has more of an impact on purchases.
So what’s the catch?
Not all thought leadership content is created equal. While it can positively affect a company, poor thought leadership can be devastating to a company’s sales goals. A quarter of decision-makers who answered Edleman’s previous survey reported that thought leadership content contributed to their reasons for not doing business with an organization . Ouch!
Before you plan a spree of LinkedIn posts to drive leads, consider who your audience is, what they need to know, and how your organization can help. And, it may not hurt to have a second set of eyes from your marketing, communication, and PR departments review your plan first to make sure everything is on-brand (and trackable!)
Free Sales Plan Template
Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent sales plan.
- Target Market
- Prospecting Strategy
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
3. Prioritize inbound sales calls as hot leads.
There’s the age-old question: "Should I discuss product pricing with a prospect on the first sales call?" The honest answer is: It depends.
You and your sales team know your process front and back and if you’ve seen success with pitching with pricing first, last, or somewhere in between, stick with what’s working for you.
Besides that, your team should always prioritize those prospects who call into sales first. These hot leads are definitely interested in what you have to sell and want to know enough information about how it’ll benefit them before they make a decision.
By prioritizing talking to these prospects as soon as they call or send an email, you’re putting your best foot forward and showing them that you’re helpful, solutions-oriented, and considerate of their time. If it means closing the deal on the first call , there’s no harm in it so long as the customer has the information they need to make an informed decision.
4. Properly research and qualify prospects.
Even the strongest sales strategy can't compensate for targeting the wrong customers. To ensure your team is selling to the right type of customer, encourage them to research and qualify prospects before attempting to discuss your product. They'll find that more work on the front end can lead to smoother closing conversations later on.
Outline the criteria a prospect should meet to qualify them as a high-probability potential customer. This should be based on a prospect’s engagement history and demographics.
Featured Guide: 101 Sales Qualification Questions
5. Implement a free trial.
Offering a free trial or freemium version of your product is a highly effective way to convert prospects. HubSpot’s sales strategy report found that free trials were 76% effective followed by a freemium option with 69% effective in turning prospects into paying customers.
Free trials give potential customers the opportunity to test your product out before committing. You can place restrictions on your free version like limited features or usage caps. Besides offering prospects a risk-free chance to try your product, free trials also help build brand loyalty and expand your customer base. Prospects that have a positive experience using the free version will be more likely to convert to the paid version.
6. Don't shy away from cold calling.
In sales, cold calling is unavoidable. But it doesn't have to be miserable. There are a number of cold-calling techniques that really work, including our bulletproof cold-calling template . Have your sales team practice cold calls with one another before making actual calls; it'll boost their confidence and get them comfortable with the script.
7. Offer a demonstration of the product.
Pitching can be the make-or-break moment in a sales strategy. The sales pitch has to be a powerful, compelling presentation, but it also can't come on too strong lest you scare away the prospect.
Study the elements of a successful sales pitch and prove to prospects how they’ll benefit from making the purchase. Have your team practice amongst themselves, too. Better yet, test your presentations on a few loyal customers and gather their feedback.
8. Provide a personalized, clear end result.
When customers come to your business, they aren’t necessarily looking for a product or service, they’re looking for their desired end result. These customers want to purchase a means to improve their own operation, or simply improve their strategies with the help of your offering.
After you explain your product or service offering, you have to personalize the benefits to each client in a way that’s valuable to them.
If you’re selling customer service software to a small business that has no experience with one, it’s your job to educate them on its use in the setting of a small business, not to manage hundreds of employees in larger ones. By doing so they will have an easier time seeing how they can use it and spend less time debating what they’ll use it for.
By painting a clear picture of the end result, your customer will be able to see the value of the purchase and feel more inclined to accept the offer.
9. Be willing to adapt your offering.
In sales conversations, you should expect to come across clients with unique demands. It’s only natural when working with companies that have different structures and needs.
Instead of saying "you won’t" or "you can’t" — make sure your sales strategy is adaptable to accommodate the customer’s desire.
10. Close deals with confidence.
How you close a sale is just as important as how you start the conversation. Encourage clear, concise, and firm closing techniques to make sure your sales team sets the right expectations and delivers on their promises.
Keeping a list of proven, go-to closing techniques will help salespeople routinely win deals. Such techniques can include the now or never close, "If you commit now, I can get you a 20% discount," or the question close, "In your opinion, does what I am offering to solve your problem?"
Available for free is our downloadable Sales Closing Guide to improve your closing techniques and to close deals with confidence.
11. Nurture existing accounts for future selling opportunities.
Once a deal is done, there's no need for a sales strategy ... right? Wrong. Account management is an incredibly important part of the sales process, encouraging loyal, happy customers, and leveraging cross-selling and upselling opportunities .
After your sales team sees success with the sales strategy, form a partnership between your sales team and customer service/success teams. Ensuring customers’ continued satisfaction with your product or service will make them more likely to do business with your company again and even advocate for it.
Sales Strategy Types
Who is your sales strategy for.
The most important element when choosing the best type of sales strategy for your business is your customer .
Once you consider your customer needs, it's time to think about your sales team — the professionals who are responsible for closing deals.
Your sales strategy needs to offer a framework that attracts and engages prospects. At the same time, it needs to enable your team to build relationships that help them achieve sales targets.
For these reasons, a sales strategy shouldn't be one-size-fits-all. Every customer and team is different; so, each organization should draw up the type of sales strategy that works best for their needs.
Outbound Sales Strategy
In outbound sales strategies — the legacy system of most sales teams — companies base their sales strategy on the seller, not the customer.
Outbound sales processes often include cold calling, purchasing email lists, and other cold prospecting techniques. And daily success is often based on the quantity of connections, not the quality.
Outbound sales teams often rely on manually-entered data to monitor the sales pipeline and coach their salespeople. They may also run sales and marketing independently, which can create a disjointed experience for buyers.
Inbound Sales Strategy
In inbound sales strategies — the modern methodology for sales teams — companies base their sales process on buyer actions.
They automatically capture seller and buyer data to monitor the pipeline and coach salespeople. Inbound sales strategies connect to the three stages of the buyer journey — awareness, consideration, and decision. Then, sales reps will map their tactics to the right step in the customer journey.
Many popular types of sales strategies have a customer-centric approach, including:
- Account-based selling
- SPIN selling
- Value-based selling
- Consultative selling
Learn about these approaches and more in this post about customer-centric selling systems .
Another important point — the inbound methodology aligns sales and marketing, creating a seamless experience for buyers. Check out this post to learn more about inbound sales and how to develop an inbound sales process.
Inbound vs. Outbound Sales Methodology
In the past, buyers suffered through evaluating a product and deciding whether to buy it using only the information offered to them by the seller. Today, all of the information needed to evaluate a product is available online and buyers are no longer dependent on the seller.
If today’s sales teams don’t align with the modern buyer’s process and fail to add value beyond the information already available to them, then they’ll have no reason to engage with a sales team.
As mentioned above, inbound sales benefits buyers at each stage of the buyer process:
Inbound sales teams help the buyer become aware of potential problems or opportunities and discover strategies to solve problems. Then, they evaluate whether the salesperson can help with a problem, which leads to that buyer purchasing a solution to their problem. Inbound sales reps are helpful and trustworthy, creating partnerships rather than power struggles.
Not sure how to get started with inbound selling? Every sales team should have a sales strategy plan outlining its goals, best practices, and processes designed to align the team and create consistency.
Keep reading to learn how to create a sales strategy plan for your team.
Sales Planning: Building a Sales Strategy Plan
Now that you have the template you need, let's go over how you can build a sales strategy.
How to Build a Sales Strategy
- Develop organizational goals.
- Create a customer profile that is tailored to a specific product offering.
- Hire, onboard, and compensate sales team members adequately.
- Create a plan to generate demand.
- Measure individual and team performance.
- Track sales activities.
To build a comprehensive sales plan, you’ll find the following activities helpful along the way:
1. Develop organizational goals.
Setting goals is a no-brainer for most sales teams. Otherwise, how else will you know you're executing the right activities for the best results? To develop clear organizational goals for your sales strategy:
Involve cross-departmental stakeholders.
When developing sales goals, avoid doing it in a silo. Get input from stakeholders across the organization since every department is held accountable to the company’s bottom line.
Create SMART goals.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Setting SMART goals helps your team simplify and track complex or long-term sales goals .
For example, a specific, measurable, and time-bound goal could be to sell 150% of the projected sales quota in Q2. Your internal team will create this goal and can decide whether this goal is relevant and attainable.
SMART goals help reduce confusion when it’s time to review your strategy to see what worked and what didn’t. Attainability is also important, because unrealistic sales goals can impact team motivation.
Connect individual goals to organizational goals.
If you're creating a team-specific strategy, you may also want to set goals for individual team members. Building ownership and accountability into sales goals can help keep your team aligned. It also makes your sales strategy more cohesive.
2. Create a customer profile that is tailored to a specific product offering.
A detailed profile of the target customer — a buyer persona — is essential to an effective sales strategy. There are many ways you can create a useful buyer persona.
Find target markets and segments.
First, look at your industry as a whole. Get to know your ideal customer's company size, psychographics, and buying process. You may want to look at industry trends too.
Conduct market research to understand customer needs and preferences.
Next, do some market research. This template can help you streamline the process and understand which types of research will be best for your business.
You may also want to do some competitor analysis at this stage. Once you know the strengths and weaknesses of competing brands you can more easily find gaps that you can fill for specific customers.
Create a clear value proposition to attract your ideal customer to your product or service.
Your product offering should outline the product benefits. It should also use insights from your customer profile to emphasize features that solve your target customer's pain points.
Your business may already have a clear value proposition, but if not, you can use these free value proposition templates to draft one.
Quick tip : Be sure to schedule time to update and refine your buyer persona to make sure it aligns with current customer trends and expectations.
3. Hire, onboard, and compensate sales team members adequately.
To develop your sales strategy, you must have a powerful sales team in place.
According to HubSpot research, the churn rate for sales teams was about 35% in 2021 and 2022. But the ideal churn rate for most businesses is around 10%, a significant difference.
To create a supportive and successful sales team that can both support and enhance your sales strategy:
Create great processes for hiring new members of your sales team.
To begin this process, create a list of criteria for sales managers to screen for when interviewing candidates. A well-defined job description and competency framework are also useful. These tools can help your team with recruiting and retaining top talent.
Develop sales onboarding, training, and development programs.
Your training and onboarding program should prepare your sales team to sell effectively and efficiently. It should also help sales reps build advanced skills and industry knowledge.
But what if you don't have the resources to develop comprehensive training in-house? In these situations, think about combining organization-specific training with online sales training programs .
Create a motivational compensation and rewards plan.
Many organizations connect sales compensation to organizational sales goals. Regardless of what compensation plan you choose, make sure that it meets or exceeds industry expectations. It should also inspire your team to celebrate individual and team achievements.
4. Create a plan to generate demand.
This section should include a detailed plan for how to target potential customers to increase awareness of your offering. For example, using paid social acquisition channels, creating e-books, hosting webinars, and other strategies in this post.
Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template
Download the Template for Free
As you create your sales plan, be sure to consider these tips:
Create targeted messaging and positioning for your target audience.
This positioning will help your team create a foundation for targeting your top audience. It will also help you choose the best channels and tactics for each campaign. This boosts your chances of increasing demand and qualified leads with each sales strategy.
Add clear goals and KPIs to your sales plan.
This step will help you stay motivated and track the effectiveness of your sales strategies. This approach can also help you change or update your strategies for effectiveness over time.
Create processes for lead nurturing and follow-up.
Once you've generated demand, it's time to convert. But not every lead generation opportunity translates to qualified leads or sales opportunities.
As you track your newly generated demand, find ways to align your processes with your buyer's journey. Then, use sales automation tools to manage leads and create personalized follow-ups. This can help every rep on your team send the right message at the right time.
Optimize your sales plan and process.
Build in time to review your metrics. Then, use A/B testing, customer feedback, and sales team insights to refine your sales strategy plan.
5. Measure individual and team performance.
Time to track! Once the infrastructure is set up, create a procedure for tracking performance on the individual, team, and company levels.
Tracking your efforts is imperative if you plan to optimize your processes and practices for growth in the future. Even if you’re just getting started setting benchmarks for the team, write those down and track your progress toward them.
Build useful metrics to track sales performance.
This measurement can take the form of quarterly KPIs, weekly dashboards, monthly reviews, or some combination of all three. It should also highlight the specific metrics that the team should focus on.
If you're not sure where to start, these KPIs can help you align performance expectations with sales goals :
- Revenue targets
- Sales quotas
- Conversion rates
- Lead-to-opportunity ratios
- Average deal size
- Pipeline velocity
Think about real-time performance tracking.
While business KPIs are useful for the long-term, fast-moving industries may need real-time tracking. To get an at-a-glance look at sales team performance, choose tools that can give you instant visibility, like Sales Hub .
Real-time insights can help you find and address issues more quickly. They also create opportunities for proactive sales performance management.
Create a process for sharing performance data.
With performance metrics, you have data that can help you offer constructive feedback and coaching to each member of your team.
Whether you offer one-on-one meetings, performance reviews, or team huddles, be sure to make space for these conversations. They’re a great way to understand performance gaps, offer guidance, and share best practices. This process also supports individual and team development.
It can also help you understand whether it’s your team or your strategy that needs extra attention.
6. Track sales activities.
Data is key to an effective sales strategy plan and sales activity metrics can help you go beyond individual team performance.
Collect a range of sales activity data.
Sales activity metrics can help you understand how the team approaches day-to-day sales as a whole. You should track everything from the sales presentation to closing techniques.
Collect data to see how your sales team performs beyond call or deal numbers, in individual activities such as:
- Meetings scheduled
- Presentations delivered
- Proposals submitted
- Sales presentation success rates
- Closing techniques
Comparing this data to other goal metrics can show you patterns, best practices, and areas for improvement.
Track lead and prospect sources.
If you’ll be publishing thought leadership content or sourcing leads from social media, make sure that any link you share is trackable with a UTM parameter.
Trackable links aren't just valuable for learning which channels are generating the most leads. They can also help you focus your resources on the channels that generate the most relevant qualified leads for driving sales.
Focus on continuous improvement.
Once you have a complete set of analytics to track your strategy, use it to refine your sales strategies, team knowledge, and plans. A clear data-driven process will make it easier to use customer feedback to grow your sales. It will also give your sales team the ability to flex with industry and market changes that could impact your business.
- Refresh your buyer personas regularly.
- Actively align sales and marketing.
- Listen to your prospects.
- Invest in sales development and team-building.
Businesses should always be looking for ways to innovate their approach to sales . Here are some creative things sales reps and teams can do on their own to jumpstart their performance, stand out from the competition, and boost team productivity.
1. Refresh your buyer personas regularly.
Buyer personas inform all kinds of activity at your business, including (and most importantly) who your marketing and sales teams pursue as customers. But as your market and company shift, your buyer personas can become out-of-date — which can cause your sales team's work to become stagnant and ineffective. Work with your marketing team to refresh your buyer personas to best equip your sales team for prospecting and outreach.
2. Actively align sales and marketing.
Speaking of marketing, create and honor a service-level agreement (SLA) between your sales and marketing teams. This agreement will detail how each team can support each other, contribute to the other's goals, and honor boundaries in a way that still moves prospects toward conversion.
Download our free SLA Template for Sales & Marketing to align Sales & Marketing goals and activities.
3. Use a CRM.
Successful sales teams and strategies require the right tools. HubSpot all-in-one CRM eliminates manual work and streamlines your sales activity and data. It also keeps your sales team up-to-date about all relevant activity with your prospects — an important transparency factor that helps motivate and align your team.
4. Listen to your prospects.
Just because prospects aren't customers doesn't mean they can't give valuable feedback. As you move prospects through their sales funnel and (especially) when they drop off, ask for candid feedback about their experience with your team and products. You may learn something that can help convert them or your next prospect.
5. Invest in sales development and team-building.
The best sales teams not only align with customers but also with their coworkers. Sales is a difficult career and can lead to burnout without proper encouragement and camaraderie. Invest in sales development and team-building activities to keep your sales team feeling satisfied and supported.
Sales Strategy Examples from Successful Sales Teams
In this section, we’ve analyzed two incredibly high-performing sales teams and how they achieved success using their unique sales strategies.
Founded in 2006, HubSpot has since grown to over 184,000 customers in over 120 countries and over $1.7 billion in annual revenue. With an IPO in 2014, HubSpot is now valued at over $24.63 billion.
That said, we want to share a few pages from our own sales strategy playbook.
Hire the right people according to repeatable evaluation criteria.
We first started by determining a list of attributes that made a successful sales rep: Work ethic, coachability, intelligence, passion, preparation and knowledge of HubSpot, adaptability to change, prior success, organizational skills, competitiveness, and brevity.
From there, we established a repeatable process to evaluate candidates during interviews based on these weighted criteria.
Train the sales team by making them wear customers’ shoes.
Again, the first step we took was to define the sales process that we thought would be most successful. We outlined our unique value proposition, target customer, competition, most common objections, product features and benefits, and so forth.
Then we created a hands-on training program that would not only imitate the sales process for reps before they actually began selling but also allow them to experience our target customers’ pain points.
Today, a large part of our training program involves making reps create their own website and blog, and then drive traffic to it. This exercise allows reps to better consult potential customers in the future. We also use exams, certification programs, and presentations to measure each rep’s performance.
After employees are onboarded, we continue tracking their progress throughout the various stages of our sales process. The primary criteria we look at includes: leads created, leads worked, demos delivered, and leads won. Then we measure these criteria against each other to create ratios such as leads created to leads won.
We track each stage in the process so that if a rep is struggling with any particular metric, we can dig deeper to understand why that’s the case.
Align sales and marketing.
The sales and marketing teams work closely together in a process we call " Smarketing " to generate consistent leads each month.
In this process, marketing understands which qualities a sales lead needs to meet before it’s handed over to sales as well as how many of those qualified leads it must create each month to meet our sales projections.
Meanwhile, the sales team understands how long they should wait before contacting a lead and how many attempts they should make to contact that lead. All of these decisions are led by data and science, not by gut.
Shopify is known for consistent momentum and customer satisfaction.
Loren Padelford, VP at Shopify and General Manager of Shopify Plus, shared his secret sauce for increasing sales .
Hire great people, not necessarily great salespeople.
Hiring is arguably one of the most essential components of a great sales strategy. Many sales managers , though, are misled into believing that they must hire sales superstars. Padelford looks for six key personality traits when hiring salespeople: intelligence, work ethic, history of success, creativity, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness.
The truth of the matter is that sales teams first must look for great people and then train them so they become great salespeople.
Treat sales as a science, not an art.
According to Padelford, we can now measure sales down to the second. We can explain success according to cold, hard data points rather than mystical qualitative assessments. Every sales team should be tracking their average deal size, average sales cycle length, lead-to-deal conversion rate, calls per day per rep, and the number of deals in the pipeline.
Each of these metrics, tracked over longer periods of time, will inform companies about the health of their sales process and pinpoint areas they need to improve upon.
Build a smart, technological foundation.
Before Padelford took over the sales process at Shopify, sales reps would manually log phone calls and emails into the CRM, consuming five precious hours each week. With a sales force of 26, that added up to 130 wasted hours per week.
Realizing this misuse of time and capital, Padelford led Shopify to adopt the HubSpot CRM . With the CRM, sales reps were able to receive notifications when prospects opened their emails, clicked links, and viewed document attachments.
With the prospecting tool , they also have access to over 19 million prospects as well as detailed information about said prospects like estimated revenue, the number of employees, suggested email addresses, and so forth.
Maintain a high-quality pipeline by eliminating unqualified leads.
Shopify uses the 4/5 Threshold to filter out unqualified leads, thereby allowing its sales reps to focus on selling to leads who have a higher probability of becoming customers.
When evaluating whether a lead is qualified, a rep must have a concrete answer to four of the following five variables:
- Pain : Is the prospective customer experiencing a prominent business issue or challenge that requires them to make a change?
- Power : Is the prospective customer directly involved with the decision-making process? If not, who is?
- Money : Does our offering fall within their budget constraints?
- Process : What's their buying process?
- Timeline : What stage are they in the buyer’s journey? Will they purchase within a reasonable time frame?
Grow Better with Sales Strategies, Initiatives, and Templates
Every company can benefit from crafting a sales strategy plan. The free template below includes everything you’ll need to customize your strategy for your business and sales team. Regardless of what strategy you choose, always implement a buyer-first approach. Learn from these winning sales team examples, too, to grow your sales team and performance.
Editor's note: This post was originally written in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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How to Build a Sales Plan: The Step-by-Step Guide
So, you’ve developed a killer sales strategy . ✅
Your next step? Create a killer sales plan that will transform that deck full of goals and targets into tangible results, but also help understand your sales team’s performance all-round.
Sounds like a must-have, doesn’t it? That’s why we’re going to cover everything you need to know about building an effective sales plan, as well as help you out with strategic sales plan examples and templates to help you get started.
So then, let’s go. 🚀
What is a sales plan?
A sales plan is what outlines your sales team’s objectives and targets, as well as the steps, budget, and tools needed to get you there.
It includes specific revenue goals, information on your ideal customer profile (ICP) , the chosen sales tactics, possible obstacles, threats, and necessary resources.
Creating a robust sales plan is really handy to anyone that works in sales. It helps everyone see the big picture, get aligned on goals, and understand their role in achieving them.
When you take the time to craft a sales plan, you will:
- Create a clear and accessible reference to understand company and sales-specific goals.
- Give your team the strategic direction it needs throughout every stage of the sales funnel.
- Provide guidance to sales leadership and outside the sales department, too.
- Build a foundation upon which to monitor progress and performance.
How to make a sales plan
An ideal sales plan consists of 13 key components:
- Company mission
- Goals and revenue targets
- Review of past performance
- Market and industry analysis
- Prospecting strategy
- Inbound marketing strategy
- Sales tactics
- Performance metrics
Let’s dive deeper into each of these components so you’ll understand exactly how to make a sales plan.
1) Company mission
What are we all doing here? If your sales team can’t answer this question, don’t expect to get too far. Before anyone starts selling anything, it’s important for each team member to understand the company’s mission, purpose, and vision.
- Why did the founders build the company?
- What exactly does your product or service do?
- What value does it provide customers?
- How does your company impact industry, society, or the world?
Taking the time to answer these questions helps your sales leadership, reps, and account managers start to see the bigger picture, which is essential for bringing your sales strategy to life.
2) Market and industry analysis
This is the part where you research the major trends, challenges, pain points, and opportunities in your market. If your company serves businesses across different industries, you’ll need to conduct this research for each and every one of them.
Having a deep understanding of your market and where it’s heading is crucial for holding meaningful conversations with prospects and providing real value.
You can do this using the Competitive Landscape view on Similarweb Sales Intelligence, but if you fancy it, you can venture over to our friend, Similarweb Digital Research Intelligence to get even more detailed competitor and industry analysis.
3) Review of past performance
Reviewing your sales team’s past performance can be incredibly valuable while building a sales plan.
This is where you can gain a clearer understanding of what factors led your team to positive vibes (✨) and what contributed to not-so-positive vibes. Once you’ve narrowed down what works and what doesn’t, you can apply these insights to your future sales strategy.
Looking into past performance might highlight specific techniques that saw a big boost in revenue one quarter, or things like a sales manager leaving had a big impact on a team’s performance because they were key to the onboarding process.
These discoveries can – and should – impact your forward planning to make sure your next quarter is as good as can be.
4) Goal setting
Your sales goals will take the form of revenue goals and volume goals.
For example, you might set a total target revenue goal of $15 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).
But you will might want to consider breaking down your targets in a number of ways, including:
- By product (eg. a particular product or service doing better than another)
- By region (eg. your North America region routinely performs better than your EMEA)
- By quarter (eg. your company closes the most deals in the fourth quarter, and the least in the first quarter)
- By individual reps (eg. highly experienced reps vs. reps that are new and being onboarded)
By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able apply ambitious yet achievable goals and targets for your team.
Another thing to consider: volume goals. You might aim to sign 80 new customers a year, but are you thinking about the size of the opportunities? For example, you might sign 30 Fortune 500 logos in that number. Breaking into new markets or shifting from medium-large-size companies to enterprise companies is just another example of the type of goals that should be closely tied to your overall business objectives.
One of the most important things to remember when setting goals is to make them realistic. If it is simply not possible to hit your targets with the budget, human capital, and marketing resources you have access to, you are setting yourself up for failure.
5) Ideal customer profiles (ICP)
Next up: it’s time to review your ideal customer profile (ICP). You should have a clearly defined ICP in your sales strategy. Why? Because your ICP is all about who would make the best long-term customer.
You can build this by looking at your current customer base, and seeing what characteristics make up your best performing or most loyal customers. Most ICPs are made up of demographic characteristics, including:
- Company size
However, these traits are broad and could easily produce a large list of prospects, including some companies that aren’t actually a good fit to your ICP. With a Sales Intelligence solution like Similarweb, you can enrich your prospects list with granular digital performance metrics, such as:
- Volume of sales per region
- Monthly/annual revenue
- Current tech stack
- Current partnerships (eg. existing in your CRM)
With our unique traffic and engagement data , Similarweb empowers sales teams with full digital visibility into every part of a prospect’s digital strategy and performance. This added information helps you weed out irrelevant prospects so you can focus on just the best potential customers – and win them. 🥇
Positioning your company is all about determining how to best situate it within the current context of the market. This can be called market mapping , where you ask yourself questions like:
- Who are your competitors?
- How does your product or service compare?
- What are your relative strengths and weaknesses ?
- What is your competitors’ pricing and what is yours?
You’ll also want to focus on the technology trends or regulatory changes that impact the market as a whole, such as the rising popularity of a certain technology or the emergence of a new data privacy law. How will these factors impact your business and your competitors?
It might seem obvious, but going over your team can get overlooked in the sales planning process.
When looking at your team and its dynamic, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the desired headcount?
- Which positions do we need to fill or eliminate?
- What is each rep, sales manager, or AE’s responsibility?
- Do we have a process in place for ramping up new hires?
- Do we have good sales mentors?
- How can we keep everyone aligned?
Despite the fact that sales involves lots of individual work, it’s a team sport at the end of the day. Sales success depends on effective training, sharing best practices, solid leadership, coaching, and accountability. So, go get it, team. 💪
Your budget is going to need to stretch across all costs associated with reaching your sales goals, which usually includes:
- Human capital costs, such as salaries and commissions
- Sales training programs
- Sales technologies and tools
- Contest prizes and incentives
- Travel costs
- Conference exhibition costs
The more detailed your budget is, the easier it will be to make your case and get the spend your department needs.
9) Prospecting strategy
Sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential customers who fit your ICP with the goal of adding them to your sales funnel . Once you’ve got your list of relevant prospects and added them to the CRM, your next step is establishing a relationship and nurturing them until they are ready to become paying customers.
Prospecting is integral to an effective sales plan because it helps to make sure reps are going after the right kind of customers – and not wasting company time (or money) chasing the wrong ones.
If you’re prospecting manually, you’ll find that it’s a pretty time-consuming sales activity. In short: it’s no one’s favorite task. But with a robust prospecting tool, it makes your life a lot easier.
With Similarweb’s Sales Intelligence tool, you can quickly build a list of prospects who are ready to buy your product. Similarweb’s database includes more than 100 million websites and offers more than 50 digital criteria, to make sure you’re filtering out the misfits and leaving yourself with a list of good fits. 👌
Our insights generator tool will also help you learn and understand more about the prospect’s market, and gain key insights on how your company can help grow their business, giving your sales pitch the edge you need to seal the deal.
10) Inbound marketing strategy
For this bit of the sales plan, you’ll need to collaborate with marketing to ensure you’re aligned on core objectives, business strategy, and target audience.
If you’re not on the same page about these things, each department could be spending time and money focusing on clashing target audiences. If you want to bring in high-quality leads, marketing and sales need to work together closely.
11) Sales tactics
Sales tactics are the actions you take to bring your sales strategy to life. When putting together your sales plan, you’ll want to dedicate some time to determine which tactics will help you achieve your goals most effectively.
Here are some of the sales tactics we always recommend:
- Truly listen and focus on solving problems
- Stay true to your word and follow through
- Rely on data to drive prospecting and boost outreach efforts
- Review your conversations with prospects
Check out our post on 10 sales tactics that will help you crush your quota for more!
12) Tech stack
At this point – now you’ve outlined all of your goals and needs – you’ll want to consider which tools your sales team needs to get the job done.
Your tool or tech stack should include things like:
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Sales intelligence
- Prospecting and lead enrichment
- Analytics and reporting
- Process and training
- Meeting scheduling and recording
13) Performance metrics
The last piece of the puzzle is tracking and measuring your success, and seeing whether you met your goals. 🧩
Sales metrics and KPIs can vary company to company, but we’ve got a list of the 8 sales metrics you need to be tracking .
Once you know which metrics to assess, you’ll want to come up with a system for monitoring them. This should cover the platforms you’ll use to perform these analyses, how often you will measure them, and how you report the outcomes.
4 strategic sales plan examples
If writing a sales plan from scratch feels a little bit overwhelming, you can take a deep breath. There are lots of existing sales plan examples out there that you can use and adapt to your needs.
Here are four strategic sales plan examples you can customize to bring your sales strategy to life (without the overwhelm).
1) 30-60-90-day sales plan
This sales plan example is used to help sales organizations stay on track towards achieving their goals. The idea is to set milestones for the 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day mark, so you can monitor progress within a given time period.
This type of plan works especially well for revenue-related goals, growing the volume of sales, or reducing customer churn. Additionally, new sales reps often use a 30-60-90-day sales plan to track their individual progress while ramping up.
2) Market expansion sales plan
A market expansion sales plan provides direction when your business is expanding into a new industry or territory. Bonus: it’s a list of tasks and relevant metrics to help set you up for success.
For example, if you’re expanding into a new territory, some tasks to check off could include:
- Increasing headcount
- Preparing training for new reps
- Researching regional markets and competition
- Determining accurate revenue and volume goals
While some metrics will just tell you whether or not you completed the task (such as, did you create additional training material that focuses on your new territory? Yes or no), others will require quantitative benchmarks (such as revenue-related goals).
3) New product sales plan
This sales plan example is perfect for when you’re preparing to launch a new product or service line. When you create a new product sales plan, the goal is to generate revenue from the new product. Therefore, the plan provides steps and guidance for incorporating the new product into your sales processes and pitch.
To get it right, you’ll want to:
- Perform competitive analysis ✅
- Determine how the new product impacts your brand and market position ✅
- Work with product marketing on the pitch ✅
- Identify which prospects and customers the new product will be relevant to ✅
4) Business development sales plan
With a business development sales plan, you can focus on using connections and building relationships to attract new potential customers. So on this kind of plan, your activities will be things like networking, sponsoring events, attending industry conferences, and performing cold outreach .
But like any sales plan, you’ll also need to determine which KPIs are most relevant.
One example: you’re an exhibitor at a large industry conference. Your KPIs might center on the number of badges your scan, number of meetings set, and number of follow-up meetings requested.
Or, when it comes to outreach, you’ll track how many prospects responded to you, scheduled meetings, and meet your qualification standards to measure your success.
Here’s another place that Similarweb Sales Intelligence comes in. It’s a tool that will make outreach a breeze. With the Insights Generator function, you can automate the task of finding relevant and compelling “insight nuggets” to include in sales emails. By mentioning specific stats related to their business or their competitors, you are sure to pique their attention. 👀
Top sales plan templates
Another way to simplify the process of building a sales plan is to make the most of sales plan templates.
A “fill-in-the-blank” structure makes everything a little less complicated, right?
However, if you do choose to use a sales plan template, you’ve got to invest time and energy into customizing it to the very last detail so it’s totally relevant to your sales team.
Try these *customizable* templates out for size:
1) Hubspot sales plan template
Hubspot’s free template includes questions and steps to cover the following sections:
- Company History & Mission
- Team Structure
- Target Market
- Tools and Software
- Marketing Strategy
- Prospecting Strategy
- Action Plan
With guiding questions in each section, it can help you clearly articulate all of the necessary information you have to offer.
2) Leadfeeder’s B2B sales plan template
Leadfeeder’s template is designed to help B2B companies produce an actionable sales plan that you can put to use straight away. 🚀
- Dedicated space to add your objectives and KPIs in a visual and structured way
- Sales projections for the quarter with all necessary calculations to hit your revenue goals
- Pipeline dashboard with deal size
According to Leadfeeder, their sales plan template is best for B2B companies that have a product that requires demos, meetings, and runs through multiple decision makers. Noted.
3) Asana sales plan template
Asana’s template takes a project management approach to sales planning by visualizing all of the tasks in your sales plan as a checklist. This approach helps you assign tasks to certain individuals, as well as set deadlines.
One of the benefits of Asana’s sales plan template is that it accounts for dependencies, so no crucial task can go (accidentally) unseen.
One way they do this? Your colleague won’t be able to check off the “draft buyer personas” task until you’ve completed and ticked “perform market research”.
Creating a sales plan doesn’t need to be hard
Having a sales plan is all well and good, but having an efficient sales plan is essential to your success.
Like we said, sure, it can be overwhelming, but tons of great salespeople before you have done the legwork for you. Today, you have plenty of strategic sales plan examples, sales plan templates, and sales tools to help get you going.
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How to Write a Sales Plan
Table of contents.
Every business needs a business plan as well as more detailed road maps that offer guidance to each department working toward that common goal. As the revenue-generating engine of your company, the sales department should be a top priority for this type of document, aptly named the “sales plan.” This guide introduces the concept of a sales plan and gives you all the guidance you need to create a sales plan that works for your business.
What is a sales plan?
A sales plan details the overall sales strategy of a business, including the revenue objectives of the company and how the sales department will meet those goals. This may also include revenue goals, the target audience and tools the team will use in their day-to-day. In addition, the sales plan should include examples of the hurdles and pain points the team might encounter, as well as contingency plans to overcome them.
“[A sales plan] is essential to support the growth of an organization,” said Bill Santos, vice president of the ITsavvy Advanced Solutions Group. “A sales plan helps individual reps understand the priorities of the business as well as the measurements by which they will be evaluated.”
Business plans vs. sales plans
Business plans and sales plans are closely linked. A sales plan, though, should outline the actions that the sales department will take to achieve the company’s broader goals. A sales plan differs from a business plan, though both work toward the same end.
“A business plan is a ‘what’ [and] a sales plan is a ‘how,'” said James R. Bailey , professor of management and Hochberg Professional Fellow of Leadership Development at the George Washington University School of Business. “Business plans are where a firm wants to go. A sales plan is a part of how they can achieve that. A business plan is direction; a sales plan is execution.”
For example, a software company that developed a new mobile application might state in its business plan that the app will be installed by 1 million users within a year of launch, while the sales plan describes how that will actually be achieved.
How to write a sales plan
Every sales plan should suit the individual needs of a different company, so they come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all sales plan; the one you create will be unique to your business. With careful planning, you’ll have a much clearer vision of what you need to accomplish and a road map for how to get there.
Chris Gibbs, vice president of global sales at Centripetal Networks, named some additional items that every sales plan should include.
- Targeted accounts: Assign each salesperson a few key accounts to focus on, and grow from that base.
- Targeted verticals: Sales teams might focus on specific market segments or verticals, such as a particular industry.
- SKUs: Salespeople should emphasize certain SKUs or inventory items rather than get lost in a broad catalog of merchandise to sell.
- Sales and marketing coordination: Sales and marketing teams should work together to create promotions to help generate sales.
- Product road maps: Every company has a road map, and each product should have a road map that shows the plan and direction for a product offering over time to chart out when a product will launch and when it might sunset or be replaced by a newer model.
- Forecasts: Sales forecasting is projecting sales volumes and expectations by comparing them historically to sales of previous years, and then conducting market comparison to determine where sales will fall against the competition.
“Sales plans are extremely important to ensure there is cohesiveness between product teams, sales and marketing,” Gibbs said. “In addition, they’re important for ensuring that timing of new products and/or new version releases coincide with sales objectives and forecasts.”
What are the steps to create a sales plan?
A sales plan is necessary for businesses of every size, from an individual entrepreneur to a Fortune 500 company. When you’re ready to actually write your sales plan, follow these steps:
1. Define the objectives.
Clearly outlining your goals and stating your objectives should always be the first step in creating a sales plan or any other business venture. You should include the expected sales volume and any markets or territories you expect to reach.
For example, let’s say you own a retail store selling household goods and electronics. If your purpose is to establish yourself as a trusted local retailer, ask yourself the following questions:
- If so, are they purchasing anything or just browsing?
- Was it word of mouth?
- Was it through marketing efforts, such as email marketing, direct mail or social media?
- How many are new customers?
- How many are repeat customers?
- Where do you want your sales to come from?
- What are some external and internal factors that could impact your sales? These include industry trends and economic conditions.
When you can precisely state your key objectives, you are setting yourself up to plan later steps around achieving your goals.
2. Assess the current situation.
The next step is to create an honest overview of your business situation in relation to the goal you set in the first step.
Review your strengths and assets. Take a look at your resources and how you can apply them to your goal. This can include personal relationships and competitive advantages like new products or services.
For example, if your goal is to enhance your relationship with your customers, you’d need to ask yourself some questions to examine your current situation:
- What is your current relationship with your customers?
- Where did most of your sales come from?
- Where would you like to expand your sales?
When examining your strengths and opportunities, conduct a SWOT analysis to get a clearer picture of where your business stands.
3. Determine and outline the sales strategies.
Sales strategies are the actual tactics your team will use to reach customers. They can include marketing channels as well as procedures for lead generation and client outreach employed by your salespeople.
Here are two examples of potential sales strategies:
- Use your POS system to retain customer information so you can track current and new customers.
- Employ email marketing, text message marketing , social media, outbound call center services and direct mail marketing campaigns.
4. Define roles for the sales team.
Each member of the sales team should be assigned clear roles, whether they vary from person to person or everyone performs the same functions.
Defining the sales direction of the team is crucial, as it shows the focus of the company and helps the team target and execute sales most effectively.
The plan of attack for the sales team should be communicated clearly by leadership, whether it is from team leaders or the CEO.
5. Inform other departments of sales objectives.
A sales plan shouldn’t just update a company president or C-suite; it should inform the whole organization of the sales team’s objectives.
Clearly outline your plan for the rest of the company to help them understand the goals and procedures of the sales team. Other departments become more efficient when interacting with the sales team and clients. This also conveys a certain level of quality and professionalism to the clients about the company.
6. Provide tools for the sales team.
Provide the tools each member of the sales team needs to achieve the stated goals, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software. The best CRM software is customizable to meet a company’s needs, making it much easier for your team to use the software and work efficiently.
7. Detail how the department will track progress.
Offer strategic direction and insight on how progress will be monitored. Having a quarterly review to assess whether the company is on target is just as important as the plan itself.
Markets change, and so should your sales plan. Keeping it up to date will help you capitalize on the market and achieve your goals. Tracking progress is made easier by the tools you use to collect data. That data will then have to be analyzed and presented in a way which all departments can understand and use for future growth.
Key elements of a sales plan
Every sales plan should also include the following elements.
You need to set achievable goals . Challenge your sales team, but don’t push too hard. Bailey said that these “deliverables” are among the key points to include in a sales business plan.
“Deliverables need to be as specific as possible and moderately difficult to achieve – specific inasmuch as being measurable in a manner that is uncontested [and] moderately difficult inasmuch as making sales goals too difficult can lead to failure and discouragement.”
Midpoint goals also help build morale and keep the team working toward a larger goal. Instead of having one giant goal, creating smaller goals to achieve along the way will keep your team focused.
Set milestones that give you the opportunity to regularly determine whether you are on track to achieve your sales goals or need to make adjustments.
Tracking sales throughout the term is helpful, and you can employ tools to keep track of each team member as well as the department overall. It also helps establish a culture of accountability among salespeople.
“Tools can help, especially project management and CRM software,” Santos said. “Having a weekly cadence of update and review is also important, as it sends a message that ownership and updates are important.”
Clear expectations and a defined commission structure
Assign goals and responsibilities to each team member to make expectations clear. This is true whether or not each team member has the same goals.
“We meet with each individual to come up with a plan that works for them so that they can reach their goals,” said Leah Adams, director of client success at Point3 Security. “We measure results based on numbers. Each team member has his own plan and how they’re going to get there.”
It’s also necessary to spell out the commission structure in full detail.
“The only real difference is how sales count,” Bailey said. “In petroleum-based products … a few big clients are necessary. Compensation needs to be structured not just in contract value, but in graduated terms: Above $1 million, commissions move from 5% to 9%, and so forth. In smaller-volume enterprises, commissions might be front-loaded with higher percentages early, then graduated down. You have to reward what you want.”
Along the way, some training might be necessary to maintain the momentum.
“What’s important to us is that we’re teaching these individuals to be the best salesperson they can be,” Adams said. “We help them do that by constantly training them and giving them knowledge of what’s going on in our industry. Everything stays on track because each member of the team knows their individual goal; though each person has a number, they also know the ultimate goal is for the entire team to hit.”
Adams said that an effective CRM keeps things organized and helps delegate tasks and responsibilities on a schedule that uses the company’s lead information.
Key steps to follow when devising a sales plan
Here are some best practices for creating a sales plan:
- Refer to the business plan. The sales plan should directly address the objectives of the business plan and how those objectives can be achieved.
- Advance clear objectives. The clearer the objectives are, the easier it will be to reach your goals.
- Reference prior sales data. Chart sales over the previous few terms, and project the trend for the current term. New businesses can create sales projections based on expectations.
- Outline the commission structure. This will help motivate your team and help you calculate anticipated costs.
- Be clear about how progress is measured. There should be no dispute about this. If larger clients carry more weight than lower-volume buyers, that should be stated upfront.
The benefits of a sales plan
A sales plan keeps the sales department on track, considering the details of how they must operate to hit their targets and achieve company objectives. Because the sales team is the primary driver of revenue, it is an incredibly important document. [Related article: Adopting a CRM? How to Get Buy-in From Your Sales Department ]
“It’s extremely important to have a sales plan in place, almost a must,” Adams said. “Without this plan, it’s almost impossible to get through the year and hit the company’s sales goals.”
It’s not uncommon to encounter obstacles along the way, however. A good sales plan accounts for that.
“Almost always, you’ll run into the speed bumps along the way, but with a plan in place, it makes it a whole lot easier to navigate through it all,” Adams said. “The sales plan allows you to adjust when necessary so the goal can still be hit. I strongly believe a plan allows you to stay in control and reduce the risk while being able to measure the team’s results along the way to that finish line.”
A solid sales plan helps you deal with unexpected events and acts as a benchmark for where your company is and where you want it to go.
Sales plan templates
Sales templates are helpful in that many of them are based on tried-and-true formats that have been used by businesses across several industries. They can also provide structure so that it is clear to each employee what their role and responsibilities are.
Create your own sales plan by downloading our free template .
“A template helps plan each individual’s daily activities in a structured way,” Adams said. “If you know what each person is doing daily, it’s easier to help correct what’s going wrong. It helps with things like conversion rates, etc. Yes, these templates can be customized in any way a team’s manager sees fit, based on how he believes the team will perform better.”
Sales plans should be unique to the company; however, there are key components they should always include. Because there is somewhat of a formula, you can use a template.
Templates are extremely helpful, Gibbs said. “It creates uniformity for the team, as well as a yearly or quarterly sales plan to present to senior management.”
Gibbs added that templates can easily be customized to meet the needs of a particular business or sales team.
Keeping your team on track with a sales plan
Planning is vital for any business, especially when dealing with sales targets. Before selling your product or service, you must outline your goals and ways to execute them. Essentially, a sales plan enables you to mitigate problems and risks. When there is a clear plan of action, you will know how to proceed in order to attain your goals.
Enid Burns contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
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How To Build a Strategic Sales Plan + 10 Examples
- May 28, 2023
Every sales team has some sort of plan, even if it’s just “sell more of the product/service that you’re employed to sell.”
A sales plan is a portfolio that includes a layout of your processes, target audience, objectives and tactics. It’s used to guide your sales strategy and predict cost and returns.
Yet without a codified sales plan, it can be difficult to give a sales team the motivation and purpose they need to successfully engage customers and continue to generate revenue.
Not having a sales plan that’s written down and signed off on by stakeholders can lead to confusion around what sales reps should and shouldn’t be doing , which can be demotivating.
It might seem daunting or time-consuming to put together an entire sales plan, but it doesn’t need to be. Here’s how to create a thorough sales plan in 10 simple steps.
What Is a Sales Plan?
A successful sales plan defines your target customers, business objectives, tactics, obstacles and processes. An effective plan will also include resources and strategies that are used to achieve target goals. It works similarly to a business plan in the way it’s presented, but only focuses on your sales strategy.
A sales plan should include the following three components:
- Ideas: If you use specific business methodologies, you may choose to outline key principles and examples of them in action within your sales plan. An example could be conversation tactics when pitching your product to your target customer.
- Processes: In order to streamline productivity and business strategy, you’ll want to make sure your processes are defined within your sales plan. Your sales team should be able to refer to the sales plan when they’re in need of direction.
- Tools and tactics: The most effective sales plans include not only high-level business strategies, but also step-by-step approaches for your sales team to utilize. These tools can include key conversation pieces for your sales reps to use when pitching a product or content to close out a deal.
Solidifying a sales plan is crucial for a strong business model. Taking the time to narrow in on the components above will set you and your business up for success down the road.
Sales Planning Process
It’s important to keep in mind that sales planning isn’t just about creating a sales plan document. A sales plan should be a go-to item that’s used every day by your team, rather than sitting on your desk collecting dust. Creating an effective sales plan requires high-level strategy.
- Decide on a timeline for your goals and tactics
- Outline the context
- Write out the company mission and values
- Describe the target audience and product service positioning
- Include sales resources
- Draw out an overview of concurrent activities
- Write an overview of your business road map
- Outline your goals and KPIs
- Outline an action plan
- Create a budget
Below we dive into each of these steps to create your ideal sales plan.
1. Decide on Your Timeline
Setting goals and outlining tactics is not going to be productive if you’re not working toward a date by which you’ll measure your efforts.
Determining the timeline of your sales plan should therefore be your number one consideration. When will you be ready to kick-start your plan, and when is a reasonable time to measure the outcomes of your plan against your SMART goals?
Remember that you need to give the plan a chance to make an impact, so this timeline shouldn’t be too restrictive. However, you also want to make sure that you’re flexible enough to adjust your plan if it’s not producing the desired results.
Most sales plan timelines cover about a year, which may be segmented into four quarters and/or two halves to make it a little more manageable.
2. Outline the Context
Use the first page of your sales plan to outline the context in which the plan was created.
What is the current state of the organization? What are your challenges and pain points? What recent wins have you experienced?
Do you have tighter restrictions on cash flow, or does revenue appear to be growing exponentially? How is your sales team currently performing?
While you’ll discuss your business plan and road map later in the document, you can also outline the long-term vision for your business in this section. For example, where do you want to see the business in five years?
Tip: Comparing the current situation with your vision will emphasize the gap between where you are now and where you need to be.
3. Company Mission and Values
It’s essential that you put your mission and values at the heart of your business. You need to incorporate them into every function – and this includes your sales plan.
Outlining your mission and values in your sales plan ensures that you remember what the company is striving for, and in turn helps ensure that your approach and tactics will support these objectives.
Remember: A strong brand mission and authentic values will help boost customer loyalty, brand reputation and, ultimately, sales.
4. Target Market and Product/Service Positioning
Next, you’ll need to describe the market or markets that you’re operating in.
What is your target market or industry? What research led you to conclude that this was the optimal market for you?
Who within this industry is your ideal customer? What are their characteristics? This could be a job title, geographical location or company size, for example. This information makes up your ideal customer profile .
If you’ve delved further into audience research and developed personas around your target market, then include them in here, too.
5. Sales Team and Resources
This step is simple: Make a list of your sales resources, beginning with a short description of each member of your sales team.
Include their name, job title, length of time at the company and, where appropriate, their salary. What are their strengths? How can they be utilized to help you hit your goals?
You should also include notes around the gaps in your sales team and whether you intend to recruit any new team members into these (or other) roles.
Tip: Communicate the time zones your team members work in to be mindful of designated work hours for scheduling meetings and deadlines.
Then, list your other resources. These could be tools, software or access to other departments such as the marketing team – anything that you intend to use in the execution of your sales plan. This is a quick way to eliminate any tools or resources that you don’t need.
6. Concurrent Activities
The next step in creating your sales plan involves providing an overview of non-sales activities that will be taking place during the implementation of your sales plan.
Any public marketing plans, upcoming product launches, or deals or discounts should be included, as should any relevant events. This will help you plan sales tactics around these activities and ensure that you’re getting the most out of them.
7. Business Road Map
For this step, write up an overview of your business’s overall road map, as well as the areas where sales activities can assist with or accelerate this plan. You’ll need to collaborate with the CEO, managing director or board of directors in order to do this.
In most cases, the business will already have a road map that has been signed off on by stakeholders. It’s the sales manager’s job to develop a sales plan that not only complements this road map, but facilitates its goals.
Tip: Highlight areas of the road map that should be touchpoints for the sales team.
Ask yourself what your department will need to do at each point in the road map to hit these overarching company goals.
8. Sales Goals and KPIs
Another important part of the sales plan involves your sales goals and KPIs.
Outline each goal alongside the KPIs you’ll use to measure it. Include a list of metrics you’ll use to track these KPIs, as well as a deadline for when you project the goal will be achieved.
It’s vital to make these goals tangible and measurable.
A bad example of a goal is as follows:
Goal 1: Increase sales across company’s range of products and services.
A better goal would look something like:
Goal 1: Generate $500,000+ in revenue from new clients through purchases of X product by X date.
9. Action Plan
Now that you’ve laid out your goals, you need to explain how you will hit them.
Your action plan can be set out week by week, month by month, or quarter by quarter. Within each segment, you must list out all of the sales activities and tactics that you will deploy – and the deadlines and touchpoints along the way.
Tip: Organize your action plan by department – sales, business development and finance.
While this is arguably the most complex part of the sales plan, this is where sales leaders are strongest. They know which approach will work best for their team, their company and their market.
Budgets vary from team to team and company to company, but whatever your situation, it’s important to include your budget in your sales plan.
How are you going to account for the money spent on new hires, salaries, tech, tools and travel? Where the budget is tight, what are your priorities going to be, and what needs to be axed?
The budget section should make references back to your action plan and the sales team and resources page in order to explain the expenditures.
6 Strategic Sales Plan Examples
You can create different types of strategic sales plans for your company, depending on how you want to structure your sales plan. Here are a few examples.
A customer profile outlines your ideal customer for your service or product. It will usually include industry, background, attributes and decision-making factors.
Creating a customer profile helps narrow in on the target customer your sales team should focus on while eliminating unproductive leads.
A buyer’s guide is an informational sheet that describes your company’s services or products, including benefits and features. This document is useful both for your sales team but also for a potential customer who requires more information on the product before purchasing.
This plan is organized based on time periods. It includes outlines of goals, strategy and actionable steps in 30-day periods. This is a useful sales plan model for a new sales representative tracking progress during their first 90 days in the position or meeting quotas in a 90-day period.
This type of sales plan is also ideal for businesses in periods of expansion or growth. It’s helpful to minimize extra effort in onboarding processes.
Market Expansion Plan
A market expansion plan clarifies target metrics and list of actions when moving into a new territory or market. This sales plan model is typically used with a target market that resides in a new geographical region.
You’ll want to include a profile of target customers, account distribution costs and even time zone differences between your sales representatives.
Creating a marketing-alignment sales plan is useful if your organization has yet to align both your sales and marketing departments. The goal of the sales plan is finalizing your target customer personas and aligning them with your sales pitches and marketing messages.
New Product/Service Plan
If your organization is launching a new service or product, it’s best to create a sales plan to track revenue and other growth metrics from the launch. You’ll want to include sales strategy, competitive analyses and service or product sales positioning.
Sales Plan Template
4 additional sales plan templates.
Here are some additional templates you can use to create your own unique sales plan.
- Template Lab
5 Tips for Creating a Sales Plan
Now that you’ve seen and read through a few examples and a sales plan template, we’ll cover some easy but useful tips to create a foolproof sales plan.
- Create a competitive analysis: Research what sales strategies and tactics your close competitors are using. What are they doing well? What are they not doing well? Knowing what they are doing well will help you create a plan that will lead to eventual success.
- Vary your sales plans: First create a base sales plan that includes high-level goals, strategies and tactics. Then go more in depth on KPIs and metrics for each department, whether it’s outbound sales or business development .
- Analyze industry trends: Industry trends and data can easily help strengthen your sales approach. For example, if you’re pitching your sales plan to a stakeholder, use current market trends and statistics to support why you believe your sales strategies will be effective in use.
- Utilize your marketing team: When creating your sales plan, you’ll want to get the marketing department’s input to align your efforts and goals. You should weave marketing messages throughout both your sales plan and pitches.
- Discuss with your sales team: Remember to check in with your sales representatives to understand challenges they may be dealing with and what’s working and not working. You should update the sales plan quarterly based on feedback received from your sales team.
When Should You Implement a Strategic Sales Plan?
Does your organization currently not have a sales plan in place that is used regularly? Are you noticing your organization is in need of structure and lacking productivity across departments? These are definite signs you should create and implement a sales plan.
According to a LinkedIn sales statistic , the top sales tech sellers are using customer relationship management (CRM) tools (50%), sales intelligence (45%) and sales planning (42%) .
Below are a few more indicators that you need an effective sales plan.
To Launch a New Product or Campaign
If you’re planning to launch a new service or product in six months, you should have a concrete marketing and sales strategy plan to guarantee you’ll see both short- and long-term success.
The sales plan process shouldn’t be hasty and rushed. Take the time to go over data and competitor analysis. Work with your team to create objectives and goals that everyone believes in. Your sales plan should be updated formally on a quarterly basis to be in line with industry trends and business efforts.
To Increase Sales
If your team is looking to increase revenue and the number of closed sales, you may need to widen and define your target audience. A sales plan will help outline this target audience, along with planning out both sales and marketing strategies to reach more qualified prospects and increase your sales conversion rate.
Now that you’ve seen sales plan examples and tips and tricks, the next step after creating your sales plan is to reach those ideal sales targets with Mailshake . Connect with leads and generate more sales with our simple but effective sales engagement platform.
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Software Sales Business Plan
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Corporate Software Sales
Strategy and implementation summary.
Various strategy/and implementation topics are discussed in the following sections.
5.1 Competitive Edge
Our greatest strength and competitive edge is the reputation and success of the desktop software product. This product is the market leader in sales and consumer ratings. Our success will rely upon building on those strengths. We will also rely on our experience working with decision makers at the corporate level.
5.2 Marketing Strategy
We will position CSS as the best planning consultant for large corporations interested in the desktop software we sell. The software’s reputation is already established, so we need to focus on our understanding of the needs of large corporations and franchises, and how we can translate that into finding the correct software solution.
5.2.1 Pricing Strategy
This is an expensive solution to develop and maintain, and the price will reflect the premium quality of the offering. Set-up costs to the client will run between $100K-$200K. The dedicated service option is approximately $5K/year. Software licenses are $100/year.
5.3 Sales Strategy
We will first target the corporate offices of franchises with more than 100 units, and companies with sales forces in excess of 100 personnel. The software manufacturer has already provided the names and contact information for several firms which fit this profile. These firms have approached the software manufacturer about enterprise solutions in the past. The software firm has also provided a list of larger businesses that purchased an executive version of their desktop product. We will contact these firms with the idea of helping them take this planning tool to the next level.
Management of CSS has business contacts at the decision maker level for several more prospects as well. These will be our secondary targets.
Tertiary targets will come from lists of firms fitting the above criteria which management has generated through Web-based market research efforts. Tactics for approaching these prospects will be indirect, i.e., we will contact sales managers and/or franchisees to establish whether the firm fits our profile and then probe for upper or middle level management contact information. We will attempt to establish a face-to-face meeting with decision makers (CFO, CIO, COO) where we will present a proposal tailored to their needs. If possible, we will also have this proposal reside on an extranet so that the client can modify the proposal and see first-hand how the product and service work.
5.3.1 Sales Forecast
Our sales consist of two services–consulting and training, and one product-the software/extranet package (called start-up sales). Our services provide a fraction of the revenue we will receive for the software/extranet solution, but they will sustain our cash flow needs while we develop the enterprise sales. Sales of consulting, training and product are predicted to grow at 30%, 20% and 10% respectively. Costs associated with these sales are estimated at 10% for start-up sales, 40% for consulting fees and 50% for training. We expect these costs to decrease two, five, and ten percentage points respectively in years two and three.
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Published: April 13, 2023
We're all guilty of subscribing to a myriad of newsletters and blogs by sales gurus who will guarantee that their practices will bring you success – whether it's personalizing your newsletter format, cold emails, or changing the 'Buy Now' button.
News flash – these aren't actual sales business plans or even sales strategies.
Building and developing a solid sales business plan is the foundation of your business. A sales plan outlines your future goals–be it revenue targets, sales targets, or even a marketing strategy–a sales business plan will propel you to always be two steps ahead of the game.
Whether you're focused on eCommerce, B2C, inbound, outbound, or even enterprise companies–a business plan is essential to survive.
So, what's a sales business plan? How do you build it (and stick to it)?
By the end of this guide, you'll be armed with the right plan to win the fight for your business and stay ahead of the curve at all times.
Let's dive in.
What is a Sales Business Plan?
A sales business plan is a strategic document that outlines the goals, objectives, and strategies of a company's sales team to achieve its revenue targets. The plan serves as a roadmap to guide the sales team in achieving their targets by outlining the steps they need to take in order to achieve success.
Here are a few sales business plan statistics -
- Only 22% of companies feel that their salespeople have the necessary resources to be successful. (CSO Insights)
- Companies with a documented sales process generate 18% more revenue than those without one. (HubSpot)
- Salespeople who use social selling techniques are 50% more likely to meet or exceed their sales quotas. (LinkedIn)
- 73% of sales teams say that the ability to collaborate is critical to their success. (Salesforce)
- Companies with a formal sales methodology in place have a win rate that is 28% higher than those without one. (HubSpot)
A sales business plan typically includes a SWOT analysis, which helps to identify the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the market. It also includes a target market analysis, which helps to identify the customers the company wants to target and how to reach them.
In addition, a sales plan outlines the sales team's objectives, which include the revenue targets they need to achieve, the products or services they need to sell, and the metrics they need to track to measure their success.
The plan also details the strategies and tactics that the sales team will use to reach their goals, including lead generation, prospecting, nurturing, and closing sales.
Overall, a sales business plan is a critical tool for any sales team, as it helps to focus their efforts, track their progress, and identify areas for improvement.
What is the Structure of a Sales Plan Template?
Sales plans vary from business to business, depending on their niche, the industry they are in, and more, but typically, they include the following sections -
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary is a critical part of a sales business plan that provides a high-level overview of the plan's key elements to stakeholders.
The executive summary should be brief, clear, and compelling, with a maximum of two pages. To create an effective summary, highlight the key points of the plan, including sales goals, target market, sales strategy, and revenue projections. Use simple language and include a call-to-action to encourage stakeholders to take the next steps, such as investing or partnering.
The executive summary is like an elevator pitch, and it needs to grab the reader's attention, communicate the plan's essence, and encourage action.
2. Company Overview
The company overview is a section in the sales business plan that provides an introduction to the company, its history, and the products or services it offers. This section aims to give the reader an understanding of the company's background, goals, and vision for the future.
Here are some pointers to help create an effective company overview -
- Briefly describe the company's history, including how and when it was founded and any significant milestones achieved to date.
- Explain the company's mission and values, highlighting what sets it apart from competitors.
- Provide a brief overview of the products or services the company offers, outlining their unique features and benefits.
- Highlight any key partnerships or collaborations that the company has established to help achieve its goals.
- If the company has any notable achievements or recognition, mention these briefly to help build credibility.
3. Market Trends and Analysis
The market analysis is a crucial section of the sales business plan that provides a comprehensive understanding of the industry and the company's place within it.
This section should cover the following -
- Define the target market by describing the ideal customer, including their demographics, psychographics, and behavior patterns.
- Analyze the industry by identifying its size, growth potential, and key trends. This analysis should also include an overview of the competitive landscape, including the company's main competitors and their strengths and weaknesses.
- Conduct a SWOT analysis to identify the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This analysis should help the company understand its position in the market and determine potential strategies for growth.
- Determine the market share and sales potential by analyzing the company's current and potential customers, the competition, and the overall market size.
- Identify any regulatory or environmental factors that could impact the industry, including government policies or changes in consumer behavior.
4. Sales Strategy
By developing a clear and effective sales strategy, the company can ensure that its sales efforts are aligned with its overall goals and objectives. A well-crafted sales strategy can help the company achieve its sales targets, expand its customer base, and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
- Define the sales goals by setting specific, measurable targets for revenue, market share, and other key performance indicators.
- Identify the target customers and their needs, including their pain points and motivations for purchasing the company's products or services.
- Determine the sales channels the company will use to reach its target customers, including direct sales, online sales, and third-party sales channels.
- Outline the sales tactics that the company will use to reach its target customers, including advertising, promotions, and pricing strategies.
- Detail the sales team structure, including roles and responsibilities, hiring plans, and training programs.
- Provide a sales forecast that outlines expected revenue and sales growth based on the sales strategy.
5. Sales Forecasting
The sales forecast predicts future sales performance and is a critical component of the sales business plan. This section should provide a detailed analysis of the company's sales projections, including historical sales data, market demand, sales channels, sales team, pricing strategy, and external factors.
By creating a detailed sales forecast, the company can set realistic sales targets, monitor performance, allocate resources effectively, and adjust its sales strategy as needed.
The budget section of the sales business plan outlines the financial resources needed to achieve the sales goals.
This section should cover the following:
- Estimate the costs associated with the sales strategy, including marketing expenses, sales team salaries, and travel costs.
- Identify any capital investments required to support the sales strategy, such as new equipment, technology, or facilities.
- Outline the expected revenue and profits based on the sales forecast and sales strategy.
- Develop a cash flow projection that details the timing and amount of cash inflows and outflows associated with the sales strategy.
By creating a detailed budget, the company can ensure that it has the financial resources needed to execute its sales strategy effectively. The budget can also help the company prioritize its spending, identify potential areas of cost savings, and monitor its financial performance against its sales goals.
7. Implementation Plan
The implementation plan outlines how the company will execute its sales strategy and achieve its sales goals. This section should cover the following:
- Identify the specific actions required to implement the sales strategy, such as developing new sales materials, hiring additional sales staff, or launching a new product.
- Assign responsibility for each action item and establish timelines for completion.
- Establish a system for monitoring progress and evaluating the effectiveness of the sales strategy.
- Develop contingency plans to address any potential obstacles or challenges that may arise.
The implementation plan can also help the company track progress, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary adjustments to the sales strategy as needed.
8. Metrics and KPIs
Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used to measure the success of the sales strategy and provide insight into the performance of the sales team. This section should cover the following:
- Identify the metrics and KPIs that will be used to evaluate the success of the sales strategy, such as sales revenue, sales growth, customer acquisition cost, or customer lifetime value.
- Establish a system for tracking and analyzing these metrics and KPIs regularly.
- Develop a process for using this data to make informed decisions about the sales strategy and identify opportunities for improvement.
- Assign responsibility for monitoring and analyzing these metrics and KPIs to specific individuals or teams within the company.
With the right metrics and KPIs, the company can track the success of the sales strategy and make data-driven decisions to improve performance.
9. Risks and Challenges
The risks and challenges section of the sales business plan identifies potential obstacles that could impact the success of the sales strategy.
It assesses the likelihood and potential impact of each risk or challenge, develops contingency plans to address them, and assigns responsibility for monitoring and addressing these risks or challenges to specific individuals or teams within the company.
By doing so, the company can develop contingency plans to minimize its impact, adapt to changes in the market, remain competitive, and achieve its sales goals despite potential obstacles.
The conclusion section of the sales business plan summarizes the key points and highlights the overall value of the sales strategy. This section should cover the following:
- Recap the key points of the sales business plan, including the company overview, market analysis, sales strategy, sales forecast, budget, implementation plan, metrics and KPIs, and risks and challenges.
- Emphasize the value of the sales strategy, including the potential impact on sales revenue, market share, and customer acquisition.
- Provide a call-to-action that encourages stakeholders to support and implement the sales strategy.
- Thank stakeholders for their time and commitment to the sales business plan.
The conclusion section provides a final opportunity to reinforce the key points of the sales business plan and inspire stakeholders to take action.
How to Write a Winning Sales Business Plan Template: A Step-By-Step Blueprint
Writing a sales business plan template may seem like a lot of work, but once you do, you've already skipped leaps and bounds to take your business to the next level.
Let's break down this process, step-by-step, to help you write a winning sales business plan template -
1. State your Company's Mission
Your company's mission statement should explain what your business does, why it exists, and how it aims to achieve its goals.
Here are some tips for creating a compelling mission statement -
- Keep it short and simple.
- Use strong and clear language.
- Make sure it aligns with your company's overall vision and goals.
- Communicate how your business is unique.
- Focus on the benefits you provide to customers.
Your mission statement should inspire and motivate your team while also communicating your values to potential customers. It sets the foundation for the rest of your sales business plan, so take the time to craft a mission statement that accurately reflects your company's goals and values.
2. Set Objectives and Timeframes
In this section, you should identify specific, measurable goals for your sales team, and establish a timeline for achieving them.
Here are some tips for setting objectives and timeframe -
- Identify both short-term and long-term goals.
- Make sure your goals are specific and measurable, such as "increase sales by 10% in the next quarter."
- Set realistic and achievable goals.
- Assign each goal to a specific team member or department.
- Establish a timeline for achieving each goal.
By setting objectives and a timeframe for achieving them, you can motivate your sales team and provide a clear roadmap for success. Make sure to regularly track your progress toward these goals and adjust your strategy as needed to ensure you're on track to meet them.
3. Identify your Team Structure
The third step in creating a sales business plan is to identify your team structure.
This involves identifying the key players in your sales team, outlining their roles and responsibilities, and providing a brief overview of their experience and qualifications.
Here are some tips for describing your team -
- Identify the key players in your sales team, such as sales representatives, account managers, and sales managers.
- Outline each team member's role and responsibilities in the sales process.
- Provide a brief overview of each team member's experience and qualifications.
- Consider including a chart or diagram that illustrates the structure of your sales team.
By clearly defining your sales team and their roles, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together toward your sales goals. Additionally, highlighting your team's experience and qualifications can help build confidence in your ability to deliver results.
4. Define your Target Market
The fourth step in creating a sales business plan is to define your target market.
This involves identifying the specific group or groups of people that your products or services are intended for and understanding their needs, preferences, and behaviors.
Here are some tips for defining your target market -
- Start by analyzing your existing customer base to identify common characteristics such as age, gender, location, income level, etc.
- Conduct market research to gain a deeper understanding of your target market's needs, preferences, and behaviors.
- Develop buyer personas that represent your ideal customers, including their goals, challenges, and pain points.
- Consider the size and growth potential of your target market, as well as any trends or changes that may affect their behavior.
- Identify any gaps or unmet needs in the market that your products or services could address.
By defining your target market, you can create more targeted and effective sales strategies that are tailored to the needs and preferences of your ideal customers. This can help you build stronger relationships with your target audience, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately drive sales growth.
5. Evaluate Resources
This step involves taking stock of the resources you have at your disposal and assessing how you can leverage them to achieve your objectives. Here are some key aspects to consider:
- Human Resources : Consider the size and skill set of your team. Determine if you have enough people with the right skills to achieve your sales goals, and if not, consider hiring or outsourcing.
- Financial Resources : Assess the financial resources you have available, including cash on hand, lines of credit, and investments. Determine if you have enough funds to achieve your sales objectives or if you need to secure additional financing.
- Technology Resources : Evaluate the technology resources available to your team, including hardware, software, and other tools. Determine if you have the right technology to support your sales efforts and if any upgrades or investments are necessary.
- Intellectual Property : Consider any patents, trademarks, or other intellectual property that can support your sales efforts. Determine if you have any competitive advantages that can be leveraged to increase sales.
- Facilities and Equipment : Evaluate your physical resources, including office space, production facilities, and equipment. Determine if you have enough space and equipment to support your sales efforts, or if any upgrades or investments are necessary.
By evaluating your available resources, you can determine what you have at your disposal to support your sales strategy and identify any areas where you may need to invest or make changes to achieve your objectives.
6. Carry Out Competitive Analysis with Competitors
This involves taking stock of the resources you have available to support your sales efforts, as well as identifying any additional resources you may need to acquire.
Here are some key things to consider when evaluating your resources:
- Sales Team: Evaluate the skills and experience of your sales team to ensure that they are capable of executing your sales strategy effectively.
- Marketing Materials: Assess the quality and effectiveness of your existing marketing materials, including brochures, websites, social media channels, and other promotional materials.
- Customer Data : Analyze your customer data to identify trends and patterns that can inform your sales and marketing strategies.
- Sales Tools and Technologies: Determine whether your team has the right tools and technologies to support their sales efforts. This could include customer relationship management (CRM) software, sales automation tools, or other sales technologies.
- Training and Development: Identify any gaps in your team's skills or knowledge, and develop a plan to address them through training and development initiatives.
By evaluating your resources in this way, you can identify any gaps or weaknesses in your sales process and develop strategies to address them. This will help you ensure that you have the resources you need to achieve your sales objectives and drive growth for your business.
7. Set the Budget
The seventh point is to set a budget for your sales business plan.
This step is essential to ensure that you have the necessary resources to implement your sales strategy effectively. Here are some tips on how to set a budget for your sales plan:
- Determine your Revenue Goals: Your revenue goals will guide you in setting a realistic budget. Consider the size of your market, the competition, and your pricing strategy.
- Calculate your Expenses: You need to estimate your expenses to set a budget. Make a list of all your expenses, including salaries, marketing, technology, and travel expenses.
- Prioritize Expenses: Once you have calculated your expenses, prioritize them. Identify the essential expenses that you must incur to implement your sales strategy.
- Allocate Resources: Allocate resources based on your priorities. Make sure that you have enough funds to cover your critical expenses and have some funds set aside for unexpected expenses.
- Review and Adjust: Regularly review your budget and adjust it as needed. Make sure that you are on track to meet your revenue goals, and adjust your expenses accordingly.
Setting a budget is crucial for the success of your sales business plan. It will help you allocate resources effectively, prioritize expenses, and track your progress toward your revenue goals.
8. Define your Organization's Marketing Strategy
Marketing strategy is an essential component of a sales business plan as it outlines the approach a company will take to promote and sell its products or services to its target customers. The following are some key elements to consider when defining the marketing strategy for your sales business plan:
- Value Proposition: Define the unique value proposition of your product or service, and identify the key benefits and features that set it apart from competitors.
- Target Audience: Determine the specific demographics, needs, and behaviors of your target audience, and how your product or service can address their needs.
- Positioning : Define the position of your product or service in the marketplace, based on factors such as pricing, quality, and features.
- Channels : Identify the channels through which you will reach your target audiences, such as social media, email marketing, or direct mail.
- Budget : Determine how much you will allocate to marketing activities, and how you will measure the return on investment.
- Marketing Tactics : Define the specific tactics you will use to promote your product or service, such as advertising, content marketing, or event sponsorships.
- Metrics : Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to measure the success of your marketing efforts, such as website traffic, lead generation, or sales conversion rates.
By clearly defining your marketing strategy in your sales business plan, you can ensure that your efforts are focused, efficient, and aligned with your overall business objectives.
9. Figure Out the Sales Strategy
This step involves developing a detailed plan for selling your product or service to your target market.
Here are some things to consider when developing your sales strategy -
- Sales Channels: Consider the best channels for selling your product or service, such as online marketplaces, social media, direct sales, or distribution partnerships.
- Sales Process: Outline the sales process, including how you will generate leads, how you will qualify leads, how you will make your sales pitch, and how you will close deals.
- Sales Team: Determine who will be responsible for sales, their job descriptions, and how they will be trained and compensated.
- Sales Goals: Establish specific, measurable sales goals and objectives, such as revenue targets, sales volume, or customer acquisition.
- Sales Forecast: Develop a sales forecast based on your target market, pricing strategy, and sales goals. This should include projections for monthly, quarterly, and annual sales.
- Sales Metrics: Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to track your sales success, such as conversion rates, customer lifetime value, and customer acquisition cost.
By developing a clear and comprehensive sales strategy, you will be better equipped to execute your sales plan and achieve your business goals.
10. Define an Action Plan
The final step to writing a sales business plan is to define an action plan.
This step involves determining how the objectives will be achieved and what actions need to be taken to implement the sales strategies outlined in the previous steps. Some key elements of this step include:
- Assigning Tasks and Responsibilities: Determine who will be responsible for implementing each aspect of the sales plan and assign tasks accordingly.
- Setting Timelines: Establish specific timelines for each action item to ensure that the sales plan stays on track and progresses toward achieving its objectives.
- Monitoring Progress: Regularly monitor progress towards the objectives and make adjustments to the action plan as necessary.
- Identifying Potential Roadblocks: Anticipate any challenges or roadblocks that may arise during implementation and develop contingency plans to address them.
- Identifying Metrics: Establish metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the sales plan and adjust the action plan accordingly.
By defining a clear action plan, a sales business plan can be effectively implemented, and the sales team can work towards achieving the objectives and targets set out in the plan.
Why Do Organizations Need a Sales Plan?
Organizations need a sales business plan for several reasons -
1. Clarity of Goals and Objectives
A sales business plan provides a clear roadmap for an organization to achieve its sales goals and objectives. Defining the steps that need to be taken helps ensure that everyone in the organization is working towards the same goals.
2. Resource allocation
A sales business plan helps organizations allocate resources effectively. By knowing where the company is headed, it can identify the resources required to achieve those goals and allocate them accordingly.
3. Improved decision-making
With a sales business plan, organizations can make informed decisions about their sales strategy. They can assess the viability of different sales channels, sales techniques, and sales campaigns based on the data they have collected.
4. Better risk management
A sales business plan can help organizations identify and manage risks more effectively. By forecasting sales revenue and expenses, companies can develop contingency plans to address potential risks.
5. Improved Communication
A sales business plan provides a clear and concise way to communicate the organization's sales strategy to stakeholders. This ensures that everyone in the organization is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
4 Examples of Sales Business Plan Templates
Here are a few examples of sales business plan templates that you could take inspiration from -
30-60-90 Day Sales Plan
A 30-60-90 day sales plan is a detailed outline of the tasks and goals a salesperson hopes to accomplish within the first 30, 60, and 90 days of starting a new job or taking on a new sales territory. The plan is designed to help the salesperson quickly ramp up their productivity and start making meaningful contributions to the team.
Here is a template for a 30-60-90 day sales plan -
First 30 Days
- Meet with my manager and team members to gain an understanding of the company's products, services, and sales processes.
- Study the company's existing customer base and their needs.
- Begin establishing relationships with key customers.
- Attend sales training sessions to further develop my skills and learn more about the company's offerings.
- Develop a list of potential prospects in my assigned territory.
- Schedule meetings with the manager and team members.
- Analyze the company's existing customer data.
- Make a list of key customers to reach out to.
- Attend scheduled sales training sessions.
- Create a list of potential prospects.
Second 30 Days
- Start making sales calls to prospects and schedule appointments.
- Follow up with previous prospects and leads.
- Conduct thorough research on potential prospects to understand their needs and pain points.
- Develop a clear understanding of the competitive landscape.
- Refine my sales pitch and value proposition.
- Make at least [X] several sales calls per day.
- Schedule appointments with interested prospects.
- Follow up with previous leads.
- Research potential prospects.
- Analyze the competition and develop strategies to differentiate from them.
- Work with my manager to refine my sales pitch and value proposition.
Third 30 Days
- Close deals with interested prospects and achieve sales targets.
- Continue building relationships with key customers.
- Develop a pipeline of potential future sales.
- Develop strategies to retain existing customers.
- Identify areas for improvement and provide feedback to the team.
- Create a customer retention plan.
2. Monthly Sales Plan Template
A monthly sales plan is a document that outlines the sales activities, goals, and strategies for a specific month. It is a crucial part of a company's sales strategy and helps the sales team to stay focused and accountable for their performance.
Here is a template for a monthly sales plan -
- Month: [insert month]
- Sales team: [list the sales team members]
II. Monthly Sales Goals
- Revenue goal: [insert revenue goal for the month]
- Sales target: [insert sales target for the month]
- Key performance indicators (KPIs): [list the KPIs that will be tracked for the month]
III. Sales Strategies
- Marketing activities: [list the marketing activities planned for the month]
- Sales activities: [list the sales activities planned for the month]
- Promotions and discounts: [list the promotions and discounts planned for the month]
IV. Sales Forecast
- Projected revenue: [insert projected revenue for the month]
- Sales pipeline: [list the sales opportunities in the pipeline for the month]
- Sales conversion rate: [insert the sales conversion rate for the month]
- Sales tools and technology: [list the sales tools and technology that will be used during the month]
- Sales team training: [list the training sessions planned for the month]
VI. Risks and Challenges
- Potential obstacles: [list the potential obstacles that may hinder sales performance]
- Mitigation strategies: [list the strategies to mitigate the potential risks and challenges]
VII. Action Plan
- Weekly sales goals: [list the weekly sales goals for the month]
- Assigned tasks and responsibilities: [list the tasks and responsibilities assigned to each sales team member]
- Deadlines: [list the deadlines for each task]
- Recap of monthly goals and strategies
- Next steps and follow-up actions.
3. Territory Sales Plan Template
A territory sales plan is a comprehensive strategy designed to outline the sales objectives, goals, and tactics that will be implemented in a specific geographic area or "territory."
This plan should provide a clear roadmap for how a sales team will approach and engage with potential customers in their assigned area, and outline the resources needed to achieve the desired outcomes.
A template for a territory sales plan might include the following sections -
- Executive Summary: This section provides a brief overview of the territory sales plan, including the purpose, objectives, and key strategies.
- Territory Analysis : This section should provide a detailed analysis of the assigned territory, including information about the market, competition, target customers, and other relevant data.
- Sales Goals: This section should outline the sales goals and objectives for the territory, including revenue targets, customer acquisition goals, and other key performance indicators.
- Sales Strategies: This section should provide a detailed overview of the strategies and tactics that will be used to achieve the sales goals outlined in the previous section. This may include details about lead generation, customer engagement, sales presentations, and other sales-related activities.
- Resource Allocation: This section should outline the resources required to implement the sales strategies outlined in the previous section. This may include budgetary requirements, staffing needs, and other resources necessary to support the sales team.
- Implementation Plan: This section should provide a detailed timeline and action plan for implementing the sales strategies and achieving the sales goals outlined in the previous sections.
- Performance Metrics: This section should outline the key performance metrics that will be used to measure the success of the territory sales plan, including sales revenue, customer acquisition rates, and other relevant data.
- Conclusion : This section should summarize the key points of the territory sales plan and highlight the expected outcomes and benefits of implementing the plan.
By using a template such as the one outlined above, sales teams can create a plan that is tailored to their unique needs and objectives, and that can be easily communicated to stakeholders and team members.
Effective planning is crucial for the success of any business, and this is especially true when it comes to achieving sales targets. Before promoting your product or service, it's essential to establish clear goals and determine the strategies that will help you achieve them.
With a well-defined plan in place, you'll have the clarity and direction necessary to make informed decisions and stay on track toward achieving your objectives.
Don't leave the success of your sales plan to chance - schedule a demo with one of Salesken's experts today and discover how our innovative solutions can help you achieve your sales targets.
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How to develop a sales strategy for a scale up in tech industry
When entering a new market, you will need a sales strategy because the conditions and ways of doing business in the new territory will not necessarily be the same as in your home country. There are several steps to developing a sales process for a scale-up in the tech industry. You may even find more often than not that the sales strategy you develop will depend on the company service or product you are offering.
The first thing to look at is trying to find a gap in the market where you have a unique offering. It is important to know what is happening in that specific industry and what are the newest developments. Also, have an in-depth understanding of the market, to find where the pain points are for your potential customers and how your product or service solves that problem. Especially with disruptive technology, as these are usually very specific. Innovations in technology are developed for a reason, and that is to answer a need that is not currently being met. So, looking at the need and the solution may help you to find your place in the market.
You can read more on how to formulate a unique selling proposition here.
Determining the target audience
When you are determining the target audience, you should firstly look at the type of technology. Look at the companies that inspire you in the field. Also, remember that the target is not always set in stone. Once you know the industry and which companies to approach, it is crucial that you are contacting the correct people within the organization. Determine who is using the product and who is the decision-maker in the organization, thus whom you should contact first. Should you first contact the person who is in charge of the budget, before contacting the sponsor who would be the one using the product? Even if the C level is usually in charge of the budget, it’s not always the first point of contact in every situation.
Where to reach your target audience
When targeting potential customers, it is important to try different ways of reaching out to people. Don’t just stick to one channel; use all of them if you can. The channels could include going to meet-ups, going to conventions or trade shows, sending emails, and so on. This will maximize your reach and give you the best chance of finding the right people. It will also show you what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to optimize your conversions and put more resources into the most successful tactic.
Formulating the pitch
When you finally start contacting the potential buyers, the way you introduce the solution will be the most crucial part. Think about how to formulate the pitch for the ideal customers, emphasizing the value of the product to sell the product. Formulating the pitch is a process and you should try different versions and improve accordingly. Also, a good way to approach testing the pitch is to first send it only to a few prospects, based on which you can alter it, rather than “wasting” good leads with the first version. Look at what your competitors are doing and if you can validate your pitch with industry experts this will help enormously. Most industry experts are open to giving feedback and will provide you with reasons for the advice, allowing you to make valuable adjustments.
Set concrete plans and goals, and hone the outreach process
The planning stage is all about forecasting what you’re trying to achieve and then working backward to see how to do it. As an example, a company wants to make 1 million Euros in a year and you calculate that you can do this if you close ten deals. This means you will need to do 30 follow-up meetings from a list of 60 new initial meetings. So, the question becomes how do I get those initial meetings? Well, you need to go back to your pitch and your outreach. Adjust the numbers accordingly when you find it needs adjustment. We all want to get the most out of our sales activities and the process, so good planning and setting goals will help you with time management.
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If you’re looking to grow your B2B business abroad and would like to see how we could help you with sales strategy and activities , from the initial reach out to closing deals, we’d be delighted to jump on a call with you.
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Planning for success: How to create a sales plan
‘Plans are of no particular value, but planning is indispensable.’
— Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the USA
Eisenhower was talking about the army. However, in the business world things are a little bit different. To grow your business and make money, you need to plan ahead and have a document you can show upon request. A sales plan is essential.
It only sounds complicated, but it's not. When you know where you need to be heading with your sales plan, it’s actually pretty straightforward to create. This guide gives you everything you need.
What is a Sales Plan?
A sales plan is a strategy document that outlines the basics and the details of the sales process within a business. It governs how a sales department operates, identifying and setting long-term goals and objectives, delineating the ways of achieving those goals, and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable bits.
A sales plan is closely linked to the overall business plan of the company, but they aren’t the same. A business plan is the ‘what’ of your business’s strategic goals - where you want to be after a certain period. On the other hand, a sales plan is the ‘how’ - which actions are you going to take to get there.
"A business plan is a direction; a sales plan is execution."
— James R. Bailey, George Washington University School of Business.
What makes up a Sales Plan?
The structure of a sales plan can vary depending on different factors, the main one being the nature of the business creating the plan in question. Typically, a standard sales plan includes the following elements...
- Target customers. The audience that your company seeks to reach and sell a product or service to.
- Revenue targets . The expected amount of money your company expects to generate in each period.
- Strategies and tactics. A sequence of specific actions your team takes to meet revenue targets.
- Review of recent performance. Analysis of sales performance over the previous period: mistakes, decisions, and goals.
- Pricing and promotions. A breakdown of prices for products and services you’re offering, as well as any foreseeable promotions.
- Deadlines and Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs). A time-frame for completion of strategic and tactical tasks; a list of individuals accountable.
- Team structure. The list of people on the relevant team; their roles and responsibilities.
- Resources. A collection of tools and other assets available to you that you will use to meet your revenue targets.
- Marketing environment. Market conditions, factors affecting industry, and competitor actions. Also, a breakdown of the company’s target audience and all its segments.
The different types of Sales Plans
There isn’t a set template for a sales plan. Their structure can vary from business to business, depending on any given company’s specific needs and workflows. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some of the most common types of sales plan...
30-60-90-day Sales Plan
This type of sales plan is perfect for businesses that want to speed their sales up effectively, consisting of three parts: Day 1-30, Day 31-60, Day 61-90.
Sales Plan for Specific Sales
These sales plans are very similar to the standard weekly, quarterly and annual sales plans but are more niche, focusing on a specific task or goal and ways of achieving it.
Sales Training Plan
This type of sales plan focuses on the different training programs, objectives, and how they should be carried out to generate maximum positive results.
Sales Budget Plan
This one is all about money. It provides the sales team and management with a sales forecast. It includes both the expected revenue, cost of generating this revenue and the overheads associated with it.
Why is a Sales Plan important?
The variety of different types of sales plans suggests that they can serve lots of different purposes. Hence, sales plans hold lots of different benefits; generally they're of great use to businesses of all calibers, industries, and directions.
Think about it this way... how many times have you gone out with an old friend for a drink or two, magically ended up at someone’s kitchen, discussing the next big startup the two of you will bring into fruition?
It’s great talk; ambitious, motivating, but... it’s unlikely to happen.You can talk all you want, but if you really want to bring your ideas out of the kitchen at 3 AM and into the bright world, you need to develop an actual plan of actions.
The same is relevant to the sales team, too. If you want to boost your sales and get to the next level, you need to think of the steps ahead.
All-in-all, poor planning prevents poor performance. A good sales plan, gives you a clear sense of direction , acts as a source of motivation for your sales team, helps prepare for potential problems, objectively compares the resources against targets, and adopts a unified set of strategies to reach sales targets.
How to create a Sales Plan Template
Your sales plan can be a specific or as far-reaching as you like and need. Saying that, the more detailed it is, the easier it will be to stick to. A good sales plan template is generally made up of the following sections...
- The roles and responsibilities in your team.
- Target customers and ideal customer profiles.
- Revenue goals and sales objectives.
- Budget and resources.
- Challenges and obstacles.
- Pricing and planned promotions.
- Key strategies and tactics.
- Deadlines, milestones and review periods.
To get all this into a document and make sure it is aligned, you should break the process down into several distinct steps. That way, you can approach the sales plan template creation process more holistically and expect better results.
Step 1. Get your mission and sales objectives on paper, then set SMART revenue and sales goals.
Setting goals is important. But what’s even more important is making sure those goals go hand in hand with the broader business mission. That’s why the first thing you need to do is get your business’s mission and vision on paper.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate; you need to formulate where you want your business to get and have this vision in front of you at all times. Then, you can be sure that the sales goals you set work towards it instead of hindering your progress by being focused on something irrelevant.
Speaking of sales and revenue goals themselves, there are a couple of rules you need to follow. All of these rules can be presented via a short abbreviation - SMART:
✔️ Specific . Instead of simply saying that you want your business to generate more money, you need to think about what it means. Perhaps you want to increase sales or retain customers better and develop a detailed outline of how you can generate more money.
✔️ Measurable . You need to put a number on success; otherwise, you won’t know whether or not you’ve reached your goal.
✔️ Attainable . It’s crucial to set realistic goals. You need to list all the available resources and measure them against the constraints you could face.
✔️ Relevant . Assess the goals you’re setting - do you need the thing you’re seeking? Does this seem worthwhile?
✔️ Time-bound . You need to set a deadline for when you want the goal to be reached. Not only will this pace you, but it will also give the process some structure.
Naturally, there are a couple of things to avoid when setting SMART goals...
❌ Wishful thinking . Bench-marking competitors is great, but you need to remember that no two companies are the same. If you simply use someone else’s goals in your sales plan, you risk chasing the wrong birds with your stone.
❌ Moving the goalposts . Once you’ve set your goals, don’t adjust them as you go. Even if things aren’t going the way you've initially planned, it’s essential to have those original goals in place to assess your performance at the end of the period.
Step 2. Delineate all the key milestones and deadlines in your sales plan
Breaking the overall sales process into smaller, more manageable chunks makes it easier for your sales team to achieve them. Setting several deadlines for task completion disciplines and motivates sales reps.
NetHunt’s Hot Tip
Include the sales reps in the planning process. Look back at the previous period and see how much work was being done each day, week, or month. Then, discuss the workflow with your sales team, find out how busy their schedules are and how much more strain they can take.
Another essential thing to remember is that you’re not working with soulless robots. Even if your business is dependent on sales automation, the latter is still managed by living people; no two people are the same. You need to consider those differences and set individual milestones for each member of your sales team, based on what they can do.
For instance, when someone is great at prospecting but isn’t that good at closing the deal, focus their milestones on generating new leads rather than converting them into paying customers. Play each member of your team to their strengths.
Step 3. Define the tool stack available to you, assign the roles in the sales process to members of your sales team
At this point, you need to make a list of everyone and everything involved in your sales process. You should include their strengths and weaknesses, estimating the role they’ll play in achieving your sales goals. This helps distribute the tasks and responsibilities among the members of your sales team and sales tools respectively.
This is the part of your sales plan where you decide which CRM tool you’re going to stick to. If you’re still not sure about what’s the match made in heaven for your business, check out our Magnificent 7 CRM Comparison . If you're a small business leader, check out our list of the best small business CRMs !
Finally, pay close attention to the price of your CRM system. When you’re trying to make money, you need to be wary what you're spending. The last part of this step is sales budgeting, making sure you've got budget allocation sorted, a list of necessary tools and their prices, salary , commission , and incentives for staff; and necessary training sessions.
Step 4. Identify and understand your target market; create the ideal customer profile and map out their customer journey
The next step is to identify who you’re going to target with your activities and what exactly their characteristics are such as company size , geographical information , industry , and the job title of any individual you are dealing with. The list of characteristics varies from company to company and from sales plan to sales plan. To extend it, think of all the traits a representative of your target niche possesses.
Once you have a rough idea of who your future long-term relationships will be, think how to court them. Prospecting is very much like trying to date your long-time crush: they don’t know anything about you, but you’ve got a plan for making them fall in love with you. You have this image of them in your head - what they like, how they like it, and where you can meet them.
Prospecting is the same. To make it successful, you need to develop your ideal customer profile and describe it in your sales plan.
Think of all the different ways in which you can reach out to those people. Imagine that you’ve already managed to convert them into customers. Which steps have you taken to get there? How did your prospects and leads react to those actions?
Step 5. Come up with a value proposition and focus your sales plan on it
One of the hottest sales trends in 2021 is value-based selling. To stay afloat and do better than your competitors, you need to hop on it. Hence, the next step is identifying your value proposition that encourages your customers-to-be to buy a product.
Your value proposition is your competitive advantage - something that differentiates you from your competitors and makes you stand out in the eyes of your customers. To find out what’s so dear to your target audience, answer these questions...
- Why are your customers buying from you?
- Which pain points does your product help solve?
- How does your product make customer lives easier?
Step 6. Build a prospecting list.
Now that you have a clear idea of who you want to target, you need to plan different approaches. Based on the customer profile you previously identified, answer the following questions...
- Are they on social media? What’s their network of choice?
- Are they members of any Facebook or LinkedIn groups?
- Can you answer industry questions for them on Quora or Reddit?
- What podcasts do they listen to, or what resources do they read?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you need to think about all the different prospecting methods. For starters, consider prospecting platforms such as LinkedIn, relevant local business networks , networking events and meetups, simple Google searches , and member lists of relevant online groups
Make sure to target more than one (up to five) people from one organisation to have a better chance at getting notices and, subsequently, converting them into your leads.
Step 7. Create an action plan
Finally, come up with a detailed plan of actions you’re going to take. Make sure each of your strategies is accompanied by supporting tactics. On top of that, make sure you leave some room for possible iterations and regularly assess the relevance of the move.
I love it when a plan comes together.
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Originally published June 02, 2021, updated September 08, 2023
by Valerie Kakovkina
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