Do You Have a Plan? Part 1 of 3

The Essentials of an Actionable Sales Plan

Sales planning is an indispensable activity that is best completed prior to the start of the period in which it is reflected. For an upcoming year the plan should be complete within 30-45 days of the year’s start, however, it’s never too late to get a plan in place.

In this and the next two posts, I am going to review the key elements for a sales plan that gets you thinking and focused on who you are targeting and how you will reach them.

These are the first five sections to get you started. We’ll start from a “zoomed out” more strategic look and then slowly narrow our focused to be more tactical.

There are some key elements that need to be in a sales plan, and they are as follows:

  1. Your company’s vision, mission, values, and your “Why”
  2. Three-year vision for the business
  3. An analysis of the previous 12 month’s sales
  4. An overview of the current market conditions
  5. A S.W.O.T. analysis

Vision Mission Values and Your “Why”

Your company’s vision and mission provide a focal point that helps to align everyone in the organization and ensures the team is working towards a single purpose. Sales goals should be developed in alignment with the vision and mission and provide a measurement to gauge the company’s success.

Your company’s values provide direction for the employees’ day-to-day behaviour: how everyone treats each other and your clients.

A newer concept, made popular by Simon Sinek, is your company’s “why”. It’s how you explain your purpose and the reason you exist and behave as you do. Sinek’s theory is that successfully communicating the passion behind the “why” is a way to communicate with the listeners’ emotional brain and therefore more readily inspires them to action.

Three Year Vision for the Business

To complete this section you need to think about where your business and industry is going. Consider current market trends, take some time to reflect on the future of your business and your industry. What are your longer-term sales goals? What new products or services will your company offer in 3 years? What is happening in the business environment today that is providing indicators of change in the future? What else do you need to consider for the future survival of your business?

Analysis of Previous 12 months

The best way to set your sales team’s plans in place for the coming year is to reflect on the previous year’s successes and challenges. Your sales report for the past year provides most of the information that you need. You can look at this information for the new business you secured with your existing clients and then take a separate look at new clients. You’ll need to make a note of things like the industry the company is in, the sales you achieved, the source of that business (referral, LinkedIn, networking, etc.), and upsell opportunities for additional products and services.

Current Market Conditions

Consider what is going on in your market, your industry, and your company that you need to take into account for the coming year. Think about things such as product pressures, regulatory issues, competitive landscape, economic factors, changes to your own policies/products/ situation, etc.

S.W.O.T. Analysis

As a sales team, complete a Strengths and Weaknesses analysis vis a vis your competition and chart your company’s Opportunities and Threats as they exist in the marketplace. The primary objective of a SWOT analysis is to help organizations develop a full awareness of all the factors involved as you make decisions about the future of your business. It helps your company to build on what you do well, to address what you’re lacking, to minimize risks, and to take the greatest possible advantage of your chances for success.

Up next: setting an intelligent, well thought out sales goal, determining the right new business target account and referral partner profiles, committing to a pipeline tracking system, establishing activity metrics to be accountable to and finally laying out your sales cycle.

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