María Alcaraz

How to create a sales plan in 5 steps

We have now reached the last trimester of the year. It’s time to outline your sales plan for 2016, where you may find out how much you may sell and what buttons you should push to reach the intended sales volume.

Setting up a sales plan may be a complex matter, but we will make it easy for you. We outlined 5 easy steps you need to follow in order to be able to draw your plan.

A sales plan is a document that outlines the sales actions you intend to undertake. It must be written as a document that may be used as a tool to establish the necessary grounds to improve sales processes. Above all, it should show you the way towards growth in the forthcoming period (2016).

This should be your guide to know where your client is and how much you should/could sell to him/her.

The sales plan does not include marketing aspects or other general elements and business provisions. Doing so would require a more in-depth outline design, which should include three levels:

  1. Business plan (includes a detailed outline of the Mkt and Sales plan)
  2. Marketing and Sales Plan (it includes the Marketing plan and some of the Sales Plan, but it does not detail how much, how or where).
  3. Sales Plan (this would be included in the two plans mentioned above; it specifically focuses on sales and on the salesforce).

1. Landmarks (using data from previous years)

Given that your business is already working, the first metrics you should use are sales former data. Use the sales data that are available from 2015, 2014 or even 2013.

Former data on sales should be the common ground on which the plan will be based. From this point onwards, you should imagine the next 12 months and work on the first sales prospection for the following business time period. You need to do as good an estimate as possible of all you may sell in the following time period, using the information you already have on sales.

Don’t forget that the market will most probably change in the following business time period, so take that into account when doing your forecast.

2. Goals

Once all the information from previous data is available, you need to take another important step: focusing on some commercial goals, which should be real and well defined. Ask yourself the following questions: How much can I sell? How I am going to sell it? With whom will I do so (customer)?

The best way to focus on your goals lies in making them achievable.

You need to take your needs into account, define them for a given period of time (12 months in this case) and make room for revision every month or every three months (so that you may know whether you are on the right track or else you should change directions).

3. Strategies

You have now set the goals to be reached in the following business time period, and now you should focus on outlining them carefully, with as much detail as possible.

In this step we will design the strategies that make it possible for us to satisfy the needs of our clients while sticking to our goals 100%.

In order to do so, focus on 3 main strategies: A. Differential action (how to reach the goals). B. Memorable action (how to get my clients to remember them, and to do so in association with my goals). C. Value-added (a sustainable model to achieve my goals).

You need to identify the tactics you will perform to create an action that moves your strategy towards the achievement of the previously designed goals. In short, you need to choose channels and tools to reach clients, so that you may attract and keep new clients as well as make existing customers loyal.

4. Forecast

Time to get down to the numbers. You have already defined the 3 previous steps, and now the following stage involves getting down to the numbers to find out your total forecast.

Using all your previous data, make your forecast including your costs. Thus, you will have some data about how much you need to sell in the new period. If you are a freelance professional or have a small enterprise, this should be your first approach to the real number.

If only a small budget is available, I would advise you to do a specific market analysis to find out what your market share may be and how much you may be able to sell.

When it comes to defining prices, you should use costs as a basis. After that, you should know what your desired profit margin is, so that you may work out the desired outcomes (balance point, minimum sales...).

5. Action – Execution Plan

Finally, outline all the actions you want to undertake and the people that will work with you in that (salesforce) in order to be able to achieve all the aforementioned (goals and strategies). It’s time to show you are capable enough to get it done, making sure you may overcome the obstacles that sooner or later will turn up in the sales area.

You now have a guide to let your creativity loose. Get to work and draw up your sales plan, but don’t forget to try and find a way that focuses on something specific. An action-specific plan. Remember you should be able to measure it after every step you take.

Are you ready? What are you waiting for? Start writing your sales plan right now!

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