Cellular Attitude is a staff training business that has a special sales focus. With Adam Caplan’s: The Psychology of Sales flagship programme and his self-development book: Cellular Attitude – The 9-step guide to a happier life, we offer a large range of sales focussed training courses. This week we talk about the importance of having a Sales Plan and how to create one if you don’t. If you want us to help you develop your sales strategy, we can help! This article offers a step by step method to help you build your sales plan.
businesses are reliant on sales and often our clients are the owners and senior
management of organisations.
even senior staff have never been formally trained in some of the key elements required
to generate sales for their businesses.
of the most common areas ignored is the Sales Plan. Businesses will have a ‘business
plan’ but often, there’s no formal sales plan. Since sales are so key to the entire
business, it’s amazing to think that so many companies do not have a formal,
annually updated and referred to sales plan.
This week’s blog will give you the tools you need to create your sales
plan. Your sales team’s chances of success will be greatly increased if they
have an in-depth plan to follow.
A good sales plan is specific and outlines tasks,
realistic goals, and a base strategy for individuals to learn and develop their
Creating a bullet-proof sales plan can be time-consuming
and difficult – which is why they are often delayed or avoided, yet a good
sales plan sets the tone for your entire year.
Sales plans are not quick and easy to make as they should
include detailed goals, tools, KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), a budget for
costs and a budget for projected sales figures. Furthermore, a good sales plan
incorporates a programme of learning to ensure that staff involved in sales are
kept motivated, energised and at the top of their game.
Whilst the plan can be time consuming in the
beginning, it will save time in the long run, and that’s time you can spend
building up the business rather than focusing on minute details that will delay
and side track you away from selling, selling, selling.
If you have revised your sales plan in the last 6
months, the rest of this article may be teaching you to suck eggs. If you have
not done this or do not have an active sales plan for your business (and this
is as true for an organisation with 25,000 staff as it is for the stand alone
entrepreneur), then my humble advice is to read this article and then
immediately start building your sales plan.
To create a bullet-proof sales plan, you will have
to carry out pre-planning research. Ask yourself:
- What is/are my target market/s?
- What does my ideal customer/ client look like?
- What are the target demographics of my client?
- Where do I find my customers?
- What makes my customer buy my product?
- Can I describe the benefits of my solution simply and easily?
- Do I understand my sales costs, margins and profits?
- How much profit do I need to make to break even – Based on that, what sales do I need?
- How much activity is required to a) break even and b) achieve the desired profitability?
Sales plans are how you will achieve your sales.
Marketing plans are how you will get the leads in to get those sales. A
marketing plan is different for the simple fact that it is used differently:
the purpose of marketing is to generate leads and then turn those leads into
sales. Your sales plan will include all of this, and more.
A sales plan is often called a Sales &
Marketing plan for this very reason.
What comes first, the sales or the marketing?
Your sales plan must come before the marketing
plan. You must define your goals for the sales before you can work out how many
leads you’ll need to generate to achieve those results.
If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it
is. But whether you have a huge sales team and an established business, or you’re
a one-person operation just getting the business off the ground, having a
detailed plan to follow can make all the difference.
It’s a roadmap. You are setting the stage for
future expansion and the route to get to that goal.
With a good route, you’ve got more chance of
reaching your destination of ‘sales target achieved’. Without one, you’ll
wander in the wilderness and you reduce the chances of getting to your goal.
What follows is a tried and tested method for
building your Sales/ Sales & Marketing Plan.
prepare. Building the Template
Often called the budget, the financial planning includes
several key elements.
Use the following pointers to keep you on track:
- KPI’s. These tell you the statistics for your sales
efforts from your previous year (or shorter period if a newer business)
- Your prediction for market growth/ shrinkage for
the coming year
- A budget to work out your costs (Commonly includes
cost of sales, marketing budget and other sales/ marketing costs)
will help you create the plan (if anyone)? I always look to include sales team
members in this part as they are going to be delivering this. If they were involved
in the creation, they can’t turn around and disagree with the plan later in the
Whilst the plan will give a strategy, it also needs
to explore the ‘bigger picture’.
Reverse engineering Sales Goals is a key training
plan we offer everyone involved with selling from CEO’s to salespeople to
individual operators. Simply put, it means working out what you want and how
you will get there in a step by step manner. (It’s covered in more depth in our
Think: Where do I want to be? – What do I need to
do to get there? – How will I go about doing that? – What changes do I need to
make to do that?
A good plan targets the right customers, sets achievable
sales revenue goals, involves strategies, looks at pricing and accommodates special
offers, has a cashflow plan, outlines deadlines and key people in the business,
examines the team structure, and considers market forces.
When this is collated (or at least a good amount is
collated) you can start to scope out the plan.
Part 1 – Mission
Your company may have a ‘mission statement’ Most
companies have a mission statement and operate based on that concept. For your
sales plan you should incorporate the ethos behind the mission statement to
create the AIM of your sales plan.
- What is your company’s USP (Unique Selling Point)?
- Does your company have certain principles that
separate it from the rest?
you understand the brand message of your company?
Use the above as the basis for your business
strategies. You should stay aligned your original goals as a company. This is
the MISSION Part. Now OBJECTIVES
- Where do you want the company to be next year?
- How many new customers do you want to bring in?
- Have you a clear idea of revenue?
- Will there be any new marketing campaigns to start
events will you do?
This creates a framework for strategic and
Part 2 – Financial
Goals (Use SMART goals)
Now you have your overall plan, you can work out
your exact financial goals. It’s important to do through a structured process.
Too many times I have come across arbitrary financial sales targets that were either
plucked out of thin air or just were last year’s target plus 15%. One business
I worked with some years ago had increased the sales target every year by 10%.
The problem is that the sales team had not achieved the original target, let
alone the increased targets. As a result, the sales team had lost all motivation
and the targets were completely unachievable. We took the client through this
process, created a new plan, retrained and re-energised the team and the very
next year they exceeded the original target and narrowly missed the planned increased
for year 5. It was a sales increase of 147% in one year. One step back to take
three forward in this case.
Estimating the revenue objectives can be achieved
using the SMART goals acronym:
- Specific – What exactly do you want achieved? Not
just a value but a breakdown of how that value is to be split across your
business products and services
- Measurable – How will you measure these sales
- Attainable – Can this be done? Do you have the
structure and support in place to hit these targets?
- Relevant – Have you made the goals relevant to the
sales team? Have they bought into your vision?
- Timed – Have you a step by step sales forecast that
can monitor their progress? Will you share this with the team?
Now you can start to structure the sales plane with
revenue, costs and profit
SMART works because it helps achieve reachable goals
that measure success within realistic time frames. It allows you to stay in
control of the sales process and will give you an early earning if the team are
behind their targets.
Sometimes goals are set for sales teams by people who
are not directly involved with customers and the product or services. This
should be discouraged as it creates potentially unreasonable targets the
demotivate staff and reduce potential sales revenue. It’s NOT a good idea to
deliberately set very high targets in the hope that the salespeople will try
harder and therefore get higher sales, even if they miss the target. It will
not happen and will unnecessarily load pressure on people thus reducing
performance or introducing burn out into the sales team.
If the goals are ultimately unreachable, it will
appear to the staff that the company is failing, create doubt and demotivate
the entire company. If your team feels like they can readily attain those targets,
they can see and feel a real sense of accomplishment – and you will too.
Your projected revenue should be based on a)
previous tears sales b) market forces c) the ‘math of sales’ (staff x activity
x closing rate = sales) d) market predictions for the coming year
Part 3 –
Identifying Your Customers – existing and potential
Your business cannot exist without customers.
What digital technology do you use to track your
customers, their demographics and behaviour?
When creating a sales plan, you should really be
identifying your customers, who they are, what they buy, why they buy and how
you will approach them
If you have KPI’s this is a good place to start. If
you do not have past KPI’s, you’ll have to create some assumptions to accurately
build a profile of the perfect customer type.
Demographics should include the usual things like
age, location and job role. You could psychological profiles for your ideal customer.
This helps you frame the sales and marketing message you are putting out there.
Creating a chart with the data you want to capture
is a good idea. Remember to conform to GDPR though!
Part 4 – Sales strategy
and selling tactics
With this data, you can work with your marketing team
to create a strategy that will generate leads from your target customer demographic.
This will generate RELEVANT leads and improve your CLOSING conversion rates.
In strategic planning you should have three elements
Short term – Day to day operational targets. How
many customers do you contact every day? How many leads are generated? How are
the team performing against the activity targets? What are the conversion
Medium term – Quarterly reviews and reports and how
are you doing over the quarter in terms of your marketing results (marketing
spend and tactic against actual leads created. Leads created per marketing
activity against deals closed)
Long term – Annual reporting and review of
everything that happened in the last year. This in turn helps you construct the
plan for next year
Those are the steps that your team will address every
day to make your goals happen. Be specific with these tasks so you can lay out
an accurate budget.
Step 5 – Financial
With your revenue goals created, the next step is
to add the financial budget,
Using the information already laid out, you can add
in the accurate costs of sales (staff wages, marketing spend (advertising/
collateral/ events/ etc, product cost) and any other associated costs. REMEMBER
to add sales commissions if relevant! These will be based on sales achieved
which means you may have to brush up on those Excel worksheet formula skills) Remember
This ties in with you overall business plan and is
a good checkpoint to make sure your business plan matches what you require from
the sales plan.
Create a financial budget for each department
within your sales team – Do you need more salespeople to deliver sales based on
the leads you are expecting to get? Do you need to increase your advertising
spend to get the required leads to feed the salespeople?
Look at where you will get the most ‘bang for your
buck’. Which activities generate the most return. Don’t spend money on
something that traditionally give a low return on investment over a long period
of time when there are other strategies that return larger amounts over a
shorter time, freeing up further reinvestment to return more revenue, etc.
Don’t forget expenses like travel, supplies, paid
advertisements, and outside charges. If you’re going to use a recruitment
agency to hire new salespeople, include these costs.
Software costs must be allocated as well as print
and web promotion costs.
Keep an eye on the costs against budget throughout
the year, you do NOT want any nasty surprises alter in the year.
Part 6 – Lay Out an
Finally, you can put it all together. This is your
You’ll need all the information you’ve created above
to create a daily, actionable plan that your sales team work to and you can track
the progress of.
Assign managers and team leaders to monitor and evaluate
so they can report back the results to you. Ensure everyone know their place in
the process and that there are not political disagreements.
These are the people that will make this happen, so
make sure they have bought in to this. If you’ve included them in the creation
of the plan in the first place, they will be much more emotionally invested in achieving
a successful sales year.
Now you put in the key performance indicators that
allow you to track success:
List out the trackable items: Weekly new customers/
weekly google ranking/ how many leads are generated a month etc. These can
include many things not listed here that you want to see happen in the year.
Put a deadline to them – so: I want to be on page 1 Google ranking for ‘x’
search term by ‘x’ date.
Anything related to the sales performance of the business
should be noted here with timelines and goals.
The size of your company will determine how
detailed this plan is. The good news is that if you are a large organisation,
they very act of getting others involved increases the chance of success whilst
reducing your workload.
Set aside budget for rewarding success for team
members and the company for achieving targets. It will massively motivate
If you build it,
they will come!
Build the plan. Publish it to the people working
it, follow up with the regularly to ensure it is being followed and working and
the sales will come!
Flexibility is critical when it comes to leads and
conversion rates, flexibility is vital to success. If you see areas working
better than expected, divert resources away from less successful ones. Follow
the money as they say.
Your planning and preparation have enabled you to
be able to react to market forces and increase revenue instead of blindly
following the order from the top.
Do not act like ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’
and continue to follow orders that are going to fail, be adaptable.
With six simple steps, you have made a sales plan
that will increase your sales, motivate your staff and give your business the
best chance to deliver good profits year on year.
At Cellular Attitude, we work with companies
looking to develop their sales plans and help restructure businesses so that
they are sales led, not production or accountancy lead.
Our executive coaching and mentoring programme gives
CEOs, directors, owners of businesses from multi-national corporations in all
sectors to medium, small and micro business owners the opportunity to access a different
point of view and help structure their businesses to be sales powerhouses,
whatever the product or service being sold.
If you’d like to discuss how we can assist, call us
on 020 8530 9797. We offer a money back guarantee that you will get a return on
your investment if you follow our advice.