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Strategic sales planning is a critical component of any business’s success. When utilized to its full potential, it can help your business grow leaps and bounds. But the key is getting it right and thinking of all the contributing factors that can impact the outcome.
What is a Sales Strategy Plan?
You can think of a sales strategy plan as a roadmap or an approach that documents how you plan on making sales and reaching your business’s goals. This plan involves buyer personas, competitive analysis, team structure, KPIs, sales processes, etc. A sales strategy plan gives you guidance about how you will proceed in meeting the objectives you defined earlier in the process.
A Sales Strategy Plan Is More Than What Meets The Eye
This might sound simple, but a sales strategy plan is a thorough document that needs careful planning and careful considerations. Ideally, it should be created by a group of people who can all give their input, so all parts of the plan are accurately detailed. This ensures a sales strategy plan is realistic and can guide even in the case of disruption. Oftentimes, people assume the plan should be a certain length. There is no set length of a sale strategy plan because there are way too many factors in play, and it would be futile to cram it in a specific length document. It simply won’t work for all businesses. Regardless of that, strategic sales planning must be a priority from the start because it enables you to go on a specific path to achieve goals and generate revenue.
Have you already completed building your sales strategy plan? No worries, because these tips will help you add more value to the one you already have.
How to Develop a Sales Strategy Plan?
1. Use Data For Taking The Right Approach When Creating A Sales Strategy Plan
You don’t want to ignore data because it can provide valuable sales insights you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, it ensures you have a better chance of succeeding.
Being over-optimistic about your sales forecast will leave you discouraged if you don’t achieve your goals. Being over-pessimistic won’t drive you to work hard. If you want to avoid these extremes, then use data for creating your strategic sales planning. Without data, you can potentially waste time and resources. According to a Forrester study in 2019, just 48.3% of decisions were made based on quantitative data. You can’t leave everything to luck. When you use data to create a plan, it increases your chances of succeeding and enables you to make better decisions that will impact your bottom line.
2. Set Realistic Goals By Looking At Resources You Currently Have
Your business has a set number of resources. Before creating a goal in your sales plan, make sure you know what your resources are. Don’t lose touch with reality by making far-fetched goals, although long term goals are important. According to a McKinsey report, over 50% of sales winners were those who had planned for the next 12 months.
Your long and short-term goals depend on your business’s capacity, the market size you operate in, and your vision. How many sales representatives do you have? What is the current sales ramp time? What is the sales rep turnover? These metrics enable you to ensure you plan your capacity well and utilize all the resources you have. You want to make the best use of your resources without exhausting them. It is best to get a second opinion and run this through an experienced individual in your business to see whether the goals are realistic and align well with your business’s goals.
3. Plan Sale Quotas For Sales Reps Effectively And Realistically Every Time
Sales performance can take a hit if you plan quotas inaccurately in your sales strategy plan. Looking at past data can help. When you plan sale quotas for your sales professionals, it is best to use past data if you have it. This effective way ensures you are allocating sale quotas properly. You want your sales professionals to grow, but at the same time, you don’t want to burden them with impossible sale quotas that you and they know are unrealistic. According to a Forrester study, 79% of growth strategy leaders are struggling to meet growth targets. This means sales professionals have to suffer because the pressure is coming from the top management. Instead of doing this and demotivating your sales professionals, be realistic.
4. Utilize Deadlines And Milestones For A Solid Sales Strategy Plan, So Every Goal Is Met
Having a big picture is useful, but breaking it into deadlines can make it easier for you and your sales professionals. When you have a deadline, you know that a particular goal should be achieved by that time. This is effective for tracking your progress and enables you to know when you are not on the right path. The quicker you know you are not going in the path intended, the easier it becomes to change the course of your path. The deadlines you set for your sales professionals shouldn’t be so competitive that they give up before they try. You want to motivate them yet challenge them, so they strive to work hard and genuinely want to work hard. You can set individual milestones according to each sales professional’s strengths.
5. Don’t Downplay Incentives Because It Can Help Drive Employee Engagement.
Sales professionals willingly put in more effort and are more productive when they are given incentives based on their performance. According to a study, high employee engagement can enable you to outperform your competition by 147%.
At the end of the day, the sales professionals speak to your customers and close deals. How they communicate reflects your brand image. Motivating them and compensating them through incentives is an effective way to improve their morale. Your strategic sales plan should include an incentive plan too. When you make it fun for your sales reps, so they are motivated, they are more likely to work harder to help you achieve your business goals. But close monitoring of the incentive plan is necessary to ensure the expected outcomes are being achieved.
6. Perform A SWOT Analysis By Factoring In Competitors
A SWOT analysis can help you uncover opportunities and threats in detail. You must enlist the help of your colleagues to do this. According to David Parrish, a business adviser, a SWOT analysis must be done with respect to competitors.
A SWOT analysis is critical for strategic sales planning. You can allow each person to list down the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This enables you to get a diverse range of opinions, which can help you develop actionable insights that work. This can help expand the discussion with your colleagues and help you better understand where you currently stand. This is vital because it makes it clear where you need to go. Some of the factors to consider in the SWOT analysis include competition, market trends, sales team, and customers.
7. Put Effort Into Customer Retention Because They Matter More Than You Realize
Customer acquisition is important, but according to Jason Lemkin, CEO and Founder of SaaStr, about 80% of new customers come from existing customers. Plus, HubSpot found that 33% of quality leads came from referrals.
When creating and building a strategic sales plan, you must think of your existing customers and how you can reinforce your position in their eyes. Another distinct yet powerful tactic is to converse differently with them than when you talk to new customers. You want to train your sales professionals so they can communicate properly with both to get the best results. One of the best tactics to learn is drip emails that work for both new and existing customers. When speaking to a new customer, the conversation should be about why your solution is better than the competitor's. And when speaking to existing customers, the focus should be on why they should continue with your solution.
8. Know The Customer Experience You Want To Create Because It Is The Foundation For Everything Else
A sales plan is not realistic if it doesn’t consider the customer experience and the ideal target customers it is targeting. 80% of businesses that focus on customer experience do better than others. If you leave customer experience as an after-thought, then forget about doing better than the competition.
Your business is running because of customers. If you don’t include customers in your sales plan, then it is bound to fail. You can create buyer personas to create a sales plan. But even more importantly, you want to specify the customer experience you want to achieve. How your customers interact with your sales team will impact how they view your business as a whole. If they had a positive experience, they would feel good when talking about your brand with others. You want to ensure your sales reps know how to communicate and ensure the customers have the best experience. You can include it in the plan.
9. Adjustment In The Sales Strategic Plan Is Normal And Healthy So Don’t Be Afraid Of Change.
Jason Fried, Basecamp’s founder, and CEO put it powerfully.
He says ‘a plan is simply a guess you wrote down’. No matter how hard you try, you won’t ever be able to create the ‘perfect’ plan because it doesn’t exist.
The sooner you realize this, the better it is for you and your business. You might need to adjust now and then. But that’s okay. Plans are not carved in stone. A Forrester study pointed out 84% of business leaders believed that constant change is critical. You might want to schedule monthly meetings so your progress can be measured. This can help you make changes and adapt to changes quickly. If you make a plan and then ignore it like it was unneeded, you won’t be making progress. You want to ensure all activities are aligned and optimization is given its due. This can only be achieved by analyzing that the sale strategy plan is working and improving when appropriate.
Working without a strategy sale plan is like shooting in the dark. You will most probably miss your target and that leaves no one happy. You want to put in the effort to create a solid and data-driven plan and then execute that plan. This will help you make smart decisions based on real data and enable you to succeed in the long-run. In 2018, 75% of businesses refocused on their sale strategies because they realized its potential. A sales strategy plan can help you win every time. Meeting sales targets by your sales professionals is no walk in the park, so you want to ensure you put measures in place where all factors are considered to ensure the success of your sales strategy plan. This can take some tweaking so don’t be afraid to adjust when required.