Creating a sales plan quickly and easily in 7 steps (Steps 1 and 2)

Creating a sales plan with marketing support

Creating a sales plan is often thought of as hard work.

A sales plan is your strategy that sets out your sales targets and tactics for your business. It includes a look at your marketing plan and lists the steps that you will take to meet quarterly or annual profit goals.

Step 1 Understand the background of creating a sales plan and why it can help you to:

  • Calculate and define a set of sales targets for your business
  • Choose different sales strategies that can be aimed at your target market. Include the use of social media, sales partners and help from your suppliers.
  • Be active, motivated and to have some clarity that the steps you will take will help you to reach your goal.
  • Stay agile and to make timely changes so you stay relevant
  • Help your planning next year because you have a set of results from your actions and the costs which will be real.

Why do we say you can complete this quickly and easily? Why not, some managers or small business owners have little time to set-aside to plan. There are others who are fixated on every detail which must be 100% correct and this is not the purpose of this plan.

Now please can you prepare for creating a sales plan because you will need:

  • A pen and some paper
  • A clear and creative mind
  • Access to a computer or laptop with some form of word or spreadsheet software.
  • A glass of water or another drink
  • Any materials you have where you have got financial, performance or other information you think will be relevant.

Using market research to form a marketing plan to support your sales generation

  • Are you in business already?
  • Do you understand your market?
  • Have you ever asked anyone how they found your telephone number or business?

These questions may seem basic, yet understanding your market is your first step to developing a good sales plan.

To understand your market you will need to carry out some market research.

Time now to conduct some fast market research

It is fast result finding, it takes some time and it will not be perfect research. The first sales plan draft will contain mistakes, it cannot be 100% accurate from Day 1. This is why we continually make reference to it being able to be revised.

You must also understand that if you are a new start company, you will need to make a lot of assumptions which can re-visited after each quarter during your first year of trading. You will then see a clearer picture develop as you see the real results of your calls and have actual sales or marketing information.

Introduction over, time to crack on and start creating your sales plan:

customer-serviceSTEP 2 Define your business`s target customers

Summarise your business’s target market segments and likely customers, starting local and close to your business (even if you are planning on it being 100% online):

Describe:

  1. Your target market segments – local residents or companies, you need to divide potential customers into groups based on different characteristics which we will call segments.These segments which you create and name are the ones who will respond in the same way to your marketing strategies.
    1. Let us consider football team supporters, the people who come to watch the match because they have an interest in the team. Their backgrounds are diverse, they live in different parts of a city or even abroad if the club is Manchester City or F.C, Basel. The supporters have many different education paths and enjoy different hobbies away from football. This is why we suggest you group your customers or prospects under general yet wide terms at this stage. Examples include online customer only, in-person customer only, distributor, reseller or small business specialist and similar.
  2. The types of people or companies in those segments are then broken down into more detail.

    An example being a privately owned engineering company with less than 500 but more than 100 employees who may need sales training in English for their 3 international sales managers. They may also need some form of English language support for the 2 sales team assistants as well as a limited call handling module for their company receptionist.

  3. The numbers in each market segment – This could be difficult to obtain because it is dependent on your location, what resources you have and your plan to start your business. Please do not under estimate the local telephone company online search tools or your local library. There are also other sources of information which include:
    1. Search engines – Google, Yahoo and of course Baidu, and Duckduckgo to name a few
    2. Trade associations or bodies – Swiss MEM for engineering
    3. Local council demographic information
    4. Wikipedia
    5. Specialist websites such as Wer Liefert was or Thomasnet.

Google Trends and word tools to check how your customers will find you online

This is why we give special mention to:

  • Google keyword search  – Our tip just ask yourself, “What would I type into the search to buy my product?”  Which language would they use? Do you need to be specific?  “kids clothes near me” is adequate but “baby clothes for boys” is better. Here in Switzerland you will see few results locally in English and to get the best out of this tool, you will need to use your Google account as it requires a sign-in (up).
  • Google trends – The result of the link will be for Switzerland. This is deliberate, therefore you will need to change the filters and timeline to make it relevant for yourself. Here you see if common terms, products or supplier brands are trending as you would assume or expect them to do so, or is your great idea trending downward? You also see the benefit of Google making their keyword history available from 2004 until today. It is worthy of being bookmarked and saved for the future.

This is one reason why we said you should start locally with your plan because you add a layer of local knowledge to the research and explain:

  • Why there is a demand for what you are or plan to sell or the service you offer – On the 24th July 2018 in Zurich there is no restaurant called Neighbourhood in the Google search results. The US or English spelling versions were searched. When a new concept is launched in the city, will we get a free meal for highlighting this opportunity?
  • Your current situation and market position – including a single brief bullet point SWOT sentence or statement covering your business strength, weakness, opportunity or threat
  • A list of three possible competitors and do a SWOT for them noting for each competitor a strength, weakness, opportunity and threat.

At this moment do not waste time listing 10 points for each SWOT area because there is simply no need.

Why? because you are creating a sales plan for the next 12 months and any revisions will be made in the near future.

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