Sales are at the heart of any business strategy.
Whether you’re a software entrepreneur, an executive, or a sales manager, one of the best things that you can do to set yourself up for success is to write a sales plan that supports your company and helps it to grow.
Unfortunately, a lot of business leaders struggle with developing a strategy that can enrich and empower their operations.
A sales plan is the easiest way to layout your objectives, strategies, and tactics for success, in a way that your whole team can understand. Your sales plan also helps you to identify potential obstacles and roadblocks so that you can come up with ways to overcome challenges.
What is a Sales Action Plan?
A sales action plan highlights what you’re going to do to achieve your sales goals, focusing specifically on the transactions and relationships that you can cultivate with customers.
Sales plans contain information about who you want to sell to, what your revenue goals look like, and how you’re going to structure your teams for success.
An effective sales plan:
- Communicates your sales objectives and goals
- Outlines responsibilities and roles for both your staff and leadership
- Delivers strategic direction for your sales team
- Guides your decision-making strategy to help you progress towards organizational goals
While a sales action plan is excellent for month-to-month guidance, it can also help you conduct a more long-term analysis of your sales team. Over time, you can compare your action plans against your outcomes to see if you’re achieving your targets.
8-Step Action Plan to Reach Short and Long Term Sales Targets
So, how do you start designing an action plan that delivers real, measurable results for your team?
An action plan needs to give your employees direction and purpose. It should ensure that your staff have everything they need to achieve their goals when it comes to things like quotas and prospecting. The more detailed your action plan is, the less likely it is that your team will end up confused and struggling to make decisions for themselves.
Here are just some of the crucial activities that should appear in your sales plan.
1. Identify Your Ideal Clients
If you want to achieve success in any aspect of your sales strategy, you need to start by identifying the people that you want to target. Get together with your sales team and ask:
- Which clients deliver the most long-term value?
- What company size are you targeting?
- How did your clients find success with your solution?
- Where did your best customers come from (i.e. cold calls, canvassing, word of mouth)
- What is your target industry?
Once you know who you’re targeting, the next step is to consider how you’re going to interact with clients to encourage sales. What do your prospects need most from you, and how can you help them to achieve their goals? Where are the best places to engage with your clients? Do they respond best to telephone calls, emails, or face-to-face interactions?
Your sales action plan needs to include a complete overview of how to find and nurture your clients.
2. Assess Historical Performance
Unless you’re a brand-new business, you should have some room to learn from your past mistakes and successes. Look back over your previous wins and losses and ask yourself:
- Which strategies led to the most revenue for your company?
- What kind of customers were most likely to respond to your sales pitch?
- Were there certain months or seasons where you were more likely to reach your quota?
- Which of your team members were most successful, and why?
- Which areas delivered the most ROI for your team?
Examining your historical performance will help you to get a better idea of where your current customers and prospects come from.
Sales tracking software can give you a more complete history of this information. Make sure that you examine not just when and where inbound and outbound leads convert, but also how your teams prospected with these clients, and which tactics were most successful.
|Bonus resource: 8 Compelling Reasons to Invest in a Sales Activity Tracker|
3. Chart your Destination (Choose a Goal)
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Once you know what you’ve accomplished, you begin to determine what you need to do next. For instance, you might have achieved your sales quota 60% of the time in the last year, but by the end of this year, you want to achieve an 80% success rate.
Having a target or goal that you want to reach will help to guide your decision-making for your sales quota. Remember, before you get into the details, you need to be specific about what you want to achieve both long-term and short-term.
- What is the big picture destination for my team? (A 100% quota success rate)
- Annual sales goals? (Maybe a 20% increase per year)
- Quarterly objectives? (Something closer to 5%)
- What can sales teams do to improve monthly?
- What is my team going to aim for each day?
- What activity metrics will we measure in order to keep the entire team
Outline what you want to go and how you’re going to get there.
For instance, if your big picture goal is to generate more closed sales overall, then you might need to start by asking your reps to complete more outbound calls each day.
The more calls you make, the more chances you have of sales. On a monthly basis, your team can work on improving their success rate, and you can measure your overall growth quarterly, aiming for greater results each year.
4. Put Resources in Place
Now you know where you’re going, what tools do you need to accelerate your opportunities and empower your teams?
The most essential resource you have is your salespeople, so ensure that you have the right number of people on board to reach your target. This includes building an enticing commission structure that motivates employees to succeed.
Next, invest in the tools and technologies that will power your success:
Gamification and Workforce optimization: How are you going to empower friendly competition between employees, do you have a budget for incentives?
CRM tools: How will your teams track their interactions with crucial clients and customers?
Prospecting tools: What kind of sales analytics and lead nurturing tools do your employees need? Should automations be put in place?
Once you know which tools your employees need, make sure that your team members are well-equipped to use them. This could mean implementing training sessions, assigning mentors to new team members, or holding one-on-one meetings.
5. Assign Territories
Now it’s time to make sure that there’s limited overlap in your teams. It’s hard to reach your goals when everyone is focused on selling to the same area.
Assigning territories ensures that your sales team is targeting the right customers, in the right areas, and ultimately eliminates costly redundancies.
Make sure your most valuable and profitable reps are working on the biggest accounts. Remember, you can assign your territories by everything from geography, to customer type, sales potential, and industry.
Clearly defined territories help sales teams to work more strategically to address the needs and expectations of their clients. You can:
- Assign to top-performers to the highest value accounts
- Align salespeople to the segments or regions best-suited to their talents
- Ensure all reps have an adequate number of lead to work and accounts to service
- Open the door for stronger long-term relationships between your brand and customers.
|Bonus resource: 7 Step Guide to Building a Profitable Sales Territory Plan (with Examples)|
6. Develop Scripts
Now your sales team knows where it’s going to be focusing; it’s time to guide them in accelerating their chances of sales. For instance, you can build templates for phone calls, follow ups, emails, voicemails, and more.
To guide your scripts, remember to focus on addressing the pain points of your customers. Remember – people buy emotionally, and justify rationally.
The Sandler pain funnel can help with prospecting, qualifying and closing more deals.
Encourage your team members to find out about the pain points that your customers face and discover solutions to their problems in the scripts that you create. As a general rule, the conversation should have a 70:30 split on the side of the customer.
Think about how your sales team can use the scripts you give them to qualify the leads that you generate. Can you ask questions that will help with segmenting customers and improving your chances of bigger upsells and cross-sells?
7. Set Minimum Daily Sales Activities
With support and guidance, your sales teams should have everything they need to accomplish real, measurable goals within your sales strategy. This is when you can begin to put teams to work by setting minimum daily sales activities.
Remember, although it’s valuable to challenge employees, you still need to be realistic. Asking staff to accomplish more than they’re reasonably capable of could lead to disengagement.
Measure and track things like:
Leads: How many new leads should your employees be finding to contact every day? How will they qualify and nurture those leads? The Lead machine from SPOTIO can make it easier for agents to find new batches of leads every day.
Contacts: How many people will your sales teams contact each day? This can include contact such as in-person visits, emails, phone calls, or social media connections. It’s all about working leads across multiple channels to build a relationship.
Follow-ups: How will salespeople attempt to improve their chances of a sale to people who haven’t answered the phone or responded to an email? You can also look at “follow ups” in terms of upsells and cross-sells to existing customers.
Referral requests: How will your employees follow up with clients to ensure that they’re as satisfied as possible? What can you do to improve your chances of positive testimonials, and referrals to new clients?
|Bonus resource: 15 Key Sales Activity Metrics to Track in 2021 (According to the Experts)|
8. Enforce Accountability
Once you have defined the kind of things that your employees should be accomplishing with their work each day, how are you going to make sure that they’re delivering? Do you have lead nurturing pipelines and software in place which shows you which team members are reaching their targets?
Tracking all of the sales activities that your employees engage in each day has a number of benefits. First, it means that managers can see if goals are being met, and which strategies should change if not. Additionally, a dashboard also allows individual employees to track their own performance.
Salespeople are often competitive, and like a chance to prove themselves against their peers. You could use a leaderboard in your workplace to celebrate and showcase your most successful salespeople.
Tip: once you have identified the top sales reps, consider pairing them up with new or lower performing reps for some cross-training.
9. Track Performance
Tracking performance is something that you need to do at a team level, individual rep level, and business level too. Are your reps hitting their activity targets? If they’re not, what’s causing them to fall short of the mark? What kind of opportunities are they missing out on?
Tracking your performance will help you to see the friction points in your sales pipeline. A lot of sales teams fail to track crucial data and KPIs, and this often means that they don’t know what they need to do to improve their chances of success.
By tracking the performance of your team at every level, you can uncover your top-performing reps, figure out which reps need more training, and even pinpoint which sales strategies aren’t impacting the bottom line.
Aside from looking at individual reps, ask yourself:
- Which territories are performing best?
- Which sales actions are driving the best results?
- Are there any bottlenecks in our pipeline?
- How can we rectify these issues?
The Meetings, Pitches and Deals Should Follow
Your Sales Action Plan is all about giving your sales team the guidance that they need to make smart business decisions. When you can support sales team members by addressing issues that are within your direct control, such as a lack of guidance and direction, you can improve results.
If you find a strategy that works for reps, and make sure that they have everything that they need to follow each step correctly, then reaching your targets should become a lot easier. You’ll find that the meetings, demos, and closed deals will follow naturally.
A successful sales action plan is all about focusing on the proactive actions that your business can invest in, and letting the process develop for everyone. Don’t be afraid to accept feedback from your employees, as well as examining the quantitative data in your sales activity tracker.
Your employees might be able to offer some insights into the steps that they need to take to improve their chances of closing deals and achieving better outcomes.
Ready to Take Action?
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to delivering excellent sales numbers and outcomes. The key to success is to figure out what works for your team by examining your processes, employees, and even your customers.
Designing a sales action plan will help to guide your employees towards more successful results, while making sure that they have the guidance that they need to thrive.