Creating a Successful Sales Plan: 4 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Many small business owners are missing out on sales because they don’t have a sales plan. Or the one they’re using isn’t performing like it should. Sure, they might have quarterly sales targets or end of year goals, but they don’t have a strategic plan for reaching them. A well thought-out sales plan is a roadmap that helps small business owners gain new clients, and grow business from existing ones.

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll want to read on as we identify four questions your sales plan should include, and provide tactics that will help you achieve sales success.

1. What can I do to reach my target?
Possible tactics:
-Join two professional groups or organizations that my target customer is likely to belong to.
-Personally visit at least 10 prospective accounts each week.
-Plan one free seminar per quarter that addresses the needs of my prospects and offer an incentive to attend.

2. How will I engage my target?
Possible tactics:
-Expand my social media presence by creating a LinkedIn page and post one question, helpful article, link or poll per day on my company Facebook page.
-Write three guests blogs per quarter that appeal to my target and cultivate conversation.
-Volunteer to speak to at least six groups or organizations whose members are likely to be interested in my product or service.

3. What steps can I take to stay in-touch and relevant to my current customers?>
Possible tactics:
-Contact existing customers once per month with a unique tip, idea, or product that’s relevant to them.
-Develop a user-group to solicit feedback/opinions and to stay current with customer needs and wants.
-Enhance my company website with current and relevant content, including news items and blogs that my customer will want to receive.
-Identify ways to connect on a personal level. For example, send a congratulations note to a customer when their company receives an honor or accolade. Or, send a note or email when a child is born or on their birthday.
Hint: GoogleAlerts is a great tool to use to monitor the web for the latest news about your clients, partners, or potential audiences.

4. How can I prospect within my existing customer base?
Possible tactics:
-Schedule a brief meeting with the decision maker at each account I serve.
-When I ship out a product, include a promotional flyer that offers the customer a chance to buy additional products or services.
-Stay current on customers’ news to identify opportunities to sell the customer additional products or services. Schedule a set time every day to scan at least five customers’ social media outlets for leads.

Developing an effective sales plan isn’t easy, but the payoff could be substantial. As you prepare your sales plan, keep these tips in mind.

  • Be patient. It could take you days of concerted effort to fully develop your sales plan, so schedule accordingly and be patient. It’s helpful to schedule time to work on your sales plan, just like you would schedule time for a meeting. You might find that working on your plan in several phases over a period of time is the best approach.
  • Establish reasonable goals.  High expectations are great, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you set goals that are virtually unobtainable.
  • Post it. Posting your sales plan where you can see it will help you stay on track and gives employees a sense of where the business is headed.
  • Revisit and revise. Don’t shelve your plan and forget it. Your sales plan is a living document that should be revisited regularly and revised when necessary.
  • Keep it simple. Your sales plan should be as short and as simple as possible while still fully exploring each element. Reframe from regurgitating your business plan or marketing plan and use bullets, headings and subheadings to break your sales plan into an easy to read format.

An effective sales plan provides you with strategies to acquire new business as well as strategies that expand business with your current accounts. Start drafting your sales plan today and create a plan of action that takes your business to new heights.