Guest Blog Post thanks to Julie Future from The Sales Manager

 

What is a Sales Plan, and why do you need one?

Running a small business is a stressful task, there’s no two ways about it. Moreover – and I’m sure you’ll agree when I say – many of these stresses come down to money.  Money – or lack thereof – is one of the most common reasons for businesses to go under, and good cashflow management is critical to running a successful business.

Worrying about where revenue is going to come from, being thrown into panic by an unexpectedly quiet month and lacking the financial buffer you’d like, are all signs your cashflow might not be where you want it to be.

Does this sound familiar?

Then let me ask you this, when, if ever, did you last sit down and look over your Sales Plan?

WHAT IS A SALES PLAN?

A sales plan is similar to  your business plan, except that, you guessed it, it focuses purely on your sales strategy. It asks how you are going to make money?  How you are going to market your services? How you are going to price products, grow your customer base and set budgets?

Your sales plan should clearly lay out where you’re going and how you intend to get there, including targets for departments and individuals.  It should show monthly, quarterly and yearly breakdowns and tie into your 5 and 10-year plan.

You also need to have an idea of overheads as they relate to your growth.  At what revenue could you realistically afford to take on another person?  Will your premises stand up to the growth or will you need to start looking for a bigger space?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself when you sit down to create your sales plan.

WHY DO YOU NEED ONE?

I hope by now you can see the benefit of having a sales plan. Just in case, here are just a few reasons:

  • Businesses need to grow, but risks need to be minimised.  A sales plan helps you visualise risks and work to avoid them.
  • Income and overheads need to be consistent through the year.
  • Pricing needs to reflect costs.
  • Marketing strategies need to be informed.
  • In order to pre-empt the ebb & flow of business, you need to see where the gaps are and focus on filling them.

SO, HOW DO I CREATE A SALES PLAN?

Creating a sales plan stems from your long-term revenue goals.  Look at where you want to be in 5-years and break down the year-on-year growth from there (if you would like more information or training on building a sales plan/pipeline get in touch with Julie on 01604 532004 or email julie@thesales-manager.co.uk).

Once you’ve made your plan and set your targets, you’ll be struck with an overwhelming sense of ‘well, where the **** am I going to find that money?’ (trust me on this one).

But, fear not!  There’s plenty you can do to generate revenue once you’ve got the targets down on paper.  Here’s a few ideas:

#1. Where are your prospects in their pipeline? Who might be ready to buy?

Look back over your prospect list and ask yourself,  ‘who haven’t I contacted in a while?’;  ‘who’s situation has changed since last we spoke?’;  ‘who asked for me to get in touch?’.  In short, who may be ready to buy now, who wasn’t when you last spoke to them?

If you’re not using a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) to track your leads, prospects and customers, I would really advise you start.  We use Insightly here at The Sales Manager but there’s plenty of great software out there, so find one that suits your business, working style and budget.

#2. Where has your past revenue stemmed from?

This is always a good place to start.  When looking to boost your current revenue, look back at where your past revenue has come from.  For example, we know here that Networking has traditionally been a great source of revenue for us.  So, when times are hard or a quiet month looms, we put all hands to the networking deck, double our efforts and, more often than not, reap the rewards.

Perhaps your strength, like ours, lays in physically turning up and chatting to people.  Perhaps you’re a social media boss or know you can usually drum up some business from a mailshot or blog post.  Whatever works for you, do more of it!  (Side note: if you’re not keeping track of how clients find you, this is a good practice to get into).

#3. Where can you up-sell & cross-sell?

Your current clients are a brilliant place to look for new business.  Think about it, you’ve already got a relationship with them, therefore you’ve got their trust and an established working rapport.

Look at your current clientele and think about who may be a candidate to up-sell or cross-sell your services to.

#4. Are you nurturing your relationships?

All the above steps are brilliant ways to cover a sudden drop in your revenue, but the best method of firefighting when it comes to business, is not to have to do it!

Yes, you should always keep an eye on your pipeline and follow up when leads may be ready to buy.  Yes, you should always track your revenue sources and do more of what works.  Yes, you should always target existing clients and up-sell/cross-sell to them.  But, no, you shouldn’t rely on this to cover gaps where you don’t need gaps.  All these actions should be part of your business development plan and should become standard practice.

Nurturing your existing relationships; catching up even when you have nothing immediate to gain, offering advice and keeping in touch, will ultimately lead to a well filled pipeline and happy green numbers all over your sales plan!

So, to round up, a sales plan is a critical aspect of running any business.  For clarity of goals, motivation when it’s needed and simply to ensure you get to where you want to be.  If you’d like help creating your own sales plan, please do get in touch.

 

 

I hope you’ve found this useful, The Sales Manager are a sales training, recruitment and telemarketing company based in Northampton.  To get in touch with any questions or to speak to us about any of our services, call 01604 532004 or email julie@thesales-manager.co.uk.