You know what they say: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Well, whether you are an already established business owner or a newbie entrepreneur, it is important for you to know and realize that you need a business plan to increase sales. Knowing how to create a sales plan is one of the most helpful and formative things you can do for yourself and your business. A sales plan will help you bring your business to the success that you have always dreamed about. If you’re not sure yet exactly how to do that - how to make a sales plan, to begin with, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered.
A sales plan is basically a business plan to increase sales. It is usually set according to a specified time frame and time period. A sales plan defines what the targets are within that predetermined time. It also lays out the framework for the strategies that you are planning to do to achieve those targets. In this article, we will discuss the parts and give you a rundown of the steps on how to make a sales plan.
Below is a list of the usual parts of a sales plan. You will find one or a couple of sales plan examples that won’t include all of these, and that’s okay. Be reminded that it usually varies according to the business and the policies set in place regarding the reporting and documentation requirements. What matters is that you create enough information about your business to reasonably come up with a sales plan that you can execute beautifully.
1. Executive Summary
This is the “About Us” page of any sales plan example. In this section, you should talk about the business and its background. You can mention its mission and vision, its philosophy and advocacies, and its goals and objectives both for the time being and in the future. This is useful and necessary because it will guide you through creating a sales plan. If you have a deep understanding of your business and what it aims to achieve, it will be easier for you to create a sales plan that will help you achieve it.
2. Revenue Targets
Since you are creating a sales plan, it is important to make some estimates about what you want your sales to be. Don’t just guess a certain amount or volume to aim at. You should look into your numbers and decide what certain increase you want your business to have in the coming weeks or months or years. By deciding on your revenue targets, you can work more efficiently towards reaching them. Without them, you might just be going on a fool’s errand because you won’t really know where to go.
3. Prior Period Performance
One of the things that you should look at when creating a sales plan is your business’ prior period performance. Whether you are figuring out how to make a sales plan for the next week, month, or year, it’s important to consider how your business and sales are in the prior period. This will allow you to gauge the reasonable revenue increase to target and help you analyze which strategies worked best last time.
4. Market Conditions
Another thing to consider when creating a sales plan for your business is the current market conditions. You have to remember that the internal factors of your business are not the only factor that plays a role in your sales. There are a lot of external factors that sometimes take the lead. You have to do some benchmarking, research forecasted numbers in the market, and look for both threats and opportunities that may come your way. This will help you to create a sales plan that is reasonable and statistically sound.
5. Internal Audit and Evaluation
Your prior period performance is not the only thing that you have to look into when internally analyzing how your business is doing. In creating a business plan to increase sales, you should also look into other components within your business. You should try to look for certain weaknesses in your systems and strategies, and find a way to minimize or eliminate them in the coming future. You should also look for certain strengths that you can use and maximize when creating a sales plan. Identify certain core competencies that you can further develop into a sustainable competitive advantage for your business.
6. Resources and Budget
When creating a sales plan, it is vital that you do not forget to look into your current resources and budget. Because you cannot make a business plan to increase sales without knowing the tools that you can use to achieve it. This will help you gauge how far you can increase your marketing and other sales strategies. And it will also help you come up with an actual realistic plan.
7. Action Plan
Finally, the last part of your sales plan should be the action plan. This should be the star of your document. This should carefully list down and illustrate the strategies that you plan on executing. This should be the main conclusion of all the other parts that were previously mentioned.
10 Steps on How to Make a Sales Plan
Now that you have an idea of what your sales plan might look like, it’s time to actually get on with it. Here are 10 steps to help you come up with a business plan to increase sales for your business.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. As previously mentioned, you should always be starting with your goals. And in creating your sales plan, it is important that you set your goals accordingly. You don’t want to set them too high that they become unrealistic nor do you want them to be too low that you don’t improve your business at all. Setting goals that are SMART will help you establish goals that are reasonable, attainable and relevant.
2. Set a Schedule and Time Table
The second thing you should do when creating a sales plan is to manage your time. Give yourself a deadline - a schedule. This will help you narrow down what you need to do and which one you should do first. You should identify certains tasks and goals that you want to accomplish to complete your sales and after you complete your sales plan. This will allow you to not run around in circles and actually have a system in place.
3. Look Within You
As mentioned in the previous section, it is important to gauge how your business is doing today. It is important to look within the business and identify all the strengths and weaknesses that you can. You should be able to look into the resources available to be used in this marketing endeavor that you are planning to execute. Having a specific understanding of what your business is capable of doing at the moment you make this will help you in creating a sales plan that is most effective for your business.
4. Inspect Your Playing Field
Another thing that we’ve already talked about is how you must look into the external factors that are in play. See how the current market and industry conditions will affect your own performance. It helps that you document it so you can look back into it every now and then while you are creating a sales plan and when you are already executing the strategies you determined.
5. Support Your Facts
Of course, it won't be enough to just observe and make assumptions. All of the details that you have investigated within and outside your business should be backed up with facts. This means more research on your part. This is vital because you have to be certain and precise with the information that you use for your sales plan. Certain statistical facts and data can usually be generated online, and they are oftentimes useful and reliable enough to support your own investigation and analysis. When creating a sales plan, your data should be accurate and timely for your end results to also be accurate and timely.
The next step in creating a sales plan is looking again at the internal aspects of your business. Identify and list down the current strategies that you already have in place. Look and evaluate each of the components of your strategies and if they should stay as part of your sales plan. Specifically, identify their strengths and weaknesses. Look into how effectively these strategies are working together and/or separately. Quantify how much they are affecting your sales, both in a positive and negative light.
7. Identify Obstacles and Weaknesses
At this stage of creating a sales plan, you probably already have some ideas of strategies that you want to implement and/or continue. But before you finalize any actions, you must first try to identify certain obstacles that may come your way. This is in conjunction with also identifying certain weak points in the aspects of your business that need to be addressed and improved. By doing this, you prepare yourself for the adverse consequences that you might potentially need to face in the implementation of your action plan.
8. Define Your Needs
You are nearing the end of creating a sales plan. At this point, given all the information that you have gathered and collated from the first step to this one, you can now clearly define what your primary and secondary needs are. That is, you can list down and identify what should be prioritized by your action plans. Your sales plan now has its specific targets.
9. Finalize an Action Plan
Finally, you can now clearly enumerate the specific actions that you are going to take. This is the fulfillment of your sales plan. In this part, you give your business the final plan that you wish to take in the specific time period that you allotted. The steps and actions enumerated herein should be well-defined, specific, measurable, and time-bound. You should also have specific targets for each of them and you should be able to have metrics to evaluate them.
10. Continuously Evaluate and Adjust
This last step is not a one-time thing. You should know that even after you have learned how to make a sales plan and have actually come up with one, your job is not yet done. Part of what makes a sales plan useful and beneficial for your business is that it allows you to continuously evaluate your sales strategies. This is a never-ending process because as you implement your sales plan, you can look back at your documentation and take respective actions.
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