How to Write a Successful Sales Plan (3.5 minute read)

Learn about the key elements that make a sales plan successful.

Are you working in the right direction?

A sales plan will help you to organize your activity into a systematic approach that will move you consistently toward your goals. A sales plan establishes clearly defined goals, priorities, timetables, and necessary resources.  It is a roadmap to success.

When developing a sales plan it is important that it is simple and that you take consistent action every day. This is a secret to high performance.

“An average person who develops the habit of setting clear priorities and getting important tasks completed quickly will run circles around a genius who talks a lot and makes wonderful plans but gets very little done.” – Brian Tracy

Sadly we often underestimate what we can accomplish over a long period of time.  We get frustrated when we don’t achieve amazing results in a short period of time and so we abandon our plans and start over. This costs us more than most people realize in resources of time and money.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill Gates

In order to achieve great results as a sales professional, it is very important to commit to developing a simple written plan and then to work that plan consistently for a specific amount of time to ensure that you give yourself enough runway to take off as it were.

Successful sales plans have the following elements:

Defines the WHY behind the plan

Without understanding WHY you are doing something you will lack the motivation needed to carry you through the difficulties that you will inevitably encounter.

Sets measurable goals with defined outcomes

In order to hit a target, you have to know what you are shooting at. All too often sales managers will set arbitrary goals that define activity but do not necessarily result in achieving the desired outcome. For example, a sales manager once required that we did a minimum of 8 in-person sales calls a day. That is an activity goal that does not guarantee any sales. Your sales plan should reflect a culture of achieving outcomes, not activity goals.

Establishes a timeline that is challenging but possible to accomplish

We need to push ourselves to achieve great results. This means that we need to set a challenging timeline that will take us out of our comfort zone but is still possible to accomplish. As an entrepreneur, I never asked my people to do something that I was not willing and capable of doing myself. Nothing will kill motivation more than a feeling that it is impossible to achieve the outcome.

Uses a consistent alphanumeric system to correlate annual goals with monthly, weekly, and daily to-do lists.

This is something that I believe in and I think is a very important ingredient to developing and executing a successful sales plan.

It works like this:

Tasks that are labeled as A, are most important and should be done first, B tasks should be done second, and C tasks only if everything else has been successfully completed. If you have more than one A, B, or C task then you can add a number. This designation then follows the outcome throughout the plan from annual goals to the monthly, weekly, and daily planned activities.

Identifies the barriers to success

“No plan survives contact with the enemy”. This military expression really captures the reality of what all sales plans encounter. You are going to have problems, unexpected reactions from competitors and unforeseen challenges. Expect them and you won’t be completely taken by surprise when they happen.

Establishes the resources required to overcome the barriers

If you expect to encounter barriers then you can also include resources in your plan that you will need to deploy to overcome the inevitable barriers. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to be very conservative in your numbers. Increase the projected expenses to offset any barriers you encounter and decrease the projected revenue to maintain a realistic sales budget. If your plan is still profitable with these conservative financials then you can proceed with confidence.

Outlines the strategies that will be employed to achieve the desired results

This is an area that many sales organizations have difficulty with. The executives hire a sales team and set the sales budget but provide little guidance on exactly how the sales team should go about achieving those sales projections. The more systemized the sale position is the better the results will be. You cannot manage what you can’t measure and without sales systems in place that have been tested for results you are at the mercy of the individual sales people’s experience, talent, and mood and the results will be anything but predictable.

Needs to be shared with the people who are responsible for implementing the plan

This is just common sense but as Voltaire and Mark Twain are both credited with saying “common sense is not common” so it needs to be addressed. The best-executed plans are understood by everyone in the organization from the executives to the most junior position in the company. The sales people can do their jobs but without the support of every department in the company, the long-term results will not be achieved.

Achieves commitment from all the stakeholders

Understanding the plan and being committed to the success of the plan are two different things altogether. Everyone in the company needs to be committed to doing their role to successfully achieve the long-term goals of the sales plan. In the past, I have seen $10/hr delivery drivers kill deals that have taken months to put together by not doing their jobs. The result is that the customer’s buying experience is poor and they refuse to continue to support the company by making further purchases.

In Conclusion

In order to achieve big sales results every company needs to have a sales plan in place that is simple, clearly, outlines the consistent action to be taken, is understood by everyone in the company, and focuses everyone’s attention on achieving well-defined outcomes. Thank you for reading this article, please share it with your social network, follow the blog so you don’t miss new articles and feel free to comment as well. You can contact me by going to the Contact Page.

Author: Jamie Irvine

My name is Jamie Irvine and I have been a Sales Professional since 1997 and an Entrepreneur since 2009. My specialty is influencing revenue to grow for B2B distribution companies and B2C contracting companies.

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