sales plan

Crafting The Perfect Sales Plan For Startups – A Step-By-Step Guide

Kurt GraverBusiness Development

Starting a business can be daunting. It requires a lot of planning, resources and hard work. As an entrepreneur, it is important to have a solid sales plan in place to ensure success. This is especially difficult for startups that do not have years of sales data to use as a benchmark.

Crafting the perfect sales plan for startups requires understanding the marketplace, your customers and the competitive landscape. 

This step-by-step guide will provide essential tips, tools and strategies to help you create a successful sales plan for your business. 

It will help you identify your target market, set goals, create a sales strategy, develop a roadmap for success, and provide guidance on tracking your progress. 

What is a Sales Plan?

A sales plan is a strategic plan that outlines all aspects of the sales process. It helps businesses identify the key players, stakeholders, customer personas, sales process, sales tools, sales metrics, and sales goals and objectives necessary to support and grow the business. 

Your sales plan is the roadmap that guides your business through sales activities and helps you achieve your sales goals. A sales plan also includes each team member’s sales strategy and the tools used to track and manage sales performance. 

It is important to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect sales plan. Sales plans help companies plan for growth and support strategic decision-making. A sales plan allows businesses to stay caught up and reach sales targets ultimately. 

A sales plan is a living document that evolves as the business changes, the industry evolves, and customer needs and wants change. 

Your sales plan should be viewed as a work in progress that you look at and update regularly.

Identifying Your Target Market

One of the first things to include in your sales plan is a clear definition of your target market. Your target market is the specific customers your business is focused on serving. 

Your target market will inform many of the decisions you make moving forward, including your product offering, sales topics, marketing strategies and more. This information will be essential when developing your sales strategy. By identifying your target market, you will be able to segment your customers, making it easier to understand their needs and wants. 

A clear understanding of your target market will help you create a sales plan that resonates with your customers and is focused on meeting their needs. Your target market includes demographic and psychographic information and where these customers are in the sales cycle. 

How To Find Your Target Market

Internal data – Before you go out and conduct market research, you should conduct internal research, i.e. research conducted within your business, to help inform the decision-making process.

Existing research – There are several market research studies on your business. You can also use studies and data from other companies in your industry to understand how they serve their customers. 

Paid market research – You can also outsource market research to professional research firms to help gather insights.

Research Methods

Keyword research: It’s always good to find out how many people are searching for your services. You can do this by using SEO Tools such as Ubersuggest, SEMRush or Google Keyword Planner.

Competitive Analysis: Look at your competitors, what works for them, pricing, customer service etc. Search for reviews of your competitors to find gaps in what they offer.

Audience: You can use Google’s Keyword Manager to analyse audience data.  Facebook’s Advertising Network is a fantastic tool to pinpoint how many people are interested in products/services like yours. 

Setting Sales Goals

Sales goals are the targets you set for your sales team, and they will determine the success of your business. Your sales goals should reflect the vision and strategy of your business and should be measurable, achievable and relevant. 

Setting sales goals is an important step in crafting a successful sales plan. This will help you stay focused and remain on track toward success. By setting goals, your sales team will have something to work toward and a clear vision of what is expected of them.

 Your sales goals will also provide structure and insight into your sales team’s overall health and performance. Accurate data will allow you to make informed decisions and adjust your strategy if needed. Having a clear sense of your team’s expectations will help provide structure and support a culture of success.

Developing a Sales Strategy

When setting goals, it is important to consider your sales strategy. Your sales strategy is the key to achieving your goals. A sales strategy involves a complete understanding of the marketplace, customers, and competition. Your sales strategy should reflect the vision and goals of your business. 

Your sales strategy should be thoughtful and thorough, with a clear focus on the needs of your target customers. A good sales strategy is focused on your customers and how you can help them solve their problems. By focusing on your customers and their problems, you will have a greater chance of being recommended to others and increasing your overall sales. 

Your sales strategy should also include a clear understanding of the resources you have at your disposal. It is important to understand what your business can and cannot do to be successful. A good sales strategy will consider all aspects of your business and have clear goals and objectives. It will include a timeline and the necessary resources and support to succeed.

Creating Your Sales Roadmap

Your sales roadmap is a visual representation of your sales process. It will provide a snapshot of your customer’s purchase journey and illustrate where your sales process fits within that journey. 

The sales roadmap will help you identify opportunities and gaps in your sales process. It will also help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your sales team. 

Your roadmap should be based on your sales strategy and be used as a guide for managing your sales process. It should be clear and concise and reflect the needs of your customers. 

A good roadmap will be helpful for your entire sales team and can be used to hold everyone accountable. Your sales roadmap should be easy to understand and accessible to all team members. A visual sales roadmap will help teams stay on track and see where they fit within the larger sales process.

The sales cycle consists of your customers’ steps before purchasing from you. 

Some common sales cycle phases include 

  • Interest – Potential customers are interested in buying a product or service like yours and need general information.
  • Consideration – When the potential customer is considering your business and requires detailed information about your product/service and your pricing specifically for their problem. 
  • Evaluation – This is when they consider your quotation against your competitors.
  • Purchase – When the final purchasing decision is made, the buyer may need assurances with guarantees, warranties and pricing plans.

Understanding what information people need at every sales cycle stage will help you optimise your sales process.

Tracking Your Progress

As you move through the sales process and implement your sales roadmap, it is important to track your progress. This will help you identify areas that are working well and need improvement. It will also provide insight into what your customers are thinking and what they are doing.

 Tracking progress can be made in several ways. Some businesses track sales progress through sales reports, calls, or customer journey mapping. Other businesses track progress through customer surveys, sales reporting software, or data visualisation tools. 

Several tools can help you track your sales progress. 

These include:

Sales Forecasting Tools can help you predict future sales based on current sales data. 

Customer Journey Mapping Tools – Help you to map out your customer’s journey to purchase and where your sales process fits into that journey.

Sales Reporting Software – help you understand your Sales reporting software can help you track and measure the performance of your sales team.

Key Metrics To Track

  • Leads 
  • Cost Per Lead
  • Lean Conversion Rate
  • Average Transaction Six
  • Life Time Value Per Customer (LTV)

Analysing Your Results

After a defined period, it is important to step back and analyse your sales data. This will help you identify trends, see where your sales process is falling short and make adjustments as necessary. This information will help you modify your sales strategy and improve your sales process. 

You can identify underperforming areas and adjust your strategy if needed by reviewing sales data. This will also help you identify strengths in your sales process and highlight areas working well. 

Sales data is essential to any sales plan and can help you identify areas that need improvement. It can help you make strategic decisions, create a better sales process and increase overall sales. By reviewing your sales data, you will better understand your customers and be able to tailor your sales approach even more.

Conclusion

A sales plan is a strategic plan that outlines all aspects of the sales process. It helps businesses identify the key players, stakeholders, customer personas, sales process, sales tools, sales metrics, and sales goals and objectives necessary to support and grow the business. 

Your sales plan should also include each team member’s sales strategy and the tools used to track and manage sales performance. 

For your business sustainability and success, it is important to implement a sales plan when you launch your business, however small it may be.  As you gather more information on your customer’s buying habits, update your plan and document your whole sales process so you can optimise your sales.

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