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Common Questions and Answers
A sales plan is an incredibly useful tool for salespeople at any level. The well-written sales plan is a roadmap that will take you to your goal(s) within a specific time frame. If you don’t already have one, sit down and write a sales plan up today!
To write a sales plan, you need a goal. It should be something measurable and as specific as possible. “Make more commissions” is too vague to be a good goal. Instead, pick a goal like “Make twice as many commissions as I made last year.” As you become more comfortable with sales planning, you might want to pick several goals and design plans that will help you accomplish each one.
A good sales plan should include both the overarching strategy — such as building a strong business network; and the tactics you’ll use to get there — such as attending trade shows, signing up for a LinkedIn account, joining the Chamber of Commerce, etc. Your plan should include at least two strategies and several tactics within each strategy. Depending on your goal, it’s often useful to break these down further into acquisition strategies (bringing in new customers) and wallet share strategies (selling additional products to existing customers).
The plan should also include a time frame for accomplishing your goal. Many salespeople choose to write one-year sales plans which they then revise each year, based on how their goals and/or their circumstances have changed. If you write a plan that extends for longer than one year, you should sit down with it occasionally and see if it need any revisions. For example, if your company recently launched several new products or retired some of their older models, that can strongly affect which tactics will be most effective for you.
The tactics themselves, like your goals, should be specific and measurable. The more specific you make those tactics, the more easily you’ll be able to determine a time frame. So don’t just say that you’ll join the Chamber of Commerce and leave it at that. Instead, set some specific activities related to the Chamber, like attending at least two events per month, contacting five business owners from the Chamber directory per week, or volunteering to write a column in their monthly newsletter.
If you’re having a hard time picking the best strategies and tactics, try asking your sales manager for advice. He probably knows more than you do about the company’s future plans and goals, so he’ll be able to offer you guidance in choosing activities that will be successful in the long term. He may also have some suggestions about what goals you should choose for your plan.
When inspiration fails, you can simply choose a goal related to your number of sales. If you normally sell $150,000 worth of products per month, you might set a goal of selling $200,000 per month by six months for now. Some useful Tstrategies and tactics for a sales increase goal might include the following:
Bring in 30 new customers per month — Make 60 cold calls per week, send out 30 emails to cold leads per week, solicit 10 existing customers for referrals per week, visit 1 office building and knock on doors per week.
Sell each of my existing customers at least one additional product — Send emails to 20 customers per week offering a free account evaluation; send anniversary cards to every customer reaching their one-year (or more) anniversary from purchase; contact every customer within two weeks of purchase to see if they have any questions.
Become known in the local business community — Volunteer for three local non-profit or community service organizations; participate in two local networking events per month; visit three local businesses per week and introduce myself.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.