In today’s competitive environment, builders must focus their energy to ensure that all members of the organization are working toward the same goals. This is where a sales and marketing plan comes into play—providing direction and focus for all employees.
It points to specific results that are to be achieved and establishes a course of action for achieving them. A sales plan also helps the various departments within your company to align themselves with common goals.
Without a clear plan, expectations are developed in a void, priorities change constantly and there is little or no alignment with common goals. You may already have an intuitive sense of your sales strategy—you know where your organization needs to be and many of the key sales and marketing activities that will get you there.
However, many times the strategy remains a virtual plan—locked in the heads of management and not well-communicated throughout the organization. When your management team, business development, marketing, operations and even your customers know where you’re going, you position yourself for more predictable success.
Getting it Done
Once you recognize the need to plan, you now have to get it done—facilitating the buy-in and commitment of your leadership team, seller-doers, and your business development and marketing team. The planning process doesn’t have to be complicated, but it takes some preparation and commitment. Here are 4 steps to help you get started:
- Understand where you are today. Like all journeys, sales planning starts with a known position from where you can chart your course to achieve your goals. Start by taking stock of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Research what your competitors are doing. Identify current trends in the industry and clearly identify who your customers are. Most importantly, take time to ask your customers what you can do better to meet their needs.
- Clearly define where you want to go. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) for your team so you can measure progress toward your goals. Make sure you clearly identify who is responsible for what and by when. In sales, goals are the engine of productivity. One of the most powerful things about establishing specific and measurable goals in your sales plan is that they become your scorecard—providing indicators for how well you are implementing your plan. These indicators allow you to look critically at your sales and marketing activities and to adjust on a regular basis.
- Draft a plan to achieve your goals. This is the tactical phase of planning and where your plan becomes actionable. It consists of defining your actual business development and marketing activities needed to meet your goals. Be sure to map your activities against a standardized process so your entire team is following the same steps and using the same language to advance leads and opportunities. This will improve communication between company teams and enable everyone who touches your customers (leadership, operations, sales and marketing) to take the right action at the right time.
- Implement, review and adjust. Once developed, the key to successful implementation is using the plan to establish expectations for sales, marketing and your seller-doers based on the sales goals and how your business will achieve those goals. In an uncertain economy it is important to consider alternative scenarios for the coming year that reflect best-case, worst-case and most likely scenarios. This allows all members of the team to formally acknowledge that things can happen to change your plan and it allows time to think about alternate decisions. Think about what you will do if your circumstances change so your entire team is prepared to perform under pressure.
What Does a Sales Plan Look Like?
A good strategic sales and marketing plan looks out 3 to 5 years and sets out sales targets and tactics for your business and identifies the steps you will take to meet your targets. Most importantly, a good plan reflects the overall business strategy and has the buy-in of all your business departments. It is essential to recognize that a sales and marketing plan is not just a document, book or binder. What is important is that the plan captures a process that defines how your company is going to achieve your goals.
A well-written sales plan becomes a playbook for your sales team as well as for everyone in your company who interacts with your customers. Your sales plan defines how you will beat your competition by adding value to your customers, and it captures what your customers expect and how you can deliver on your promises. Start your sales plan with the four steps, and remember the importance of communicating it throughout your organization.
If you haven’t already done so, take the time to start your planning now. With a clear plan that outlines where you are today, where you want to go, and how you will get there, you will be in control of your future and positioned for success.