If you want to start your own small business, you need a small business sales plan.
And like all good plans, it can’t just live in your head. It needs to be put to paper — or at least in a digital document —- so it can be shared with your team. Everyone, especially current and future employees, should understand the goals of your business and how you plan to achieve those goals.
This unifying document of objectives and strategies is typically called a small business sales plan, and it should include everything from a profile of your target customer to the tools you’ll need to reach that customer and the metrics you’ll use to measure your success.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a business sales plan when starting up, but you can always create new sales plans as time goes on and your objectives change.
There are plenty of business sales plan templates online that allow you to simply fill in the blanks with your business details and concepts. But whether you want to simply plug your plan into a template or build you own, one major question most people have is, “What should a business sales plan have?”
Below is a rundown of everything a business sales plan should include in order for that plan to be successful.
What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to increase revenue, gain more clients, become more productive, or expand your marketing efforts? Maybe all of the above?
Your business sales plan should spell out the objectives you have in mind.
They should also be “SMART” objectives. SMART stands for:
Your objective should be specific because it gives you a goal to meet. “Increase my revenue” isn’t a goal, it’s an ideal. But “Increase my revenue by 50 percent by the end of the year” is.
Your objective should be measurable because, otherwise, how will you know if you’ve met it?
Again, “Increase my revenue” is a nice idea, but when do you consider that a success — if you increase it by $1? How about $100? Or is $100,000 enough?
Your objective should be attainable because there’s no point in including it otherwise. Give yourself a chance to organize your tools and systems in service of this objective, or move on to something else.
Your objective should be relevant because the line between success and failure is quite slim for small businesses (about 50 percent succeed after five years), and every minute spent on something irrelevant is another minute you’re falling behind your competitors.
Finally, your objective should be timed in order to give yourself a deadline and to help you focus on efforts on achieving that goal before you go under.
Customer or organization profile
Regardless of whether you’re selling your products or services to a customer or to another business (B2C or B2B), you need an idea of who that person or organization will be.
To that end, a good business sales plan has profiles of the ideal customer. Customer profiles include key demographic details like age, gender, and what kind of devices they typically shop on or websites they visit. Organization profiles will have information like company size by annual revenue, size by employees, and relevant industries to target.
These profiles will help you focus your business sales plan.
Ironically, focusing does not narrow your horizons, but helps you decide where to cast your net so you can begin actually selling to people.
Another aspect to consider is the general sales territory you’re looking to cover. You can use this section to divvy up geographic regions to different salespeople, or to simply note that you’ll be focusing on people in your metropolitan area for the time being.
Knowing what you want to accomplish, and with whom you want to accomplish it, is only the beginning.
You also need strategies and tactics for actually achieving your objectives, and those should be discussed in detail in your business sales plan.
There are two general kinds of strategies:
- New business acquisition strategies.
- Existing customer business strategies.
New business strategies that are typically found in a business sales plan include:
- Exceed quotas: Send at least “X” number of emails, make at least “X” number of cold calls, make at least “X” presentations each week.
- Increase marketplace awareness: Join associations, attend trade shows, engage with a digital marketing campaign strategist to discuss how to increase social media presence.
- Obtain referrals: Follow up with prior/existing customers and see whom they can refer to you for future business.
Existing business strategies that have proven to be effective include:
- Create a touch-point program: Make yourself invaluable to existing customers via timely, informative email newsletters they can’t get anywhere else.
- Prospect within existing customer base: Similar to the referral tactic, use existing customers to meet other potential customers at related organizations and businesses.
Useful tools and systems
In our increasingly digital world, there are countless possibilities for tools and systems you can buy, subscribe to, or otherwise access in order to achieve your goals more easily.
What tools will you need to complete your objectives?
Do you need customer relationship management software to help you stay on top of deals and discover new leads? Do you need an email marketing platform to stay in touch with existing customers? Do you need communication and/or collaboration apps like Microsoft Office 365, Slack or G Suite to keep your team on the same page?
Nothing should be overlooked here, from your phone and email systems to your weekly sales progress reports. Everything that you will use outside your physical body should be accounted for and noted.
Who’s on your team?
Your sales team, when you start off, might just be you. It might be you and a few people. In the future, it might be a whole roster.
But at some point, you need to list each member of the core sales team, and describe not just who they are, but what they do.
What is their role, what are their responsibilities, and how will you measure their relative success? What key performance indicators are best to use, considering your objectives?
You can also note other key players who are not core members, such as third-party marketing support, so people know who their points of contact are outside the company.
A non-bustable budget
You need to spend money to make money. Any good business sales plan will have a general budget (though the more specific the better) laying out just how much you’ll need to spend in order to be successful — and hopefully not more.
Your budget should include team salaries, subscription costs for your tools and systems like your CRM software or video conferencing platform, travel expenses — and anything else that will go into making your sales.
Related: 5 best business plan templates
Succeed with your business sales plan
Keep all this information in mind when writing up your own version of your sales plan. A sales plan doesn’t guarantee success, but a lack of one almost certainly guarantees failure — or, at best, accidental success that you won’t be able to replicate. More than likely, your commitment to organizing your goals and how you plan to achieve them will pay off.