The benefits of a sales plan
Most salespeople are driven by action. Because they focus on getting the job done by any means necessary, planning often gets neglected in favor of short-term results.
While this may help them hit quota, the downside is it’s unpredictable. Sales processes should be treated as a system with steps that can be optimized. If reps are doing wildly different things, it’s hard to uncover what’s working and what’s not. A good sales plan can keep them on track using repeatable systems.
This also means that everyone will work toward the same outcome. For example, if £250,000 worth of new business is your “true north” goal for next quarter, you can collaborate and ensure you achieve it together.
As you uncover the activities and methodologies that work best, you can refine your plan and flesh these out into playbooks. Adopt several different sales methodologies across the sales pipeline, focusing on activities that move the needle. Why? Because some methodologies work better than others in certain situations and reps may encounter various scenarios through the buying journey.
Each methodology should guide your reps on what to do throughout the sales process and how to push the deal along. The right methodology will meet your buyer’s needs and ease them through the pipeline.
For example, a SPIN Selling methodology is great for uncovering prospects’ pain points and getting to the heart of the problem, so it works best in the early discovery and qualification stages of the sales process. On the other hand, a Consultative Selling approach helps you reframe how your product or solution will uniquely solve problems, making it ideal for the later intent and evaluation stages.
Your sales plan should also shine a light on the tools and talent you need to adopt and nurture. Uncover answers to the following questions:
- Who do we need to hire in order to execute each stage?
- Who will be in charge of managing those teams?
- Which CRM is best suited to organize each stage?
- Which additional tools are required to help team members get the job done?
- How will we measure performance and results?
In order to answer these questions accurately, you must collect the right information and data. Your plan is likely to fail if you make assumptions about customer needs and market conditions.
Tailored sales plans for different functions
What period of time should your sales plan cover? Which functions and departments should it apply to? Each organization and function is different. When creating your sales plan, you have two options:
- Create a single plan that covers the entire sales organization
- Dedicate sales plans for each function (sales development, account management, etc.)
The direction you choose will depend on your headcount and how complex each function is. For example, if you have a sales development team with a large headcount (including managers), then having a dedicated sales plan is justified.
While the content will vary for each function, the framework will remain the same. With this in mind, let’s explore the seven components of an effective sales plan.