The Elements of a Successful Sales Plan

Want your sales to skyrocket? Then build a strategic and tactical sales plan that will launch you far past your expectations.

Q: I'm developing a sales plan for my business. What elements should I include?

A: OK, my sales plan...Let's see, it's around here somewhere...Is it the first week of March already? It's the first week of the last month of the first quarter, and I don't have my sales plan written! Oh, thank you for giving me a wake-up call. I totally forgot to write my 2004 sales plan!

How about you and I create our battle plan together? I guarantee that by the end of this article, you'll know the "who, where, why, when and how" that will drive your sales work so you'll exceed your quota for this year.

A Sales Plan Defined

Our sales plan should be short, simple and to the point. It's basically our strategic and tactical plan for acquiring new business, growing our existing book of business and making and/or exceeding our sales quota within our sales territory. Typically, a healthy mix would include 75 percent of your sales quota from new business and 25 percent of your quota from add-on business from your existing customers.

There are four basic parts of a sales plan:

  1. New business acquisition strategies

  2. New business acquisition tactics

  3. Existing business growth strategies

  4. Existing business growth tactics

Before you start, you need to get a handle on some definitions:

  • Sales quota: This critical element of your plan sets the tempo of your efforts throughout the year and provides quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily sub-goals for you to achieve.

  • Sales territory: Refers to the geographic area, list of named accounts or specific market niche you have been assigned to in which you are to sell your products, services and solutions.

  • Strategies: The plan necessary to accomplish your goal.

  • Tactics: The steps necessary to carry out the plan.

New Business Acquisition Strategies and Tactics

Include the following four strategies in your sales plan. Remember, these strategies are all designed to capture new customers and new market share. Important note: The strategies are numbered and the tactics are italicized.

1. Exceed my quota.

  • Send no less than 50 letters of introduction to new prospects each week.

  • Make no less than 50 cold calls of introduction to new prospects each week.

  • Make no less than 20 face-to-face contacts with new prospects each week.

  • Create no less than 10 proposals each week.

  • Make no less than five presentations each week.

Important note: Your numbers will, of course, vary. What's important here is that you calculate exactly how many contacts you'll need to make in order to achieve your sales quota.

2. Increase awareness in the marketplace of my products, services and solutions.

  • Join and participate in no less than three professional associations and organizations that my best prospects and customers belong to.
  • Attend any and all trade shows and conventions that my best prospects and customers attend.

  • Purchase the mailing list of these associations and organizations and send either a postcard or a letter of introduction.

  • On a regular basis, contribute articles and white papers that address the interests and concerns of this population.

3. Increase awareness in the community of my products, services and solutions.

  • Attend all Chamber of Commerce networking events.

  • Volunteer to speak at no less than 12 various organizations in my territory that have an interest in my product, service and solutions.

  • Volunteer my time at three nonprofit organizations.

  • Join and participate in no less than three networking groups, such as Le Tip or Business Networking International.

4. Obtain referrals from all my new customers.

  • Within 30 days of delivering my product, service or solution, I will ask each of my new customers for at least three names and phone numbers of someone they personally know who may have a use for my products, services and solutions.
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Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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