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.

By Tony Parinello

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

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

How about you and I create our battle plan together? I guaranteethat by the end of this article, you'll know the "who,where, why, when and how" that will drive your sales work soyou'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 acquiringnew business, growing our existing book of business and makingand/or exceeding our sales quota within our sales territory.Typically, a healthy mix would include 75 percent of your salesquota from new business and 25 percent of your quota from add-onbusiness 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 somedefinitions:

  • Sales quota: This critical element of your plan sets thetempo 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 ofnamed accounts or specific market niche you have been assigned toin which you are to sell your products, services andsolutions.

  • Strategies: The plan necessary to accomplish yourgoal.

  • 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 newcustomers and new market share. Important note: The strategies arenumbered and the tactics are italicized.

1. Exceed my quota.

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

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

  • Make no less than 20 face-to-face contacts with newprospects 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'simportant here is that you calculate exactly how many contactsyou'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 professionalassociations and organizations that my best prospects and customersbelong to.
  • Attend any and all trade shows and conventions that my bestprospects and customers attend.

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

  • On a regular basis, contribute articles and white papersthat address the interests and concerns of thispopulation.

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 organizationsin my territory that have an interest in my product, service andsolutions.

  • Volunteer my time at three nonprofit organizations.

  • Join and participate in no less than three networkinggroups, such as LeTip or BusinessNetworking International.

4. Obtain referrals from all my new customers.

  • Within 30 days of delivering my product, service orsolution, I will ask each of my new customers for at least threenames and phone numbers of someone they personally know who mayhave a use for my products, services and solutions.

Existing Customer Business Strategies and Tactics

Include the following two strategies in your sales plan.Remember, these strategies are designed to capture high-margin,add-on business from your existing customers. Important note: Hereagain, the strategies are numbered and the tactics areitalicized.

1. Create a touch-point program.

  • Contact each of my existing customers no less than once permonth with a new idea they cannot get from anyone else.

  • Create a noteworthy monthly newsletter.

  • Create a user-group within my existing customerbase.

  • Create some sort of web-based seminar series for my existingcustomers.

  • Take at least three existing customers to lunch each monthand invite a new prospect to join us.

2. Prospect within my existing customer base.

  • Knock on no less than three new doors, departments anddivisions within each of my existing customers'businesses.
  • Ask each of my existing customer contacts to introduce me toone other person within their organization.
  • Personally meet the top executive at each of my existingcustomers' businesses.

The Time Is Now

The final part of your sales plan must detail the timeline forimplementation of each of the tactics in your sales plan. It'sbest to show a week-to-week schedule.

Once you've created your sales plan, don't file it away!Keep it handy and revisit it and revise it on a regular basis. Stayon track with your plan, and you'll stay on quota.

If you have a sales or marketing question that you'd like toask me in person, you can call me toll-free during my live Internetradio talk show on Entrepreneur Radio. Visit everyFriday between 9 and 10 a.m. PDT.

Calculating Your Prospect Ratio

Step One: Targets
Monitor your own sales work for one month (or whatever period isappropriate in your industry) and answer these questions:

A. If you contacted 100 suspects (via phone calls, mailings,in-person meetings or a combination of these), how many prospectswould result? _________
B. How many of the prospects you identified in A. would turn intohot leads? _________
C. How many of the hot leads you identified in B. would you turninto actual sales? _________

Step Two: Ratio
Divide the number on line C by 100. The result is your ratio._________

Step Three: Goals
1. What is your yearly quota or sales goal, in dollars?_________
2. What are your projected sales totals, in dollars, from currentcustomers? _________
3. Subtract item 2 from item 1 to yield the amount of new salesdollars needed this year. _________
4. Enter the dollar amount of your average sale. _________
5 Divide item 3 by item 5 to yield the number of new sales neededthis year. _________

Step Four: Your Bottom Line
Divide the number in item 5 by the ratio you calculated in StepTwo. _________

Bingo! You're a CPA! Well, maybe not, but this is the numberof new suspects you'll need to contact in the coming year toreach your yearly target. Now divide that number by 52 (unless youplan on taking a week or two of vacation), and you'll know howmany suspects you must contact each week to make your quota.

Note: Aim high! I always shoot for 125 percent of quota if Iwant to hit 110 percent.

Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling bookSelling to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer. For additionalinformation on his speeches and his newest book, Secrets ofVITO, call (800) 777-VITO or visit

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author,not of All answers are intended to be general innature, without regard to specific geographical areas orcircumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting anappropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.

Tony Parinello

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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