The sales planning process is very important for an organization as success cannot be achieved by haphazard actions. Sales planning process is usually done in the second stage of planning and can be carried out only when the company has a strategic marketing plan in place.
The first thing that an organization does is make a strategic marketing plan. Once the strategic marketing plan is made, the organization knows the segment that has to be targeted, and also, the consumer buying behaviour for that segment. Accordingly sales planning is done.
Let us go through the sales planning process with the example of Air conditioners
1) Setting objectives – Your sales planning is going to start only when you have defined the objectives for the sales team. For example – The objective of an air conditioning company might be to increase the market share of the company. For this, it will have to penetrate a new geographic market. Thus the objective of sales planning is to penetrate a new market to increase market share.
2) Determine the actions necessary – Once you know the objectives of your sales plan, you have to forecast what actions you need to take and the operations which are needed in effect before you implement the sales plan. This is a crucial step in the sales planning process because if you do not forecast the correct operations strategy, then in future you will face operational difficulties which will hamper you in meeting your sales objectives.
For example – The air conditioning company needs to penetrate a new geographic territory to increase market share. Thus it needs Sales as well as service operation backup in this territory. The marketing department should also know the new territory so that they can come up with aggressive marketing tactics to target that territory.
3) Organize your actions – Coming back to the first point – haphazard actions will never bring results. Once you know the operations that are necessary, you need to organize your sales planning. For example – The first priority of the air conditioning company in new territory will be to have a service setup. Than to have a sales setup and the necessary channel in place. Once that happens, they will have to bombard the new territory with aggressive marketing tactics. Thus an organized action plan needs to be made during the sales planning process.
4) Implement – Once you have your actions planned and organized, implementing them is the next step. Although it may sound easy, there are many real time and real world problems you may face while implementing a sales plan. For example – The customers of the new territory might not respond to the new air conditioners entering the market. On the other hand, the product might be picked up readily by the customers and you might not be able to adapt with the unexpected demand which can make your brand lose face from the start.
5) Measure results – As in any planning process, the fifth and very important step in the sales planning process is to measure the results. Unlike advertising, sales results are very easy to measure because everything is documented and recorded. For example – the air conditioning company will measure the total sales of the geographic territory in study. At the same time it will find out the competitors sales as well for record keeping.
6) Re evaluate – When you have the sales records in hand, ensure that you analyse the sales records to know whether or not the sales planning process has succeeded. The analysis will tell you what you did right and what went wrong. Thus, based on the analysis you can know the good work that has to be repeated as well as the bad work which has to be avoided.
For example – Your sales report shows that you have succeeded in penetrating the new geographic territory. This stage will help you set your objectives for the next year and you will plan increasing your brand equity through quality of sales and service. If on the other hand, you have failed to penetrate the market, then you need to study the reasons which caused the failure and in the next year, sales planning should be done taking these negative results into account and the sales objectives should be re planned.
Remember that sales is a dynamic process and your competitors are themselves watching you all the time. In the above example, the air conditioning segment is one of the vigorously growing segments across the world and it comes with its own share of challenges. Thus your sales planning will go a long way in implementing your organizations visions as well as in implementing the strategic marketing plan.