Sales are the only revenue generator for every company and focusing on increased sales is focusing on increasing profits of and for the company. The top management, responsible for planning and implementing long-term goals, should take into consideration the sales plan as a priority since a well-developed and strategized sales action plan goes long way and improves the financial well-being of the company.
It helps the company to achieve a higher market share, give a competitive edge and also motivates the employees to work harder and better and reinforces the company’s values and behaviors along with its vision and mission. A successful sales action plan would require coordination of all divisions to support the sales function.
Preparation for Creating a Sales Action Plan :
a) Plot your customer :
This is for knowing how good is your rapport with your customer. You could be a beginner and your customer could be a long-term user, in which case, your approach should be cautious. While once you build relationships, it can be leveraged against sales.
b) Look at your Notes :
The notes mean history which includes how long is the customer active, what competition products does he use, why does he use that product etc. Answering or knowing answer to such questions would be making your notes.
c) Assess the competition :
Know the market and the competition. This would include knowing the competitor strategies, their pricing, their offers, and USPs etc. Knowing the competitor customer base also helps in targeting and converting the customers.
d) Identify tactics :
This includes the strategies that you will be using for getting the sales. It may include, giving offers, special prices, freebies etc. to the customers for conversion. The tactics will vary from industry to industry.
e) Targeting :
Finally, targeting the customers with the planned strategies, for conversion and realizing the sale. For effective results, targeting is to done carefully on the research above, the customer and market needs and competitor activities.
All of these steps can be abbreviated as PLAIT. (P)lot your customer, (L)look at your notes, (A)ssess the competition, (I)dentify tactics and (T)targeting.
10 Steps in making a Sales Action Plan
Following are few steps in Sales Action Plan :
1) Targets :
Having and knowing proper targets helps to plan your sales for the given period. Usually, annual targets are taken by most of the organizations and plans and strategies to achieve that annual targets are implemented.
That annual target is broken down into quarterly and combined with business ups and downs, market condition and industry growth along with sales person’s performance and past growth given and a proper sales action plan are implemented. Breaking down the long-term goal to achievable, time-bound short goals helps to focus and achieve. Marketing activities can be planned in relation to the Sales targets.
2) Incentives and Perks :
This is a proven strategy to motivate the sales team to exceed the targets. Incentives are the rewards given after achieving and exceeding targets. They can be in monetary terms or any other kind. Perks are benefits are availed after achieving the targets. Incentives motivate salespeople to hit their numbers which in turn benefits the organization. Planning proper incentives is nothing but sharing excess profits with employees.
3) Re-modeling :
Not every time the targets took work out for everyone’s benefit. It can happen that a certain number and growth is taken but due to unforeseen circumstances like a natural calamity, government change or market slowdown, those targets may not be feasible.
In such case, the targets have to re-modeled to suit the market. In opposite cases, if a favorable incidence – usually of political nature – the targets may have to reworked to increase them because the earlier numbers become too easy to achieve and when the potential is high, the company should not restrict itself with mediocre targets.
4) Study the competition :
It so happens that a competitor launches a strategy which turns out to be a grand success. There is no harm in replicating that strategy after customizing it for own needs. Its termed as Benchmarking. The sales team should keep a lookout for such successful strategies and apply them to hit the numbers. It should learn, improvise, adapt and achieve.
5) Know thy customer :
Perhaps a very important, common and overlooked factor is understanding the customer. A common mistake every company makes is to mold the customer according to the organizational needs when in fact it should be the opposite.
The organization should adapt according to the needs and preferences of the customer. With the rapid change in the market, when the competition is becoming stronger, the customers need a very strong reason to remain brand loyal. It is not only about the quality but equally about price and service. Knowing and serving such customers requires relentless and continuous efforts from the organization and the team.
6) Marketing plan :
Marketing is the backbone of sales and having a good marketing can boost sales. A free demo, early bird discounts, promotion by celebrities, trade shows, fairs, events etc. are part of marketing strategies. Having right marketing strategy at right time makes all the difference.
Tie-ups with new movies to promote products and branding in movies is one of the latest success formula. There are times when marketing strategies have to be improvised and tailored to suit specific markets or territories. Such selective marketing attracts specific customers.
7) Bridging the gap :
To achieve sales action plan it is very important to bridge the gap between different divisions. Coordinating with Market research team to get the relevant data, implementing that data and matching it with sales forecasting and developing relevant marketing strategy can be a handful job and would require exceedingly advanced management skills. Poorly coordinating with any of these divisions will result in a poor plan, which will reflect on the achievements of sales targets.
8) Open ears :
A very important step to enhance sales and develop a sales action plan is to have open ears to subordinates and local sales teams. It’s the local teams that are in direct touch with customers and they are the best sources to know the needs and preferences of customers.
It can be right from changing trend to competitor activities to brand loyalty to the opinions of customers, the front line is always the best resource to know this. They can add valuable comments and insights which the management may be unaware of while formulating a sales action plan.
9) Sales strategy :
Implementing a correct sales strategy can make a lot of difference in success and failure of a brand. The sales teams are given a specific target based on various factors, however, the strategy used should be taken into consideration while achieving targets.
For example, Apple has multiple products like iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and others. One strategy would be to bring 10 new customers of iPhone each bringing in a sale of $1000 – this strategy is leveraging new customers. Another strategy would be to find existing iPhone users and promote and sell them MacBook. This would get faster sales and help in achieving and exceeding the targets.
10) Delegation and follow-ups :
Sales Action Plan that is decided after discussion with the management is documented and relevant people are delegated with relevant duties. For example, the target to be achieved this year is 30% growth over last years’ target. Then preparing a format that has all the existing customers and user base – from which the existing target is to be covered along with new user list for the excess 30% of target. This is to be segregated region wise and delegated to respective team leader.
A time is given before which the objective is to be achieved and relevant resources are provided to them accordingly. As the date approaches, follow-ups are to be taken to know the current status of the targets. Thus this would be effective implementation of the sales action plan.