While most business professionals are familiar with the concept of a marketing plan or a business plan, they may have less knowledge about creating an annual sales plan. This document acts as a company’s roadmap to provide direction to the sales team via specific objectives and goals. While some companies write shorter or longer sales plans, the annual plan is the most common. Sales managers typically prepare it towards the end of a calendar year to guide sales operations for the following year.
How to Define Success
One of the most important elements in creating this document is determining which metrics to use to evaluate whether salespeople are meeting the goals and objectives of the plan. According to experts on annual sales planning, it’s important to include all of the following:
- Business results: This covers such things as customer satisfaction, market share, and revenue. It helps to determine an organization’s overall health.
- Sales objectives: These metrics include such benchmarks as customer retention rates, deal win rates, and new product sales. They help to determine how well each member of the sales team is achieving specific goals.
- Sales activities: This looks at metrics such as how much training the sales team should receive, percentage of salespeople who use CRM tools, how many customers each salesperson manages, and sales call volume. This part of the sales plan outlines the specific tasks that sales managers and team members complete to attain specific business goals.
Revisit the Past to Plan for the Future
Creating a high-quality sales plan requires the ability to evaluate how things currently stand. Since each member of the sales team will have different ideas on this, it’s important to allow them to express their views. However, it’s important to limit everyone’s time to speak to ensure meeting the goals of the planning session.
Before starting planning for the next year, review what worked and didn’t work in the current year. The goal is to take lessons learned from the current year and incorporate them into the sales plan for next year. It’s a good idea to divide goals into new things to start, things to keep, and things to eliminate or modify.
Develop a Theme
With so many things to include and focus on for the business plan, it’s important to pull everything together and decide on an overarching message or sentiment. Creating a tagline for the sales plan gets more people behind it by generating enthusiasm. Businesses with a strong seasonal focus should consider creating a theme that brings all seasons together with a single statement.
Budgeting and Promotion
There’s no way around the fact that meeting goals takes money. Companies must include how they intend to pay for such things as marketing and advertising, training, and product development to ensure that creating the plan doesn’t require going over budget. Viewing the expenses in terms of an investment rather than an expense is also helpful.
After preparing the final copy of the sales plan, the next step is to share news of marketing programs and other activity with customers. Delivering the news in a fun and innovative way gets them behind the plan just as much as the employees and is something to strive towards doing.