No one can overlook the importance of having a great product or service to lay the foundations of a successful business. However, developing a winning sales development plan is equally essential. Direct outreach, social media campaigns, and advertisement are fun buzz words. But how can a business scale these channels to help elevate sales? Having a winning sales development plan is the first step to help grow your business in a competitive market.
The sales development plan holds the same position for a business as that of blueprints in the construction industry. In this article, you will get to know what a sales development plan actually is and how you should develop a winning plan to boost the company’s revenue.
What is a sales development plan?
A sales development plan is a detailed document that describes how your team will get in touch with the target customers. The desired goals and details about the operations that a business needs to carry out to achieve the objectives are clearly stated in the sales plan. A detailed written plan will keep everyone on task instead of making decisions on the fly. As the sales plan is usually created while keeping in view the long-term vision, it should be well-researched, comprehensive, and actionable for the sales team.
How to create a sales development plan?
As a sales plan is a necessary document, the company needs to put a lot of effort into doing research and analysis. The end result should give a clear blueprint to the sales and marketing team to follow to redirect their efforts to grow and sustain the sales.
Here is a five steps process to create a winning sales plan for your business:
Identifying sales’ goals
Before actually getting into selling your product or services, you should get an idea about the goals that you want to accomplish for your company. The sales goals will give you a direction to develop a sales plan accordingly because they will work as the guiding light for your team to work.
Here are a few points to consider to set achievable and realistic goals.
- Assess the available resources of the company
- Review customers data of past sales
- Use the renowned SMART model to set actionable goals
Once you are done with setting the overall goals, you should work backward. Set short-term, realistic, and achievable deadlines for the different steps that you will go through to ensure that the final goals are met.
For instance, if the goals are to improve the customer retention rate by 50% during the 4th quarter of the year, the short-term goal can be to increase the number of customers by 15% per month. You can improve the motivation level of the sales team by breaking long-term goals into simple weekly or monthly tasks as these will be easier to achieve.
Nail down your market fit
To drive more sales to your business, it is important to understand how the brand fits in the market. For this, you need to articulate the unique value of your brand to persuasively sell your service or product.
One of the best and proven ways to identify how you fit in the market is by doing a SWOT analysis. You should consider answering questions like these to develop a robust sales development plan:
- What is the actual value proposition of our offerings?
- Which problem or need of the customers does our product or service address in the target market?
- What are the different internal and external constituents for the sales department that can hinder goal accomplishment?
You should use the SWOT answers to look for the opportunities that you can leverage and the threats that can stop you from achieving the goals. Besides, doing a SWOT analysis of your major competitors can give you knowledge about the goals. You will get to know what they are doing and how you can outperform them.
Build customer personas
As of now, you have developed an idea about what your target market is; you should move onto the next step, which is to break it down to buyer personas. A buyer persona is actually a fictitious profile that gives a picture of what your ideal customer might look like and why they would want to purchase your product or service. You should necessarily include the following information to the buyer persona:
- A fictitious name with a title
- The demographics of the person
- The goals and challenges that excite him/her
- How does the value proposition of your products or services address the customers’ needs
You should start off by dividing the customers into different segments depending upon their shared characteristics. For instance, you can group buyers by the salary that they earn or by the education level. The wise step here is to create separate buyer persona profiles for different market segments that you want to target.
Thus, you give directions to the sales team about the more qualified leads. Armed with such valuable information, you will clearly know which customer segment is more valuable to target, attract, and retain.
Identify pitfalls to provide exceptional customer experience
If you want to create an efficient sales development plan, you should look closely at how your potential and existing customers are currently moving through the process of making a purchase. If you fully understand this journey, you will be able to determine ways to efficiently convert prospects into customers. Here is how to identify impending opportunities for improvement:
- You should try talking with your current customers to know about their experience.
- Identify what hampers or drives purchases.
- Review the customer experience and journeys of your counterparts.
After getting to know about the specific process that your prospects or customers are going through, what they like, and what isn’t working for them, you can create a sales development plan to achieve the set goals.
Outline the action plan
As by this step, you have an idea of what you want to achieve with your representatives’ help, you should make it easier for them to achieve the goals. Thus, you should have a detailed written action plan to guide them through each step. You should use the outcomes of research carried out in steps 2 to 4 to create this action plan.
Your reps will be putting the efforts to achieve the goal set in step 1; you should outline the task that they will be performing. These tasks should be unique and realistic. Here are some examples of the tasks to be carried out for customer acquisition and retention that should be set for the team:
- Research prospects and generate leads through social platforms like Quora and LinkedIn
- Integrate support tickets into your customer relationship management process to source more leads
- Suggest upgrades to existing customers by highlighting the benefits that the service will bring to the table
- Offer discounts to your current customers to refer someone to your brand
By setting a proven action plan, you elevate the chances of success and ensure that the team will work to achieve a shared goal.
Execute the sales plan
No matter how ingeniously you have written your sales strategy, it will be of no use unless you implement it. Thus, you should put your strategy in action after ensuring that you have a winning sales strategy. Here is what you should do:
- Introduce the new sales strategy to your entire sales team by highlighting the benefits
- Call for informal weekly meetings to keep a check on the progress
- If needed, re-evaluate any or all the steps of the sales development plan and revise your actions
The biggest mistake that most of the business make is to wait for the end of the year to evaluate the sales plan. You should make a wise move by assessing failures and success regularly to make amendments whenever needed. As a sales development plan ensures that the sales reps are working on a common goal, you will bring more prospects.