Rise Performance Group

How to Develop an Effective Sales Plan


A critical function in every organization is the sales team.  Whether you sell widgets or provide a service, if you aren’t consistently bringing on new clients, you’ll eventually cease to be in business.

However, sales should be about more than just acquiring new clients;  sales is the first and most critical component to building your die-hard fan strategy.

Die-hard fans are those customers so loyal they will recommend you, defend you, and even walk past a potentially better product at a potentially better price before they will allow their relationship with you to end. 

Die-hard fans are the clients you want to have in your corner, and the more the better.  They are often clients that fall squarely within your target market.  They are easiest to make happy, generate fair margins, and allow you to fulfill the mission of the organization because they already believe in you.   How can your sales team cultivate more of these die-hard fan relationships?

Start with a Sales Strategy

A high-quality sales strategy will bring clarity and alignment to the organization.

Leaders build hope when they provide a plan.  They build trust when they deliver on that plan. 

The Sales Strategy is a document that outlines who you are, what you stand for, your brand promise, and your overall strategy for finding and building a die-hard fan tribe.  While a Sales Strategy is designed for your internal sales team, it also provides value to other internal and external stakeholders.

When building your Sales Strategy, I recommend the following components:

  • Vision Statement – An effective vision statement connects with all stakeholders; every member of the sales team should see themselves as part of the vision.  It should  inspire everyone to rise up and bring the best version of themselves to work every day.  An example of a great sales vision is, “Be the preeminent sales team that is so talented and so well equipped that we become a competitive differentiator for our organization.”
  • Brand Promise – An effective Brand Promise connects with and inspires clients at all levels of the organization.  It pre-frames client expectations and provides a commitment for clients to buy into.  It also provides a standard that all departments can commit to deliver against.
  • State of the Industry – This provides an opportunity for alignment around how sales and the rest of the organization are looking at the industry you serve.  This section provides a tool for you to assess how well your most important market-facing team understands your industry. This section should highlight trends, discuss competitors and outline the shifting needs of your clients.
  • Proven Strengths – This is an opportunity to highlight your organization’s competitive differentiators.  What causes clients to choose your offerings and to remain loyal to your organization?  What do customers value most? Look for language from the voice of the customer.  This section empowers the entire organization to focus more energy in the areas that make the biggest difference.
  • Target Market – A target market brings clarity  and serves as a guide when evaluating client satisfaction.  For example, dissatisfied clients outside our target market should be given less weight when driving product development.  The target market should be at the intersection of 1) where we have the highest customer satisfaction, 2) the segments that produce the highest margins and 3) where the implementations are easiest (or the segments that best fit a strategic requirement).  The target market should be specific enough to bring clarity yet big enough to enable the organization to reach its goals.
  • Value Proposition – What value do you deliver to your clients?  How do clients justify the value of the relationship?  What specific impact do your products and services have on operational and financial performance?  Do everything in your power to monetize the value of your capabilities.

The closer you are to the income statement the more valuable you will be to your clients.

  • Marketing Strategy – Discuss how to generate leads or new opportunities for the sales team.    Each of these items can be given strength by including the number of leads forecast from each channel.  Consider strategic partnerships, relationships with brokers, planned conferences, proactive seminars and marketing activities you host and collateral or other print strategies to name a few.
  • Sales Operating Plan – I recommend a high-level plan with goals, leading indicators and lagging measures.  For example, a good metric to track is the total number of meetings required to generate a sale.  Sales is a numbers game and meeting activity goals helps determine if your team is putting forth the appropriate effort.  These numbers also help you to plan, budget and forecast.  Qualitative ratios can help you see whether the sales team members are properly trained and working smart.  At a minimum, I recommend you include the following data points:  annual goals, number of new deals, number of proposals required, number of first meetings and pipeline expectations.
  • Leadership Cadence –  For most situations, I recommend a weekly tactical team meeting held by each sales manager and their direct reports to report weekly activity and update the sales manager on pipeline changes.  Schedule monthly or quarterly strategic meetings  to review performance, train and problem solve.

A sales team will never reach its potential without a forecasting cadence.  For most business to business sales teams, a monthly or quarterly forecast is ideal.  As you approach the end of the quarter, high performing sales teams move to daily updates and include key members of the executive team.  This provides complete transparency, allows the executive team to hear first-hand the latest market dynamics, speeds decision making and resource allocation.

If you are ready to create a Sales Strategy, I’ve created a FREE template to help you get started.  Looking at sales with a die-hard fan mentality will transform the way you plan, execute and deliver your products or services, and it starts with your sales team.

Learn more about creating die-hard fans for your organization in our eBook, Loyalty Isn’t Luck.

Loyalty Isn't Luck

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