What is a sales plan?
The brief definition says that a sales plan is a strategy that every business needs. It consists of a target list, your sales goals for the future, and the tactics. After an in-depth analysis of the market and potential buyers, you need to prepare it regarding your market extent. Sales strategies must be suited to your industry, that’s why it’s better to make them with some experience or with a little help from professionals.
The sales plan’s accuracy with the market analysis is necessary to achieve the intended goals. Otherwise, the whole planning process is pointless. It means that your goals need to be somewhat realistic.
What is a sales plan?
Once again, we must stress that everything depends on the budget when it comes to startups. If you can afford to hire a sales team - that’s perfect. If you can’t, well, it’s all down to the startup founder. This won’t be the ideal position for you, especially because every founder has an emotional connection to the product. Instead of thinking of the customer’s needs, you’ll be thinking of how precious your product is, which definitely won’t boost your sales.
Sales management can be divided into a few roles: a sales manager and a salesperson(s). The manager sets goals for the team and distributes tasks to have the best skills to create the sales plan and strategy. If you want to hire that person, you need to check their experience, education, and portfolio.
Sales strategy - dos and don’ts
There are plenty of ready-made templates for every new startup founder useful for creating a sales plan. Most of them include the following aspects:
- The sales team’s first task is to establish the different types of potential customers (buyer personas). Experience and cooperation with customers are crucial for this part. You can’t just imagine the personas; you need to gather materials and interview lots of people to get desired and worthy results.
- The sales team’s goals refer to annual recurring revenue (ARR) and/or to a volume (i.e., a volume of transactions, a volume of new customers per month/year, etc.).
As I've mentioned before, these numbers need to be somewhat realistic and also have to be backed up by actual data.
The business industry professionals talk about Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Annual Contract Value (ACV) that need to be taken into account when creating a sales plan. Think about your budget for marketing, even if there isn’t any. As we all know, startups prefer the growth hacking strategy, which implies a minimal or close to zero budget for marketing.
ACV means how much profit the company gets from every customer. Of course, it’s relevant to your sales program if your clients pay you monthly or yearly. Nowadays, startups move away from selling only one product with one transaction. It’s better to have a regular income and offer your clients a subscription to your product. That way, you can easily and quickly scale your monthly and yearly income.
Practice makes perfect!
After each noticeable growth in your company, you must review the sales strategy. Remember that the market is continually changing, and most probably, your product is improving. Therefore your buyer's personas might differ from those you made a year ago, even 6 months ago.
The only way to succeed in selling your product is to practice. The sales team needs to perfect their selling techniques and test different customer acquisition and closing deals. Growth can only be achieved by learning and improving.
We’ll be talking about sales activities recommended for startups and also about creating an offer in future posts, so keep an eye out for that.
Karol, CEO of ULAN Software & BOWWE.com, is a distinguished leader with a dual degree in CS and Marketing. With a background in FinTech, eCommerce, and Startups, his experience spans over 7 years in the Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese banking sectors, contributing to major institutions. With 11 years in SME eCommerce, he's advised 500+ companies globally and is a World Bank Group speaker. Karol has co-founded 3 startups and brings valuable insights from his Silicon Valley experience, focusing on growing international online businesses.