As a small business owner, we’re sure you’ve had plenty of advice around writing a business plan, and probably a marketing plan too. But most small businesses owners we work with have never thought about, let alone attempted, writing a sales plan.
Many people are afraid of putting sales forecasts and plans in place because of the perceived pressure it then puts on the business to achieve targets (aka. the fear of not achieving them!).However, what if we said that having a well-thought through sales plan could actually be the ‘silver bullet’ you’re looking for to help you manage your cash flow better?
In this blog article we give you some tips on how to write and implement a sales plan that works.
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Firstly, what is a sales plan?
A documented sales plan maps out your financial goals and provides a realistic view of how much revenue you need to bring in to pay the bills and achieve these goals. A sales plan helps you work out what price you need to charge for your goods or services, along with how many times you need to sell those goods or services to achieve your revenue targets.
Sometimes the revenue you need over a 12 month period can be an intimidating figure particularly if you’re still learning to manage your cash flow. A strategy to deal with this is to split the figure into manageable chunks, for example, quarterly or monthly revenue targets. With this level of visibility, you can then monitor cash flow in light of the revenue targets you have planned for each period. If you’re on-target for a given period, then you know what wriggle-room you have with cash flow!
So, what are 5 key things you can think about today to help move your sales and goals forward?
Tip #1 Have one person in the business in charge of sales
Clarify roles and responsibility in your business - it’s essential one person takes ownership of sales.
Tip #2 Understand what your sales process is
Think about things from your customers’ perspective:
- What are their problems?
- How can you make things easier for them?
- What are all the touch points a customer experiences with you through the sales process?
- Do you think about typical customer concerns and openly address them?
- What can you do to improve your sales process to address the points above?
Take these things into consideration to develop your sales approach. If you’ve got a well thought out sales process, chances are you’re going to be ahead of the game compared with your competition.
Tip #3 Measure the leading indicators, not the result
Actual sales on the books are a filtered down result of a sales funnel that extends from people being unknown to you, to researching your business, to becoming a lead and ultimately customer. Do you have visibility over all these steps and are you measuring how many people come through this funnel?
- How many website visits have you had?
- How many website enquiries have you had?
- How many prospect meetings or phone calls have you had?
- How many quotes have you written?
- And ultimately, how does all this relate to how many sales you’ve had?
Tip #4 Make time to proactively work on sales and marketing
Simple, you’ve got to make time for it!
- Find ways to monitor your website traffic and enquiries
- Consider developing an inbound marketing programme
- Put time into following up leads who look close to becoming customers or who you haven’t heard back from – what can you do to help them make the decision to buy from you?
- Make sure you allocate time every week to work on quotes – don’t put it off!
- Assess ahead, how many quotes do you need to do over the next few months? How many sales/jobs need to be accepted? Do you need to be more proactive?
Tip #5 Re-evaluate on a regular basis
On the flipside, you also need to look back. Do you know why you’ve lost out on work? You need to know the reasons why so you can address and alter your approach moving forward.
As a business owner, you wear so many hats in the running of your business. We get it! A sales plan is there to break things into manageable chunks and actionable tasks – and it take the emotion out of the monthly cash flow rollercoaster that can otherwise dominate your life.
If you’re looking for more tips and advice about how to run your business smarter, why not download our free eBook, 10 tips for busy business owners: A practical guide to running your small business better.