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What is a sales and marketing plan?

What is a sales and marketing plan?
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Everyone has heard the saying ‘without a plan, you plan to fail’, right? And this rings especially true when it comes to sales and marketing plans for your business. Sales and marketing plans are put in place by sales and marketing teams to outline specific goals and the steps that should be taken in order for these goals to be reached.

The sales and marketing teams of any business play a pivotal role in the business’s overall success. One of their most important tasks is developing practical, structured and detailed sales and marketing plans. Large or small, your business needs to have a plan if it wants to enjoy success.

In this article, we look at what is involved in the average sales and marketing plan, the importance of goal setting, and how these plans affect your business.

Differentiating sales plans and marketing plans

Small businesses usually merge their sales team and marketing teams, while larger businesses usually separate their sales team from their marketing team. In either case, you can create separate sales plans and marketing plans or create a combined sales and marketing plan. Sales and marketing are very closely linked, and even if plans are separate, they will feed into each other and affect each other at some point.

Before you begin creating a sales and marketing plan

Before you rush into creating a sales and marketing plan, there are a few things that you should be certain of, including:

  • Your previous year’s financials, number of products sold etc.
  • Previous marketing plans to draw from
  • Your exact target market
  • Which team members will be responsible for coming up with the plan
  • What time period you want to create a plan
  • In-depth knowledge of trending sales and marketing strategies
  • What sort of marketing plan your competitors are using
  • Options of the latest tools, technology, and applications that you could use for your plan
  • Knowledge of your current problem areas and weaknesses and what needs to be improved upon
  • Any skills or ‘hidden talents’ that your sales and marketing team possess that could be used to elevate the plan

Make sure that you have gathered all of the information and documents you need before creating your plan; otherwise, you will just have to make dozens of edits as new information comes to light.

What a sales and marketing plan should consist of

The most important part of any sales and marketing plan should be the goals that are set within it. The goals should be very specific (i.e. sell x amount of products, gain x amount of followers on social media, improve engagement by x per cent etc.). The goals should also be realistic, and research should be done into current market trends and competitor brands to help create goals that are achievable.

Aside from very specific goals, a good sales and marketing plan should also consist of:

  • A detailed list of marketing strategies that are going to be implemented, and timeframes for each
  • What tools and applications will be used in the sales and marketing strategies
  • Which team members will be responsible for the specific tasks laid out in the sales and marketing plan, and which team members will assume leadership positions
  • Milestones leading up to each ‘end-goal’
  • The incentives, bonuses, and commission involved for when goals are reached
  • Potential obstacles that may be encountered along the way
  • The resources that your team currently has available to them

Overall a sales and marketing plan should be a blueprint that team members can refer to for when they need to remind themselves of sales and marketing objectives and what steps need to be taken in order to meet the business’s goals. Every member of the sales and marketing team, and even employees part of other divisions, should have a copy of the sales and marketing plan.

Everything in the plan should be laid out cohesively in a way that is easy to understand. There should be the use of visuals, such as branding, graphs etc., and should overall stay true to the brand’s identity.

Why is a sales and marketing plan so important

Sales and marketing plans play a vital role in keeping your business relevant and staying on track with its various objectives in the sphere of sales and marketing. An outline helps keep things organised, ensuring that every member of the team knows what is expected of them, what they are working towards, and what sort of incentive they can hope to enjoy should the goals be achieved.

Without a structured and detailed plan in place, you run the risk of complacency, confusion, and not being able to keep up with your competitors.

Executing your sales and marketing plan

If detailed steps are put in place and sufficient research is done, executing your sales and marketing plan should not be a problem at all. There should also be contingency plans laid out if certain things do not go according to plan. The results from sales and marketing should be closely and regularly monitored so that the entire team is aware when certain goals have been achieved and their hard work has paid off.

How often should sales and marketing plans be done?

This will differ from business to business, but it is recommended that a detailed sales and marketing plan should be created at least every year. Some businesses create seasonal sales and marketing plans for specific festive, busy seasons.

The original plan can always stay in place, with slight tweaks being made to it need be, such in the cases of new marketing plans being implemented or when new employees are added to the team. Even if you use the same plan for a few years, it should be referred to regularly and inspected for any areas that need changes to ensure that you are always headed towards achievable goals and are one step ahead of your competitors.

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