Sales Plan What Does it Take to be Successful

4 Pillars To Creating a Successful Sales Plan

A sales plan or sales strategy can be the difference between an organization merely surviving, or a company exceeding all sales objectives.

With so many ups and downs this year, as well as company pivots and new long-term strategies, sales planning is more important than ever before for success.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a born leader to devise a master marketing plan or hit your sales objectives. The best sales manager isn’t measured by how many degrees they have or accolades received. They are molded through their years of experience, the ability to set a sales strategy, develop a plan, and a process that brings them closer to the customer and revenue target.

As the host of The Modern Selling Podcast, I relish the opportunity to speak to successful sales leaders who have built successful sales plans and processes. This week is no exception, as I speak to Remy Piazza, Chief Sales Officer of Bureau Veritas of North America. Bureau Veritas is a global testing inspection and certification company. They test everything from the food we eat and the water we drink to airplanes that we’ll eventually go back to when we travel.

I invite you to listen in to this episode as Remy defines four pillars to building a successful sales plan to drive transformation.

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What is a Sales Plan?

A sales plan is a well laid out strategy usually in the form of a document or a PowerPoint that lays out a company’s plan for growing and improving revenue results over a period of time. Generally, this is focused on a 1-2 year horizon. It usually includes:

  • definition around your target market and ideal customer profile
  • establishing objectives and the steps necessary to achieve them
  • revenue metrics and performance goals for the individual(s) and the team(s)
  • plans to address market segmentation
  • the resources, tools, and activities required to carry out the strategies

When bringing all of these elements together your sales plan makes it possible for everyone in the organization from the CEO down to the individual sales team to understand the global view, share the vision and objectives, and work towards achieving the same goal(s). It brings unity, mission, and purpose to the organization.

How to Create a Successful Sales Plan

In this episode, Remy and I discuss the four major pillars for a strategic sales plan that closes the gap to achieving quota and building a healthier sales funnel. These pillars have been Remy’s mantra through his years at the helm of various sales departments of world-renowned organizations. They cover everything from go-to-market strategies, sales prospecting strategies, and even having the right team for the job. It is the perfect sales plan template for every leader who needs to plan their plan to close the sales cycle, increase sales forecasting accuracy, and focus on their target market customer.

According to Remy Piazza from @bureauveritas, there are 4 fundamental pillars that regardless of the industry you are in will steer your sales team in the right direction. Great episode! Thanks, Remy and @M_3jr Click To Tweet

There’s a notion that, as sales leaders transfer from one company to another, they tend to stay within the same industry. While most leaders vertically align themselves with the industries they know, Remy has found joy in being in a leadership position and hitting sales goals in a variety of industries. For this reason, business leaders can apply Remy’s four effective sales plan pillars to any industry and any customer profile.

Note: Before we go through the pillars, Remy suggests that for the sales plan template to be effective, leaders carry it out in chronological order. Those who begin in the middle – and/or go out of order – are unlikely to achieve their revenue targets.

Define Your Ideal Customer Profile and Market Segmentation

Let’s face it. A sales leader doesn’t get hired when things are prosperous, sales activity is high, and/or sales training is helping to reel in customer after customer. Leaders are replaced to help create a good sales plan that attracts the right buyers and ultimately drives the revenue strategy

Remy recommends, before starting in on your sales plan, to look at all addressable market opportunities. For instance, which industries do you sell to or want to sell to? Once this is done, you zero-in on the accounts you want to serve. Then, it’s about customer/buyer segmentation and analysis. This is where leveraging sales tools in partnership with marketing and sales operations will help you map data into your sales plan template to achieve your goals.

Learn about who your ideal customer is, what they look like, and why they are looking for what you offer. Once you understand your target audience, you can understand the buyer journey and what they’re looking to receive from your sellers at every stage. To help assist in this endeavor, you should start by talking to your existing clients. You could also pull in a top sales professional and director to develop depth to your sales plan.

There are 4 pillars that according to Remy Piazza from @bureauveritas, will guarantee your sales team success. His first pillar is defining and documenting segmentation because data without analysis is just Xs and O’s. Thanks, Remy and… Click To Tweet

Identify Your Target Market and Customer Buying Patterns

Next, you need someone to extrapolate and analyze the data. If you don’t have this, in the words of Tony Robbins, “You’re running east looking for a sunset and no matter how fast you run, you’re never going to catch it.” Data without analysis is just simple Xs and O’s. A marketing strategy is crucial to speak directly to your potential customers.

According to Remy, you need to have a wartime plan to have a successful sales strategy. Prior to COVID, businesses could just continue to target those who had purchased from them in the past. Today, the buyer persona and/or your target customer might have changed as a result of a business pivot. For this reason, sales management must be more aligned than ever with their sellers and marketing. You come up with the strategy and specific tactics, but it is the individual sellers who will execute in their own sales territory.

Plan Your Go-to-Market Revenue Acquisition Strategy  

Once you have your ideal customer profile, market segmentation plan, and target customer buying patterns completed, you can hit the ground running and plan your go-to-market sales strategy. This includes making decisions on customer acquisition channels. Remy says your sales plan must include an analysis of the direct vs. vs. channel vs. indirect vs. e-commerce revenue channels and which would be the best channel(s) to achieve the sales target. The sales plan may include all, one, or some in helping you map out the quickest path to revenue.

We’re living in a time where buyer behavior is completely aligned with the selling motion. Both are digitally connected, socially engaged, mobile attached, and video hungry. As such, sales leaders have no choice but to embrace digital sales and social media into their sales plan and marketing strategy.

During this episode, Remy suggests to sales leaders that we break down each element of the customer and revenue acquisition strategy. He discusses peeling back how you will achieve your revenue plan by looking deeply at each channel.

For example, in the direct model, he suggests reviewing which segments you pursue in your sales plan. Is it the SMB, Mid-Market, Majors, Nationals, or Global accounts?

In all cases, what is the fastest path to revenue and the most profitable plan? When considering your go-to-market channel strategy, ensure your sales plan is aligned with the quickest path to revenue.

Remy Piazza’s second pillar is setting a go-to-market strategy. We’re living in a time when buyer behavior is completely aligned with selling motion. Great insight found on this episode, with Remy Piazza and @M_3jr. Click To Tweet

How to Develop a Strategic Sales Plan for Your Team Members

Many NFL fans would agree that without Tom Brady, Bill Belichick likely would not have had the support of his cast. It takes a great leader to run a team of successful sellers. However, the salesperson not only has to execute the strategies, but they also have to buy into the leader’s vision.

Underperforming sales managers will skip pillars one and two, and head straight to hiring the perfect sales rep. Yet, unless you know the first two pillars, you will not know who you need to hire nor can you assess if you have the right existing team members “on the bus”. Remy suggests that sales leaders do two things to create a successful sales plan in this 3rd step:

  1. Assess the Target Selling Profile
  2. Assess current talent and manage up or manage them out.

Set Achievable Goals and Action Plans

But how does a great sales leader know when they have the right people on their teams? According to Remy, you need to get in the field and ride with them in addition to digital sales coaching. Interact with your salespeople and experience what it’s like to be with them in front of prospects or customers.

Here are two questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Do your team members understand your company’s value proposition and how to build a solid sales pipeline?
  2. Have you reviewed their sales plan for prospecting?

When sales leaders understand what their team members do well – and where they struggle – it’s easier to determine who can meet expectations and who can not.

Back when I was an SDR, my company used the Predictive Index to evaluate my performance. This tool provides great insight and information on how – and where – your team needs coaching. It will not determine whether or not someone would be a good hire, but it can reinforce a hunch.

Of course, once the assessment of the talent is completed in your sales plan template, you must then understand how to hire a remote selling sales team. This is one of the hardest parts of a sales leader’s job today and can leave any sales plan void of success if a sales manager, sales director, or even your sales VP don’t know how to hire.

The third of Remy Piazza’s Pillars for a successful sales plan is ensuring you have the right players on your team. Another great episode with Remy Piazza and @M_3jr. Click To Tweet

Sales Plan Template

This sales plan template will help you outline your individual or your team’s sales strategy. We have included sections typical in most sales plans and instructions you can follow to fill out your company’s tactics and information.

These are the main sections of the sales plan:

  • Mission & Background
  • Team
  • Target Market
  • Sales Tools and Technology
  • Prospecting Strategy
  • Action Plan
  • Goals
  • Budget
  • Sales Process

Feel free to add, delete or modify sections of the template as you see fit.

Your Sales Plan Must Include Sales Enablement

This relatively burgeoning group supporting sales leaders is all about leveraging data to develop and support the sales team. Having the right sales enablement strategy embedded in your sales plan is the beautiful orchestration point between sales and marketing.

As Remy discusses, with a revenue enablement team helping you develop your sales plan, together you can focus on two extremely important areas:

    1. Sales training and skills development of your sales professionals
    2. Choosing the best tools for managing a remote sales team to help them achieve their revenue target.

Elements of Your Sales Plan

In addition, your enablement team can help you define and create an effective sales plan by providing the grassroots elements for the field. They include:

  • Create the right value proposition
  • Provide research on buyers, customer, and markets
  • Identify where your target buyers “digitally hang out”
  • Prepare the kind of content that will resonate with them

Successful sales leadership is 50% talent and 50% sales-team support. The enablement team is an instrumental component in helping your sellers and in establishing sales enablement best practices.

Back in the day, the role of a salesperson was different than it is now. To engage with potential and existing customers, all you had to do was give them a brochure with all of your information. Now, prospects can get all that info and more just by visiting a website.

Modern sales reps are consultants, offering value to “help” today’s savvy business buyer. And sales enablement teams feed your sellers the right data to fulfill that role further solidifying the tactical elements needed to complete your plan.

Modern-day sellers are consultants that need a sales enablement leader or team behind them to feed them the right data to fulfill that role. Fantastic insight in this episode with Remy Piazza and @M_3jr. Click To Tweet

Watch the video below to learn the 7 must have’s of a sales strategy plan. Charlie Celaya, Vengreso’s Regional VP of Sales, shares:

1. How to produce a lead.
2. How to implement a sales training program to do it successfully.
3. What does a sales leader have to do in a remote selling environment.

How to Choose the Best Sales Tools

Similar to how a carpenter needs his toolbox, a modern seller needs social selling tools to find, engage, and connect with prospects. Other than social media platforms (it is social selling after all), there are several tools that can increase your sellers’ efficiency in building their network and sharing valuable content.

To effectively leverage these social selling tools, sales leaders must collaborate closely with enablement leaders to understand which tools sellers use most frequently, how the tools are being used, and the impact they have on their team’s selling activities.

Every organization uses multiple tools to effectively manage sales activities in connection with the buyer’s journey. This is no different when it comes to social selling. There are many categories of tools that enable sellers to easily find, engage, and connect with prospects through social platforms.

For example, if your aim in building an effective sales plan is to increase sales productivity, provide messaging that you know works to engage your buyers then you’d want to consider incorporating into your list of sales tools.

FlyMSG is the text expander tool that helps sales and marketing professionals type less and sell more. Today, sales engagement has become more difficult in a virtual selling environment. Teams struggle to leverage sales messaging that gets results in their prospecting efforts while also facing the challenge of sales productivity. FlyMSG is designed to meet those challenges. It also serves as a critical sales tool leaders can leverage within the sales plan.

The Benefits of a Successful Sales Plan

Successful sales leadership requires defining your ideal customer profile and market segmentation, customer buying patterns, having the right people, and eventually embracing sales enablement.

Remember revenue and sales just don’t fall off from the tree. You must have a solid plan to invoke transformation within an organization. Take the time that is required to tackle your biggest challenges so you can produce a strategy example for your team that is bulletproof. Once you’ve done all of this, your sales plan is just the document that will help you organize everything.

Once you’ve gone through every one of these pillars – in order – you will have a starting point for your current sales leadership role, as well as future leadership positions.

What’s your largest challenge when it comes to creating a sales plan? Have you found any tricks that help? Let me know in the comments below.


Outline of this Sales Plan Episode

[3:00] About Remy Piazza and who is Bureau Veritas?

[10:54] Pillar #1 – Address the Market

[21:30] Importance of pillars

[26:25] Pillar #2 – Go to Market Strategy

[35:45] Pillar #3 – Having the right players on your team and how it affects hitting a sales target

[41:50] Predictive Index for Every Successful Sales Leader

[42:30] Pillar #4 – Sales Enablement and how it correlates with a sales strategy plan.

Table of Contents

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