Sales Plan: Examples and Steps for Development

Actualizado: 10 may 2021

Any business plan requires a sales plan; in fact, practically all plans for a project (production plan, treasury plan, etc.) are based on initial revenue estimates. This plan involves much uncertainty because it incorporates predictions based on external factors over which there is no control; these factors are customers. That is why it is appropriate to dedicate sufficient time to ensure that the predictions are as realistic as possible, which are more likely to be met in a mid to long-term time frame. Here we will let you know about the steps to take to develop a precise sales plan:

1.Define the Products/Services and Potential Customers

It is important to strictly limit the products or services that will be sold, as well as the potential buyers of the products/services. The most commonly, the same business plan is applied to several products or different services, all of them must be thoroughly described. Customers, on the other hand, can be final customers or companies (B2C or B2B models), another aspect of the process that should be understood. It is interesting to model the profile of an ideal buyer by obtaining information about their interests, their behaviors, etc. and getting to solve some of their problems by your offering. By modeling the buyer's profile you can maximize the ratio of conversion and create more intererest for buyers. To know more, take a look at this post on 7 principles to improve sales conversion rates. Likewise, it is best to list the advantages or benefits that each solution can provide to the target audience, focusing on whether it can improve their quality of life by making it easier, or saving them money. This is a good time to evaluate the value proposition differentiation factor from the offer.

2. Making Numerical Projections

Bearing in mind the products or services that are for sale, it is necessary to predict the number of units to be sold and their unit price. For this, there are several techniques that can be used:

-Bench market: To determine the number of units to be sold, you can determine the volume of sales accrued by the competition; determine the coverage on the intended quota and apply said quota on the total volume. To establish the price, you can obtain competitors' price averages and decide on setting a higher or lower price, depending on the offers differential value with respect to the competitors.

-Market Research: Surveys can be conducted on a sample of the target audience, obtaining data on their behavior and consumption of the product/service for sale. The other option is to find studies that already show the data of interest. Therefore, by trying to obtain a wide confidence interval, which minimizes the probability of errors, consumption results can be extrapolated to the total population, indicating monthly sales volume. Thanks to questionnaires you can also get estimates of the price that potential consumers are willing to pay (by adding questions about this).

Here, we show an example of a sales plan with a three-year projection, although they are also done with a 5 years projection. Visually, the predictions for the first year can be made monthly, obtaining the total revenue by multiplying units by sale price (which can vary monthly). With the estimated monthly revenue, we obtain the seasonality of the sales (monthly income / annual income), which will then be used to calculate the VAT. The seasonality will depend mainly on the product for sale, for example, if the product sold is ice cream, then most likely in the summer, the number of units foreseen to sell will be higher than in winter. This seasonality should be specified in the plan because it affects other departments, such as production.

For the second and third year, predictions are normally made annually, applying the variation that is considered appropriate to the total revenue of the previous year. As this addresses the first year of business, a positive variation is usually applied; however, each business must consider other variables that directly affect the sales of that year to determine if the sales will be higher or lower. During these years, prices should be noted, considering highs and lows as well as the marketing and sales strategy being carried out such as the projection of the CPI. Thus, in the example, revenues for 2019 are the ones of 2018, increased by 5%. For 2020, the increase we consider is 4%.

Now it is necessary to calculate the VAT charged for sales and the quarterly VAT (paid in April, July, October, and January). The VAT charged for every month of 2018 is obtained as follows: annual income * seasonality of said month * Sales VAT. During the first year, in April the VAT charged for January, February and March would be paid (the sum of the three months); in July, April, May, and June would be paid; in October, July, August and September; and in January of the following year (As it would go to the Balance as Public Treasury Creditor by VAT), October, November and December would be paid. For the second and third year of the plan, the VAT charged for the Balance would be calculated as follows: annual revenue * (% seasonal sales October +% seasonal sales November +% seasonal sales December) * Sales VAT.

3. Following up and correcting the plan

As this is about predictions, it is appropriate to do a monthly review of the plan, to correct it in time if deviations occur. If at the end of March, we see that we have sold significantly less than expected, it makes sense to lower the estimates for the coming months or adjust the sales actions to try to meet the objectives.

4. Channel Sales selection

It is necessary to choose the way or ways in which the product or service will be provided to the clients. To do this, we must consider the distribution capacity of the company, the most efficient channels, client preferences, etc. The idea is that the offer reaches the consumer in the shortest time, using the best communication, and with the highest possible profitability. Within the channels, distinctions can be made by their length (direct, short or long channel), for their trading technology (traditional, automated, audiovisual or electronic channel) and due to the type of organization (independent channel, managed, integrated or associated). Each company must assess which is the best option according to its needs and culture, as well as that of its solutions and of its customers.

5. Specify places of sale

If the offers are delivered to clients in different cities or establishments, it is necessary to create this distinction in the revenue projection, by considering different estimates for each one. In the plan, it is advisable to justify why, in some cities or localities, it is expected to sell than in others. Also, specify if the offer varies from one city to another (if some products or services are not offered or are unique to a city).

6. Calculate the sales force

According to predictions, the need for personnel is established to carry out the sales plan so that there is consistency between the expected sales and the capacity to reach them. Having an adequate team is crucial to ensure that the projections are met, so it is best to describe the skills expected of candidates to fill the position. The sales force is responsible for the success of the process, by taking on the responsibility to correctly communicate the value of the offer to potential buyers.

7. Specify the after-sales service

The sales plan must also consider the service to be offered to the customer once the sale has been achieved. Thus, to determine the guarantees that must be made available to the client, it is pertinent to look at the legislation in force within the sector to which each product belongs. Working on the after-sales strategy helps to retain existing customers and can be very useful if satisfied customers act as promoters of the services/products of the company this can be useful to acquire new customers.

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