Sales & Marketing

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In our last post, we explored how to be strategic in Sales & Marketing in a world where the word strategic is overused and under-meant. Here, we put it to use in our FIVE STEPS to a simple and strategic Sales & Marketing Plan.

1. Review

Sir Winston Churchill advised us: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results” The vital first step of a strategy is to review what’s been happening.

Sales teams need to come together to discuss what worked and what didn’t last year. From whence came the best leads? What was lost that was expected to be won? Why? Any prospects stuck in the pipeline? How can close rates be improved?

A key part of this stage is to review what the client looks like: it’s to no one’s gain to pursue the wrong clients. Indeed, it’s worth agreeing and reviewing here what the list of ideal projects looks like, in order to save time and money pursuing the wrong kinds of business.

2. Set Goals

“Sound strategy starts with having the right goal.” – Michael Porter

What are the goals for 2018? Da Vinci’s assertion that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication rings true here: goals must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based. And they must be few.

Three or four goals determined by the Board is ideal, so they can be memorized by and passed to the sales teams to implement. Invite collaboration from the sales team to devise the plan for achieving them: work together to include all channels of communication (social media must not be forgotten!) and make a plan based on the team: play to individual team members’ strengths. 

3. Budget

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tsu, Ancient Chinese Military strategist

The budget has to work with the goals. The greatest mistake is to continue doing something because it’s always been budgeted for. The world changes fast: conditions change, goals change, best available tools change. Budgets need to change with them.

Take the time to figure out what budget allocations paid off and what didn’t. Ask the team for blue sky thinking when it comes to the best available tools to achieve the agreed goals. Do not shy away from new things or feel beholden to old ways. Immense opportunities present themselves in the world of social media. (And this will form another upcoming article of its own.)

4. Write the Plan

“If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal – you have a wish.” – Steve Maraboli

The writing down of the Sales & Marketing plan should be simple after the discussion of the first three steps, but in reality, the writing down itself often kicks out important and pertinent questions. First, there is often the question of who should write it, and this engenders a discussion around the gatekeepers of the brand and accountability.

It can often identify gaps in accountability that are helpful to note and close. The document itself should contain the goals and budget, but remain as short as humanly possible in order to be useful and, most importantly, used.

5. Monitor, Adjust

Peter Drucker, perhaps the father of modern business management, told us “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.

In this area, ne’er a truer word was said! The Sales & Marketing plan can and should form the basis of the agenda for monthly sales team meetings and be subject to measurement and scrutiny.

Every variable that is possible to be quantified, should be. With the ubiquitous embrace of technology as a key communication channel, and the simplicity of analytical tools, any online activity should be measured and shown graphically.

Changes to client profile, SMART goals, and realistic targets can be discussed and agreed amongst the team to ensure not just that everyone is on board, but that the plan remains relevant as the year progresses and the world changes. A more detailed review of the document itself can take place quarterly.

Sales & Marketing plans are a necessary, useful, indeed rather indispensable tool of any management team; following these five steps will ensure the plan brings structure, rigour and clarity to management in order to give the greatest chance of meeting business goals.

On that note, stay tuned for a sample Sales & Marketing Plan!