Strategic planning helps give you a leg-up on competitors in your industry. A big element of your planning process should involve market research. If you find their weak spots, you can pinpoint opportunities for your business to come out on top. Entrepreneurs who fail to plan, simply fail. Use the planning process as a way to get your business in order and set yourself up for success from the get-go. Search for:. Understanding the uncertainty in their business environment 2. Increasing their self-efficacy and confidence 3. Speak at events. Add value to the lives of your prospects before you ever ask them to become a customer.
The more visibility you can have in your niche, the more chance you have of hitting the goals and milestones in your sales plan. Start with one product in one niche and then branch out to a complementary niche.
Sell beautiful, handcrafted tea cups? How about a booming doily business? Or customizable teaspoons? It makes no sense spending time and money chasing after the wrong prospects, so don't allow them to make their way into your sales plan.
So, just what should you look to define about your audience within your sales plan? Use this information to build out an ideal customer profile.
- 2) Choosing the Right Goals.
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A customer profile helps you qualify new leads and disqualify ones before you spend months barking up the wrong tree and under-delivering on your sales plan. Start by hanging out where they hang out:. With your ideal customer profile in place, the next part of your sales plan needs to address how that customer becomes your customer.
We can do this by mapping out their journey from prospect to loyal customer. So, what do we need to know about our soon-to-be customers? These are all great questions to ask. To fully understand their journey as a customer start by asking about past buying experiences:. If they had a great previous experience, think of ways to align your pitch with that experience and differentiate yourself with your unique value proposition more on this next!
If they had a bad experience, distance yourself and explain how you would fix that situation. Putting your prospect in this future-thinking state of mind makes them imagine buying from you. This is a powerful tool, which can help uncover any potential roadblocks and even help accelerate the sales process. In your sales plan template, be sure to address the entire customer journey from pre- to post-sale. We know our customers. We know their journey. Now we need to fit ourselves into it in the best way possible.
This comes from defining your competitive advantage. Your competitive advantage is what sets you apart from the competition, which fully understanding and articulating is a crucial element of your sales plan template.
Start by asking a few simple questions:. Remember that customers buy benefits, not features. What you do. Instead, flip the script and talk about what your product will do for your customers. A strong competitive advantage:. Your competitive advantage is not just an integral part of your sales plan, but will inform everything your company does moving forward, from marketing to product development.
A prospect list is where we take all the theory and research of the last few sections of our sales plan template and put them into action. At its core, a prospect list is a directory of real people you can contact who would benefit from your product or service. This can be a time-consuming task, but it's essential for driving your sales plan and company growth.
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Target up to 5 people at each organization you can always move laterally towards the proper buyer no matter who in the organization actually responds to you. Targeting more than one individual will give you better odds for connecting on a cold outreach as well as a better chance that someone in your network can connect you personally. From referrals. From brand. From word of mouth. Word-of-mouth, introductions, and current customers can be your most solid lead for growth.
Use LinkedIn to see if anyone you know can introduce you to one of your prospects. Or reach out to your most loyal customers and ask if they know anyone that would benefit from your product or service you can even offer a referral bonus or discounted rate.
Now, when leveraging current client relationships in your sales plan, you'll need to make sure you do it in the right way. When asking for an intro, remember:. The last group you should include in your sales plan template are any strategic partners—individuals, organizations, or companies—that reach the same customers.
Remember, you should be offering all of these services free of charge and incorporate that time investment into your sales plan template. The more you add value to the community, the more people will want to send leads your way. Remember what Basecamp founder Jason Fried said about plans:.
But yes, try as we might, very few of us actually see anything when we gaze deep into the crystal ball. Instead, remember that your sales plan is a living, breathing doc and just like the rest of your company, needs to account for and adapt to new features, marketing campaigns, or even new team members who join. You need to return to it regularly to assess whether or not your guesses are turning into reality. Set regular meetings at least monthly to review progress on your sales plan, identify and solve issues, and align your activities across teams to optimize your plan around real-world events and feedback.
Learn from your mistakes and victories, and evolve your sales plan as needed.
3 Ways Strategic Planning Puts Your Company Ahead
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