One thing that almost every small business needs is more sales. Of all the types of planning, we do for our clients, creating a sales and marketing plan for your small business ranks first in importance for most clients.
The Sales and Marketing Plan
The sales process is usually tactical and direct with individual prospects while marketing is generally strategic and aimed toward a group of prospects. To use a fishing analogy, sales would be actually hooking, reeling in and netting your fish, while marketing would be choosing the right time of day, the right lake, the right fishing hole, and the right bait. To be successful in growing a business, the owner needs to employ both sales and marketing. Below are some tips to remember in developing a sound sales and marketing plan.
Your Marketing Plan
Define your ideal customer.
The more clarity a business owner has about his customer, the more effective the plan will be. Advertising dollars will be saved and a more effective message to prospects will be crafted. Determine from your client the following ideal customer’s characteristics:
age, income, gender, generation, marital status, occupation, etc.
lifestyle, values, motivation (leader or follower), activities, social class, ethnicity.
From the ideal customer characteristics above write a one to two sentence summary describing your ideal customer. (This will be included in your USP below)
Develop your marketing message.
Once you have defined your ideal customer, you will need to craft a powerful message to attract prospects. Develop a Unique Selling Proposition and a Tagline that is tailored to the ideal customer.
Unique Selling Proposition(USP)–
A well written USP will include a four to five sentence summary addressing the following four elements:
1. Customer needs wants/pain
2.How your solution solves your customer’s problems and advantages/benefits
3.Point of difference from your competition
4.The motivation for your prospect to take action(irresistible offer/guarantee)
Included in your USP is your description of your ideal client in point 1 above. Regarding the advantages/benefits in point ii above, you want to paint a word picture of the outcome of your product/service. For example, “thrilled,” or “lives enriched,” might be good descriptors. In summary, the USP is similar to the 30-second commercial, except that client stories are not included and it is more generic.
Your tagline is a one-sentence summary of your USP. Generally, it is catchy, easy to state and easy to remember. You will find the SBCA tagline above in our letterhead. Consider some memorable taglines from large companies:
M&M’s- “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands”
FedEx- “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”
Write three different versions of your tagline for consideration. Allow others to give you feedback prior to deciding on the one you will use for your business.
Once you have developed your marketing message, use it on every form of media and all marketing materials.
Decide how much you will spend monthly for marketing. Although there are many low cost “guerilla marketing strategies,” businesses need to plan to spend a percentage of sales on marketing. Although there is no magic formula, ten percent may be a good starting place for a new business. From there you can adjust the amount spent based on your results.
Lead Generation Strategies.
Also included in your marketing plan is how you will reach prospective customers whether through referrals, website, phone, direct mail, walk-ins, email, social media, etc. Pay-per-click advertising is great because you can easily track your results.
Lead Tracking and Results.
Decide what customer information you want to capture in order to follow up with prospects. Then you will need to use some type of lead tracking system. You want to know how many leads were generated by each lead generation strategy and how many leads actually became customers. You want to know the status of each prospect in the sales process. Small businesses use
everything from index cards to a Rolodex to Excel spreadsheets to Customer Relationship Management tools. SBCA offers an affordable CRM through amoCRM. Know your advertising results so that you can make good decisions.
Sales and Marketing Materials.
You will also need to determine which marketing materials you will use to reach prospects such as business cards, brochures, postcards, and flyers.
Your Sales Plan
Determine the Sales Team.
In my opinion, nearly every employee can have some influence on the sales of an organization. If you help the leader develop a shared plan and link bonuses to profits, every employee should be motivated to play a part in growing sales to some degree. However certain individuals on your team will be directly in contact with prospects. These team members need to be incentivized, trained and equipped to grow your sales. Include these members in the sales and marketing planning process.
Decide how you will price your products or services. Most business owners price too low and are reluctant to raise their prices over time. They leave a lot of money on the table! Encourage your clients to raise their prices a small amount every year and over time the increases will add up to big money. Of course, you want to shop the competition so that you know how to compete.
The Sales Forecast.
A sales forecast is simply a goal that you set for your team in the upcoming year. Set realistic goals for your business. If you are too conservative you may not motivate your sales team to work hard enough. If you are too optimistic you will set your team up for failure. Meet with your team members to agree on individual sales performance. Develop a detailed list of activities and the dollar value for each. Your total of all individual sales activities is your organizational goal. Don’t forget to add your price increase to the forecast. For example, if your client’s sales are $1million and you implement a 10% price increase, your forecast is $1.1million.
As you can see, there is a lot to developing an effective sales and marketing plan. However, if you will invest the appropriate time and money in developing and deploying your plan, your client will soon be thrilled with your coaching!
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