Welcome to ReferralHero, the wildest river in the marketing world. The rapids are high, but with a dedicated paddle and determination, you and your marketing team will be floating over white water toward even higher sales in no time!
I’m passionate about my work as a marketer, of course, but my other great love is being on the river. Whether it’s canoeing, rafting, or just going for a float, that’s where you’ll find me most weekends.
I’ve found that the way you plan and execute a rafting trip is surprisingly similar to how you plan a sales strategy. You need to know your goal for the day, flag any hazards in your path, and adjust as you go. It helps to have the right equipment for the job, too!
Many experienced rafting guides and marketing experts will tell you that a strong plan does a lot of the heavy lifting for you! Let’s take a look at what goes into a stellar sales plan, and how your team can be ready to weather the rapids of executing it.
What To Include In A Sales Plan
If you take the time to create a plan that doesn’t answer every question that might come up, what’s the point? You need to make sure that your team has everything they need to reach the end of the river.
What’s the Goal?
Get everyone together and make sure you’re all on the same page about what your ultimate goal is. This will keep you all pointed in the right direction.
Be as specific as possible. You need to be able to measure your success, otherwise, you won’t know when it’s time to PARTY!
What’s the Strategy?
It’s no secret that there are LOTS of ways to bolster sales. What you choose needs to be in line with your team’s values and image.
Sales strategies I’ve found success with include
- Referrals - This is my secret weapon! Referred customers are waaaaay more profitable than customers gained in other ways, and it costs less to attract them!
- Content Marketing - Everyone loves content, and if you hit the sweet spot with yours, you’ll not only attract customers but build your brand image and loyalty!
- Targeting - Don’t just cast a net and hope your target market comes to you! Craft all your interactions and marketing material to attract your perfect catch.
- Social Media - People are on social media more and more every day - why not use that to your advantage?
- Of course, you’re going to make a bigger impact if you implement multiple strategies and find ways for them to work together.
What’s the Timeline?
A weekend-long float is going to require different things than one that only lasts a couple of hours. Your team needs to know exactly how long they have to get their ducks in a row!
I like to break down goals into smaller steps and set deadlines for each one. This lets me see how we’re doing throughout and gives everyone something to get excited about on a more regular basis.
Who’s Doing What?
Delegation of tasks and resources is SUPER important for your plan. Everyone needs to paddle the right amount, otherwise, your team will be stuck floating in circles.
This also ensures you aren’t biting off more than you can chew. The last thing you want is to start a marketing project and not have what you need to finish.
What’s the Budget?
I like to think of money as the river’s flow pushing your team along. You’re not going to get far if you don’t understand what you’re working with.
Understanding the potential ROI of your project is going to be key in getting everyone on board your raft, and helps determine your success later on.
What are the Metrics?
Speaking of success, how do you know you’ve reached it? This is a little different from your goals because metrics measure progress by tracking the performance of your sales team.
You can choose from various metrics, like number of leads, close rate, and ROI. Just make sure you’re picking the ones that are most important to your business.
How to Write a Sales Plan in Four Simple Steps
Yes, having a plan is half the battle, but it doesn’t need to be difficult! With my YEARS of experience, I’ve crafted a tried-and-true formula for the perfect sales plan.
Step One: Do Your Research
As much as we’d like to believe it, no company is operating within a vacuum. Take a look at your history, as well as what’s going on out in the world.
This should include everything from market trends to what your competition is up to. You never know where inspiration will strike!
What’s more, having as much data as possible can help you and your team make better decisions, so study up!
For example, let’s say I run a rafting business. If I’m making a sales plan, I’d start by looking at what other rafting companies in the area are doing.
One might be offering discounts for groups, while another has a yearly membership. Maybe one has found great success making off-the-wall TikToks. I don't judge, but I am not above snagging the best of the competition's ideas to find what works for our collective rafting audience.
Step Two: Define Success
What do you hope to achieve with your sales plan? Do you want to increase revenue, boost brand awareness, or something else?
Get specific about what you want, and narrow down the metrics you'll use to track that success.
In our rafting example, we might want to
- Increase our number of customers by 25% over the next three months
- Gain 300 new social media followers in the same period
- Boost our website visits by 10%
Each of these goals is measurable and will require a slightly different approach.
Step Three: Read the Room
You can't make a plan if you don't know where you're starting from. Take a look at your current situation and figure out what you have to work with.
- Your current sales team and how they're performing
- Your current customer base
- Your current pricing strategies
- Your current marketing efforts
By understanding your current situation, you can make a plan that builds on your strengths and addresses your weaknesses.
You can also start sales forecasting, which will give you a better idea of how much you can expect to make in the coming months.
I do this by looking at my past sales and customer data, and then adding a healthy dose of optimism.
With all this effort put into investigating your current state, you'll likely start to see the gaps that you missed before.
- What skills you'll need to succeed
- If your team has those skills right now
Whether you fill these gaps by training your team, hiring new members, or even by looking into a SaaS product like ReferalHero that can help, they NEED to be filled.
Step Four: Take Initiative
Now for the fun part! Come up with ideas for what your kick-butt sales program is going to look like.
What strategy will you use to make an impact? What specific action items should fill out your to-do list? If you've done your research and clocked the trends, this should be simple.
Get all the stakeholders involved so that you know everyone is on the same page and you don't miss anything.
For example, if I clocked that my rafting business has a loyal fan base and a clear brand identity, but we don't seem to be able to translate that into sales, I might plan for a referral marketing campaign.
That requires a very specific to-do list. I need to find a platform that keeps everything organized (I’m thinking ReferralHero), recruit passionate affiliates, and figure out what kind of incentives I want to hand out.
If we do this right, not only will we have a boost in sales, but our affiliates will also encourage people to engage with our social media and website, ultimately checking off all our goals!
Types of Sales Plans
Even with my fool-proof plan, starting from scratch is never fun. It can be helpful to know the types of sales plans that have worked for other teams in the past.
- 30-60-90 Day Sales Plan - This plan is great short-term and can be used to get a quick boost in sales. With clear goals for every month, you can easily adjust as you go to find what works
- Territory Sales Plan - If your business covers a large area or multiple sectors, this is the plan for you! It involves setting goals for individual regions so that you can focus on each one.
- Market Expansion Plan - There's always a new market on the horizon, and this type of plan helps you capitalize on it! It’s important to consider the needs of the new market and how your product or service can meet them.
- New Product Sales Plan - If you’re launching a new product, you’ll need to get the word out and drive sales. This plan focuses on product features, positioning, and go-to-market strategies.
Each of these will require a different strategy because their end goals are unique.
Free Sales Plan Template
As great as my advice is, I know why you’re really here. A pre-made template is an easy way to wrap your head around a sales plan. Here’s one to get you started!
The Bottom Line
I’ll say it again, when it comes to sales and marketing, having a clear plan is half the battle - but it’s only half! Now it’s time to jump in the boat and start paddling.
Make sure you keep your trusty plan by your side and don’t hesitate to lean on the talents of your team and the strengths of your tools. With a clear referral strategy in place, a strong group of dedicated rafters, and the help of software like ReferralHero, my rafting business (and your own company) will only have the fun kind of rapids to worry about.
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