How to prepare a sales plan

Written by mercedes valladares
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Preparing and developing your sales plan is part of your business plan. Most view it as the business sales plan. It will incorporate essential factors such as your company sales goals and projections as well as your company sales and marketing approach. You can refer to your sales plan and make changes according to any economic gains or challenges your company experiences as well as company growth and expansion.

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    Define your ultimate sales goal as the basis of your sales plan. Generally your sales plan is incorporated into your business plan as your company's financial information section.

    Separate your sales plan into two distinct sections---a sales plan outline and a business sales plan template. Your sales plan outline will consist of your marketing strategy, sales projections, sales forecasting and pricing structure. Your business sales plan template will consist of a specific listing of your financial information. For example, the financial information template normally begins with your capital requirement, followed by your depreciable assets, balance sheet, break-even analysis, projected income statements and cash flow projections. This is important information if you are planning to attract investors or approach a financial institution for financing.

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    Determine the products and quantity that you'll need to sell to reach your sales projections. Include factors such as how you and your sales team are going to approach selling your products.

    For example, if your company offers landscaping services, your sales plan can include sending out postcards. Develop a competitive pricing structure for lawn contract services and maintenance. You can also opt to make cold calls to residences and businesses in the area.

    Your actual sales will help you modify your sales approach, and your profits will reflect whether the sales plan is working. Keep in mind that different sales strategies will require different approaches, such as cold calling, Internet advertising, catalogue or retail stores.

    Conduct market research and focus groups for your product. This will help you make educated decisions on your sales approach.

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    Know who your customer base and target market is for your product. If you have a variety of products on your line, it can be beneficial to separate them into categories and target specific demographic groups for each category.

    Price your product competitively. For example, if your pricing structure is significantly higher than your competition, promote the product's features and benefits. Pricing, consumer appeal and sales correlate directly with eachother.

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    Set sales goals and projections for specific set periods. Your company's weekly and monthly sales will determine how you adjust your sales plan and will have a significant impact on reaching annual sales projections. Review your sales goals and cash flow and make any necessary strategy adjustments during each set period.

    Your cash flow is your net income. It is important to determine the difference between gross sales and net sales. For example, if you operate a retail shop, your apparel gross sales will be reduced by any buying and marketing expenses, which will in turn give you your net income and cash flow for more purchases.

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    Set specific funds within your operating budget for advertising and promotional tools. Add allowances for advertising, public relations, marketing sales promotion and lead-generation expenses. These are necessary expenses to promote your new products as well as existing merchandise. Keep records of increased sales when using specific marketing strategies and implement them in other nonperforming sales areas.

    Develop an annual sales plan goal and budget. Refer to your sales plan and projections weekly to keep your company operating at peak sales performance levels and on track to reach your annual sales goal.

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