Increasing sales: a successful action plan!

You want to increase your sales but don’t know where to start? Your company has a large variety of products and a big market to cover? Your sales team is reactive instead of proactive, and does not know which products or clients are profitable? You have a loyalty problem: only a few products are sold repeatedly to the same clients? Or a more strategic one: no right client value proposition? …You are not the only one.

Well, there are a lot of crucial areas that you must investigate before implementing or try to define a commercial planning. Only after that and having all the crucial info and data in your hands you should go and try to define a plan to tackle the issues. Don’t forget to put an effort on the implementation part (crucial to achieve results), otherwise it will be an awesome plan but only on the paper.

I propose you a 6-step approach to energize your Sales Action Plan and do-not-forget areas.

A 6-step Sales Action Plan

1) Understand your team, go along with them and try to understand how they work, assess each ones strengths and weaknesses. Ask them what are the needs and changes they would like to have covered. Profile one-by-one.

2) Do a serious analysis on your clients, profile and rank them from important to “indispensable” you should use a list with the applicable criteria in order to rank them. The 20:80 rule is a good beginning but not enough. You said that some of them are not buying the profitable products. Did you know that between 10 to 20% of a company’s clients bring a lost or at least zero profit? Wrong product and buying conditions, deliveries, payment conditions… a lot of factors can turn a client into a major lost. Ask the opinion of your sales fellows about each client, in order to profile also the clients as accurate as possible;

3) Try to interact with all the crucial departments in order to have crucial info, info that can give you ideas about increasing sales example: managerial accounting (profitable products, profitable conditions, product cost, profitable delivery timings….); Production (info about cycles…), etc Understand as much as possible when are your products profitable and when they are not, try to avoid the unprofitable areas.

4) Have a brainstorm session with your team in order to have ideas and plans to increase sales, have some insights regarding products and how you should be selling them (product mix, packaging, deals, discounts, contracts, payment conditions, order conditions, deliveries…)

5) Highlight main problems and find solutions for each of them. What can be wrong: product mix, pricing, delivery conditions, cross selling and up-selling schemes, product expertise, contract conditions, quality issue…). Or is it a strategic problem: wrong client value proposition? Try to work closely with marketing on that to solve any market incoherence;

6) Define a sales action plan starting with the goals, then present your findings and the right actions (regarding that) to achieve the goals. Present it to your team in order to fine tune them. After that define the wanted results for each action, deadlines and who is accountable for what define individual plans for each of your sales people accordingly. Put the plan in place and do a strong follow up on it, with coaching, supervision and a tight control on your plan with special focus on the KPIs (set results) and budget.

Not to forget

Do not forget to define alternative plans, act fast on deviations from the forecast objectives and results; Define the key clients and try to balance your client portfolio avoiding the 20:80 rule and pushing the 20% (of clients bringing 80% turnover) toward 30 or 40% that way you decrease your risk. There is no right plan; I believe in be efficient, hands-on and control your budget. Sell what your client need (up-sell and cross sell whenever you can) never forgetting what is profitable to your company and how you should sell each product to have the maximum profit. Negotiate with your clients having a list of subjects and not on subject by subject, that way you have more chances to reach good deal! Ah, and never forget to walk the walk!