Business Plan Series: Part 7 – Sales and Marketing – Sales Strategy

Last time in Part 6, we discussed how to discuss your marketing strategy with investors. This included your approach, penetration strategy in addition to growth and communication strategies. But what is marketing without sales? Many say sales is marketing with actually asking for the close. I disagree and while they are closely intertwined the skills and goals are completely different.

Marketing strategy deals with broader markets but the sales strategy focuses on the individual..

Sales Strategy is separated into four major areas in the Sales and Marketing section. They are:

1.) Direct Sales Force Strategy
2.) Indirect Sales Channel Strategy
3.) Sales Prospecting Strategy
4.) Sales Campaign Strategy

So let’s talk about the first one, Direct Sales Force Strategy. This is about demonstrating how a direct sales channel is internal and is focused on signing new customers. The advantages to this approach allow a company to focus resources like account managers and bonus them based on achievable and measurable goals. The disadvantage is the overhead entailed with managing a direct sales force and waiting for them to produce. One approach to this strategy is to find more experienced sales managers who have sold in a respective industry and for entry level sales people to be trained and molded to sell your product(s). You also need to discuss compensation which includes possibly a base salary and a bonus based on performance. You should show growth numbers and plans to leverage that increase in staff.

Related to the “Direct” approach is the Indirect Sales Channel Strategy. This is really focused on the various sales channels you can leverage to increase your sales success. For example, this could be resellers, franchise partners and licensed partners. You will want to discuss the type of partners, how many and the regions you will leverage and the growth strategy attached to the revenues you expect these indirect channels will produce.

Once you have defined your sales channels it will be time to craft the proper processes to do prospecting. This Sales Prospecting Strategy will be supported by a direct sales force, indirect sales channels and supported by direct mail, web advertising, and search engine placement. To build our sales prospects to a quality level, one strategy is to offer free access or use to the first group of clients (10 or 100) that sign with you. You should identify how you will create these lists of prospects. Sources include membership directories, trade show lists, Hoovers and even D&B.

Finally, you will connect the dots of how you will utilize your direct sales force, indirect channels and prospecting processes to run campaigns that are effective and meet the numbers set in the financial projections. This Sales Campaign Strategy is designed to layout a clear direction in which to maximize all resources at your disposal with clear campaign ideas, messages and target markets/customer groups.

As you write these subsections always keep in mind how sales leverages marketing and supports the long term goals of the company. We will cover Operations next time in “Part 8-Operations Strategy and Processes”.