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How to create a Sales Campaign Plan for your start up business [in 10 easy steps]


So, you’ve now started up your shiny new business (probably SaaS). You’ve doubtless developed, tested and refined your service/product on a few black-book contacts and you’re now feeling ready to go out into the big wide world and start getting some customers. Good for you! 

The only problem standing in the way of that gleaming pot of gold? 

Sales!

A start up entrepreneur holds a mug with 'like a boss' written on it while typing on a mobile phone to design a start up sales campaign plan

“Sales; really?” we hear you say. After all, you’ve spent months or even years developing what you offer. It’s so great, the product will sell itself, surely? A sprinkle of digital marketing here and there, some keywords and social media posts and the world will want what you’ve got! And it would be perfect for everyone, every single company and organisation in the world has a need for what you’re offering, of course!

‘sales’ is the easy part now all the hard work is done, isn’t it? 

(unless you couldn’t tell, we’re being facetious). 

Sales for start ups is simple, until you actually start doing it and no one wants what you’ve got.

This usually happens when a startup or a new SaaS company has been so busy designing their revolutionary new tool, product or service and dealing with the minutia that involves, that when the time comes to go to market they’ve neglected to create a comprehensive sales campaign plan. Chances are you don’t have experience as a business development executive, but you need to know where you’re going and what strategies and tactics you’re going to use before you can even think about hitting any targets you might set yourself. You’re now faced with a simple choice; you could approach a sales outsourcing agency, hire a freelance sales rep to do the work for you or instead come up with your own plan and then choose how you want to proceed once that’s done. 

The best way to establish your goals and tactics is to write up a full sales campaign plan which can layout your goals in detail. Creating a full startup sales plan can be a daunting prospect, that’s why we’ve broken down the process into 10 easy to follow steps. 

What is a sales campaign plan?

A sales campaign plan or a prospecting campaign plan should establish your objectives, tactics, target audience, potential obstacles and rejections to your direct sales activities. These elements are necessary for achieving targets. It should be similar to a top-level business plan but with a stronger focus on sales specifically. If a business plan establishes goals, a sales plan details the exact tactics that will be used to make that happen. 

In terms of objectives, your sales campaign plan should achieve the 4 following goals: 

  1. Establish responsibilities and roles within the sales team. 
  2. Establish a strategy and direction for your sales approach.
  3. Establish how sales activity and progress will be processed and monitored.
  4. Establish your company’s objectives and goals for your direct sales activities.

Sales Process for start up planning

One of the most important things to remember when developing your Sales Campaign Plan is to ensure it doesn’t just become a static document that sits on your hard drive gathering digital dust, never to be opened again. As the saying goes, “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. While having a documented plan will make your direct sales campaign feel more organised, the process doesn’t finish when the plan has been written. 

This will need to become an iterative process that’s routinely revisited ideally every year in order to maintain a peak prospecting sales cycle. In order for you to revisit your plan and continuously improve, there are a few essential elements that you need to remember to include within the plan itself. 

  • Make sure you record performance data from the year so that in the future trends can be analysed with hindsight. This enables you to forecast and identify periods in your sales cycle where you may need to adapt your approach to maintain performance. 
  • Establish definite objects and targets that align with your revenue goals. It’s usually best to use the S.M.A.R.T. framework when establishing an objective: this will ensure when the time comes to evaluate the success of the plan, you have a specific goal to benchmark your performance against. In order to align your targets with overall revenue goals, establish the revenue your current direct sales performance yields, establish what revenue level you need it to reach as a target and multiply the sales objectives with that increase. 
  • Establish the specific sales metrics and KPIs that will be used to gauge the success of the sales campaign plan. 
  • Perform a SWOT analysis of your current direct sales campaigns. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your internal performance and processes and the external opportunities and threats you have. 
  • Get stakeholders from other departments such as marketing and product development involved in the sales planning process. Their input can be invaluable in integrating your activities with others across the board, ensuring all departments are singing from the same hymn sheet.
  •  List specific actions to be completed based on capacity and quotas.

10 easy steps of a sales plan

There are 10 essential but easy to understand elements needed to create a sales plan they are as follows: 

  1. Background and mission 
  2. Team players 
  3. Target audience 
  4. Tools, packages, and other resources to be used
  5. Market position 
  6. Marketing strategy 
  7. Prospecting sales plan 
  8. Actions 
  9. Goals 
  10. Budget 

Start up entrepreneur designs a start up sales campaign plan on a wooden desk with a coffee cup and a smart phone in the background

1. Background and mission

Establish your vision statement/mission first. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing the company mission is simply to sell your product and make money but think beyond that. Simon Sinek in his bestselling book Start With Why established the business philosophy of ‘Why’ which asks organisations to think clearly not about WHAT they do, but WHY they do what they do. It’s about asking the purpose behind your product or service. What’s the cause or belief behind doing what you do? Ask yourself what good is your product/service bringing to the world? How does it help people? Why do people want it? 

By successfully answering these questions, you’ll be able to understand your company mission statement and value as well as understand clearly what you’re trying to achieve. 

Once you’ve done that, write down the history of your organisation and make it compelling. People buy from people and people love stories. Make sure you not only have a good reason as to why you do what you do, but how you started. The best b2b lead generation strategies humanise your company and make it appealing to prospects.

2. Team Players 

Next, detail specifically who is on the sales team and what their responsibility will be. This will be even more essential if you’re planning on managing a mixture of internal Business Development Executives and freelance sales reps. If you are planning on expanding your team, detail that expansion. You can layout the new job titles, responsibilities, and the reasons why they’ve been hired to join the team.

3. Target Audience 

Knowing your target audience is absolutely essential to your direct sales campaign success. The easiest way to begin segmenting the market and finding your target audience is by identifying key traits within your most successful past and current clients. Break those successful accounts down by industry, activity, company size, age, turnover, challenges etc. Once you’ve identified these traits for your most successful clients and customers, you can then use those traits to build a target profile. 


Man in white shirt uses large magnifying glass on multicoloured wooden figurines symbolising identifying target audience for a start up sales campaign plan.

Once you have a target market, it’s also a great practise to build a set of buyer personas. According to Hubspot, a buyer persona is a ‘semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer’; it’s best to give your persona a name and detail their profile as much as possible with their wants, desires, challenges and issues. You may have different personas for your different products or services. 

Your target audience may change significantly as you start to prospect the market and receive feedback which may evolve your overall strategy. For example, your prices may start out low, but based on feedback from the market, you may come to understand that a low price is perceived as an inferior product and therefore you put your prices up. This price hike might alienate you from your previous target audience, so you may need to adapt this element of the plan accordingly. It’s great to get in the practise of consistently revising your personas.

4. Tools, packages and other resources to be used

You should list the resources, tools and software packages that you plan to utilise to deliver your sales campaign ideas along with a description of what they’ll be used for. This could include your choice of the best crm software for small business that you’ve found and decided on and how it will be used. With CRM, It’s easy to get excited by the features, a breathtaking number of integrations and a reporting suite that will make it all look amazing, however simple is usually best, free is an even better way to get you going - just check you can export all the data if and when you want to upgrade. 

Other elements could include budgetary needs for sales incentives as an example. This is also an opportunity to layout other tools your business development executives might need to succeed, such as training documentation or sales support packages that you may have found.

5. Positioning 

This Is the part of the plan which should detail your competition. An important element to remember here is that competition isn’t just your specific competitor organisations, it could be a product or an alternate method of achieving what you offer. If your service can be completed in-house, include that as competition. 

Once you’ve established your competition, lay out in detail how your products compare, where your strengths outweigh theirs and also how their strengths outweigh yours. Sometimes it can be a struggle to detail your weaknesses as a business, but it’s imperative that you can be objective when planning, so you can identify holes in your proposition to plug. 

You should also analyse market trends as part of positioning. SaaS sales and marketing teams should be aware that industry specific software for specific niches is becoming more popular. You should try to predict and interpret how these trends could impact your sales campaign.

6. Marketing Strategy

This Is the part of the plan which should detail your competition. An important element to remember here is that competition isn’t just your specific competitor organisations, it could be a product or an alternate method of achieving what you offer. If your service can be completed in-house, include that as competition. 

Once you’ve established your competition, lay out in detail how your products compare, where your strengths outweigh theirs and also how their strengths outweigh yours. Sometimes it can be a struggle to detail your weaknesses as a business, but it’s imperative that you can be objective when planning, so you can identify holes in your proposition to plug. 


Multi coloured post it notes on a silver laptop with strategy growth and budget written on them for a start up sales campaign plan

You should also analyse market trends as part of positioning. SaaS sales and marketing teams should be aware that industry specific software for specific niches is becoming more popular. You should try to predict and interpret how these trends could impact your sales campaign.

7. Prospecting Sales Plan 

This element of the plan should lay out the operational side of your sales campaign. This could include information on how leads generated by prospecting will be qualified for suitability, what kind of questions need to be asked of the prospects, are there any key traits that qualify them out of suitability? This is also a great chance to establish the traits and criteria prospects should meet before the business development representatives start outreaching to them.

8. Actions 

A group of business development executives and start up entrepreneurs sit on a wooden table writing up a prospect sales plan with smart phones and paper on the table

Now you know where you want to get to, you need to detail specifically how you’re going to get there. This is effectively the activities planned to get your team to hit the targets you need them to hit. You should detail the objective, followed by the exact actions you’re going to take to get there. This could include incentives you’re going to run with the sales team, training sessions and workshops as well as commission bonuses you plan on offering for good performance.

9. Goals 

Sales goals tend to be revenue-based, this could be an ARR (average recurring revenue) goal, MRR (monthly recurring revenue) or a volume goal, which could be to attain 150 new customers. Volume goals should ultimately be set using a revenue goal as a guide, by establishing the current revenue with current customers, having a revenue goal, and multiplying accordingly. Goals should be closely aligned with overall business goals as metrics can quickly work against each other. 

You should also take this opportunity to establish an ideal timeline with sales metrics benchmarks at key points of the timeline. This way you can assess whether you’re on target once the campaign is

10. Costs 

Here’s the opportunity to establish the costs of your campaign in full. You should think about your team’s salaries, the training costs, costs of tools and resources, incentive costs, and even travel costs if applicable.  In assessing these costs you will start to form a view of how much each new customer costs and therefore how long it takes for them to become a profitable client for you.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

absolute best chance of success. Expectations, approach and costs are all accounted for by using this framework. By preparing a plan, you’ve mitigated the chance of any nasty surprises derailing your activities mid-campaign by pre-empting possible issues and getting your team all working from the same hymn sheet. 

A full sales campaign plan allows you to understand the input, throughput and output of your campaign completely. Your team knows what’s expected of them and you in turn know which sales metrics to track and benchmark in order to evaluate campaign success. You also know exactly how much the campaign will cost the business to run, how you’re going to position yourself in the market, what tools you’re going to use internally and specifically who is responsible for which actions. 

The process of writing up a plan is so simplistic, the question is less whether you should write yourself up a sales campaign plan, and more why you shouldn’t. 

The Sales process for start ups is always simple until you begin and that pot of gold moves further and further away. By having a comprehensive start up sales plan, you’ll be able to see exactly where that gold is hidden and how specifically you’re going to get there. 

Give it a go and let us know!

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