Creating a solid sales plan is perhaps the most important and vital step towards the success when figuring out how to start your own logistics company. Your sales plan and marketing strategy work together to form a blueprint that acts as a guide to keep your business on track. Once completed, a sales plan should outline your business’s goals, how you’ll pursue them, what you need to get there and a forecast of some potential obstacles. There are a handful of components to consider when developing your sales plan, so we’ve outlined an easy to follow sales planning guide to get you started.
Always start with data. An effective sales plan relies heavily on your market analysis and research. Without data, you are essentially operating blind. Gather information on the following:
Customer Audience/ Market Segments
If you haven’t defined your audience already, this should be your very first plan of action. It is impossible to build a successful sales or marketing strategy without knowing exactly who your target audience is. In marketing, this is called your buyers persona. Gather as much information as you can about your customers.
Start with the following questions and build on from there
– Who are your customers?
– Where are your customers located?
– What tools/platforms do they use?
– What is the biggest issue they are facing right now?
Is the market growing?
What is the market size?
What share of the market are you getting?
Industry Trends & Changes
Next, you need to get a firm understanding of the growth and trends within your industry or niche. The logistics industry is changing at a rapid rate and it’s important that you consider emerging trends and how they could impact your sales goals.
In the past 10 years, for instance, supply chain management has drastically changed. With people shopping more and more online, eCommerce has challenged the traditional models of supply chains and logistics. Companies like Amazon have pushed the expansion of same-day delivery and product visibility. With logistics innovation continually pushing the envelope, you need to consider how your niche will fit in with these emerging trends.
This is an obvious one. It’s imperative that you have a good understanding of your competition – especially in the supply chain industry. A thorough competitive analysis can give you a lot of insight on your own products, pricing, and even marketing copy. Learn from your competitor’s mistakes. Start by answering the following questions.
- What are your competitive advantages?
- What makes your business different?
- Do your competitors offer something that you don’t?
- How do your competitor’s rates compare to yours?
Once you’ve gathered some information and feel you have a better grasp on the competition, complete a SWOT analysis.
Strengths: What does your business offer that your competition does not? Essentially, how are you better?
Weakness: What does your competition do better than you?
Opportunity: Highlight something outside your business that can lead to a strength or improvement.
Threats: What external factors pose a threat to your business? This is something that is beyond your control.
Once you’ve compiled your market research, you can start developing your sales plan. A sales plan is comprised of six basic components.
A good rule of thumb is to ensure every goal is “SMART”. That is, each goal is specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time bound.
This is where your buyer personas come in. Your sales plan needs to consider your audience at every step of the planning process.
What are you going to offer your customers? What is your strategy to capture their attention and convert them into a customer?
4. Tools, Tactics & Messaging
This portion of your sales plan defines exactly how you will be reaching your target audience. What online channels will you be using? What specific messages will you be conveying?
With so much going on it’s easy to forget to attach every action to a timeline. Specify when, what time, and how frequently, you will be doing each activity.
Always, always measure and track your results. This will help you to create an even stronger sales and marketing strategy in the future.
As mentioned, the supply chain industry is constantly evolving and so should your sales and marketing plan. Your sales plan should evolve in tandem with your business. Remember to consistently make edits, set new goals and improve upon your strategy.