Guest post: Sales Plans for Small Businesses

Welcome to 2018, a new year, a new start, an exciting new sales plan?

When you run your own small business you wear multiple hats. There is barely time to reflect or think about the direction you’re headed and if it’s right for you.

Statistics show that small businesses with sales or business plans in place are more than twice as likely to achieve growth. Quite compelling.

A sales plan will give you clarity on winning new customers, generating a good income, and having your best year yet!

As Benjamin Franklin famously said ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ so delay no further. Here are 8 simple steps to create a winning sales plan.

1. Keep it short – Try for no more than one page, (yes, really, one page!)

You’ll be pleased to hear that the best sales plans are concise and straight to the point.

This way, you’re more likely to review it regularly. If creating a plan for the year seems daunting, then do a 90-day plan. It’s just as effective!

2. Define your business.

What does it do? What products do you provide? What’s your vision?

If you’re just starting out, decide if you are a volume or a value business. Do you sell a premium product at high value e.g. bespoke designer furniture at £1000’s or lower value products such as hand wash to a wider customer base and therefore, in volume.

This is important to estimate the number of items you can realistically sell over the course of the year.

If you’ve been trading for over a year, use your 2017 sales as a benchmark or starting point I.e. Quantities sold and the average value of products.

Did you meet your target? If not, you need to think about your plans for 2018…but more on that later.

3. Know your customers: who are you targeting and why?

It’s amazing how many businesses focus on their product rather than the customer.

Is your target customer male or female, what age group, where do they live, what do they do for a living, how do they spend their free time, where can you find them? What’s important to them? And how does your product or service change their life?

If you know what floats their boat, you have a better chance of attracting them to your business!

4. Competitors – do your research.

Know what products they are offering, why are they good or not. How are they pricing and positioning their product? Be clear on how you are different and most of all, why that matters to your customer.

5. Know your numbers.

Set a realistic annual goal and break it down into monthly targets based on typical purchasing patterns. You’ll need to take into account bumper months around Christmas, Easter etc.

You need to assess your sales success on a monthly basis according to what is typical in your industry so you can easily track month to month progress.

Be clear on your average order or sales value, taking into account discounts or bulk purchases. This will help work out the minimum number of products to sell.

You can then estimate the number of enquiries, conversations and people through your door that you’ll need to achieve your monthly sales target. This becomes critical.

Hot tip: the number of enquiries will ALWAYS be several times more than your estimated number of sales.

6. What blockers do you anticipate? 

Write them down so that you keep an eye on potential challenges that might arise. Don’t turn a blind eye or it will catch up with you later!

Find ways to tackle any blockers as soon as you can.

7. Finally, choose your focus.

Choose the most important tasks, initiatives or campaigns to focus on in the next 90 days to get to your monthly sales goal.

It’s really easy to get distracted, so just pick 3 things that will make the biggest difference – and stick to them!

So set aside 2 hours to create your 2018 plan, commit to it and review it weekly. If you want to make it bullet proof, ask someone you trust who is commercially minded to go through your plan and challenge your thinking and approach.

This will do one of two things; confirm you’re on the right track and all systems are go (awesome!) or help you refine your plan and give you new ideas (super awesome!), ensuring you have your best year yet.

Good luck, here’s to your 2018 sales success!


Having spent over 15 years in the corporate world successfully growing and running local and global companies, Dalia is now founder of DDN Consulting. Specialising in sales, marketing and team leadership with a customer focus, she is passionate about advising and supporting start-ups and small businesses on how to set up or improve their structure, process and planning to help grow their business and reach their full potential. Dalia is also Board Advisor to Social Starters, a social enterprise specialising in bringing together talented business professionals with grassroots entrepreneurs tackling issues in their communities.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Blue Patch’s views.