What is a Marketing and Sales Plan and what is it for?
The drafting of a Marketing and Sales Plan is a fundamental strategic phase. The Plan should not only be written at the start of a company (which is something few companies really do), but also at the start of a new business unit, or for the launch of a new product or service.
Too often, the importance of both the final document, the “Sales & Marketing Plan”, and the process that needs to be undertaken to get it written down in black and white is underestimated.
Only when someone is obliged to fix ideas on paper, in fact, do contradictions and criticalities emerge. And the sooner we discover the possible weaknesses, the better we can prepare to minimize them.
Drawing up a marketing and sales plan consists of:
- Identify your company’s Unique Selling Proposition and develop your business strategy in a consistent manner;
- determine the attractiveness of the target market;
- define the company’s business objectives and identify the marketing and sales strategies with which to achieve them. For example: whether to set up a direct or indirect sales network, in which geographical regions, in which sectors, etc.
- look at your company’s products and services from the market point of view, analysing them with a critical spirit to bring out strengths and weaknesses;
- study competing products, and the commercial policies of competition;
- identify any “gaps” in the offer of competitors, so as to differentiate and position you as a single supplier.
The Plan should be a document divided into two parts: the first should analyse the situation, the second should summarise the strategies and the main marketing and sales choices to be made.
Analysis of the competitive scenario:
- Market: size, trend, degree of attractiveness;
- Competition: who they are, how many, strengths and weaknesses, distribution system, …
- Customers: who they are, where they are, purchasing behaviour, …
- Outline conditions: macroeconomic scenario, legislation, regulation, political constraints, technological aspects, …
- Opportunities and threats;
- Definition of USP, Unique Selling Proposition;
- Turnover and profit targets;
- Need for financial resources;
- Market segmentation, identification of target segments;
- Product policies;
- Price policies;
- Distribution policies;
- Promotion policies;
- Actions to be taken, with relative timing;
What are the benefits that a Marketing and Sales Plan will bring you?
- You have a detailed map to move around the market without fumbling around;
- Objectives and written actions in black and white raise awareness and make daily action more consistent;
- The Plan is the paper description of your project: it says where to go, how, and the resources you need. Thanks to this tool, all the company’s commercial activities can move in unison. Similarly, an architect designs a work by first drawing on paper what will be built, and the construction company just follows the instructions and puts into practice what has been thought of in the project.
In which cases should it be entrusted to an external consultant to draw up the Plan?
- If you don’t have the skills to write it yourself, or you don’t have the time to do so;
- Or if you want to bring out all the critical points, so that they are not obscured by the love for their products;
- An external consultant can bring ideas from other markets or companies, which would never come to mind to those working in your field;
- Finally, sometimes the entrepreneur has to present the plan to banks or possible private investors, and therefore wants the plan to be most effective, as well as professional in terms of the organization of content, terminology used, graphics, etc.
How long does it take to draw up a Marketing and Sales Plan. Depending on the complexity of the project, the drawing up of a Plan typically takes 1 to 3 months. This period includes an analysis (marketing audit). The activity consists of a part behind the desk, to study and elaborate the plan, and a part in direct contact with the management of the company, in order to better tune and understand the objectives, attitudes, the propensity to risk, the desire to obtain results in a certain time, etc…