The 1-2-3 of B2B

How to build a sales and marketing plan


Building a sales and marketing plan that everyone understands, supports and knows how to execute doesn't have to be hard. But it often is - unnecessarily so.

Indicators lead to different conclusions, team members can have conflicting agendas or varied frames of reference, ideas that seem smart one week can be surprisingly hard to defend (or explain) the next.

As a result, many businesses lack a clear plan for growth. Sales and Marketing work hard to deliver results, but they are often working to plans that are:

  • Not aligned to the strategy;
  • Different from each other;
  • Not followed; or
  • Simply non-existent.

So how do you build a successful sales and marketing plan for growth? With 250 projects completed across 4 continents, we’ve boiled it down to ten proven steps.

  1. Get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off it

    A good plan is built by good people. Before you build your sales and marketing plan, get rid of any passengers who aren’t pulling their weight. If you’ve got a poor performer in your business, consider getting an enthusiastic, cheaper, keener and harder working person at a slightly lower level, and then give them all the support they need to succeed. How to hire a marketing manager.

  2. Agree & document your objectives

    The old adage still holds: if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. So what does your sales and marketing plan need to achieve? You need your team to have a clear (and agreed) view of your objectives before they even think about your strategy.

  3. Agree how you will translate objectives into strategy into tactics into plan

    Every idea is a good idea, but tactics that make sense for one strategy, may make no sense at all for another. Adopt a proven B2B sales and marketing planning framework and stick to it. Otherwise your sales and marketing plan could be full of really clever ideas that don’t line up (or even contradict each other). And if the elements of the strategy don’t line up, what hope is there for the tactics? Sales and marketing planning system.

  4. Turn your strategy inside out

    Most businesses have a strategy built around their products, not their buyers. Take a look at your current strategy and identify all the problems faced by your buyers, solved by your products and services, and uncovered by your channel. Then choose one of these and rebuild your strategy around that problem. The ‘best’ problem is one that will reward you well, and that you are great at solving).

    Now rebuild your strategy: who has that problem the most (this is your new market), what most fully solves this problem (this is your new product), and who can best uncover this problem (that’s your new channel). And if you think that’s too hard, reconcile yourself to having a strategy that’s built around you and not your buyers. Make your strategy buyer-centric.

  5. Translate strategy to action using the buyers’ journey

    In business, buyers take many steps - buying is a complex, cognitive journey: first they’re happy (even complacent), then they’re not, then they need something, then they’re evaluating, and finally they’re deciding. But there’s a critical (and often ignored) stage in this journey that marks the difference between buyers who spend time and buyers who spend money. Your job is to move them through this journey, so you need a clear view of what that journey looks like for your buyers. More about the buyers’ journey.

  6. Build a model of your future sales funnel

    Taking into account your current sales and marketing effectiveness, work out how many buyers need to progress through each stage of their journey. A word of warning though, remember to plan for buyers who leak from your funnel. Try our sales funnel calculator.

  7. Choose tactics to move your buyers

    Often, we choose tactics because we’ve used them before, or seen someone else use them. You need to choose tactics that will best progress the right amount of buyers through each stage of their journey. Your model will give you the numbers for each stage. Learn how to select tactics to move buyers.

  8. Measure the results

    Sales and marketing plans are always evolving. To know what needs to be improved, you need to know what’s working and what isn’t. Measure how many buyers have moved through each stage and compare this to your plan. Don’t do what you can’t measure, and don’t measure what you can’t (or won’t) change. Choose measures you can act on.

  9. Simplify, simplify, simplify

    Want your sales and marketing people to actually use the plan? It’ll need to be blisteringly clear and highly actionable. And forget about separate plans for Sales and Marketing. It needs to be a single plan for both. Even better; make it a single-paged plan. Align Sales and Marketing around a single plan.

  10. Still stuck? Get some expert help

    Building a sales and marketing plan doesn’t have to be such hard work. If you find that you’re too close to the content to manage the process, consider getting some help. You’ll need objectivity, experienced facilitators and a fully-documented sales and marketing plan; ready for execution. Proven sales and marketing planning process

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