“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” – Henry Ford
In previous blogs, we’ve talked about the key elements of a sales and marketing plan, and how to start designing one. In this post, we will look at the nuts and bolts of designing the plan, so roll up your sleeves and let’s get started!
Create a List of Potential Clients – You have already defined your conditions of satisfactions for who you want to do business with. Now take that list and find companies that fit those characteristics. There are numerous online resources like Jigsaw, Manta and ZoomInfo where you can learn more about company revenues, number of employees, locations and industries. Individual company websites are obviously full of information. Put together a list, preferably on an Excel spreadsheet, of your potential clients, and rank them in order of their probability of buying your product. Try to put 100 names on this list.
Identify Your Prospects’ Concerns – Why do the people on your list need your product? One of my contacts recently told me that she looks for people who have “imminent events” on the horizon, things like a move, downsizing, a new product launch, an expansion, etc. Those are the things that cause companies to re-evaluate suppliers and needs. Maybe they need more phones, more computers, more file cabinets. If you sell those things, you can find companies in transition who have needs for those services. For every contact on your list, make a note of why they need your product or service.
Determine How Your Product Solves the Customer’s Concerns – This is the logical next step in the process. Next to each customer, make a note of which of your products or services fit their needs and why. The “why” is important because it is the thinking behind what distinguishes you from your competition. It’s not just why they need file cabinets; it’s why they need your file cabinets.
How Will You Approach the Prospects? – Look at your list and determine the best way to reach out. Is it a phone call? An e-newsletter? A LinkedIn invite? Some of this work may require educated guessing, but it pays to plan your strategy in advance. Think about the industries you are targeting and how they tend to deal with vendors. Your approach may be another way to set yourself apart, but if you are working with clients who have very set rules about dealing with vendors, it pays to follow those rules.
Review Your Budget – Now that you have a list of potential clients and ideas for approaching them, do you have the resources to execute your plan? It’s not just money; it’s time and energy as well. Do you need additional staff to reach out to your prospect list? Review your marketing budget to make sure it aligns with your list of actions. If not, decide where you can delegate tasks or add resources to deliver on your plan.
Your marketing plan should be a living document, not just ideas in your head. You should constantly have a visual track record of who your prospects are, what you are doing to meet them, and how your company is a fit. Find time in your calendar daily or weekly to review your lists and keep pressing toward your objectives. Before you know it, you will have a viable, targeted pool of possibilities with a high probability of doing business with you. And that is a winning proposition!
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