As if proving the old adage that ideas come to us when we least expect them to, it was whilst searching for the missing pieces of a jigsaw over the festive season with my family that it occurred to me how completing the puzzle worked as a good analogy for having a business strategy and sales plan. Let me explain how!
Most people start with the straight edges or border, which is like an essential ‘strategic framework’ and without it the puzzle does not have a basic foundation, just like the sales plan is incomplete without an overall business plan or strategy.
Think of the sales plan in the same way as you would the method for choosing the small pieces that fit within the border. Each piece fits exactly into another depending on the shape, colours, hue and section of the puzzle that is being completed.
Using a method to find pieces that fit together in this way is a matching process very much like looking for customers that have the greatest propensity to buy your product or service.
You might separate the pieces of a similar colour to help you narrow down the piece you are looking for. Similarly, a good sales plan includes a description of your most valuable client to help you narrow down and target the customers that really appreciate what you do.
Far too often SME owners fall into the trap of targeting the whole market and fail to understand which customers not only truly appreciate what they are good at but are also prepared to pay for it. What makes you different and which section of the market truly values what you do?
If you don’t have a method or process for identifying the relevant pieces or customers it can be a very tedious, time-consuming and inefficient process, like trying to find a needle in a haystack. If you are lucky enough to find the correct piece or customer it is down to chance rather than design and hardly something you are likely to repeat quickly or regularly enough to achieve the type of growth you aspire to.
When you have finally found all the pieces of your jigsaw and put them in place, you can stand back and admire your work, revelling in the satisfaction of having built something of value from scratch.
A well thought out sales plan is a roadmap that helps SME owners gain new clients and grow business from existing ones. Many SME owners are missing out on sales because they don’t have a sales plan, or the one they’re using isn’t performing like it should. They might have quarterly sales targets or end of year goals, but they don’t have a plan for reaching them.