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15 Steps to Creating a New Business Sales Plan

Posted by Mark Duval on Oct 16, 2015 1:18:00 PM
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A new business sales plan is critical for achieving agency growth. Yet, when I ask prospective new agency clients, “What’s your new business or sales plan?” the majority of the time I’m met with an awkward pause before the confession: “We really don’t have one.”

Most agencies rely on referrals, but don’t have a formal referral plan.  Instead, they work their network or rely on word of mouth. These are all great avenues for revenue generation, but without a strategy and organized execution, they’re more reactive than proactive.

The key to establishing a consistent new business sales plan is to first make the decision that doing so is an agency priority . The second step is to create the plan and put filters in place to ensure implementation.  A recent Mirren Business Development study showed that the primary reasons new business plans fail are (1) lack of discipline and accountability, and (2) lack of team commitment.

Pick a point person.  Someone needs to be in charge and be held accountable, because if everyone is accountable then no one is truly accountable.  After you pick that point person, a few things should be done in short order to build a plan:

  1. Executive leadership buy-in and commitment. If you don’t have this, the plan is destined to fail.

  2. Set realistic goals. New business is a long game and you should plan accordingly.

  3. Establish your new business strategies and tactics – how will you go to market?

    • How is your agency perceived in the marketplace versus competitors? Who are your competitors and what are they doing?  How is your agency currently positioned? Can you demonstrate expertise in an industry?  Do your marketing materials clearly tell that story?

  4. Take a look at your website. Is the UX an easy one or will the prospect have to work to find out what you do? Prospects are busy - they don’t have the time to figure out what you do. Is your site able to capture leads? A “contact us” page is not what I’m talking about. Is your best work on your site?  If you have multiple industries that you work in, perhaps build a drop down in the navigation bar to highlight industries. I would suggest no more than 3 or 4. We recommend that any outreach emails should include a link to the relevant work that will drive the prospect back to the site.

  5. Evaluate needs. Do you have everything necessary to give you the best chance to engage with prospects? If you have the commitment from executive management then you will be properly funded.
    • Identify short-term and long-term goals and revenue needs. Be very conservative about your short-term revenue goals. This takes time.

  6. Discipline. New business needs to be a strategic and consistent process. You need to determine the type and amount of activity that needs to be done on a weekly basis. As we always say, “sales is not a punctuated event.”

  7. Coordinate.  All moving parts (marketing, sales, PR), should be on the same page and the plan should include all of these areas to make a clear and cohesive effort.

  8. Be flexible. While the behaviors of consistency are key to success, you have to be flexible enough to accommodate inevitable market changes.

  9. Keep everyone informed. You might want to start an update that can be easily shared with your entire agency on a monthly basis that is separate from your weekly update report to leadership team.

  10. Have a system to track or measure your activity and productivity. Do you have a database? There are many good CRM platforms out there such as Salesforce, Sugar, and Basecamp. Invest in one. An Excel spreadsheet is not an option.

  11. Be accountable. Create a weekly/bi-weekly update meeting with the executive leadership team and stick to it. Consistency on all aspects is the key to success in new business.

  12. Stay the course. There will be setbacks along the way. This is a long game.

  13. Establish a 90-day plan. What can be done to show improvement from previous efforts? Remember, you’re not only selling your agency’s expertise to prospective clients, you’re selling your expertise internally, as well. So set benchmarks that your team can easily track. The first 30 days might be all about establishing process, and the next 30 about generating relevant activity. The final 30 should focus on execution. You need to show progress to stay viable, so make sure you’re able to demonstrate the progression from day 1 to day 90.

  14. Educate and train. Take a serious look at your skill sets and consider retaining sales training to shore up any weaknesses.

  15. Treat new business as a client. Give it the attention and service that you would give to a client. Put your plan on the production calendar. Make everyone accountable. No missed deadlines, no excuses.

If you currently lack a new business sales plan, don’t worry.  Building one is an opportunity to strengthen your agency.  If you follow the fifteen steps above, you’ll be on the right track to success.

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Topics: Biz Development Processes & Tips

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