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How to Develop a Sales and Marketing Plan

Develop a Sales and Marketing Plan by taking a systematic approach to your sales strategies and marketing promotions. Learn the steps for developing a plan that works for you and your business.

From the entrepreneur to the small business owner, when it comes to growth, one of the areas often overlooked is sales and marketing. And that’s because many business people just don’t know how to go about it. It’s impossible to develop a viable sales and marketing plan if you don’t have an understanding of what your customers want, where they are, and how they behave.

 Budget for Success

Make sure you’ve allocated enough resources (people and money) to accomplish your company’s goals for the year. The size of your marketing budget will also depend on how much you have available to invest, and how quickly you want to see results. If you have caviar dreams and a tuna fish budget, you’ll be disappointed by your lack of results, and your team will be frustrated by their inability to meet your expectations.

 Review and Update Your Ideal Customer Profile and Personas

Look back at your best customers and identify the characteristics that make them profitable and enjoyable to work with. Make sure your ideal customer profile and buyer personas are accurate and update them as necessary to reflect the kinds of customers who will help you reach your growth goals.

Document Your Buyer’s Journey

Once your personas are updated, document the journey each persona will take toward becoming a customer. Your contacts take lots of tiny steps along the way to becoming a buyer. Plot out every interaction point your personas will have with your content or your company. This is your buyer’s journey—and each persona has their own.

Start at the end—what will they do immediately before signing a contract with you? What’s the step before that? The one before that? At each point along the way, identify the persona’s main questions, motivations, and potential objections. Then identify the kinds of content you’ll need to create to meet them at each point along the buyer’s journey.

Don’t forget about the influencers in the process. Feed your main contact the content they need to help educate and sell you internally.

You should also determine what CTAs to include in order to lead them to the next step.

Confirm Your Differentiators

Make sure you’re clear on what makes you different from your competitors. Talk to some of your customers and find out why they chose to buy from you—and what could make them switch teams and buy from your competitors instead.

Review and Organize Your Marketing Collateral

Make sure that your printed and digital marketing materials are written and designed to attract your ideal customers and communicate your company’s unique qualities to prospects and customers. Verify that copyright dates are updated, that your style guidelines are being followed, and that everyone on your sales team is using the right version!

Review Your Website and Online Marketing

Take a look at your website and social media channels to make sure they’re designed to attract and educate your personas. Is your branding and messaging consistent? Are you engaging with the right target audience? Is your content compelling and educational?

 Review and Document Your Sales Process

Is your sales process set up to close the quality and quantity of customers you need to reach your company’s growth goals? Does everyone on your sales team follow the same process for qualifying and nurturing prospects? Is your process documented? Is your CRM (customer relationship management) system set up to support your process efficiently and effectively? Could you be using any automated tools to make your process more efficient?

Document any issues you uncover while you’re reviewing your collateral, processes, and templates. Look for “dark pools”—areas of your process where prospects or customers get lost or ignored due to lack of time/energy/resources.

Pro tip: Get your sales and marketing teams on the same page with an SLA.

Document Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

Prioritize the issues you’ve identified and develop a phased approach to tackling them over the next four quarters. Depending on the issues you’ve identified, you may need to develop tactical plans for content/inbound marketing, social media, lead generation, lead nurturing, or account development.

 Track Your Progress and Evolve Your Tactics

Make sure you have defined metrics for measuring success, and have assigned individual team members to be accountable for solving each issue. Set up regular meetings to review progress, identify and solve issues, and align activities across teams. Learn from your mistakes and victories, and evolve your tactics as needed to maintain your traction!

5 Tips for Developing Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

1. See your marketplace and prospects as they really are—not how you’d like them to be.

The best strategies take into account the marketplace as it really is, not the way we think it is or wish it were. The same holds true for potential clients—we may think we know what they want, but reality may be quite different. In the absence of objective information, it is too easy to fall into a pattern of wishful thinking.

Your strategy should start by taking an objective look at your target client and the marketplace in which you operate. Don’t make the mistake of focusing at first on the services you offer or what you think your target audience might want. Do the research necessary to understand what your ideal client really wants or needs and tailor your offerings accordingly. Hinge’s own research has revealed firms that do regular research on their target client groups grow faster and are more profitable than those that don’t.

Done correctly, this research will give you a clear idea of client needs and priorities, their buying process, the competitive landscape, how your firm’s brand is perceived, and the real benefits clients receive from working with you. This knowledge can dramatically reduce your risk and lead to a much better strategy.

2. Take a hard look at your own firm: what are your goals and what do you offer of value?

Once you know how your firm measures up in the marketplace, it’s time to take a look at your organization’s internal situation. For example:

  • What does your firm want to accomplish?
  • What valuable product or service do you have that your target client wants?
  • Do you want to add new or different products or services or expand into new markets?
  • Are you interested in growth? If so, what kind, and how much?

Answers to questions like these provide the business context for your sales and marketing strategy. They reveal what your strategy will need to accomplish and how it should be evaluated as you implement it. Internal and external research will help ground your plan in reality and make success more likely.

3. Assess your current resources.

The best sales and marketing strategy in the world is useless if you don’t have the resources to successfully execute it. What sort of talent is already on board? What level of training do they have? Do your sellers have the skills and knowledge they need? Does the marketing staff understand the services you offer?

How about tools? Do you have the marketing infrastructure you need to pull off an inbound strategy? How about sales tools such as marketing collateral or case study videos?

We’ve found that answering questions like these will give you real insight into what is both possible and practical. Without this information, strategies are often under-resourced or simply not feasible because they are not based in reality.

4. Settle on a strategy that aligns with your abilities.

After researching your target client and marketplace, determining what you want your strategy to accomplish, and assessing your resources, it’s time to settle on how you’re going to implement your strategy:

  • Are you a sole proprietor? If you are, then you’ll most likely employ the “seller-doer” model in which you are the brand—selling your hands-on expertise and its value, while building a personal rapport and trust with the client.
  • Does your firm have a dedicated sales staff selling services performed by others who are the experts? If so, the “seller-expert” model aligns better with your business to make your doers visible experts and thought leaders in the marketplace.
  • How will you position your firm in the marketplace?
  • What are your key messages?
  • Will you use inbound or outbound marketing or both?

5. Develop an implementation plan to ensure strategy execution and follow-up.

An effective sales and marketing strategy is a major element of your overall business strategy. It requires a major commitment, which is why, in larger firms, it’s important that senior management fully buy into the strategy. No strategy will be successful without full management support. But with a proper investment of time, money, and effort, your carefully developed and implemented sales and marketing strategy will yield big results.


Sales and marketing plans help businesses to determine their sales and marketing objectives and strategies, and monitor how well they are performing. Effective and well-executed plans can help a company to achieve its business goals.

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