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Extrapolate Your Annual Sales Plans to Build Annual Marketing/Sales Support Plans

SiriusDecisions recently posted an article that outlined the six key steps in developing an annual sales plan.  They identified the first step as Strategic Alignment.  They stated that “this stage is designed to align sales, marketing, product and the overall C-suite on how the corporate objectives translate into the executable sales plan. The deliverable from this stage is agreement on a specific, measurable set of expectations and commitments from sales as well as other functions within the organization that align with sales”.  In order to achieve this type of alignment, the goals established in the sales plan need to permeate throughout the organization.  In fact, the key “other function that aligns with sales” that SiriusDecisions alludes to is the marketing/sales support function.  The sales goals established in the annual sales plan need to become the foundation of an organization’s marketing and sales support annual planning.  The same six steps that SiriusDecisions recommends to produce the annual sales plan should be applied to produce an actionable annual marketing/sales support plan as well.

Strategic Alignment.  Don’t operate in a silo.  It’s great that you want to build a comprehensive marketing plan, but that can’t be done without first knowing the goals and objectives of the Sales organization.  Ideally, representatives from Marketing/Sales Support should be involved in the annual sales planning process, and representatives from the sales and executive teams should have a seat at the table when the marketing plan is established.

Goal Setting.  Break your sales goals down even further and use historical performance metrics to work backward to establish new performance benchmarks.

  • What percentage of the organization’s revenue will come from existing business and from new business?
  • How many new customers are required to meet the new business goal?
  • What percentage of forecasted deals resulted in new business?
  • What percentage of SQLs resulted in forecastable opportunities?
  • What percentage of MQLs converted to SQLs?

Answering these questions will help establish reasonable goals for the number of MQLs and SQLs that need to be generated, as well as the size of the inside sales support that will qualify the leads and schedule appointments for the sales team.

Strategy.  Once you know the number of leads required, you can start to determine where these leads will come from.  Who are your target prospects?  What type of messaging will resonate with them?  Are they known entities or does your sales plan require you to move into new territories (geographic, vertical, etc.)?

Functional Plan.  In this stage, you will build an actual plan that can be followed and executed.  You will identify the tactics (email, social media, trade shows, telemarketing, inbound/content) that will be deployed; as well as the type, number, and frequency of campaigns. It’s also critical to evaluate the resources and tools that are available.

Execution.  It’s now time to develop a marketing calendar, specific campaign goals, campaign development responsibility, and deadlines.  You also need to evaluate your internal and external resources.  Will there be some tactics or functions that you need to outsource?  Do you have all of the tools and expertise required to execute your plan and measure its effectiveness?  

Evolution.  It’s rare that a plan won’t need adjusting along the way.  Economic conditions, sales goals and resource availability may require tweaks to the marketing calendar or even wholesale changes in overall strategy.  Keep lines of communication with the sales team open and schedule review meetings throughout the year so any required changes to the plan can be quickly identified.

Annual sales and marketing planning shouldn’t occur in a vacuum.  The goals and objectives of each are intertwined.  Understanding how these functions interact and using the annual sales plan as the foundation of the annual marketing plan will help ensure successful achievement of shared goals.


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