Every company needs to have a commercial plan to specify the goals it wants to achieve. The sales area needs to know this plan since they will be in charge of getting in touch with prospects and they need to know how and when.
Below, you'll find everything you know about how to define a commercial plan.
What is a commercial plan?
A commercial plan consists in establishing the sales goals and objectives; it also includes defining what the company needs to achieve these goals in a specific time. A commercial plan in a company is the guideline that sellers follow to know how, when and whom they have to prospect and turn into customers to achieve the established business goals.
In simpler words, a commercial plan establishes the actions that the company needs to take so current customers buy more products/services and potential customers start to buy.
What is a commercial plan useful for?
Companies know that a commercial plan is useful mainly for setting the ideas as regards the business goals that the company wants to achieve taking into account the processes in the areas of sales, marketing, operations, human resources, project management, finances, etc. Designing this document allows you to get a formal diagram of the activities that will be carried out at a particular time.
In this plan, you'll have to take into account the necessary resources and operative efforts to develop it. At the same time, it's vital that the commercial plan includes observation, metrics, and all the relevant information that allow managers to make decisions as regards the action plans through corrective and preventive practices. Its aim is to minimize risks when you launch a new product or service into the market.
The importance of a commercial plan is understanding the break-even point in which a company doesn't lose or win. The commercial plan allows you to face fixed and variable costs. Then, once you've planned it, profits are generated, profit per unit sold on which a sales strategy will be developed.
Advantages of having a commercial plan.
1. It allows you to follow the commercial strategy
Even though it's not easy to follow the strategy when there are problems arising constantly, using the commercial plan to summarize the main aspects of the strategy allows you to get a reminder of what's included and what's not. This makes work by objectives easier and helps you avoid risks.
2. You get more assertive projections
A commercial plan helps you know more details and update the information regarding the potential market, costs, sales, conversions, and commercial processes. Being updated as regards the commercial plan will allow you to be prepared for the changes and tendencies of the market.
3. It helps establish the company's priorities
Within the commercial plan, there are priorities that will allow you to identify growth factors and the need to assign them the value they deserve. Moreover, they help you check the evolution of the processes in the plan.
4. It helps you organize the tasks of each area so processes are up-to-date
A commercial plan allows you to keep a record of important events and dates to organize and plan them in time so you don't get to the deadline without previous planning.
5. It favors monitoring of activities
A commercial plan monitors the progress of the planning and its requirements to achieve it successfully. This way, it's possible to rely on the plan whenever you need to to check that all efforts are oriented to carrying out the planning correctly.
6. It helps you manage cash flows better
Companies can't afford to manage their cash flows incorrectly.
7. It allows you to record the estimated time to carry out the tasks of the commercial plan
Time is vital to establish the dates and deadlines to carry out the actions of the commercial plan. Without time, you can't know when you'll achieve the goals of the plan.
8. It allows you to correct errors in real-time
Planning the actions you will carry out as regards a particular goal allows managers involved in the commercial plan to monitor each stage, evaluate the bases and impact of every action, and detect possible errors so they can be corrected and their negative effects reduced.
How should the commercial plan be presented?
One suggestion about the format: commercial plans can only be turned into printed documents on some occasions, for example, when you need to share information with external people or members of the team. Otherwise, they should be dynamic documents kept on the computer.
The plan is indefinite which means that it is modified constantly since the business health is evaluated all the time so a printed version wouldn't be useful.
Areas that help devise the commercial plan
The areas that help devise the commercial plan are the following:
What does a formal plan include?
In a commercial plan, the following elements are included:
- An executive summary.
- A general description of the company.
- Some information about the products and/or services.
- A marketing plan.
- A list of the main achievements of the company.
- Some information about each member of the managing team and their role in the company.
- Details about the financial plan of the company.
Before starting to develop the commercial plan itself in which you'll define the goals you want to achieve, you must carry out its planning and take into account several variables, such as the historical information of the company and the sales balance of the previous years; this includes the sales of the previous year and the year before that, and information about the competitors (research of what competitors do, if they're expanding, if they're leaving the country, if their goals are more ambitious, etc.). You should also carry out an analysis of the market and the economy: this will allow you to establish the scope of the goals. At the same time, you mustn't forget that strategic initiatives, unlike specific goals, are a desire of doing something that hasn't been materialized yet in a commercial plan.
The main elements of the commercial plan that you should take into account when devising it are:
Goals represent what the company wants. They are the established objectives to achieve in a particular period. They help you know what to do, when it should be done, and who the people in charge are so they are achieved correctly.
2. Market research
What's the current situation of your market like? Who are your competitors? Who is your target audience? You have to ask yourself all these questions. When devising the commercial plan, you should have as much information as possible about the market in which you work. Information equals power and with it, you will make the right decisions.
3. Description of products and services
What products do you offer? What needs does it fulfill? You should know all the characteristics of your products and their functions. This way, we will be able to emphasize their features acknowledging their advantages for the people who buy them. Moreover, all their characteristics should be available and accessible to the potential buyers interested in them.
4. Marketing plan
How do your customers get to know your products? What strategies are you using? A marketing plan is a document that contains all the actions that must be carried out to advertise your products and close sales. This plan is very important within the commercial plan because it establishes the marketing goals that the company wants to achieve in a particular time as well as the strategies that will be used to achieve them.
5. Finances and projections
This part of the commercial plan is very important because it will provide you with vital information about the financial status of the company, fixed and variable costs, and sales projections in the short and long term. Undoubtedly, it's necessary to know the financial situation of the company because it will determine the strategies that will be used to improve or optimize the situation accordingly.
6. Monitoring and checking
This aspect has to do with all the previous ones. It's about monitoring that the commercial plan is followed and its goals, achieved. You should carry out constant monitoring during the year to check how the process is going to detect problems and errors that will be considered as antecedents for the following periods; in other words, each year, your commercial plan will be more optimized and its success will be greater.
The commercial plan should be adapted to the company's needs and the sector it belongs to as well as the local context in which it is. Therefore, apart from these general elements that we discussed before, you should also take into account these issues when devising the plan.
How often do you need to revise your commercial plan?
In any case, the most important element of the business plan is the revision schedule: setting specific dates to revise the progress made towards the company's goals.
In particular, this is when you revise the progress made and compare real information with financial projections. A real commercial plan is always incorrect so it needs regular revisions; therefore, we can say that the process of revision is vital.
A commercial plan is a group of actions destined to achieve an attainable, temporal, relevant, and specific goal whose development requires the necessary efforts to achieve it in the established time. It needs the collaboration of several areas of a company to plan the actions that will be carried out (management, sales, marketing, finances, and operations, among others) to help managers lead their business to success.
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