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Despite its relevance being a consensus, many people still do not have a good integrated Marketing and Sales planning. Find out how to build yours!

A marketing Plan is a document that describes all Marketing planning in a given period, increasing or decreasing the scope according to the area it develops. The Marketing Plan must always have its objective, in addition to the Marketing strategy and your tactical plan.

Imagine if everything you plan and structure for the company’s growth in the following year happened 100% as projected. It would be a dream, wouldn’t it? Like you, I would very much like the plans I participated in during my 5 years in RD were also like that.

Although planning is not 100% accurate, it helps you to go in the right direction and understand the moments to correct the route. It is essential to sustain the accelerated, predictable and sustainable growth that RD has been tracing since 2011.

Do you know the importance of integrated Marketing and Sales planning in your company? Despite its relevance being a consensus, not having a plan is something very common among small and medium-sized companies, being one of the main factors in bankruptcy.

Therefore, I separated the main topics to structure a good integrated Marketing and Sales plan like Blue World City. At the end of the post, I’ll leave some links for you to get the materials we used in planning RD. Keep reading!

What is a Marketing and Sales plan?

Planning is a fundamental step for companies to have a holistic view of the business, with clarity regarding the premises that will support the company’s growth for the following year. In addition, it helps to have better-structured goals with the objective of predicting and estimating which marketing, sales and after-sales strategies will be that, if properly executed, will help the company achieve what was outlined.

Generally, this planning starts in the period of October, so that it is executed on the 1st working day of the following year. If you only start designing your plan in January, for example, you will have less time to execute and achieve the expected growth. The sooner you start working on planning, the better.

As much as it may seem a boring and bureaucratic process at times, planning well done will give you the right direction to go.

Imagine that you are going to travel from São Paulo to Cuiabá. You leave the house and start driving your car at high speed to reach your destination right away without looking at the map, waze or the license plates. When you come across, you are in the middle of Raposo Tavares, the road that connects São Paulo to Curitiba). As much as you are at high speed, the wrong direction you take only makes you farther away from your destination.

Planning will be your map. Running will be the fuel for your car.

For companies to manage their business in a sustainable way in the following year, a more in-depth analysis is needed, evaluating all situations that encompass the world of marketing and sales.

If each company is unique, why would there be a ready-made marketing plan with all the guidelines made regardless of the size of the company, the business model or the segment in which it operates?

Steps in a Marketing and Sales Plan

As stated in the analogy above, planning will help give you direction. The marketing plan must support the company’s growth. Therefore, it is impossible to start drawing a plan without understanding what your goals are for the year, how much growth will be necessary and how much resources will be needed to support Marketing and Sales actions.

Overall the years of RD, in its most varied sizes and challenges, we realized that a good Marketing plan is based on four pillars:

  1. Define the organization’s macro objectives: goals, investment and team size (note: this is changeable during planning, but it is a great parameter for us to assess the actions that should be prioritized);
  2. Carry out a quantitative and qualitative diagnosis of the operation;
  3. Define an action plan with the macro projects and initiatives that will support this growth;
  4. Execution, discipline in the plan and analysis for route correction.

Regardless of the segment and size of the company, the planning basis adapts to any one of them. It can be followed for clear, focused and practical construction.

Every plan must have a goal.

When we talk about Marketing and Sales planning, it all starts with where the company would like to go from a financial point of view (profitability, operating result, Ebitda, etc.). This business and financial objective will be broken down into the other operational objectives of the company.

Every company will grow “as much as possible”. However, this growth must be sustainable and consistent, considering the team’s operational capacity, the company’s infrastructure capacity, investment capacity, cash flow, etc.

Therefore, the first assessment when defining the objective is whether it is achievable based on the operational capability you have today. The second step is to reflect on what is necessary to increase the team’s operational capacity if the current capacity does not support the planned growth.

Having a dashboard with the operation’s macro numbers will help you define these general lines of growth for the company. As your operation matures, the dashboard will need some more breaks for better planning (region, forms of acquisition, products, etc.).

Setting goals for business growth

Once the financial guidelines are defined, the goals will be broken down into the other operational areas of the company, seeking to see what the means to achieve the financial goals will be.

For the definition of goals to be structured effectively, it is essential to follow 3 basic premises:

  1. Create clear and achievable goals;
  2. From them, make the reverse funnel projecting the numbers of all the steps of the funnel;
  3. Analyze the delivery capacity that the business has in view of the created expectation.

Create challenging and achievable goals, as only in this way the Sales and Marketing teams will be motivated to continue with the work. The challenge makes the team leave the comfort zone and, consequently, generate professional development. 

As for the aspect of being attainable, it is important to have a clear rationale for the reasons for those numbers. This does not generate internal stress if the numbers are not reached and this impacts the variable remuneration of the team.

Then, you must perform the reverse funnel of your current operation:

If in a given month I need to make 20 sales, at the current funnel rates, I will need to:

  • 40 opportunities (20/50%)
  • 200 Qualified Leads (40/20%)
  • 2000 Leads (200/10%)

You can make multiple reverse funnels depending on how sophisticated your Marketing operation is. You can, for example, divide by region, by type of sales (inside and field), new customers versus recurring customers, etc. Ideally, you should start with a more general funnel of your operation and then break it down to the parameters that make sense.

To make your job easier, I‘ve created a simple spreadsheet in which you can start structuring your operation funnel.

With the reverse funnel, you can understand how your operation is working month by month. Thus, it is possible to design certain operational improvements so that your funnel becomes more efficient and, also, the resources that will be needed (tools, people, investments, etc.) to achieve these goals.

Finally, it is necessary to analyze the delivery capacity that the business has in view of the created expectation. The objective will hardly be reached if the Marketing and Sales teams do not plan together how they will reach the established numbers.

It will be necessary for Marketing to generate more Leads, for them to be more and more qualified, for the Sales team to be more productive, for them to improve the pitch or outline of objections, etc. And with the effort of each of the teams, the pointer will actually move.

SWOT analysis in integrated planning

With the first numbers of the funnel established, it is necessary to think about the means that will make the goal to be delivered. For this, you need to know your market, your competitors and your internal operation to find possible growth levers and also validate the projected growth viability.

Slide print of how we do SWOT analysis in RD

The SWOT analysis  (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) or Matrix SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is a simple and fast way to analyze the feasibility of a project, product, campaign or anything else within the company.

This analysis model aims to identify whether the project, product or campaign has successful viability, as well as the possible problems faced along the way and how to solve them.

SWOT analysis is done on a matrix. At the top, are located the strengths and weaknesses, considered the internal factors, that is, what you have direct control over.

At the bottom, we have opportunities and threats, which are external factors, without direct control of the individual or the business.

The SWOT Matrix analysis method allows us to define which are the points to be optimized, which should be worked on to improve, the opportunities that should not be left out and monitor what may hinder the project in the future.

If you want to have a slide model similar to the one we use here at the company, just click here

Importance of doing marketing and sales planning together

Understanding the importance of integration between Marketing and Sales and how to do it in the best possible way is the foundation for you to have a predictable, scalable and sustainable procurement machine.

The first myth we must break is that areas must think separately about their goals. In fact, this can be one of the most effective ways to stay away from desired growth.

Not thinking about the company’s growth in an integrated way is the way for Marketing to pass on to Sales a large amount of Leads that are not ready to buy. Or, on the other hand, for the commercial team to sell something that their product/service offer does not deliver, generating dissatisfaction and hasty cancellation on the part of customers. Or both together.

The two teams must work in a complementary way so that the company can achieve the objectives and goals stipulated in the planning.

The Marketing team can help the sales team by attracting the public that has the best profile and the pain that the product solves, establishing a relationship between the brand and this contact during the purchase journey and delivering more qualified opportunities.

With more ready Leads in the sales funnel, a positive impact on conversion rates and a more effective after-sales is generated, with more customers happy with the product and using it for longer.

In turn, the Sales team assists Marketing in the final sales process, returning important information from CRM  to the Marketing Automation tool. Thus, it is possible to better understand why the person did not buy the product and what Marketing actions could be taken to improve the funnel’s performance (change copy, trigger nutrition flows, change the product’s value proposition, etc.).

All these steps can be structured if there is good data sharing between the teams, there are constant meetings with the managers of each team and the objectives of the groups are outlined in a uniform manner.

Understand who is (and who is not) successful with your product

For your acquisition strategy to be effective, focusing your energy on the things that have the greatest growth potential for the company, you need to know who is successful with your product, what their habits are, and what other tools they use.

In this way, it is possible to carry out a series of quantitative and qualitative analyses, a greater knowledge of your persona and the purchase journey.

Quantitative Analyzes

  • Profile and common characteristics of the best customers;
  • Profile and common characteristics of the worst customers;
  • Distribution of customers by demographics and other relevant parameters:
    • B2B: position, number of employees, revenue, segment, channel
    • B2C: Channel, age, location, operating system, coupon or non-coupon;
  • Acquisition funnel by available/relevant parameters;
  • Retention by available/relevant parameters.

Qualitative Analysis

Understanding the profile of customers who are successful with your company, what they value most about your product and what their needs are will help you design a more effective tactical plan.

When interviewing customers, you will already understand some response patterns that will help you build your SWOT Matrix with greater transparency in relation to their strengths and weaknesses in relation to the market.

The more interviews or surveys you do, the more faithful the result will be. But it’s important to start. Interview 3-5 of your best and worst customers who are sure to already have insights into what should be prioritized.

Some questions that can be asked:

  • What is the journey of your best customers?
  • What are your consumption habits?
  • How did they get to know your brand? Where did they come from?
  • Why do they buy from you and not your competitors?
  • What are the main objections your salespeople receive?
  • And your worst customers? Ask the same questions.

Defining the action plan with macro projects and initiatives that will support this growth

Once the company’s goal is defined and an in-depth analysis is carried out in relation to its operation, it will be much clearer which projects and initiatives should be prioritized to support the expected growth. And how to assemble a strategy to reach the ideal number of customers that the company should prospect in the following year?

For that, I like to separate the planning into three big blocks:

1 – Short-term actions

It is the actions with high reliability and predictability of the result that are necessary to help you reach the goal. These are usually actions that you already do, with knowledge of some opportunities and adjustments that can be made to reach the month’s goal.

Examples: focus Marketing actions on the profile of the best customers; optimize email base management; send campaigns at better times; use more Marketing Automation, etc.

2 – Medium-term actions

These are actions that may not generate a super result in the month, but that can help to have a competitive advantage in the future.

Example: SEO work; create some viralization mechanism in the product; partnership program; value proposition changes; copy more according to your best persona, etc.

3 – Tests and experiments

It is natural that, over time, the channels that support your growth may become less efficient for some reasons. A very common one is because the ceiling is low, as it usually happens with Referral Marketing. This channel is great and has one of the highest conversion rates in DR, but as you grow, it will hardly be a representative channel in your sales volume as it is not scalable.

Another common reason is increased competition within the channel itself as it gains popularity. One example is Facebook Ads , which has increased its cost by 100% since 2012.

Given these circumstances, it’s critical that you set aside some of your time, money, and people resources for testing and experimenting on new channels or acquisition models.

Using Growth Hacking frameworks is a great way for you to explore these new opportunities.

Action plan

Within everything that is drawn in these 3 large blocks, there are four points that must be answered so that the construction of the action plan can be considered clear and efficient:

  • What are the projects, campaigns, offers and content for each month?
  • What are the deadlines and deadlines?
  • Who is ultimately responsible?
  • What are the success and expectation criteria for these actions?
  • What is the required investment (tool, people, $$, etc)?

This last question is essential so that the person responsible for the area can be clear about the investments that will have to be made to obtain the expected results, in addition to, of course, ensuring alignment with the company’s financial area.

The action plan is: based on the goals outlined in the second stage, stipulating which actions are necessary for us to achieve success.

Use of Resources for Marketing and Sales Planning

With the first tactical plan in place, you need to understand the amount of resources it will take to get to that plan – and whether it’s viable or not. There is no magic number, but generally companies invest between 15%-20% of their revenue in Marketing. However, there are a number of factors that make this percentage vary.

As for the team, it will be necessary to understand the number of people needed to execute this plan, how many will be hired and whether the operation will be internal or external (via freelancers and agency). It will also be necessary to consider all the other variables so that the lack of employees does not impact the execution of projects and, consequently, the numbers of the operation (ramping time, vacations, possible layoffs, etc.).

In addition, for you to have greater productivity both in operation and in analysis, it is essential that you have a set of tools in Marketing and Sales to support this growth. Today, there are numerous free or very cheap tools for those just starting out.

Of course, as your operation matures, you’ll need more robust tools and analytics to match your goals.

Exchange of data between Marketing and Sales to set up an annual plan

The supply of data to the Marketing and Sales teams is what makes the annual planning based on creating strategies and making it possible to correct routes as the action plan is executed.

It is important that you evaluate the result of your actions throughout the sales funnel and not just the numbers of followers or likes in your account.

With Marketing and Sales software to centralize your actions, it is easier for you to understand contexts of the customer journey, seasonal impacts, efficiency of acquisition channels, results of actions, etc.

Data as a result of the company with customer acquisition, average ticket of each customer, and Lead conversion rate should be considered in the information record regardless of where you store it.

RD Station Marketing Dashboards Example

As a good analysis and follow-up practice, look daily or weekly for the most macro numbers and the follow-up of planned activities. In a monthly analysis, go deeper to understand the results of the operation and what to do to achieve the planned objectives.

Remembering that execution is what wins the game.

In order to carry out a good integrated Marketing and Sales planning, it is preferable to have a 5-grade plan executed by a 10-grade team rather than a 10-grade plan executed by a 5-grade team.

In this process, the managers’ concern must be focused on the masterful execution of the plan rather than if the plan has a brilliant structure.

Make your Marketing and Sales plan now

Regardless of the size and segment of your company, never stop investing time to create a good Digital Marketing strategy and plan.

Periodic diagnosis of your company, understanding market changes and monitoring the execution of the work are very important for you to get an overview of the best actions to be performed and the value of the investment in each one of them to achieve the objectives of the company by the end of the year.

The secret, however, is to know how to analyze the results, prioritize the projects to be executed and take advantage of everything that Digital Marketing has to offer for your company. Using brute force when necessary. As boxing champion Mike Tyson would say, “Everyone has a plan until they get the first punch in the face.”

For this reason, periodic measurement (month or quarter) should be a mandatory activity. The numbers on paper can guide the next necessary steps and collaborate in a possible decision to restructure the planning, with the revision of annual goals and projections.

Also, don’t forget to record your planning and results and communicate the company about possible changes and associated metrics. They will be key points for short-term execution and the direction of strategies for the next period.

I hope that with these tips, which are essential for any Digital Marketing planning, you can get a better sense of how to direct your efforts. So, I hope you can achieve the results you expect in the period.

And you, do you have any other tips to collaborate with short-term results planning? I would be very happy with your comments and suggestions.