Before heading into the field, your sales team needs a plan. Winging it only goes so far and only the most experienced sales executives can do it successfully. A sales plan sets the tempo for how your business will make a profit. Without it, all of your marketing efforts will fail.
A strategic sales plan sets up your objectives, tactics, target audience and possible obstacles. Its depth can vary depending on how detailed you decide to go. Some sales plans act as an outline while others include specific steps. Many use a combination of both methods.
Whatever your business decides to use, sales managers act as guides to ensure that sales teams follow the plan. You can always shift a plan to coincide with updated information.
This article covers the following on how to create a sales plan:
- What is a Sales Plan?
- What does a Sales Plan Include?
- What are the Benefits of a Sales Plan?
- Tips on Creating a Sales Plan
- Sales Planning Process
- Sales Plan Examples
- How to Write a Sales Plan
- Sales Strategy Template
- Selling Your Sales Plan
What is a Sales Plan?
A sales plan lays out the steps you will take to bring your goals to fruition. Basically, a strategic sales plan determines how you will get your product or service to your customers. It also identifies who those customers are.
Your plan will also include the structure of your sales teams and how they operate. It also needs to identify the necessary resources, revenue goals and strategies to keep your business going.
A successful sales plan identifies the roles and responsibilities of each team member. And it not only creates a system to track your goals, but also a direction for your team.
What does a Sales Plan Include?
Sales plans contain a lot of information covering goals, methods, capabilities and more. Some of the most important factors include:
Executive Summary and Scope of the Sales Plan
This section acts as an introduction to the sales plan. It contains the basic premise, including a general summation of the plan. The executive summary contains the basic goals, strategies and methods your sales plan employs.
Revenue Targets and Business Goals
Here, the plan states the revenue and sales targets the business must achieve. This section also includes objectives to assist in reaching the revenue target.
Review of Prior Period Performance
While most of the plan looks forward, this section takes a look at the latest completed sales period. By looking at successes and failures, your business can adapt for the future. You want to keep what succeeds and do away with what fails.
Market and Industry Conditions
The strategies you employ depend on the current market conditions. You can adapt to trends to capitalize on a new market or marketing strategy. A better understanding of your audience and competition helps your business find its niche.
Strategies, Methods, Tactics
Using the above-compiled sales data, you can identify the specific actions your employees will take. List your marketing strategy, prospecting strategy and sales strategy in this section. You can include a specific list of actions you need salespeople to take or just a general guide.
Divide and conquer. This section lists the possible avenues of sale acquisition. These include renewals, upselling/cross-selling, referrals and new prospects, as well as any other segments. Include new segments to stay on top of the game and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Team Capabilities and Resources
List the current state of your team and employees under this section, as well as the resources needed to achieve your goals. Take an honest look at the state of your teams and decide whether they need augmentation to succeed. Then, list the necessary improvements you need to make to your team.
Monitoring Performance Benchmarks
Once you determine your goals and strategies to achieve them, you need a way to measure performance. This section states how you plan to track the success of your plan. Whenever you see performance slowing down, you need to adjust accordingly. The sooner you adapt, the better your chances of success.
What Are the Benefits of a Sales Plan?
Instead of following vague ideas and whims, a sales plan sets your course for when the waters get rough. Essentially, a good sales plan helps you execute your best ideas. By providing structure and discipline, your teams have something tangible to work with.
Sales plans help keep all of your teams and employees moving in the same direction. When each member knows the goal, they can adapt their actions to achieve these goals. They also give you a revenue target to keep your business viable. Revenue helps track your performance so that you can continue handling your operating expenses.
Sales plans create group cohesion by giving focus and direction. You can improve this focus by implementing a singular set of methods you want your team to use. An understanding of your business and the environment help determine where you need to improve and upgrade.
Finally, a well-written and established sales plan help encourage and attract investors. Especially if you had a previously dim quarter, a sales plan can reassure wary stakeholders. People will only invest heavily if you have a thorough plan.
Tips on Creating a Sales Plan
The depth of your plan depends on your purposes and business. An effective sales plan might need nothing more than a list of bullet points. Just make sure everyone can understand it clearly.
Use In-Depth and Up-to-Date Research
In order to really write a good plan, base it on factual and current information. That way, you come out of the starting gate strong and can avoid many curveballs.
Incorporate Data and Statistics
A strong base of information helps you make the right decisions. Never make assumptions and double check whenever you are unsure.
Double Check Your Facts
Once you get statistics and data, make sure they are right. Using false information harms you just as much as relying on assumptions.
Compare to the Past
Look at your performance from previous periods to help determine the attainability of current goals.
Identify Tracking Methods
You need to measure your progress to see if you can reach your goals. Specify how you will track your progress, such as by revenue earned within a specific timeframe.
Justify Your Budget
You need a reasonable budget. More than anything, the investments of you and your stakeholders need to see returns. If your operation costs outweigh potential performance, fix the plan to make it worthwhile. And if you need a higher budget, present facts on how it will increase revenue.
Sales Planning Process
How you want to plan out your sales process depends on your personal preferences. You can sit down by yourself and write it all out. Or you can make it a collaborative effort. Just make sure you try to run it by a trusted business partner before implementing. That way, you know you can achieve your goals.
Sales Plan Examples
Sales plans take many different forms. For inspiration, check out these sales plan examples before you get started.
This nine-page template helps you focus on your goals and targets and the specifics on how you will achieve them.
The Asana sales plan works best in conjunction with Asana project management software. It allows you to create and post a visible sales plan with that software to keep everyone on board and informed. They can mark their progress in conjunction with the sales process goals.
This is a simple sales plan template to get your best ideas down without getting caught up in the minutiae. Its simple grid layout gives you all the best factors to focus on. Make copies for easy distribution.
Venngage offers a professional template full of all the text boxes and image spaces you need. Simply swap the pre-fills with your own information and get started swooning those investors.
Perfect for collaboration, this sales plan template gives a great visual setting to organize information. It really helps out visual learners and keeps the planning process fun and interesting.
How to Write a Sales Plan
When sitting down to write your sales plan, keep these four core components in mind:
The entire sales plan needs to focus on the goals you wish to achieve. They serve as the entire structure and foundation of your business. Include them in every step of the planning process. All strategies and tactics need to work together to achieve your goals.
Next, take a good long look at your business and the market environment. List your strengths and weaknesses in an objective way. You can start by determining what worked in the past and what failed. Also, take a look at your competitors and your audience to find a niche and develop a marketing plan.
Once you determine what you want to achieve and the state of affairs, think about strategy. Think about how you will position your product in the market to stand out from the crowd. All your sales efforts should present the uniqueness of your product or service.
Now, you can get down to the actions. Tactics include all the specific steps you need your team members to take. Use factual information and data to figure out the tactics that work for your industry. You can incorporate existing tactics or bring new ones into the fold.
Keep the tactics as realistic as possible. The actions your team takes every day to determine your success more than anything else.
Sales Strategy Template
Below is a general template to help with your organizational goals. Implement them with your business in mind to keep it on par with your own goals.
Especially important when presenting to team members and investors, the executive summary includes the most important information. It does not have to dive too deep but should include goals and general strategies.
Revenue Targets and Business Goals
Identify what you need to achieve with your business and how each goal contributes to increasing revenue. Having a set revenue goal helps ensure the longevity of your business.
Past Performance Reviews
Be frank with yourself regarding your previous performance. In order to learn from mistakes and grow, you need to analyze the performance of your good and bad ideas. Knowing the difference allows you to keep from making the same mistakes.
Specific Strategies, Methods and Playbooks
Now, you can get into the specific actions you want your teams to take. You can develop these on your own or with input from managers and consultants.
Buyer Persona and Customer Segments
Figure out the specifics of your customer base to determine how you should sell to them. The better you know your customers, the more successful your sales and marketing efforts.
Team Capabilities and Resources
Take a look at your team. Where is it now and where does it need to be? What resources do you need to reach your goals? Figure out what upgrades you need and create a budget for them.
Set tasks for each team member to complete.
List all your tools and how you plan on using them.
Set a way to track your progress.
Selling your Sales Plan
Before you go about presenting your sales plan, you need to make it professional and comprehensible. Consultation goes a long way towards turning your ideas into a functioning sales plan.
If you need help making a sales plan, Selling Revolution is here. We help businesses of all sizes refine their sales process into functional plans. Schedule a 20-minute introductory call today, and start knocking your goals out of the park.