Unlike a traditional business plan, which focuses on the big picture, such as product development, market analysis, and brand identity, sales plans focus on how the company operates on a daily basis in order to reach its target market.
It is particularly notorious for startups to neglect this critical document, instead focusing on resolving issues as they arise. As a result, customers are misunderstood, sales cycles are unnecessarily long, and warning signs of risk are missed.
It is similar to steering a ship without a destination in mind when you run a business without a properly articulated sales plan. The sales plan lays foundations for the entire business operations.
It is always required to have a plan in place before you can achieve success. There is nothing better than a well-crafted strategic sales plan for sales success. The purpose)
of a sales plan is to help your sales team drive more sales by showing them where they are now, where they want to be, and even more importantly, how to get there.
In order to create a sales plan that will actually impact sales, however, we must first determine how to create one.
How can we create a sales plan for our sales team?
This article covers all you need to know about building a strategic sales plan for your sales team.
What Is A Sales Plan?
In a traditional sales plan, a company outlines its business strategy for improving sales results over a specific time frame. Having a sales plan enables everyone on the sales team to see the big picture, to share the same overall objectives, and to work together towards achieving them.
Your business’s sales plan outlines the necessary strategies, objectives, marketing tools, processes, and metrics you need to achieve your sales goal. A sales plan begins with understanding your business’ purpose, your target customers, and the sales process from beginning to end.
You can use our sales plan template and follow the steps outlined below to learn how to create a sales plan to reach your sales team’s revenue goals.
Every aspect of the sales reps’ operations revolves around the sales plan.
A sales plan describes how a sales team will grow its sales activity within a certain timeframe with a set of objectives.
Basically, it’s a sales strategy that specifies sales goal, sales tactics, challenges, sales target audience, sales efforts and steps to achieve them.
There is more to goal setting than simply setting a timeframe for achieving them. Developing a precise sales strategy is just as important as working out tactics. During this step, the resources are analyzed, the amount to be used is determined, and specific activities are described.
What Are The Benefits Of A Sales Plan?
In addition to encouraging discipline and diligence, a sales plan ensures that your sales do not dry up over time. Thus, it cannot be ignored.
The reality is that most sales teams are good talkers. They talk about strategies and plans all the time, but sadly, nothing happens until they’re accountable and are able to measure performance. Without a documented sales plan, it’s just talking, it starts and ends there.
Therefore, a sales plan helps sales teams to execute their best ideas. There’s more to it than that, though.
A good sales plan will also help you:
1. Focus on making sure all of your sales team members are on the same page with the same goals.
2. Clarify your goals and revenue objectives for a given period.
3. Ensure that your revenue and business objectives are aligned with a series of strategies and playbooks.
4. Make sure you know what your team’s capabilities are and isolate your resource needs from tools to talent.
5. Inspire and motivate sales managers, sales directors and other stakeholders.
6. Track your progress and optimize performance over time.
7. Give your team structure, direction, focus, and purpose.
Steps To Create A Sales Plan Process
It is important to note, however, that sales plan involves more than just developing a sales plan.
Creating a high-level sales strategy is essential to transform that document into something more than a bookshelf relic. Also, check out B2B sales, SaaS sales and tech sales.
Step 1: Search for trends and use sales data appropriately.
Taking a look at your company’s past will help you create a future-focused sales plan.
During the previous year, what were your sales like?
Do you have any data from the past five years?
It can be useful for identifying trends in your industry if you use this information. You can use it as a starting point to establish a sales plan process, although it’s not foolproof.
Step 2: Clearly outline your sales goal.
A business that doesn’t have goals doesn’t know if it is doing well. Your sales plan process begins with defining your goals and objectives, as you can tell from their placement on this list.
Executing and implementing them can begin once they have been defined.
Step 3: Determine metrics and performance indicators for success.
Different businesses have different needs. There is one thing we can all agree on: metrics are necessary for success.
Metrics such as these are known as key performance indicators (KPIs). In order to determine whether your business is successful, what criteria will you use?
In general, standard KPIs are gross profit margins, return on investment (ROI), daily web traffic users, conversion rate, and others.
Step 4: Identify the current situation of your business
What is the current state of your business? In step two, you set goals and objectives to determine how your current situation compares to them.
How do you overcome roadblocks?
How would you describe your strengths?
Compile a list of the obstacles that prevent you from succeeding. Make the most of your assets by identifying them as advantages. These factors will guide you as you build your sales plan.
Step 5: Become more intentional with sales forecasting
In sales forecasting, a salesperson, team, or company predicts what they’ll sell on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Despite its finickiness, it can help your company make better decisions when hiring, budgeting, prospecting and setting goals.
There has been a decrease in predictability in the economy since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Claire Fenton of StrActGro, professional coaching, and sales training plan organization, many economists won’t predict further than three months at a time.
You can, however, create accurate sales forecasts with the help of tools available to you.
Step 6: Discover and fill up the gaps in your business
Consider your company’s needs both now and in the future when identifying gaps in your business. In order to achieve your goal, you must first identify the skills the employees in your sales department needs.
Your second step should be to evaluate your current employees’ skills. Having this information will allow you to train employees or hire new ones to fill the gaps.
Step 7: Brainstorm new initiatives
A lot of industry trends follow cyclical patterns. Ideate new initiatives based on opportunities you may have passed up in previous years as you build your sales plan.
Adding webinars or special promotions to your plan could be a great way to increase your business if you’ve historically relied solely on word-of-mouth marketing and social media marketing.
Step 8: Involve stakeholders in building the sales plan template.
An organization’s stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organizations with an interest in the company. Investors, employees, or customers are usually the ones who have deciding power in your business.
Be sure to include stakeholders from departments that affect your sales outcomes, such as marketing and product development, at the end of your sales planning process.
In this way, sales planning becomes more efficient and actionable and sales reps are able to gather customer insights.
Step 9: Outline action items.
After implementing this strategy, you must outline your action items to create your sales planning process. Determine the steps that will take you through the sales process by using your company’s capacity and quota numbers.
A sales call script, identifying industry competitors, or strategizing new incentives and perks are examples of action items.
The creation of a sales plan should not be the end of the sales planning process.
The process should be repeated every year if you want your organization to maintain a high level of sales excellence.
The written execution component of sales planning follows the commitment to sales planning.
What Are the Components of a Sales Plan?
Developing a sales plan involves many aspects of business growth, including revenue targets, selling methods, target customers, current sales force capabilities, etc.
A total of 9 strategic information pieces are covered in the comprehensive sales plan document.
1. Executive Summary and Scope of The Sales Plan template
The purpose of this executive summary is to provide a short overview of the sales plan template, with a focus on the goals and strategies that will be used to accomplish them.
In addition, it specifies the period over which the plan is valid and other parameters.
2. Sales Goals and Revenue Targets
Here, revenue targets are clearly defined along with associated sales goals (for example, optimizing customer lifecycle value with customer success programs).
In order to simplify the document, new business revenue goals should be classified according to different categories (such as line and territory).
3. Review of Prior Period Performance
In this section, we measure the performance of prior periods, highlighting mistakes as well as actions that led to positive results.
A key objective is to optimize the sales plan through effective inputs and techniques.
4. Market and Industry Conditions
Here in this section, we will find a summary of the industry trends that will most likely influence sales performance.
5. Sales strategy, marketing campaigns, and sales process
An overview of the best-performing sales strategy, techniques, communication sequences, and playbooks for the specific company is provided in this section.
6. Customer Segments and target audience
All revenue-generating, omnichannel opportunities available to the brand should be summarized in this section, including but not limited to referral sales, new Prospects, target market, etc.
7. Team Capabilities, Resources, and Upgrades
In this section, we summarize and describe all the production inputs (human resources, tech software, specialized sales team, etc.) required to close sales as well as the key performance indicators and sales targets for each of the sales representatives.
8. Action Plan For Teams and Individuals
In this section, different teams and sales reps are assigned tasks, activities, and responsibilities.
Sales activities include prospecting, scheduling meetings and sales appointments, demos or sales pitches, and presenting products.
9. Performance Benchmarks & Monitoring
Performance metrics are presented here for tracking systems and processes that assist in monitoring these metrics.
Top Steps to Creating a Sales Plan
Here is how you create a winning sales plan step-by-step.
Highlight the mission and vision
The core purpose of your sales plan is to achieve your company’s vision and mission. It is impossible to reach a real destination without a clearly articulated vision and mission. Your mission and vision statements should be clearly defined at the outset.
It might be helpful to create a brief overview of the business so far, or at least for the last year. The sales plan is more effective when it is framed within the context of this history.
Review items such as:
- How much your business sold last year
- Who you sold to
- Your sales team’s performance
- Amount of repeat business
- Most and least profitable clients
You should include as much data as possible to support your assessment of the organization. History repeats itself for those who fail to learn from it, as the saying goes.
Make work easier and faster through your own Sales Plan template
It is interesting to note that you do not have to create your sales plan from scratch, you can see sales plan examples or get a free template. Hubspot offers a free sales plan template anyone would find easy to use.
HubSpot’s free sales plan template contains all the necessary sections outlined in this article including, team structure, target market, tools and software, action plan, sales budget, sales goals, and lots more.
You can also use a free sales plan template to develop your sales plan from scratch, making the process much faster and easier.
Define Your Target Market
Despite your end goal of generating profits, you won’t get there unless people buy your products. Getting input from your sales team, who work directly with your customers on a daily basis, is a great idea.
You can create a customer profile based on feedback from your customers, demographic information, location, age, income, and revenue metrics. Profiles of your customers are usually the sole responsibility of the marketing department, but they can be useful to the sales team to focus their efforts on the right prospects.
When you prioritize your customers, you can positively impact the buyer’s journey, resulting in more effective closing rates.
When you have your business objectives in place, setting specific goals shouldn’t be too difficult. Identify clear business objectives that align with your goals. Keep your goals SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
When setting sales goals, be as specific as possible. The main goal of a business is to increase revenue. Therefore, determine why you wish to increase revenue, how much you wish to increase revenue, and when you wish to increase revenue. Goals that are more specific have a higher chance of being achieved by your team.
In addition, you should come up with quantitative metrics that can be used to measure and track performance. A few examples include year-over-year revenue growth, recurring revenue, customer churn, and new business revenue. Your metrics should be relevant to the sales goals you’re trying to achieve.
Make sure your team’s sales targets are realistic and achievable. Analyze your past and present data to determine where you are and what can be accomplished in the short- and the long term. You can further optimize your goals by considering your business situation, economic factors, and the feedback you receive from your sales representatives.
Last but not least, the goals must relate to your short-term and long-term plans, as well as be time-bound. In other words, they make sense in the context of the bigger picture and can be accomplished within a specified timeframe.
Build a team structure
A clear team structure ensures that everyone understands what they’re doing and why. Any separate agency or marketing support should also be included in the team structure. The role of each participant in the sales process must be identified, as well as what they contribute to the process.
Typical sales roles include:
Lead generation (hunters)
They are tasked with the responsibility of identifying new leads for the sales pipeline. They also collect relevant data that helps to pre-qualify these leads. They are the business development team.
Sales development (nurturers)
While the hunters generate leads, lead qualification is the responsibility of the nurturers. Prospects are typically contacted directly to determine whether they fit the business’s sales pipeline.
Account executives (closers)
They are specifically trained to close deals. A day in the life of account executives may include sales pitches, handling objections, product demos, meet-ups and other activities to close the deal.
Customer success (farmers)
The customer relationship management is responsible for maintaining the relationship with the customer after the sale is closed. The typical responsibilities of a customer relationship manager are to reduce churn, maximize lifetime value, and upsell to existing customers.
Each role should also have KPIs. A KPI is a measurable indicator that helps track performance and holds employees accountable. Be clear about your expectations for performance. Ensure that you provide a detailed report regarding how each member will be held accountable.
The same applies if you plan to add a new team member and note when you expect them to start.
Break your goals into smaller action plans
Your sales plan is nothing without a sales strategy. You will find the ‘how’ to achieve your goals in this section of your sales plan. For example, if your objective is to increase your referral rates, your actionable steps may include providing your sales reps with referral techniques and increasing the commission they earn on referral sales.
Additionally, consider field sales, online sales, inside sales, resellers, and channel partners as sales strategies for reaching your target market. Consider how each option might affect your business plan.
Take into account where your target audience is likely to be located, how to engage prospects most effectively, and how to minimize costs and risks.
This step involves developing strategies, playbooks, and sales methods to achieve your sales goals.
Highlight all the sales tools & CRM software platforms you plan to use
Make a list of all the tools and systems you intend to use to execute your sales plan and improve your sales process in this step.
A Buyer Zone report found that 91% of businesses with more than 11 employees use sales CRM software. Real-time sales activity can be managed, information can be accessed quickly, sales performance can be measured, and other sales tools are available.
Want to radically change your sales game and boost your bottom line? Try Sloovi, a great tool for prospecting, qualifying, and closing deals.
Software for video conferencing, scheduling, marketing automation, and customer service are other tools to consider.
Rather than buying separate products or plans, you should purchase the most comprehensive sales tools you can find. In the latter case, the management is more complicated and costly.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis
In order to successfully enter new markets or deal with increased competition, it is imperative to take this step. With this course, you will be able to capitalize on your unique strengths, mitigate your weaknesses, identify and exploit new opportunities, and plan for contingencies if necessary.
Be sure to involve internal and external teams and the company leadership in the brainstorming session. This approach gives you a 360-degree view of the business and minimizes or eliminates blind spots during the SWOT analysis.
Prepare a sales budget plan
In addition, you would like to know whether your sales plan will be profitable. The answer to this question will be more definitive if you develop a comprehensive sales budget.
The following are some of the budget items that may be included:
- Salary and commission
- Sales tools and lead generation systems
- Sales training plan
- Travel expenses
A detailed breakdown of expected costs can help you determine the return on investment (ROI). Check this budget against your sales forecast to ensure it is accurate.
Start your sales plan off with an executive summary. Generally speaking, sales manager prefers a miniature version of the sales plan before they can take a closer look at it. It is important to include the most important points, such as your goals, as well as the plans you have to achieve them. You can see sales plan examples to inspire yourself.
As well as presenting your sales plan to executives, you may need to get their approval for the plan as well. Ensure that your PowerPoint presentation complements your document by creating a compelling story. Use graphics and images to capture your audience’s attention and share vital information.
You should spend sufficient time justifying your goals and strategic action plans, regardless of the visuals. Ensure your sales plan has a positive return on investment and will benefit the entire company. After all, sales managers, executives and stakeholders are interested in what’s in it for them.
In order to justify the additional overheads in your sales plan, you may need to spend extra time discussing the updated sales compensation plan. Incentives should be aimed at reducing turnover and motivating sales reps to increase revenue and sales development.
In addition, the sales manager should review the sales plans every year or more if you’re a startup. You can use your sales plans to identify growth opportunities, prioritize existing customers, stay competitive, use the best channels, and so on.
To maintain a competitive edge in the business environment, you need a sales plan that can adapt to short-term and long-term changes in the market. Check out some sales-related guides, churn rate, sales funnel templates and sales analysis report.