How to Create a Sales Plan (+ Tips, Examples)

How to Create a Sales Plan (+ Tips, Examples)

Planning and forecasting are major activities for sales managers, and sales planning is an important component of those processes. 

Given that your approach to sales is the number one driver of revenue, it’s an incredibly important process to document. That’s when creating a sales plan come in handy.

A sales plan is a must-have for businesses looking out to increase their sales, amp up their revenue, bring a new product to market, or branch into a new territory. Serving as a one-stop-shop for everything your sales team needs to know, a sales plan assists your business in creating a well-oiled sales team machine. Only a steady approach with a defined sales plan can guarantee a successful sale. Alongside your sales enablement plan, your company’s sales plan will set your team up for success.

What is a Sales Plan?

A sales plan is a strategic document that outlines specific steps to increase your sales. It typically feature your sales team’s objectives, tactics, target customers, and potential obstacles. Sales plans also include details about your team structure, strategies, revenue targets, and other helpful resources. 

An effective sales plan:

  • Helps monitor your sales team’s performance
  • Defines your goals and objectives
  • Outlines team and company roles and responsibilities
  • Provides strategic direction
  • Defines target markets
  • Empowers and motivates your sales team

Business plan vs. sales plan

Business and sales plans are closely linked. Though both work towards the same end, a sales plan does differ from a business plan. 

A business plan outlines every aspect of your business operations, including:

  • Market strategy
  • Product development
  • Market analysis
  • Company identity
  • Employee management

A sales plan, on the other hand, focuses on the specific strategy that supports your business operations. Your sales plan should address your business plan, and define how it supports the goals stated in your business plan.

In short, a business plan lays out your goals — a sales plan outlines exactly how you’ll achieve them.

Related Resources

5 Benefits of a Sales Plan

Sales reps, managers, and execs all benefit from utilizing a sales plan. It guides and shapes every aspect of a business’s overall sales strategic approach, keeps your sales department working towards the same goal, and communicates your sales team’s progress during the prospecting and nurturing phases of the sales cycle.

Here are the top five benefits of utilizing a sales plan:

1. Identify your target market

Your sales plan serves as a resource to help identify and understand your ideal customers, their unique needs and pain points, and how your product or service addresses their problems in a valuable way.

2. Define your differentiators

An effective sales plan outlines how your strategy, products and services, and brand will be positioned in comparison to your competitors. The goal is to position your offerings as unique, high-quality, and preferable in the eyes of your target customers.

3. Reach the right audience

An impactful sales plan uses market research to map out a strategy to reach the right audience, including the messages, platforms, and tools that you use. This prevents spending time, money, and manpower on marketing activities that don’t support your strategy or goals.

4. Pinpoint your competitors

A sales plan includes a general rundown of your competitors from a high-level perspective. The purpose of this is to determine how you can improve or adjust your product or service offerings to be favorably compared to the offerings of your competitors.

5. Support marketing spend ROI

An effective sales plan outlines your marketing activities, time-frames, and goals. This ensures that you only invest in promotional activities that drive a positive ROI and match your target market’s purchase behavior.

Bill Santos
“A sales plan helps individual reps understand the priorities of the business as well as the measurements by which they will be evaluated. It also provides a consistent measure of performance, allowing for independent evaluation of individual performance in a quantitative manner.”



Structure of a Sales Plan

A strategically structured sales plan gives you a better understanding of what your sales team needs to accomplish and exactly how to do it. 

Here’s the best way to structure your sales plan:

1. Target customers

Your target customers are the people who are most likely to buy your products or benefit from your service. Understanding who your customers are and their unique needs allow you to tailor your products and services, marketing strategies, and sales process in the most impactful way.

2. Revenue goals

Your revenue goals are how much money your company hopes to bring in over a specific period of time. You can measure your revenue goals by either estimating revenue based on employee capacity, adding up your team’s sales quota, or determining a growth percentage to add to the previous comparable period.

3. Strategies and tactics

Your strategies and tactics are specific steps your sales reps take to reach specified revenue goals. Instead of focusing all your efforts on new clients, your sales strategy could be:

  • Focusing solely on building new connections
  • Keeping up with past customers or clients
  • Using social media to generate new leads
  • Relying on referrals or word-of-mouth

4. Pricing and promotions

Pricing and promos typically hold the most interest for customers, and it’s understandable why – it clarifies the price of your product or service as well as any upcoming promotions for customers to capitalize on. A free trial is a popular promotional tactic that companies use to encourage customers to buy in once the trial offer expires.

5. Deadlines and DRIs

Deadlines and directly responsible individuals (DRIs) specify any important dates for deliverables as well as who is responsible for a decision or making sure a project or task is completed. Assigning accountability is important for a successful sales plan and can make all the difference between success and failure on an important project or client connection.

6. Team structure

A sales plan outlines the members of your team and their role and responsibilities to provide clarity. The power of your sales team structure lies in creating a reliable and repeatable process for nurturing leads.

7. Helpful resources

The people on your team are the most powerful tool for implementing your sales plan, but in order to do so, they need resources. 

Providing supportive, comprehensive resources is the best way to motivate your team and inspire hard work. These assets empower your sellers to properly nurture leads and ultimately reach revenue targets.

8. Current market conditions

Market conditions tell you about your industry and its competitive landscape. This includes what’s trending, where customers are losing interest, whether any competitors are gaining traction in the industry, and any other factors that sway the market in any way. The way your market is performing guides your approach to the sales plan.

"[A 90-day plan is] a great starting point… [where] you may end up speeding up your goals or extending them depending on the specific needs of your new company.”



5 Types of Sales Plans

There is no one-size-fits-all sales plan; however, there are templates that can guide you to success.

Here are some examples of the different types of sales plans you can utilize for your organization:

1. 30-60-90-day sales plan

As the name implies, this type of sales plan is structured by a time frame. You’ll create three sets of goals: one for the first 30 days, then 60 days, and finally 90 days. You can use a 30-60-90-day plan to track a new hire’s progress during their first three months.

2. Marketing-alignment sales plan

In a lot of ways, your sales plan is already aligned with marketing. But it doesn’t hurt to create a specific marketing-alignment sales plan if your company has not yet aligned these departments.

Your marketing-alignment sales plan should focus on establishing target customer profiles and buyer personas, as well as aligning sales’ product pitches and marketing’s messaging.

3. Business development strategic sales plan

A business development strategic sales plan focuses on bringing new business to your company by connecting with other organizations, participating in or sponsoring events, and other outreach efforts. An important step here is to determine the KPIs that best reflect performance for these specific outreach efforts.

4. Market expansion sales plan

A market expansion plan sets target metrics and outlines task lists for expanding into a new market or territory. For this sales plan, you’ll want to take into account distribution costs, time zone differences between your sales reps and target customers, and other logistical factors.

5. New product/service sales plan

If you’re launching a new product or service offering, creating a sales plan specifically to generate revenue from the new launch is recommended. When you create this type of plan, it’s a must to conduct a competitive analysis, identify sales strategy, and examine your brand positioning.

5 Challenges of Creating a Sales Plan

It’s not uncommon to encounter obstacles throughout the sales process. Luckily, a good sales plan accounts for these and helps sales teams navigate them more seamlessly.

Here are five common challenges that come along with creating a sales plan:

1. Lack of product knowledge

Many sales leaders set high expectations but fail to provide proper product training for their sellers. Lack of knowledge leads to lack of execution – it is the primary cause of low conversions, prospect drop-off, and dead ends.

Prioritize product knowledge within your sales team by making sure your sellers are product experts. Offer periodic demos, loop in your sellers during relevant product development meetings, and put them in the driver’s seat of your product or service.

2. Sellers lack the necessary skills

In today’s competitive and fast-paced sales environment, some sellers might lack the necessary skills to be as effective as sales leaders need them to be in order to grow the business. 

The best way to combat this phenomenon is to provide ongoing training for your sales reps on how to do better prospecting, connect over the phone, build empathy, and reach key decision-makers.

3. Lack of motivation

Sales isn’t always stable. Given that sellers can’t guarantee when or if deals will close, sales results will always be somewhat inconsistent – and it’s hard to take inconsistent sales results and maintain a consistent sales motivation.

If you find that lack of motivation is the issue when implementing your sales plan, focus on building a strong company culture by improving your rewards plan or investing in team-building events. 

4. Sales team productivity

Low productivity can have a multitude of underlying causes, such as: 

  • Not prioritizing leads correctly 
  • Struggling with the most operational part of the sales role 
  • CRM software is too complex 
  • Sales tools are out-of-date

The solution will depend on your unique team culture, but could be as straightforward as providing a user manual for your software, hiring someone new who can bring in a fresh perspective, or developing your own all-encompassing sales training program.

5. No response from prospects

Few things hurt more than spending time on a plan and pitch, only to get crickets from your prospect in return.

When it comes to generating a response from prospects, it’s all about the message behind the action you want your prospects to take. If you want to get your prospects to move forward, you have to map out a series of compelling and emotional messages. Once your message is created, it should impact your marketing and sales efforts significantly.

“Almost always, you’ll run into the speed bumps along the way, but with a plan in place, it makes it a whole lot easier to navigate through it all. The sales plan allows you to adjust when seen necessary so the goal can still be hit. I strongly believe a plan allows you to stay in control, reduce the risk while being able to measure the team’s results along the way to that finish line.”



How to Write a Sales Plan

In order to hit your key targets, you need to know how you’re going to get there. The best way to do that is to break down the strategies and tactics you’ll use.

Here is a breakdown of how to write a sales plan:

1. Write your mission statement and executive summary

Your sales plan should start with the company’s mission statement and executive summary. This provides contextual background information as the rest of your sales plan drills down into specific strategy details.

2. Outline team roles and responsibilities

It’s important that everyone knows who is on your team and what their roles and responsibilities are. Your sellers have different duties than sales enablement reps, so it’s helpful to make those distinctions clear. If you’re planning to hire for your sales department, include the number of employees, their job titles, and their expected joining date.

3. Define your target market

No matter what industry you’re in, knowing your target demographic is crucial. 

Some questions to help define your ideal customers include:

  • Who would benefit from your product or service? 
  • Do they all belong to the same industry niche? 
  • What are their biggest pain points? 
  • What solutions are already available to them, and how can you differentiate yourself? 

This part of your sales plan may also evolve over time as the market, your product, and your customers evolve.

4. List your tools, software, and resources

Include a description of your most-used tools, resources, and software, such as which CRM you use and where your library of helpful resources like your sales pitch script are housed. Having a list of where your most important assets live cuts down on time spent searching that could be spent on nurturing leads or making connections.

5. Establish your marketing strategy

In this section of your sales plan, include your pricing, any promotions you’re planning on offering, and key actions to be taken to increase brand awareness, generate new leads, and nurture existing ones.

6. Outline your prospecting strategy

Prospecting is a critical function of any sales organization, but it takes some strategic planning to make sure you’re pursuing the right targets. This portion is specific to how your sales team will qualify the leads generated through the marketing strategy mentioned above. 

Include the criteria for identifying, qualifying, and prioritizing sales opportunities, as well as how to determine whether those opportunities represent new potential customers or opportunities to generate revenue from existing customers.

7. Document your goals

Goals are an essential part of your sales plan. Goals help build morale, increase productivity, and keep your sales team working toward a specific achievement. 

Many companies use SMART goals to guide their goal setting. SMART goals stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

This approach eliminates generalities and guesswork, assigns a clear timeline, and sets employees up for success.

8. Set your budget

A crucial element of your sales plan is your budget for the year and how much you’re willing to spend to achieve your goals. 

In your sales plan, describe the costs associated with hitting your sales goals. This may include:

  • Pay (salary, bonus, commission, etc.)
  • Training costs
  • Sales tools and resources
  • Team building activities
  • Travel costs
  • Other miscellaneous expenses

Compare your sales plan budget to your sales forecast for accurate budgeting.

5 Tips for Creating a Sales Plan

A clear strategy allows your sales team to focus on the largest opportunities and highest priorities – not wasting time on tasks and leads that don’t provide value. And with a few tips and tricks to help you create a sales plan, you’ll be able to accelerate the sales process tenfold.

Here are a few helpful tips for creating your sales plan:

1. Gather sales data and search for trends

To create a sales plan, you need to plan for the present and future. And in order to do that, your sales leaders need to look at past performance to identify any impactful sales trends. This insight helps sales teams identify trends in the industry and establish a foundation for the sales planning process.

2. Include your stakeholders

Stakeholders are people, departments, groups, or companies with interest or concern in your company and often have deciding power. Involving stakeholders from departments that affect your outcomes, such as marketing and product, leads to an efficient and actionable sales planning process.

3. Identify gaps in your strategy or product

When identifying gaps in your product, service, or strategy, consider both what your company needs now as well as what it might need in the future. 

  • Evaluate the skills of your current employees via a skill gap analysis
  • Identify areas of opportunity to develop your product or expand your service offerings
  • Assess your current strategy to understand what’s working, what’s not working, and where changes can be made 

Once you have these insights, you can provide employee training, hire new employees, or make adjustments to improve your strategy or offerings.

4. Understand and analyze your position in your industry

An essential part of building your sales plan is keeping your finger on the pulse of your industry.

Take a look at your competitors – where they stand in the industry, and how they compare to your position. Review their product or service offerings, ways they might be outperforming you, and their pricing (if available publicly).

5. Provide ongoing training

The people on your team are the most influential tool for implementing your sales plan. To keep up their momentum, they’ll need proper and ongoing sales training.

Prioritize teaching your sales reps to be the best salesperson they can be. Training them and empowering them with knowledge of what’s going on in your industry ensures everything – and everyone – stays on track and working towards the same goals. 

Create personalized learning & training flows for your sales plan with Whatfix
How Whatfix can support your sales plan

A strategic sales plan paves the way for your business to succeed. It sets the direction for where you want to take your business and outlines a clear path on how to get there. 

Preparing your salespeople for success is a tall order. They must be experts in their portfolio of products and services, and demonstrate credible knowledge in your industry. They also need to be prepared to work with buyers who are more informed than ever. 

Helping your sales team create those meaningful buyer engagements starts with building a successful training program that gives them the skills and resources they need. Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that uses in-app guidance like walkthroughs, task lists, smart tips, self-help menus, and more to train and guide users through every aspect of an application. Empower your sales reps to make the most of your sales plan with Whatfix.

Learn how Whatfix cans support your sales plan implementation today.

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