Sales Plan 101: Definition, Types, Template

Any business is all about sales. Whether a company practices B2B or B2C, the main goal is to receive revenue. Only a steady approach with a defined sales plan can guarantee a successful outcome. 

A strategic sales plan is the map for business processes related to trading, dealing with customers, and organizing sales operations. In this article, you will learn the definition of a sales plan, its structure, and types. Moreover, you will get acquainted with a sales plan template and the basics of creating it.

What Is a Sales Plan?

Sales plan is the hub around which the entire operations of the company revolve around. 

A sales plan is a business plan that features the development of the company’s sales activity with set objectives within a particular time frame. 

In other words, it’s a strategic plan where one specifies sales goals, tactics, challenges, target market and steps you will take to execute the plan. 

Setting goals and time frame to achieve them isn’t the only aim. Give the same importance to working out tactics and a precise sales strategy. This part includes analyzing all the resources, deciding on the amount to use, and describing the specific activities.

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Sales Plan Objective

The Structure of a Sales Plan

Sales plan examples differ, depending on the exact type. But we will pay closer attention to this a bit later in the article. Generally, it includes nine areas of strategic business development. They are:

1) Executive summary

Executive summary is like laying the foundation bricks of your organization. State your company’s vision and mission. What is the ultimate sales goal? To reach X million revenue by Q4 2021, or increase share price to X amount. In your executive summary, include background on your company’s founding story and how you got to where you are and where you want the company to be in X years. 

2) Set business goals, including revenue targets

You can either set a revenue-based goal or a volume-based goal like having a target of $100 mn Annual Recurring Revenue or expanding product portfolio, or increasing customer base. Keep an achievable revenue or volume target; only then your sales plan can be achieved. 

3) A brief analysis of the performance during the prior period

Give some context to your sales team on the previous year’s performance to know where they are and what needs to be done differently to get to where you want to. 

4) Industry and market overview

Competitor analysis, swot analysis, industry trend reports and market research go a long way in understanding your market position. Having a keen eye for this in your sales planning helps craft your sales plan better. 

5) Description of strategies, tactics

For instance, if your goal is to achieve 100 mn revenue, what is the sales strategy to achieve this number? Then your sales plan should include the following tactics- 

  • Introduce aggressive selling strategies 
  • Tap new markets
  • Give deep discounts 
  • Retarget customers 
  • Cross-sell products to existing customers 

6) Customer segments

Your entire sales team should have clarity on who they are selling to, always. Your sales plan should include target audience, target industries, and ideal customer profiles that your company caters to with its products and services.

7) Resources and team capabilities

If your sales team is tiny, how do you expand your team to meet sales targets and achieve the sales plan? Hiring guidance should also be included in the sales plan. If your outbound sales team is running thin, then your sales plan should state how many resources are required over a particular period and should have a sound outbound hiring strategy in place. 

8) A detailed plan for a team and each member

Ensure clear delegation of roles and responsibilities and at each stage, there should be smooth handoffs and communication. Having a CRM can help bring visibility into the sales pipeline and process for all team members. 

9) Budgets 

An essential element of the sales plan is the budget for the year. How much are you willing to spend to achieve your goals? This would include salaries, bonuses, commissions, training costs, team building activity costs, resources spends, and miscellaneous costs. 

Any sales plan sample consists of these sections. You can alter some of it if they are not necessary for your organization. You can tailor it to suit your organization’s culture and processes.

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What Are the Benefits of a Sales Plan for Business

In pursuing high revenues, sales managers work out an exact sales plan, including determining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks – SWOT-analysis in the business language.

Having a sales plan helps to do this in terms of sales activities. Here is the list of benefits a company would reap if it has a well-structured sales plan:

1) Clear goals and revenue targets to achieve within a limited period

With an organized sales plan in place, every team member is clear on what they need to contribute to your organization’s success. For example, your sales goal could be to leverage $5,000 in five new deals within a month. 

2) Specific ways of achieving the target

A sales plan lays out the tactics to achieve sales targets. Define the target audience, marketing tools, and techniques to use in your sales plan. For instance, some companies employ guerilla marketing tactics to achieve aggressive sales targets. 

3) Unified labor policies that contribute to operations consistency

All procedures related to your sales teams, campaigns, employees, etc. form a part of your sales plan. Include compensation packages, commission rules, leave policies, in your sales plan, etc.

4) Deep understanding of the company’s strengths and weaknesses

Sales plan should gear your sales team to bring out the strengths of your company. Include competitive battle cards and SWOT analysis in your sales plan to focus on your product strengths. 

5) Ability to effectively track progress

If an employee fails to meet the predetermined sales goals, rethink the sales approach or provide additional sales training.

6) Discipline and diligence

For instance, an employee is more task-oriented, once he knows he must close five deals per month. 

Types of Sales Plans

There is no unified sample sales plan template. They differ according to the company’s purpose. Although most of the sales plans are rather similar, the following types can be distinguished:

  • Annual/quarterly/weekly sales plan – It’s a traditional business sales plan that features revenue goals, tactics, and specific time period by when it should be accomplished.
  • 30 60 90 sales plan – This milestone based sales plan specifies a goal to achieve within set milestones – 30, 60 or 90 days – and is ideal for new sales managers. Helps draw up strategic and tactical activities based on this plan. 
  • Sales budget plan – A sales plan that provides a forecast of factors that could influence revenue within a specific timeframe
  • Sales tactics plan– This is a tactical sales plan that includes execution strategy, detailed daily or weekly plans such as email follow-up frequency, meeting appointments, and prescribed call sequences for different sales teams.
  • Territory-based sales plan – It features tactics for sales teams across different territories, considering the working environment and market dynamics of a specific area.
  • Sales focus area plan – This plan dives deep into different sales domains like sales compensation or sales training plan.

10 Steps to Create a Sales Plan

These ten steps will help to create a sales plan:

1) State Your Company’s Mission

The foremost step is to define the company’s mission, e.g., delivering the best user experience through innovation. Whether you sell a commercial retractable awning, groceries, or clothes, the operations should be consistent with brand values. According to the data from Lucidpress, brands with consistent presentation has increased the revenue by 33%.

2) Set Objectives and Timeframe

Define the objective and time within which a sales team has to achieve them. For example, drive $10,000 in revenue within a month. 

3) Describe a Team

There are many types of sales teams. For example:

  • The island: Involves an owner and sales representatives responsible for every step of the sales process (generating and qualifying leads, closing deals) on their own.
  • The assembly line: A sales force is broken down by functions (e.g., a lead generation team, sales development representatives or prospectors, account executives, a customer success team). A customer moves to a new team as the sales process unfolds.
  • The pod: A team consists of sales development representatives, account executives, and a customer success representative.

4) Define a Target Market

The target market is a starting point for working out further tactics. 

Group your target audience by income groups, like high-net-worth individuals or middle-income groups. You can even group them based on B2B or B2C customers, and so on.

The core aspect is to describe the target audience precisely. For instance, for a women apparel store in NYC – women 18-40 years old live in NYC and its boroughs. Stating your ideal customer profile helps market a product with minimum costs and maximum effectiveness.

5) Evaluate the Resources

A company has to know its assets. In terms of a sales plan, businesses should analyze those which are related to the operations, e.g., the number of sales employees and the level of their expertise, the budget, the equipment (phones, marketing tools, computers, cars).

6) Make a Comparative Analysis with Competitors

Market overview and analysis are crucial in any business plan. It’s vital to know where business, its product, or service stands. One has to explain the distinguishing features that make the business stand out from others. For example, an innovative product, free delivery, convenient location, higher expertise, etc.

7) Set the Budget

Layout all the costs that you think you will incur to achieve those sales targets. Some of the expenses that are part of sales plans include salaries, commissions, sales tools, training, travel, printing costs, hiring costs, etc, which ultimately determine the budget. For example, according to your estimates, it will account for $5,000 per month. Consider this while setting revenue targets.

8) Define Company’s Marketing Strategy

This step implies describing pricing and promotions. It’s isn’t the final step, so some of the promotions a company included in the plan may change later. Also, one has to mention core actions a business is going to take in order to increase brand awareness and generate leads. For example, in the very beginning of Fortuna Visual we practiced a 20% discount for clients who will recommend us to others. 

9) Work Out the Strategy

This stage is where a company states how the sales team must qualify the generated leads. Apart from the exact tactics, one has to determine the criteria for prospects to meet before sales representatives reach out. (e.g., a company operates for five years minimum, its annual income is $100,000).

10) Define an Action Plan

Summarizing the plan to reach each particular objective. For example, a sales goal, such as a 20% increase in referrals. Actions: 

  • Hold a referrals techniques workshop
  • Run contest for referral sales
  • Increase commission on referral sales by 5%.

There is no single plan that can fit your company perfectly. There will be hurdles along the way, and you can always mold the shape of your sales plan until you start seeing favorable results. Take your time to identify opportunities and ways to overcome challenges.

Sales challenge