How to Write a Sales Plan
- Mission and Background
- Target Market
- Tools, Software, and Resources
- Marketing Strategy
- Prospecting Strategy
- Action Plan
1. Mission and Background
Begin your sales plan by stating your company mission and vision statements. And write up a brief history of the business — this will provide background information as the plan drills down into more specific details.
Next, describe who is on your team and what their roles are. Perhaps you manage five salespeople and work closely with a sales enablement professional and a sales ops specialist.
If you’re planning on adding headcount, include the number of employees, their job titles, and when you’re planning to bring them on the team.
3. Target Market
Whether you’re writing your first sales plan or your fifteenth, knowing your target demographic is crucial. What do your best customers look like? Do they all belong to a specific industry? Exceed a certain size? Struggle with the same challenge?
Keep in mind you might have different buyer personas for different products. For example, HubSpot’s salespeople might primarily sell marketing software to CMOs and sales software to sales directors.
This section of your sales plan can also change dramatically over time as your solution and strategy evolves and you adjust product-market fit. In the very beginning, when your product was in its infancy and your prices were low, you may have found success selling to startups. Now that the product is far more robust and you’ve raised the price, mid-market companies are likely a better fit. That’s why it’s important to consistently review and update your personas.
4. Tools, Software, and Resources
You should also include a description of your resources. Which CRM software do you plan on using? Do you have a budget for sales contests and incentives?
This is where you’ll lay out which tools your salespeople should use to succeed in their jobs (e.g., training, documentation, sales enablement tools, etc.).
Now, name your competitors. Explain how your products compare, where theirs are stronger than yours, and vice versa. In addition, discuss their pricing versus yours.
You should also discuss market trends. If you’re a SaaS company, you should note vertical-specific software that is becoming more popular. If you sell ads, mention the rise in programmatic mobile advertising. Try to predict how these changes will influence your business.
6. Marketing Strategy
In this section, describe your pricing and any promotions you’re planning on running. What key actions will you take to increase brand awareness and generate leads? Note the impact on sales.
Here’s a mock version:
- Product A: Increasing price from $40 to $45 on Feb. 2 (2% reduction in monthly sales)
- Product B: Free upgrade if you refer another customer from Jan. 1-20 (20% increase in monthly sales)
- Product C: Decreasing price from $430 to $400 on March 1 (15% increase in monthly sales)
- Product D: No change
7. Prospecting Strategy
How will your sales team qualify the leads that are generated by your marketing strategy? Don’t forget to include the criteria prospects should meet before sales reps reach out.
And identify which inbound and outbound sales methods your team will use to close more deals.
8. Action Plan
Once you’ve outlined where you want to go, you must figure out how you’ll get there. This section summarizes your game plan for hitting your revenue targets.
Here are a few examples:
A. Objective: Increase referral rates by 30% this quarter
- Run three-day referral techniques workshop
- Hold sales contest for referral sales
- Increase commission on referral sales by 5%
B. Objective: Acquire 20 Enterprise logos
- Identify 100 potential prospects and assign a tiger team to each
- Hold two executive-level events
- Give a bonus to the first team to win three logos
Most sales goals are revenue-based. For example, you might set a total target of $10 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).
Alternatively, you can set a volume goal. That could be 100 new customers or 450 sales. Make sure your objective is realistic; otherwise, your entire sales plan will be largely useless.
Factor in your product’s price, total addressable market (TAM), market penetration, and resources (including your sales headcount and Marketing support).
Your goal should also be closely tied to your high-level business goals; to give you an idea, if the company is trying to move upmarket, your goal might be “Acquire 20 Enterprise logos” rather than “Sell X in new business” (because the latter will encourage you to solely chase deals rather than focus on the right type of customers).
Of course, you’ll probably have more than one goal. Identify the most important, then rank the rest by priority.
If you have territories, assign a sub-goal to each. That will make it easier to identify over- and under-performers.
Lay out your timeline too. Having regular benchmarks ensures you’ll know if you’re on track, ahead, or behind in meeting your targets.
Suppose your sales goal for the first quarter of the year is selling $30,000. Based on last year’s performance, you know January and February sales are slower than March.
With that in mind, your timeline is:
- January: $8,000
- February: $8,000
- March: $14,000
You should also write in the DRIs (directly responsible individuals) if applicable. For example, maybe Rep Carol’s January quota is $5,000. Rep Shane, who’s still ramping, has a $3,000 monthly quota. On a smaller team, this exercise helps people avoid replicating each other’s work — and shifting blame around if targets aren’t met.
Describe the costs associated with hitting your sales goals. That usually includes:
- Pay (salary and commission)
- Sales training
- Sales tools and resources
- Contest prizes
- Team bonding activities
- Travel costs
Compare the sales plan budget to your sales forecast for accurate budgeting.
If you want to take your plan to the next level, read on to learn some tips for creating a highly effective sales plan.
Tips for Creating an Effective Sales Plan
We’ve gone over what you should include in a sales plan, including some examples and mockups.
Learn some tips and tricks for creating a sales plan that helps you hit target numbers and exceed your higher-ups’ expectations.
- Use industry trends to strengthen your plan. When presenting your sales plan to a stakeholder, use industry trends to highlight why your plan will be effective.
- Specify the technology you’ll use to track success. You can do this for internal reference or to let stakeholders know how you’ll be measuring success. Some tools you can consider include a CRM and a dashboard software.
- Support your budget proposal with hard facts and data. If you’re creating a budget as a part of your plan, support it with previous performance data and sales forecasts.
- Create different plans for each team. If you create a sales plan for business development, inbound sales, outbound sales, field sales, and so forth, you can get even more granular and specific in your goals and KPIs.
- Get marketing’s input. Marketing and sales alignment is critical for the success of your sales plan. The more input you have from marketing, the more you can align your lead generation, prospecting, and nurturing efforts.
- Talk with your sales reps to understand their challenges. It might be easy to get lost in numbers and forecasts. But it’s important to know your sales reps’ day-to-day to understand what will and will not prove effective or feasible.
- Complete an in-depth competitive analysis. You must know what the competition is doing well so that you can create a plan that nudges your company in that direction.
Sales Plan Examples
There are a few different types of sales plan you can create for your organization. Here are some examples.
30-60-90-Day Sales Plan
This general sales plan is defined not by theme but by time frame. You’ll create three goals: one for the 30-day mark, another for the 60-day mark, and the last for the 90-day mark. You can choose to focus on quotas or reducing customer churn by a certain percentage. If you’re new to the role, you can also create a 30-60-90-day plan to track your progress during your first ninety days.
Marketing-Alignment Sales Plan
In many ways, a traditional sales plan is already aligned with marketing, but you can create a marketing-alignment sales plan if your organization has not yet aligned both of these departments. The focus of the plan will be on establishing ideal customer profiles and buyer personas and aligning marketing’s messaging with sales’ product pitch.
Business Development Strategic Sales Plan
A strategic sales plan for business development will focus on attracting new business to your company by networking with other companies, sponsoring events, and doing outreach. In your sales plan, you’ll want to choose the right KPIs that best reflects performance for these specific outreach channels.
Market Expansion Plan
A market expansion plan outlines a task list and target metrics when expanding into a new market or territory. This type of sales plan is specifically concerned with addressing a target market in a new geographical area. You’ll typically take into account distribution costs and — if applicable — time zone differences between your sales reps and target buyers, as well as other logistical factors.
New Product Sales Plan
If you’re launching a new product, you’ll want to create a sales plan that’s created specifically for the purpose of generating revenue from the new launch. It’ll be especially important to carry out a competitive analysis, determine a sales strategy, strengthen your brand positioning, and secure channel partners if you’re shifting to a channel sales model.
Strategic Sales Plan Examples
If you’re in need of some more inspiration, take a look at these sales plan examples.
We’ve created a sales plan template that outlines the key elements of a sales plan. This template will walk you through each of the steps to write a sales plan of your own.
Organizing your strategies and goals with a sales plan will make it easier for you and your sales team to stick to the targets you’ve set. This template is 9 pages long and includes a goals section before breaking down into more specific areas such as demand generation, implementation, and measurement and evaluation. This provides plenty of opportunity to create a concrete action plan.
If you use Asana’s project management software, this template is for you. Embed this template where your team works and communicates to keep everyone aligned with your sales strategy. You’ll be able to see in real time the progress on all tasks on the way to your goals.
A sales plan doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages long. Try consolidating your sales plan to a page or two. This template is a great example of making it short and sweet. In landscape mode, this strategic sales plan includes channel, expected costs and sales, distribution strategy, and key performance indicators in an easy-to-read grid layout.
Choose a design that fits your needs and create your sales plan using Venngage’s interface that includes custom charts, stock photos, and illustrations. You’ll have a number of visually interesting options, all available in just a single tool.
If you run a small business, you may not have a fully stacked sales team yet. Establish a strong sales strategy for your company that future hires can build off of with this template. Sometimes simpler is better, so this plan relies on several standard sections to draw up your plan, with boxes that can be easily filled out using Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
If you’re more of a visual person, creating a diagram for your sales strategy can be helpful. Use Creately to create an attractive sales strategy, breaking action items and values down by category.
Dive into the details of your sales strategy with a sales action plan. With a minimalistic but super clean layout, this sales action plan focuses on the more concrete elements of achieving your sales goals such as positioning and strategic plays. It is 8 pages long and fully customizable in either Word or Pages.
Customize your sales plan to set goals for the short-term and long-term. This sales plan does some of the work for you by outlining tasks related to your sales goals. You can check off boxes as you complete each item to ensure you’re creating a sound sales strategy.
This template breaks down goals into action items, helps you think about how to assign responsibility, and gets you to commit to specific dates. The best part is that it focuses on multiple goals, giving you a bird’s eye view on several initiatives you may be putting together.
Look ahead at your sales strategies for the next 90 days using this sample sales plan. In this document, you’ll be able to break your sales plan down into phases, tasks, and key questions for your sales goals. The final section is a mind map for your sales process and pipeline strategies.
Create a Sales Plan that Grows with Your Business
There’s no one-size-fits-all sales plan. The only wrong way to use a sales plan is to write it at the start of the year or quarter and never touch it again. You should periodically review and update it as time goes on to ensure you’re focused and on-track. By continuously improving upon your plan, you can ensure your company generates revenue more effectively than it ever did in the past.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.