This guide explains a sales plan and how to write one for your business. Free sales plan templates are included.
A sales plan helps your sales team meet business sales goals.
Realistic goals, tools to track sales, future expectations, commission structure, and relevant training programs are essential for a successful sales plan.
Sales plans help businesses manage risks and increase sales.
This article helps small business owners and managers create a successful sales plan.
Every company needs a business plan and department-specific road maps. The sales department—the revenue-generating engine of your company—should be a top priority for this type of document, aptly named the “sales plan.” This guide introduces the concept and provides all the guidance you need to create a sales plan that works for your business.
What is a plan to sell?
A business’s sales plan includes revenue goals and how the sales department will achieve them. Revenue goals, audience, and tools may also be included. The sales plan should also list potential challenges and solutions.
Bill Santos, ITsavvy Advanced Solutions Group vice president, said a sales plan is necessary for growth. “A sales plan helps reps understand the business priorities and how they will be evaluated.”
Differences between sales and business plans
Sales and business plans go together. However, a sales plan should detail how the sales department will achieve company goals. Sales and business plans have similar goals, but they differ.
“A business plan is a ‘what’ [and] a sales plan is a ‘how,'” said George Washington University School of Business professor of management and Hochberg Professional Fellow of Leadership Development James R. Bailey. “Business plans are a company’s goals. A sales plan helps. Sales plans implement business plans.
A software company that launched a new mobile app might state in its business plan that 1 million users will install it within a year, while the sales plan explains how.
How to write a plan for selling
Sales plans vary by company because they must meet their needs. Your sales plan is unique to your business. Planning helps you see what you must do and how to get there.
Centripetal Networks’ global sales VP Chris Gibbs suggested additional sales plan items.
Targeted accounts: Give each salesperson a few key accounts and grow from there.
Targeted verticals: Sales teams may target specific industries or market segments.
SKUs: Salespeople should focus on specific SKUs instead of getting lost in a large inventory.
Sales and marketing coordination: Sales and marketing teams should collaborate to create sales promotions.
Product road maps: Every company has a road map, and each product should have one to plan when it will launch and when it will sunset or be replaced by a newer model.
Forecasts: Sales forecasting involves comparing past sales to current sales and then comparing sales to competitors.
Gibbs said sales plans are crucial to product teams, sales, and marketing working together. They also ensure that new products and version releases match sales goals and forecasts.
How to make a sales plan?
All businesses, from startups to Fortune 500s, need a sales plan. To write your sales plan, follow these steps:
Start a sales plan or other business venture by defining your goals and objectives. Include sales volume and target markets.
Say you run a household goods and electronics store. Ask yourself these questions to become a trusted local retailer:
Are they buying or browsing?
How did they find your website?
Word of mouth?
Email marketing, direct mail, or social media?
How many returns?
Where do you want sales?
What external and internal factors could affect sales? Industry and economic trends.
When you clearly state your goals, you can plan how to achieve them.
Step two is to assess your business’s situation about your goal honestly.
Assess your skills. Consider how you can use your resources to achieve your goal. This includes personal relationships and competitive advantages like new products or services.
If you want to improve customer relations, ask yourself these questions:
How’s your customer relationship?
What drove your sales?
Sales expansion: where?
Plan sales strategies.
Sales strategies are how your team will reach customers. They can include salespeople’s lead generation and outreach methods and marketing channels.
Two sales tactics:
Track new and existing customers with your POS system.
Email, text, social media, outbound call centers, and direct mail marketing are used.
Set sales roles.
Whether they do the same or different things, each salesperson should have clear roles.
The team’s sales direction shows the company’s priorities and helps them target and close sales.
Team leaders or CEOs should communicate the sales team’s strategy.
Inform departments of sales goals.
Sales plans should inform the entire company of the sales team’s goals, not just the president or C-suite.
Clearly outline your plan to help the company understand sales team goals and procedures. Interacting with sales and clients improves other departments’ efficiency. This shows clients the company’s quality and professionalism.
Give the sales team CRM software to reach their goals. Customizable CRM software makes it easier for your team to use and work efficiently.
Explain the department’s progress tracking.
Provide strategic guidance and progress monitoring. Quarterly reviews are as critical as the plan.
Sales plans should change with the markets. Keeping it current will help you succeed in the market. Data collection tools simplify progress tracking. That data must then be analyzed and presented so all departments can use it for growth.
A sales plan’s most important parts
Each sales plan should include the following.
Set achievable goals. Challenge your sales team without overdoing it. According to Bailey, these “deliverables” are crucial to a sales business plan.
“Deliverables need to be as specific as possible and moderately difficult to achieve—specific in that they are measurable in an uncontested manner [and] moderately difficult because making sales goals too difficult can lead to failure and discouragement.”
Midpoint goals boost morale and keep teams focused. Your team will stay focused by setting smaller goals instead of one big one.
Tools can help you track sales for each team member and department throughout the term. It also fosters salesperson accountability.
Santos said project management and CRM software could aid. “A weekly update and review send a message that ownership and updates are important.”
Clear goals and a well-defined commission system
Set team goals and responsibilities to set expectations. This applies regardless of team goals.
“We meet with each individual to come up with a plan that works for them so they can reach their goals,” said Point3 Security director of client success Leah Adams. Numbers determine results. Each team member has a plan to get there.
The commission structure must also be detailed.
Bailey said sales count is the only difference. Petroleum-based products need a few big clients. Commissions should increase from 5% to 9% above $1 million. Commissions may start high and drop in smaller companies. Reward your desires.”
Sales strategy steps
Sales plan best practices:
Business plan. Sales plans should address business plan goals and how to achieve them.
Set goals. More explicit goals are easier to achieve.
Use sales history. Sales trends from previous terms should be projected for the current term. New businesses can estimate sales based on expectations.
Explain commissions. Motivate your team and estimate costs with this.
Define progress. This is indisputable. It should be made clear that larger customers are more critical.
Sales plan benefits
A sales plan guides the sales team to meet targets and company goals. It’s crucial because the sales team drives revenue. CRM adoption? Sales Department Buy-In]
Adams said a sales plan is essential. “Without this plan, it’s almost impossible to get through the year and hit the company’s sales goals.”
However, roadblocks are common. Good sales plans cover that.
“Almost always, you’ll run into the speed bumps along the way, but with a plan in place, it makes it a lot easier to navigate,” Adams said. “The sales plan lets you adjust to meet the goal. A plan helps you stay in control and reduce risk while measuring the team’s progress toward the finish line.”
Many sales templates are based on industry-tested formats. They can also structure roles and responsibilities for employees.
Adams said a template organizes daily activities. “Knowing what each person does daily makes it easier to fix problems. Conversion rates improve. Yes, a team manager can customize these templates to improve performance.
Sales plans should be customized, but they should always include certain elements. You can use a template since it’s formulaic.
Gibbs praised templates. “It creates team uniformity and a yearly or quarterly sales plan to present to senior management.”
Gibbs added that templates can easily be customized for a business or sales team.
Using a sales plan to keep your team on track
Sales targets require careful planning. Before selling, define your goals and methods. Sales plans reduce risks and issues. A clear plan will help you achieve your goals.