A sales plan is a document used to establish sales objectives and develop strategies necessary to achieve them. Typically, this document establishes a plan for revenue growth and other measurements of success. Sales plans consist of sections outlining goals, identifying key customer attributes, and listing necessary strategies, tools, metrics, and estimated expenses.
Sales plans don’t have to be complicated documents. They do, however, require that you take time to think through several aspects of your business. To help, we’ve created a free downloadable sales plan template that is broken out into seven standard sections. Use this sales plan template as well as the information below to create your own plan based on the needs of your business.
Whether you are using our temple or making a sales plan template on your own, there are key elements you should include. Here are seven specific steps needed to create your sales plan include:
1. Outline Your Mission & Objectives
Start by outlining your company mission statement as well as your sales objectives in terms of growth. This section will serve as the foundation of your sales plan and define your unique selling proposition. As a result, it is critically important to your plan’s success as it will guide your future sales efforts.
Define Your Mission
Before you go too far, be sure you have clearly defined your mission statement, which is a formal statement describing what your business stands for and what it aims to achieve. A mission statement should be the framework for all strategic planning and a cornerstone of your sales management practices. An example of a great mission statement is:
“We provide customers with cutting-edge digital marketing solutions with best-in-class technical support at a profit to our shareholders.”
Establish Your Sales Objectives
Sales objectives are goals supporting the company’s growth both now and into the future, and usually include revenue, market share, or profit margin. They relate to your mission by helping you to execute and make it a reality. By establishing these sales goals, you are explaining what success will look like in the clearest terms while also giving your team targets to rally around.
It can be helpful to think about sales objectives in terms of the S.M.A.R.T. framework:
Start by creating one to three SMART objectives for your plan’s first year. SMART goals are helpful because they make sure everyone is clear on what the goal entails, how its success will be measured, whether the goal is feasible, how it is relevant to the mission, and when the goal should be accomplished.
2. Describe Your Sales Team’s Roles & Responsibilities
As a sales leader, your plan should list the roles of your sales team as well as any separate marketing and agency support. Summarize the responsibilities of each role and their expected contribution to the sales process.
Next, list the names of the individual team members who fill those sales roles, as well as their personal key performance indicators (KPIs). This step benefits the team by giving clear expectations for performance and providing details on how they will be held accountable.
3. Define Your Customer Persona
A customer persona is a fictional representation of your target customer. It brings your ideal audience to life with a narrative that describes their pain points, demographics, and needs while helping to bring to light the best solution you can offer. Personas are used to identify prospects, prioritize sales efforts, and create a customer-centric business.
When creating your customer persona, start by summarizing the attributes of customers that you are targeting. This includes their demographics, which not only describe a population in terms of location, age, and gender, but should also include psychographics, or the things that might influence their attitudes, aspirations, or other behavior like interests and lifestyle.
For example, if you’re using a business-to-business (B2B) sales model, consider factors such as relevant job titles, key responsibilities, memberships, clubs, and the communication channels they use. On the other hand, if you primarily sell to consumers (B2C), your ideal customer profile will include attributes such as gender, age, family life, homeownership status, income, education, interests, and available sales channels.
To help you get started, we’ve created a free template you can use to create a customer persona:
Identify Customer Buying Patterns
Consider the buying patterns of your customers. For example, if you are a B2C swimsuit apparel company, your sales plan will be more aggressive and have higher revenue goals in the warmer months, and you’ll want to focus on clearance sales during the fall and winter. For B2B sales, you’ll focus on factors such as company size, annual revenue, quarterly budgets, and industry trends.
Define Your Sales Territory
For both B2B and B2C businesses, define the sales territories where you expect to find your ideal customer. This should be a concise description of the geographic region that you are going to operate within and why you believe it will support your sales goals. It may be that you also want to define a list of named accounts to each salesperson or focus them on a specific market niche.
4. Establish Your Strategies & Tactics
This section of your sales plan template is where you define the longer-term strategies and day-to-day tactics you’ll use to acquire new business and grow business with existing customers. These are the tasks your team will use to execute your sales plan and forecast future sales.
For example, once you’ve identified your customers’ buying patterns, you can create specific sales strategies to boost revenue during the time customers are most likely to make purchasing decisions based on need, such as selling swimwear apparel at full price during the summer when people will buy regardless of whether what they want is on sale or not.
In your sales plan, list strategies for adding new customers or prospects that fit your ideal customer persona. Then, identify at least two tasks that will be performed by members of the sales team on a daily or weekly basis to help them meet their sales quota.
Here are three strategies for adding new customers you can use in a sales plan template:
Set Clear Expectations
- Make no less than 60 cold calls of introduction to new prospects each week.
- Make no less than 10 face-to-face contacts with new prospects each week.
- Make no less than five sales pitch presentations each week.
Increase Awareness for Products, Services & Solutions
- Participate in no less than three professional associations per year in which my best prospects and customers belong.
- Attend all trade shows and conventions that my best prospects and customers attend.
- Purchase the mailing list of these associations and send a letter of introduction.
Obtain Referrals From New Customers
- Within 30 days of delivering my product or service, I will follow up with each of my new customers to ensure that they are satisfied.
- If they are not delighted, I will aim to resolve this so that I can go back to seek customer referrals at a later date.
- If they are delighted, I will ask them to send at least three customer referrals.
5. Determine Your Sales Tools & Systems
Use this section of your sales plan to summarize the sales enablement tools you will use to support your team in successfully implementing each of your strategies. This will ensure your sales process is managed and activities are performed using the most effective methods.
Three common types of tools that will help you create a sales plan include:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM software lets you manage sales activity in real-time, measure performance, and access information quickly. It also allows you to make updates even when you are away from the office with robust mobile apps. If the ability to access data in real-time isn’t enough, some CRMs allow you to structure your sales pipeline into meaningful stages and measure every aspect of your plan as you implement it, without needing to create additional sales reports.
A CRM designed for small businesses can help streamline your sales process by keeping relevant information about contacts such as title, relationship details, and call notes in one central place. For example, Freshsales CRM is an easy-to-use, powerful tool that manages all of your relevant information and can be accessed via the mobile app when you’re on the go.
Video Conferencing Software
While some sales meetings take place in person, as our society becomes more digital, video meetings are increasingly popular and convenient, helping your team engage with prospects and customers and moving the sales process forward. There are many affordable video conferencing software choices available. For example, Zoom offers a free version for meetings up to 40 minutes and has affordable plans for longer meetings.
Scheduling meetings manually can be a pain when you’re working with several customers and prospects. Fortunately, there are many programs available that can help automate the process, eliminating the back and forth of finding a convenient meeting time.
For example, Calendly is software that automatically connects to your calendar, so customers and prospects know when you’re free to meet. You can simply send them your personal Calendly link and they can choose a meeting time, after which it’s automatically put onto both of your calendars.
6. Assign Your Sales Plan Metrics
Once you have decided upon your sales objectives, decide how to measure your sales performance to monitor the health of your sales plan and meet those sales objectives. Do this by establishing a sales process, defining the critical steps in each stage, and then describing success in terms of conversion rates and resource time or process flow.
For example, common metrics you will measure on a monthly or quarterly basis include:
- Year-over-year (YOY) revenue: How do your sales this year compare to last year’s sales at the same time?
- New business revenue: Track your monthly and quarterly revenue coming in from new accounts.
- Individual sales rep performance: Monitor the performance of each sales rep by tracking their monthly, quarterly, and YOY sales targets.
- Recurring revenue: Track how much revenue is coming in from current accounts (loyal customers).
- Customer churn: Monitor how many customers you are losing to churn on a regular basis. If your churn goes up significantly, you’ll know you need to analyze the reasons and create a win-back campaign.
7. Create Your Sales Plan Budget
A sales plan cannot help you achieve your sales objectives if the plan costs more than your business is expected to gain. By itemizing expected costs, you will be better able to measure the anticipated return on your investment. Not all expenses are recurring, which is why it is also an excellent idea to break your budget out into one-time expenditures as well as ongoing costs.
Some examples of the major budget items to include are:
- Sales team salaries
- Commissions and bonuses
- Service subscription costs like CRM and video conferencing software, task management tools, internet, and telephone subscriptions
- Purchase of prospect lists
- Travel expenses
Pro tip: It’s an excellent idea to plan for sales promotions in your budget. Learn about creative sales promotion ideas from the pros.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a sales plan?
A sales plan is a formal document that outlines a company’s mission, goals, and general strategy for growing revenue. This document should be regularly reviewed and adjusted based on current marketing conditions and any changes in any business model.
How is a sales plan different from a sales management plan?
A sales management plan is an internal-facing strategic document that defines how sales teams will be recruited, trained, managed, and compensated. Additionally, this plan outlines how revenue generated from the execution of the sales plan will be reinvested into the company through staff development, training, or other managerial tools.
How can I increase revenue with a sales plan?
You can increase sales revenue by efficiently targeting customers through careful examination of the market, selling with a clear, defined message, and prioritizing your efforts to focus on the opportunities with the highest chance for success.
Having an effective sales plan is a critical component of a sales culture for startups and small businesses. While this sometimes gets merged into the overall business plan, it makes much more sense to break out your sales plan as a separate document. Whether you create your own or use the sales plan template we’ve provided, it should be the lifeblood of any small business sales process and, as a result, requires a dedicated focus.
Once your sales plan is in place, having a CRM to help you manage it can make all the difference in whether your team is successful in reaching new customers. For example, Freshsales helps you keep everything organized, and makes it easy to measure and manage your progress against your sales objectives. Freshsales offers a free-forever plan along with paid plans starting at $12 per user, per month. Get started with a 21-day free trial.