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Jan 5, 2023

Guide to Creating a Sales Plan That Actually Works (Tips + Template)

A sales plan focuses on strategies that are key to attaining the sales target. This blog is the ultimate guide to creating an outstanding sales plan.

Proper planning is important in every division of a business. A strategic sales plan can go a long way in influencing the organization to achieve more sales. Every organization should have a proper plan in place that directs them to their target. By understanding the importance of a sales plan and adopting certain tips and sales plan templates, you can design an amazing sales plan. Read on to find out more.

What is a sales plan?

A sales plan lays out in detail the goals of your business, who your target audience is, and how your company proposes to achieve the goals. All the aspects of your sales strategy are included in your sales plan. It also details the roles and responsibilities of your sales division. The sales plan is communicated to the other divisions of the organization, too, so that every team works in tandem. 

The sales plan gives proper direction to the sales team and helps in monitoring progress by comparing it with the objectives. Your sales strategy can be successful only with a proper sales plan. 

What are the components of a sales plan?

A sales plan should include critical information such as these:

1. Summary of the plan

A short summary that details the scope of the plan and the time period required to implement the plan will be included in the sales plan. The main focus is on the objectives to be achieved.

2. Business target

The revenue that the business wishes to attain should also be mentioned in the plan. The revenue target is long term, but it is essential to compare the revenue expected in a defined short period with the previous year’s.

3. Techniques and strategies

The sales plan should also include the techniques that will be used for reaching the target. This is specific to the company and also depends on how you want to augment sales. Some may choose to explore new markets, while others may choose to diversify into other products.

4. Market conditions

The plan should outline how the market is performing presently. The strategies you choose will depend upon the market’s trends, as these impact sales. 

5. Team 

This should be another section in your sales plan. It provides a summary of the sales team structure and its roles. The team size depends on the type and size of the business. Along with the team members, their roles and responsibilities are also assigned.

6. Resources

The resources are tools used by the team in implementing the sales plan. An outline of these should also be present in the plan. The tools are essential for ease of operations, and there are several of them available online to choose from.

7. Budget

A sales plan also mentions the budget allocation. This provides the scope of operation for the team. 

8. Performance tracking

The metrics used to track performance should be listed in the plan. This will let the team know how they will be assessed. Keeping track of performance will provide the impetus to perform efficiently. 

7 Most important steps in creating a sales plan

Sales plans should be created to suit the requirements of the particular business. Even though businesses differ in size and nature, you should adopt certain steps in framing a sales plan to keep it relevant. 

Step 1: Define the goals and objectives

The first step in your sales plan should be a clear definition of goals. Your sales team should have an outline of goals, what is expected of them, who your customers are, which customer center needs more attention, etc. To outline the goals, a company also needs past sales data and an awareness of the current trends.

Step 2: Analysis of the current situation

Before proceeding with the plan, you have to know the real situation of your sales at the moment. Compare the same with your goals to know where you stand.

Analyze your strengths and identify the hurdles your business is facing. Also, find out your resources and how they can help achieve your target. Building your sales plan based on these factors can help greatly.

Step 3: Create an outline of sales strategies

The next step is to create an outline for the strategies you plan to implement. These are the techniques your sales team will be using while dealing with the ultimate consumers. Sales strategies also include the determination of the various stages you will need to convert prospects into customers. 

While outlining the strategies, assigning responsibilities to the team and the respective members is important. This will help in measuring performance and also provide feedback. 

Step 4: Clear definition of the roles of the sales team

All the members of the team should have clearly defined roles. This will help them carry on with their work without any confusion. Daily, weekly, or monthly targets should be assigned, and methodologies for comparison of the same with the goals should be stressed.

The flow of information and instructions should also be notified to the sales team. Each member may have a different role than the other, but they should coordinate with each other to achieve the goals of the organization.

Step 5: Inform other departments 

Coordination among all the divisions of a business is crucial for the business to be successful. A sales team does not work in isolation but rather in conjunction with the other teams. Communication of the sales plan to the other departments and working jointly can help in improving the sales of the business. This will ensure that every team in the organization works to make the task of the sales team easy.

Step 6: Make use of tools 

Automation helps make tasks easier. The preparation of an efficient sales plan is possible with the help of many automation tools. Your sales team should make use of such tools to have plans that produce effective results. 

There are several tools available online. You should choose one that suits your business. Make sure all the members of your sales team are trained to use the tools.

Step 7: Tracking performance

Outline how the performance of the sales team will be measured. This will help in learning how far you are from your goals. A sales plan should also include some flexibility to suit changing market conditions. 

Using tools to track progress helps in the process of analyzing performance. The progress should also be communicated to the other teams so that they know how the organization is progressing on its path to success.

If you are not sure how to go about preparing a sales plan, the following tips are for you. 

Tips to create a sales plan that works

With the below-mentioned tips, your sales team will be able to create a sales plan that actually works. 

1. Research

Your sales plan should be backed by good research to keep it relevant to your business. The research will help you identify your target customers, trends in the market, etc. You should create a plan that can assist in converting your leads into customers. Without research, you will be directing your plan toward unresponsive sources. Research also helps keep your plan up-to-date due to emerging market conditions.

2. Verification of facts

The data you have collected through research needs to be verified. This will help in creating an accurate plan that works. Once you finalize your sales plan, you are ready to follow the steps in it. So, it needs to be accurate to be reliable. Mistakes that may have occurred in predicting facts and figures should be rectified by verification before the plan is finally set to roll.

3. Split the plan for individual sales areas

To make your sales plan work, you should create a separate plan for each team. This will clearly define the goals of each sector and help them work toward the same. The working methodology for inbound sales, cold calling, or field sales may vary, so need different plans. Being specific in goals can help fix responsibilities and assess performance

4. Utilize past data for comparison

Past data plays an important role in your sales plan. To create an effective sales plan, you should utilize past data for comparison. With this, setting targets is easier. Analyzing the data lets you know if the past targets were achieved. If not achieved, the mistakes committed by the team and the obstacles faced will be identified and worked upon so as not to repeat the same in the current period. 

5. Tracking methods

Metrics are important for performance analysis. Your sales plan should list the tracking methods you will use. Several techniques and strategies are available, but what suits your business the best should be identified first. When the methods are listed, it is easier for the sales team to know how they will be analyzed. 

6. Budget

Your sales plan should also include your budget in clear terms. This is quite important since the resource allocation will be based on this. The management needs to know the split-up of costs that will be directed toward sales for a particular period. The costs are compared with the returns expected, and this helps justify the spending. 

Past budget allocations and corresponding spending and returns are compared to fix the budget for the current period. Thus, including the budget in your sales plan helps the business to implement the plan efficiently. 

Benefits of a sales plan

It is mandatory for every business organization to have a written sales plan. We come across many businesses that struggle to achieve their sales goals. When the “why” is analyzed, the most common reason is the lack of a sales plan. Without a sales plan, it is like driving without direction.

The following are some of the key benefits of a sales plan:

  • It defines the goals of an organization in clear terms. When the goals and the targets in monetary terms are available, the team knows how and where to direct their progress.
  • The sales team gets a clear focus. All members of the team are in concurrence and direct their work towards the common goal. Better coordination is achieved among the members of the team and the rest of the enterprise as well.
  • In the absence of a sales plan, there isn’t any proper strategy for the business. Each member of the organization may adopt a different approach, which will be detrimental to attaining the objectives. 
  • It helps in identifying the tools that are useful for the implementation of the sales plan. With the help of tools, tasks can be performed much faster and with greater efficiency. 
  • A sales plan is highly useful for tracking progress. Every stage of progress is compared with the plan to identify deviations. When corrections are implemented instantly, it will help maintain the smooth flow of the sales plan. 
  • A sales plan helps in the optimum utilization of resources of the organization. When there is a plan, we can avoid wastage of resources since each resource has a specific allocation as per the plan. 
  • With a good sales plan, your business can focus more towards customer satisfaction. Your sales team can have focused attention, and this can help improve customer service. The expected time of completion of a task is known ahead with a plan, and therefore, the sales team can clearly state the same to the customers too. This builds strong relations with the customers.

Sales plan examples

As we have discussed above, businesses differ, and so do their sales plans. The following enlists some examples of sales plans. This would help you choose the right one based on your organization’s needs.

1. Marketing alignment plan

  • Marketing is a more comprehensive term than sales. It includes a range of activities that start with building awareness about the brand and end with the distribution of products/services. 
  • Your sales plan should be aligned with marketing to get the best benefits. Aligning the sales plan with marketing helps direct your efforts in the correct way.
  • Marketing identifies the leads and assists the company in taking steps to convert them into customers. 
  • Associating this with a sales pitch makes a good sales plan.

2. 30-60-90 day plan

  • This sales plan defines the time frame in which the sales team is expected to achieve a certain fixed target.
  • Tracking the progress at the completion of 30-, 60-, and 90-day periods helps the salesperson/team to work more productively.
  • The progress tracked during the first 90 days helps to identify where you stand in comparison to the targets. 
  • This helps to identify the weaknesses if any so that corrective measures can be initiated before it is too late.
  • The first 30 days involve learning about the plan, the next 30 days would be implementing the plan, and the last 30 days would involve optimizing the plan by using better strategies. 

3. New product plan

  • If your organization plans to introduce a new product, a separate sales plan should be prepared for the same. 
  • Even if the business has a sales plan already in place, it is essential to create one for the new launch so that it is easy to determine the returns expected from this particular product.
  • The new product sales plan helps strengthen the prospects for the new product. The plan also includes market research, competition analysis, and a budget for the new product. 
  • The plan will also outline the need to launch a new product and in what ways it will be beneficial to the company.

4. Sales training plan

  • For every area of sales, there is a separate plan that also includes a training plan.
  • A training plan offers the basis for sales training programs. It analyzes the existing training plan and offers suggestions based on that.
  • The goals of the training plan are also clearly defined. 
  • The plan also outlines how training will help improve the productivity of the sales team.
  • The sales training plan is communicated to each member of the team with a clear definition of their roles.
  • It also lets members know what they should have learnt by the end of training and how they should align their productivity toward improving sales.

5. Market expansion plan

  • A business may diversify and explore new markets. In such cases, a new plan is prepared, which is called the market expansion plan.
  • The plan is precisely created keeping in mind the new market segment. These may be regions where the business has not set foot earlier.
  • Proper analysis of the location where the business plans to expand is part of the plan. 
  • The plan outlines the cost involved, target audience, and modus operandi in the new region.

6. Sales budget plan

  • Allocating resources is a part of the sales budget plan. It includes a forecast for a specific period based on the returns expected and the resources put into use.
  • The expenses predicted to be incurred are included in the sales budget plan. This consequently impacts the expected returns.
  • Your sales budget plan should include an element of flexibility to include unexpected expenditures due to market conditions.

What should you include in your sales plan template?

A sales plan template provides a guideline to follow a certain structure and to include certain components to make the plan effective. The following goes into making a good sales plan template. 

1. The mission of the company

The primary goal of the company should be included in the template. This is essential to have a clear vision of how the team should plan its course of action. All activities are directed toward achieving the mission of the company.

2. Team structure

Your template should include the team structure so that everyone understands the flow of instructions and responsibilities. Assigning individual responsibilities becomes easier with a proper structure. This helps the team work in harmony since they know what is expected of them. Performance analysis is easy with a well-defined team structure.

3. Target market

Provision to mention the target audience should be available in the template. Your efforts should be directed towards creating interest in the target group rather than any random plan, which may not produce the expected results. 

4. Buyer classification

There are different types of buyer segments. Based on their age group, demography, challenges faced, etc., buyers are classified into different segments. They may be repeat buyers, referrals, or first-time buyers. Identification of your buyer persona helps with your sales plan strategically, both in the short and long term. 

As your business grows, there may be a change in this segment too. So your template should have provisions for their inclusion. 

5. Budget

The template should also facilitate the inclusion of your budget. This is useful for channeling resources and allocating appropriate funds to each segment of the sales team. When the budget is included in the plan, it helps you stay aware of your limitations and proceed accordingly.

6. Tools and software

The various tools and software used by your sales team should be listed here. The team will be aware of the training they should undergo if they are not familiar with the tools and software to be used. Including them also helps in allocating the budget required for their acquisition.

7. Pricing

In this part of the template, the pricing you determine for your products and services will be included. In case of any promotions or free trial offers, the same should also go here. Prices are fixed, keeping in mind a win-win for both the buyer and the business. 

8. Deadlines

There should be a section in templates that mention the deadlines. This lists the due date for the tasks allocated to the sales team. Each member of the team has an assigned task and a corresponding deadline for the same. Listing everything clearly helps in keeping track of the progress and identifying lapses on time. This also helps in implementing timely corrective mechanisms. 

9. Marketing strategy

The templates should contain a provision for including your marketing strategy. This will depend on the market conditions. This section of the sales plan lists all techniques that will be used to achieve targeted sales. 

10. Targeted revenue

The most important part for which the entire organization works together is the revenue. This section mentions the targeted revenue for a particular period of time. Specific mention of the same is helpful for follow-up action. The steps taken to achieve this revenue will form part of the sales plan. 

5 Best sales plan templates you can choose

These are some popular sales plan templates that you can use based on your business requirements.

1. Sales plan template by HubSpot

This template makes the task of your sales team easier and helps attract more customers. It is easy to download and simple to use. The template helps to outline your plan of action and strategies and document the same for ease of use.

2. Sample sales plan template by BestTemplates

The template by BestTemplates is comprehensive and has nine pages. It includes your goals and action plans. The template is easy to download and customize as per your business. It also offers several types of templates for different areas of sales.

3. Sales plan template by Venngage

The sales planner by Venngage includes a lot of custom charts and illustrations. This is a helpful tool for the sales teams to prepare a sales plan effortlessly. Venngage's templates are professional and can be customized too. 

4. Sales plan template by Template.Net

This template is helpful for 30-60-90-day sales plans. It covers both short- and long-term plans and makes it convenient for the sales team. The template is very specific as it focuses on strategies that are required to target sales in 90 days.

5. Sales plan template by TemplateLab

It is yet another useful template that breaks down the goals and helps to assign responsibilities to the sales team members. The plan template gives you an overview of all set goals and helps analyze progress by fixing a due date for task completion. 

Sales plan example

This is an example of a sales plan where an organization wants to explore new market segments. For this purpose, a 30-60-90-day sales plan is drawn up. This helps the sales team prioritize key tasks in the initial 90-day period. 

First 30 days

  1. New market description and introduction. 
  2. Analyze market demography.
  3. Study competition. 
  4. Identi
  5. fy buyer persona.
  6. Perform a SWOT analysis.
  7. Plan for the next 30 days.

31–60 days

  1. Define the sales target for a 30-day period.
  2. Identify crucial performance indicators to be achieved.
  3. Formulate steps for the sales team to convert leads to customers.
  4. Plan for the next 30 days.

61–90 days

  1. Review the sales team’s work.
  2. Ask for feedback from the team.
  3. Assess the status of your plan and make necessary alterations.
  4. Create a sales  forecast for the remaining 275 days of the year.
  5. Focus on the sales strategy.

Conclusion

The importance of a sales plan for an organization cannot be undermined. Your business can reach newer heights using a strategically written sales plan. Before you begin, you have to be clear about the objectives, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Once your comprehensive sales plan is ready, your sales team can pull their work really well!

Make use of the tools available and be updated about the changing trends. Review your plans periodically and make sure you hit the target exactly as you had planned. 

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