How to Write a Solid Sales Plan: Tips and Examples
One of the key pillars of any successful organization is a well-thought-out sales plan. In this blog post, we will look at how to write a sales plan and the important role it will play in optimizing your work processes, improving customer loyalty, and empowering your sales team to reach your goals.
8 min read
Apr 08, 2021
Sales don’t happen without a solid strategy, so to create real and lasting growth, you will need to work on developing a sales strategy. The first step in creating your sales strategy is putting pen to paper and creating a detailed overview of your sales plan. A sales plan is a document that clearly defines the overview of your sales process, including your mission, vision, and goals and what strategies you are going to use to help you to reach them.
What Is A Sales Plan
A sales plan is an extension of a business plan. A business plan lays out your entire company’s goals, and a sales plan is a roadmap of how you are going to achieve them. A sales plan is responsible for creating a sales strategy by mapping out the objectives of your sales team, identifying any challenges you may face, and formulating sales tactics to achieve these goals. Along with providing strategic direction, your sales plan should organize your sales team by laying out roles and responsibilities, performance goals, revenue goals, and identify what budget and resources are required to reach these goals.
An effective sales plan keeps the sales department working towards the same end goal, reaching targets, and effectively monitoring the team’s progress. It communicates how the sales team is working towards achieving the objectives laid out in the company’s business plan.
How To Write A Sales Plan
While the main aim of a sales plan is to define a sales strategy to help you reach your company’s sales targets, when you are designing your sales plan, it is crucial that it reflects your customers’ needs. Every company starts and ends with its customers, making them the driving force behind your sales plan; the key to writing an effective sales plan is to put the customer experience at the center of each step, aligning their needs to your milestones and goals.
When creating your sales plan, you should look at historical data; by analyzing previous sales plans and evaluating whether targets and budgets were met, you will be able to set realistic goals for this sales plan. It is also important to base your assumptions on your current position, speak with your sales team to get their feedback on last year’s performance, and find out what amendments can be made to improve customer satisfaction and increase profitability.
Along with consulting your team, you should consult with trusted advisors to get feedback, as once your sales plan is finalized for the year, you should avoid moving goalposts. While if you realize you have been overly optimistic or pessimistic, it may seem tempting to adjust your sales plan, your sales plan should provide an accurate representation of your success or failure for that year so you can accurately forecast the following year.
While identifying your biggest challenges and how you will overcome them may seem like a big task; fortunately, it is not as hard as it may seem. We have developed eight steps to help you in creating a sales plan.
Mission And Vision
The first step in creating your sales plan is defining your mission and vision; this is what you hope to achieve with your sales plan. This section is also known as an executive summary; it is where you can examine why your business exists and what you hope to achieve with the sales plan. It is also useful to include a brief overview of the entire company, as this provides context and gives a holistic view of the company’s overall goals.
Your sales plan should have an end goal, with smaller milestones to reach along the way. When setting goals, it is important to challenge your sales team while staying realistic. To do this, you should compare your desired metrics against your resources. All metrics should be achievable to ensure that your sales team is able to deliver on time and budget. When setting sales goals, you should factor in two areas - revenue and volume; this gives you insight into both progress and performance.
- Revenue Goals may be that you want to reach a target of $20K in Q1 or that your Customer Acquisition Cost is an average of $200
- Volume Goals may be that you onboard 100 new customers each quarter or that your sales team is making 200 cold calls per week.
Deadlines And Milestones
In order to track if you are making progress towards your goals, you need to set milestones along the way and have them set at strict deadlines. These sales and revenue targets should be tied into 30-60-90 day milestones, where you conduct reporting and review your team’s performance. Checking in regularly and evaluating whether you are reaching these milestones on time will enable you to address why you may be falling behind, catching and rectifying it early, or you can reward your team if they are on track, boosting morale.
One of the most cost-effective sales techniques is to target customers who are genuinely interested in what you’re offering. Identifying your target customer will help you tailor your sales and marketing strategy to capture their attention, as well as saving you time and money on campaigns directed at prospects who are unlikely to convert. To identify your target customers, you need to build a customer profile by identifying their demographics, attributes, shopping habits, as well as understanding their needs and their current challenges. Keep in mind that depending on your business, you may have one or more personas for different products or levels of service. Once you have created your ideal customer, you can start identifying which inbound and outbound sales methods your team can use to attract leads.
Sales Strategies and Methods
Once you have laid out your goals and identified your target market, you put your plan into action by determining what sales strategies and methods you are going to use to move leads through the pipeline from prospect to paying customer.
A sales pipeline usually has seven steps; each step requires a number of activities that move the prospect from stage to stage, eventually turning them into a customer. An essential part of creating a sales strategy plan is aligning activities to each step of your pipeline, for example:
- Prospecting: Cold and warm calling potential customers, running campaigns, and sending newsletters.
- Qualification: Comparing leads to your target market personas.
- Contacting: Booking demos, setting up meetings, and consultations.
- Proposal: Creating and sending out a proposal or presenting a pitch.
- Negotiation: Booking meetings to address any queries, revising proposals.
- Closing The Deal: Defining the onboarding process.
- Post Purchase: How to nurture customers after they are onboarded, cross-selling, or upselling techniques and how to gain referrals.
Positioning And Value Proposition
Defining your positioning and value proposition is also known as doing a competitive analysis and evaluating how you can stand out. A great way to create a value proposition is by doing a SWOT analysis; this will help you to look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and compare them to the other companies in the market. When looking at your value proposition, it is important to remember that customers buy benefits, not features. How does your proposition make their life easier? What is it about your customer experience that entices customers? Using this to identify your value will help you stand out from the crowd and determine the company’s direction.
Describe who is currently in your team, their roles, and how they contribute to your goals. When evaluating your team size, you should factor in what goals and milestones have been set; this is to make sure that you have hired sufficient staff to meet those KPIs or that you have accounted for any additional hires needed as you grow. Defining the team structure is incredibly important, as this helps you to delegate roles and account for any additional roles that may not be directly related to your KPIs, such as copywriting, creating content, or sales administration.
Resources Allocation and Budget
No sales plan is complete without a budget. The most important factors to consider when creating a budget are resource allocation and sales forecasting. When calculating your budget, you need to account for the tools and resources your team will need to effectively reach their goals; for example, salaries, commission, software, equipment, marketing costs, training, external support, and more. While it is essential to present an accurate sales forecast, a good budget always accounts for unforeseen expenses; by leaving room in your budget for the unexpected, you can reduce the likelihood of running out of funds.
A solid sales plan is an invaluable asset for your sales team. The process of writing it will help to define your sales strategy, target market, metrics, processes, and budget to ensure that you can best reach your goals. It is a solid foundation that gives your superiors an overview and your team guidelines to ensure that everyone is working together to hit targets and generate growth.
While a sales plan is the perfect guideline for achieving your goals, your goals should continuously be reevaluated and adjusted as the months roll on. To ensure that your goals are always up to date, book in regular reviews to identify and solve issues, learn from your customers, your mistakes, your team, and your wins to ensure that your sales strategy evolves to reflect the current times.