How to Create a Sales Plan: The Ultimate Guide

January 9, 2018 Aja Frost

What’s a sales plan?

A sales plan lays out your objectives, high-level tactics, target audience, and potential obstacles. It’s like a traditional business plan but focuses specifically on your sales strategy. A business plan lays out your goals -- a sales plan describes exactly how you’ll make those happen.

Who writes sales plans?

Entrepreneurs, sales executives, and sales managers all benefit from writing sales plans -- whether for their business, department, or team.

What is a sales plan template?

A typical sales plan includes the following sections:

  • Target customers
  • Revenue targets
  • Strategies and tactics
  • Pricing and promotions
  • Deadlines and DRIs (Directly Responsible Individuals)
  • Team structure
  • Resources
  • Market conditions

Buyer personas

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 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 find 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.

Sales plan targets

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 former 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.

Strategies and tactics

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:

  1. Objective: Increase referral rates by 30% this quarter
    1. Run three-day referral techniques workshop
    2. Hold sales contest for referral sales
    3. Increase commission on referral sales by 5%
  2. Objective: Acquire 20 Enterprise logos
    1. Identify 100 potential prospects and assign tiger team to each
    2. Hold two executive-level events
    3. Give bonus to first team to win three logos

Expenses

Describe the costs associated with hitting your sales goals. That usually includes:

  • Pay (salary and commission)
  • Sales training
  • Sales tools
  • Contest prizes
  • Team bonding activities
  • Travel costs
  • Food

Pricing and promotions

In this section, describe your pricing and any promotions you’re planning on running. 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

Deadlines and DRIs

Lay out your timeline. 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 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.

Team structure/resources

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.

You should also include a description of your resources. Do you have a budget for sales contests and incentives? Marketing budget? The ability to send reps to President’s Club?

Market conditions

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 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.

There’s no one-size-fits-all sales plan. Customize this template to fit your needs, organization, and goals. 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 even update it as time goes on to ensure you’re focused and on-track.

HubSpot CRM

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