How to create a sales plan that actually works

blue and red pencils above the sales graph

Every successful business creates a sales plan.

Have you created one for your business?

A sales plan that works does all of these things.

  • Provides tactical direction for your sales team
  • Defines business objectives
  • Defines tactics and prepares roles and responsibilities
  • Measures your progress
  • Increases business revenue

Many sales plans, however, fall far short.

Some business owners worry that sales plans are too complicated, so they simply set business goals and don’t mention tactics, target audiences, or potential obstacles. Most of these businesses struggle to grow because their plans are too generic.

We have built sales plans for many businesses over the past 15 years. We’ve learned that detailed, specific plans can significantly impact our business, while general plans are rarely useful. We share our insights and knowledge in this guide.

So whether you’re starting a new business, developing your business plan, or growing an existing business, this guide will help you create an effective sales plan that works.

How to create an effective sales plan

Here are nine steps to creating an effective sales plan that works:

1. Define your mission and sales goals

You can write a business plan that you think can serve as your sales plan.

Business plans and sales plans are similar, but their scope is different.

A business plan explains what? you do while the sales plan explains how you will do it For example, a business plan might state that you aim to reach $5 million in sales by the end of your third year in business. A sales plan describes how you will do this.

So start by setting your goals if you haven’t already.

When considering goals, consider your business goal and how you can refine it to meet your sales goals. Give your sales team a driving force that will motivate them to be productive and help them achieve their sales goals.

Your sales team needs to know what your goals are and how their efforts will help your company grow. This will help unify and motivate your team to be more productive, give them more precise direction and avoid confusion.

When developing your sales goals, be as specific and realistic as possible and set achievable deadlines. This will prevent your team from burning out. You can set aggressive goals that can be achieved with great effort. But it’s rarely a good idea to set outrageous goals that no team can achieve. It will only set your team up for failure.

2. Identify and understand your target market

Knowing your target market is essential to your sales plan. This will help you better understand the audience you want to reach and create better tactics to attract and convert them.

Be as specific as possible when defining your target audience. Creating buyer personas can help you personalize your marketing funnels for better engagement.

For example, instead of creating a generic description of your target audience, create two or three buyer personas to fully understand them as consumers. This will help you create a customized marketing plan that will help you achieve your sales goals.

3. Assign roles and responsibilities to your sales team

Choose someone to lead your sales team. Then define their roles and the general tasks they must perform to lead.

Identify the people on your sales team and their respective roles in creating a structure they can follow. Establishing roles and responsibilities early on helps your team save time from assigning people to one task throughout the year.

If your business is small, people may wear different hats throughout the year. So you’ll have a mix of full-time and part-time salespeople on your team. Be sure to outline their responsibilities and priorities, as they will constantly be pulled in other directions.

4. Outline tools and resources

List the resources and tools you have available to use throughout the year. Include your sales budget, the tools and resources you will need, and how you plan to use those tools and resources to achieve your sales goals.

Be as specific as possible when writing your resources and tools to properly allocate the budget.

For example, if you plan to adopt CRM software to help manage your sales process, outline how CRM can improve your team’s performance.

5. State your unique value proposition

You must articulate your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) to achieve your sales goals. Your UVP sets your business apart from the competition.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do our customers buy from us?
  • How are we different from our competitors?
  • What prevents other customers from buying our products or services?
  • How can we improve our products and services?

When you define what makes your business unique, emphasize what it can do for your customers and how it can make a difference in their lives.

6. Create your marketing strategy

Now that you understand your target audience, what makes you unique, and the goals you want to achieve, it’s time to create your marketing strategy.

Consider which tactics work best for your target audience, the lead generation tools you need, and the incentives you can use to generate sales. Research your competitors and companies in related industries and choose tactics that can be applied to your business as well.

7. Set a budget

Like any other strategy in your business, your sales plan must have enough budget to be effective.

Your sales budget will include compensation (salary plus commission), training, tools and resources, awards, team bonding activities, travel and food expenses, and miscellaneous expenses.

Consider the following elements when setting your sales budget:

  • How much does your business make in a year? What is the overall financial overview of the company?
  • What are your company’s liabilities, assets, and equity?
  • How is your business cash flow for a specific budgeting period? Have you been overspending or profiting lately?

Sort through your financial documents and see where you can cut redundancies to help your sales and marketing strategies.

8. Create a search list

Your prospect list is a directory of potential customers who could benefit from your products or services. It can be a time-consuming process, but it is vital to the success of your sales plan.

You can find prospects in many places including:

Start by creating a spreadsheet and including people’s contact information so you can contact them via cold email.

9. Measure your progress

As with any action plan, tracking your progress is important to see where you can improve and adjust accordingly. That’s why it’s so important to set measurable goals and assign specific metrics to make it easy to track progress.

For example, standard key performance indicators (KPIs) include gross profit margin, return on investment (ROI), conversion rate, and more. Tracking these KPIs will help you determine if your sales strategies are working as planned.

Five types of sales plans

There are many sales plan templates available on the internet. But you still need to know which type suits your sales needs. Here are five common types of sales plans:

  • New product sales plan. This sales plan is used when you launch a new product. This plan helps you create a road map for marketing and generating revenue for your new product.
  • Revenue based sales plan. This sales plan allows you to focus on revenue generating activities to achieve a specific revenue goal. This helps you improve conversion rates and close more deals for your business.
  • Sales plan for special sales. A custom sales plan uses a variety of tactics to approach and convert prospects into paying customers. Conversion methods include cold email follow-ups, meetings, and calls.
  • Target market sales plan. If you want to enter a new market, a target market sales plan helps you generate ideas and marketing strategies to enter the new market. This outlines tasks and creates target metrics to help expand your business into a new market.
  • A sales plan based on a time frame. A time frame-based sales plan focuses on achieving sales goals within a specific time frame. One famous example is the 30-60-90 day sales plan, where a new goal must be reached every 30 days.

On the Internet, you can find many sales plan resources, such as templates, to help you easily create one for your business. But remember, there is no one-size-fits-all sales plan. Every company has unique needs and goals. So focus on investing the time to create a quality sales plan that helps your business achieve your sales goals.

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