Using a clear, well-though-out sales plan to strategically drive success is a must in today’s competitive business environment. Created to lay out a company’s overall strategy for improving sales results in a specified timeframe, a sales plan will help sales leaders and entrepreneurs to:
- define a set of sales targets for their business.
- choose the approach that is most suitable for their target market.
- identify the best tactics to be employed by their sales team.
- outline roles and responsibilities for sales teams and senior management.
- motivate and guide the sales team.
- establish the budget and steps to be followed to hit the set targets.
- monitor the sales team’s progress on organizational goals.
- periodically review the set goals and adjust tactics accordingly.
To learn how to create an effective sales plan that actually impacts your sales, on this page you’ll find a series of essential facts to keep in mind along with a professionally-designed sales plan template that you can use for free to get started.
How do I write a sales plan?
Given that a sales plan describes the high-level strategy that will provide the direction and means to drive more sales in the long run, it requires careful planning.
Here are the main seven steps to take in order to write an effective sales plan that gives you a clear vision of what you need to accomplish and an executable map for how to get there:
- Define your objective – to do this, determine what is the key purpose of your sales efforts. Do you want to close a specific deal? Do you want to establish yourself as a trusted advisor?
- Assess the current situation of your business – evaluate the present state of affairs in relation to your set goal. For instance, if you aim to expand your relationship with certain customers, you need to have an in-depth look at the current relationship with those parties.
- List existing and potential barriers to success – by giving a detailed account of the obstacles that could hinder your path to success, you become aware of what you are up against and find ideas on how to overcome those roadblocks more easily.
- Make a SWOT analysis of your business – evaluate your resources and think about how you can use them to your advantage. Knowing your weaknesses and strengths will help you fill in any existing gaps and better equip yourself for the next steps.
- Delineate your sales call strategy - gather sales data from previous years and search for trends based on which you can start sales forecasting and develop a plan on how to reach your goal.
- Identify your needs – with your general strategy in place, you now need to determine what resources you need to be able to apply it.
- Outline a concrete action plan – this should be a clear timeline of tactical and actionable steps that need to be followed to achieve your objective.
You can easily create one such visual plan by using a timeline template like the one we provided on this page. Alternatively, you can make a timeline to support your sales strategy documentation using various office tools like Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint.
What does a sales plan include?
Covering several aspects of business growth, a typical sales plan includes the following sections:
- Executive summary and scope – giving a brief description of the sales plan document, it focuses on goals, strategies and timeframe set to achieve those goals.
- Revenue targets – how much your sales teams aim to bring in the established time interval.
- Review of prior performance – this section recaps the results achieved previously, pinpointing mistakes and decisive initiatives that led to positive outcomes. This will enable the planner to adopt inputs and techniques that work.
- Market and industry conditions – reviewing the general competitive landscape and market trends that are highly likely to influence sales performance.
- Strategies, methodologies, and tactics – listing the best practices, selling techniques, communication sequences and recommendations for that specific company.
- Customer segments – this section identifies all the potential revenue-generating opportunities for the brand in question, including new prospects, referrals, renewals, up-sells, cross-sells, and new segments.
- Team capabilities and resources – describing the production input (human resources, tech software etc.) required to process and close sale deals.
- Action plan – this is a sales timeline with the specific actions that need to be carried out to reach revenue targets.
- Performance indicators and monitoring – this section presents the metrics and benchmarks that will pe used to track processes and their progress, as well as to measure success.
Using and updating the Sales Plan Template
Sales leaders know that a good sales plan is essential in achieving sales and marketing goals. Illustrating a sales plan on a timeline with clear objectives laid out monthly, quarterly, or annually is an excellent tool for staying focused on strategic goals and tracking progress toward them.
The sales plan template was created for sales leaders, marketers and account executives who need to present their business plans to staff, sales teams and management. It can be customized to show campaign plans over days, weeks, months, quarters, or years. It presents these plans in a clear way that is easy for audiences to understand. The sales timeline template can be used as a visual aid to align organizations and management behind the key targets and deadlines of sales campaigns, or it can be used as a scorecard to present a plan’s attainment and progress against its objectives.
The sales plan template is simple to customize because it is built natively in the familiar Microsoft PowerPoint. It can be easily shared, edited and re-shared with anyone who has PowerPoint, so team members can quickly collaborate and contribute to the sales plan.
You can edit the sales timeline sample in PowerPoint by adding your own data to the slide’s placeholders and by moving the milestones and tasks manually. For quicker editing, you can download Office Timeline, a free timeline maker plug-in for PowerPoint which will update the sales plan template automatically right from inside PowerPoint. Office Timeline will also revise your slide instantly if your plan changes.
Getting your sales plan onto a visual slide is critical for presenting your strategy to management, but manually building it in PowerPoint can take a lot of time. Office Timeline makes this task simple, and it creates slides that are easily updated. This means sales and marketing professionals who need to outline important campaigns in an impressive way can do so in minutes, not hours.