Business owners, sales leaders, and even salespeople know they need a sales plan that clearly outlines how they’ll achieve their annual goals. It is the best way to maintain a core element of their revenue generation system: selling consistently.
They diligently schedule time to create their plan, then choose to chase the latest opportunity and leave the planning for later. Sometimes later never comes. Whether your sales organization is you or a team, that means wasted time, lost opportunities, and poor conversion ratios.
While creating a sales plan takes you out of the field or away from your team and business activities, it’s a necessary activity. Without it, you have no binoculars to guide you.
- Plan To Win
- Key Sections of an Annual Sales Plan
- Assess Sales Plan Performance Quarterly
- Embrace Your Plan To Generate Revenue
Plan To Win
You’ve heard the adage, fail to plan, plan to fail. Nowhere is that truer than in sales. If you don’t have a plan:
- How do you know where you are headed?
- How do you know you have the right annual sales goal?
- When will you analyze what was successful last year and where to focus efforts this year?
- How do you determine which sales metrics to monitor consistently, and what will you compare them to?
- Can you be sure your goal is achievable?
Key Sections of an Annual Sales Plan
An annual sales plan focuses on what the sales organization is going to do to achieve their targets for the year. You may be the whole sales team, or you may have a sales organization comprised of regions with vice presidents, directors, managers, and salespeople.
The Type of Plan Depends on Your Sales Role
Regardless of your role or company size, you need a sales plan. Each person in the sales organization should have a sales plan. The depth and breadth of your plan will be dependent on your role.
- If you are the whole sales team – manager and rep – your plan will be all-inclusive and comprehensive. It will include a strategic perspective as well as your tactical implementation.
- If you are a rep, your sales plan will focus on your territory.
- As a leader, your sales plan is a strategic look across the entire sales organization or business.
- If you’re responsible for sales and marketing, create your sales plan and a marketing plan that aligns with it. Use this link to see what to include in your marketing plan.
The Goal of a Sales Plan
Your sales plan is literally your plan for how you’re going to make the sales goals you’ve set or been given. Without a sales plan, you have no roadmap for what activities you will do, or whom you will target.
3 things to keep in mind as you develop your sales plan:
- This is your vision for how you’ll achieve the sales goal.
- This is also your vision for how you’ll achieve your personal goals that sales success affords you.
- You’ll use your sales plan on a daily and weekly basis to achieve your sales goals. It won’t sit in a drawer until next year’s planning cycle!
What To Include in Your Sales Plan
As you prepare your sales plan, include the following seven sections:
1. Revenue goals broken down by solution areas and geographies
If you set margin goals, include them here too.
2. Sales objectives to achieve the revenue goals
For example, acquire 12 new clients this year and improve close ratio by 18%. Notice these are measurable.
3. Sales team
Outline the organization of the sales team, hiring you plan to do, changes you plan to make.
4. Customer Focus
Include your target market, ideal customer profile, and top prospects and clients.
Note how you position your company in your target markets, with clients and against competitors. List what makes you different.
6. Sales strategies and tactics
List the prospecting approaches you’ll use to acquire new business and grow existing clients. Consider who will help you implement these strategies.
Include the budget you will require to achieve your sales objectives and what additional resources you need.
Get Organizational Consensus
Once you’ve developed the sales plan, present it to the organization to get their buy-in and support. The more people know about your objectives and strategies and agree with them, the better able they are to assist you throughout the year.
Present your sales plan to:
- Your leadership team and board if you’re the owner or CEO
- The owner or CEO if you’re the sales manager
- The sales manager and/or owner if you’re a salesperson
- Presales technical sales support manager or team
- Anyone else who works with clients throughout the sales process
Assess Sales Plan Performance Quarterly
The sales plan is your roadmap for how you’ll achieve your monthly, quarterly, and annual goals, but it will change. Markets shift. Staff changes. Technology you rely on advances and evolves.
One crucial success factor for your plan is critically assessing your performance quarterly, then adjusting it based on what you learn.
What To Assess Quarterly
1. Actual performance against the planned objectives you established
Are you achieving the objectives? What gaps do you have? Why?
2. The Sales Team
How is the sales team performing? What development needs to happen?
3. Customer focus
Are you making the progress you planned in client and prospect accounts? Why?
4. The sales strategies and tactics you planned
Did you complete them? As you examine the data, what was successful and should be repeated? What was unsuccessful? Why?
5. What to adjust
How will you fill the gaps you identified? What must happen to make up for lost ground? What strategies need to be changed or added? Who else needs to be involved?
Set new strategies and engage whomever you need to be involved.
Embrace Your Plan To Generate Revenue
Your sales plan is a tool designed to help you drive business with your revenue generation system. When everyone adheres to the plan, you sell consistently.
When you’re tempted to push your sales plan aside or forget to review it in next week’s sales meeting, stop! This is your plan to achieve your annual goals – both personal and professional.
Instead of burying the plan in a drawer if expected results do not materialize, you adjust. This is the effective optimization pillar of your revenue generation system.
Consistent selling combined with intentional marketing and effective optimization drives business results. Without a regular, repeated sales process salespeople will struggle to get second meetings and qualified leads won’t convert.
Embrace your plan like the lifeline it is. Use it. I guarantee you’ll have greater success with it than if you attempt to go rogue.
Want some guidance with creating your sales plan? Or perhaps you’d like to review it with a sales expert coach? Contact us and let’s talk about how we can do that with you.
Editors’ Note: This post was originally published in January 2022, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.