Imagine if closing deals elicited excitement instead of dread. What if upsells happened naturally - if prospects called you first to buy more?
This idyllic sales life may seem far-fetched. But it's closer than you think. The key is not some magical sales recipe. Rather, it lies in implementing a proven framework that the top performers use to systematically hit their numbers - quarter after quarter.
We're talking about a strategic sales planning process. One that transforms uncertain outcomes into reliable revenues.
Done right, sales planning acts like rocket fuel - accelerating deals, aligning teams, and propelling growth to new heights. It provides the GPS for conquering lofty revenue goals with precision and confidence.
But what exactly does sales planning involve? How can you implement it for success? This guide has all the answers.
We’ll explore what sales planning is, its benefits, steps to build one, and sample templates to simplify the process. With the right sales plan, you can boost productivity, increase profits, and stand out from the competition. Let’s get started.
What is sales planning?
Sales planning is a process of researching, analyzing, and outlining the strategies and tactics you’ll deploy to achieve your sales goals. It encompasses everything from identifying your target audience to mapping your activities, resources, and timelines for sales success.
Simply put, a sales plan is like a roadmap that provides direction and guidance to your sales teams so they can optimize processes, activities, and workflows to deliver better results. It sets the stage for your sales efforts by defining what needs to happen, how it will happen, when, and by whom.
Documenting a sales plan is invaluable because it ensures the entire sales team is aligned on the primary objectives and activities. This coordination and focus of efforts is what drives improved sales outcomes consistently.
A sales plan is different from the sales planning process. The sales planning process refers to the end-to-end steps involved in actually creating the sales plan. It involves information gathering, analysis, strategizing, and documentation.
The output of this process is the sales plan document that lays out the actual plan. This document lays out the details of the strategies, tactics, timelines, budgets, and metrics.
Importance and benefits of effective sales planning
Now let’s explore why sales planning should be a priority:
- Increased efficiency - A thoroughly formulated sales plan eliminates guesswork, aligns activities across teams, and ensures the best use of resources and budgets. This lack of ambiguity around roles and responsibilities ramps up productivity and efficiency.
- Improved team alignment - Since a sales plan documents objectives, strategies, metrics, and tactical plans clearly, it ensures the entire sales team is working in coordination toward those common goals. This synchronization of efforts based on the documented plan enhances sales outcomes.
- Effective budgeting - Sales plans allow businesses to realistically budget and allocate resources and capital wisely based on projected revenues and costs.
- Higher win rates - A sales plan zeros in on ideal customer profiles, and their needs, and pinpoint strategies to engage them. This helps the teams execute highly targeted campaigns tailored to their audience. The result - higher conversion rates and more wins.
- Measurable tracking - A thoroughly documented sales plan establishes quantifiable KPIs and metrics across areas like lead generation, conversions, customer lifetime value, sales cycle length, etc. This enables data-driven tracking of plan progress and performance improvement.
Clearly, investing time into formulating a detailed and thoughtful sales plan pays invaluable dividends in guiding decisions, strategies, and sales outcomes. Now let’s break down the step-by-step process involved in creating an effective sales plan.
Steps in the sales planning process
Crafting an effective sales plan takes time and diligence. But the investment is well worth the revenue rewards down the line. Let’s break down the key phases in developing a sales plan:
1. Gather market research and data analysis
Like a tenacious detective, you need to rigorously gather and analyze clues about your market landscape, customers, and past performance.
Examine market sizing data, growth trends, competitive forces, segmentation, demographic shifts, and underserved needs. Profile your best customers and uncover precisely what makes them tick. Dissect your historical sales data and campaigns to spotlight what has worked well and where there's untapped potential.
Field research tools like win/loss analysis, customer surveys, focus groups, and depth interviews with your sales teams can uncover troves of useful intel. Third-party reports provide independent insights into industry dynamics. Take time to absorb and synthesize findings into an insightful working knowledge of your market's DNA.
The goal of this research is to identify opportunities to deliver more value to potential buyers. Let the market wisdom guide your strategy.
2. Define sales objectives and goals
Now comes the fun part - mapping out your ambitious (but grounded in reality) sales objectives based on your research learnings.
Paint a vivid picture of the goals you want to accomplish in key areas like overall revenue, profitability, new customer acquisition, retention, geographic expansion, average deal size, customer lifetime value, and lead conversion rates.
Make the objectives quantitative so tracking progress is crystal clear. Set timeframes for achievement. Using a sales goals template can help. While the urge may be to play it safe, don’t be afraid to set bold objectives aligned with your growth aspirations. This will inspire and stretch your team in new ways.
Let your metrics serve as guiding posts as you formulate strategies and allocate resources. Revisit these frequently to ensure activities align with them.
3. Identify the target market and customer segments
Ask these questions - Who are the people most likely to derive immense value from your offering and become your brand evangelists? Where and how can you reach them? What challenges keep them up at night? What decision motivators guide them?
Building detailed buyer personas and profiles for your best-fit audience segments based on real data will steer your sales approach. Resist a one-size-fits-all mindset. Be precise. Craft targeted strategies tailored to different customer tribes.
Map their buying journey to identify how you can add value at each stage. Empathize with their emotions to craft appealing messaging. The better you know your audience, the better you can serve them.
4. Create a sales strategy and tactics
This is where the rubber meets the road. Map out clear strategies and supporting tactical activities optimized to your objectives and audience.
For example, if new customer acquisition is the goal, tactics could include revamping lead nurturing sequences, expanding partnerships, offering promotional packages, or hosting educational webinars - whatever resonates best with capturing more of those ideal buyers uncovered in the previous step.
Brainstorm broadly on innovative tactics for lead gen, conversions, retention, pricing, etc. Then narrow down based on ROI potential, difficulty, and resources required for execution.
5. Allocate resources and budget
Now that you've outlined strategies and tactics, identify what specific resources in terms of team, tools, systems, and materials are required to successfully execute the plan.
Detail out budgets for marketing campaigns, sales team training, collateral creation, travel costs, new hires, and other investments tied to your plan. Think through what assets you need to procure.
Resource planning and budgeting give you a realistic snapshot of what executing your plan will entail. Assess if budgets need realigning to fully fund high-ROI initiatives in your plan.
6. Establish sales metrics and KPIs
A sales plan without clear metrics is like traveling without a map or GPS. You'll get lost along the way.
Determine quantifiable KPIs that will measure performance and steer the plan. Metrics around lead generation, deal velocity, conversions, profitability, lifetime value, and customer satisfaction are all useful.
Drill down into more detailed metrics like lead response times, sales cycle bottlenecks, win/loss ratio, upsell rate, etc. Tracking the right metrics ensures you stay on course and reach your sales destination.
7. Outline action items
The last crucial step is detailing the tactical actions, owners, timeframes, and flows required to activate the sales plan's components - from initial campaign launches to ongoing onboarding processes.
Document the blocking and tackling activities required to methodically put your plan into practice. This bridges the big-picture strategies with on-the-ground implementation.
Building a task list or project plan helps sequence and monitor the micro-steps needed for sales plan success. Activities should be clearly tied to objectives.
With the key steps to craft a sales plan now clarified, let’s see how sales strategy templates can simplify and accelerate your planning process.
Leverage sales plan templates
Sales planning templates provide pre-structured frameworks spanning objectives, strategies, tools, and implementation tactics that can make developing comprehensive sales plans more efficient.
Here are some versatile and easy-to-use strategic sales plan examples to consider:
1. HubSpot sales planning template
HubSpot offers a robust, templatized worksheet to accelerate sales planning. Dedicated sections prompt users to document goals, SWOT analysis, growth tactics, tools, and more.
The goals section features fields to define timeline-bound, quantitative targets for revenue, customers, growth, conversions, and other KPIs. The SWOT analysis framework allows for assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
The tactics section provides guidance on documenting strategies and campaign details for customer acquisition, retention, upsells, partnerships, and other priority areas based on goals.
Sections are also present for mapping marketing and sales tools like CRM, email, social media, and automation to be leveraged. HubSpot's template ensures all elements of a comprehensive sales plan are captured in a structured format.
2. Asana sales plan template
Asana’s template does more than just document plan details - it also allows scheduling associated tactics and milestones on a built-in calendar.
Users can define key objectives, strategies, and campaign/activity details within a familiar project management interface and connect tasks to due dates. This enables easy tracking of timed elements like email nurturing sequences, marketing launches, or sales team training.
The tool's calendar and timeline functionalities ensure sales plan execution stays on track. Asana's template allows a seamless blend of strategy and tactical implementation.
3. 30-60-90 Day sales plan
The 30-60-90-day sales plan template by HubSpot provides a helpful framework for phased short-term planning across 30, 60, and 90-day periods.
It includes dedicated columns to capture goals, owner, status, and notes for each timeframe. This structure allows teams to map both quick wins needed in the next 30 days as well as initiatives requiring consistent work over 90 days.
The template comes in a simple table format within a shareable Google Sheet. It provides a clear visualization of priority tasks and key results aligned to shorter and longer time horizons.
4. BestTemplates sales plan template
BestTemplates' PowerPoint sales plan template includes professional slide designs to communicate plan details visually.
The slides prompt users to provide information on goals, SWOT analysis, growth strategies, lead generation tactics, budget forecasts, and measurement metrics using graphs, charts, and icons.
Sections also include slides for documenting marketing tactics, sales projections, and task timelines. The visual format allows clear communication of plan data.
5. Venngage’s online sales planning tool
Venngage’s online sales planning tool provides various visual infographic templates to choose from across multiple categories when creating sales plans.
You can select a design and easily drag and drop elements like charts, icons, and graphics to match their brand style. Relevant sections can be added for goals, strategies, tools, assignments, etc.
The visual interface enables quickly building eye-catching and easy-to-understand plans tailored to the business.
6. 30-60-90 Day sales plan by Template.net
Template.net's Excel-based 30-60-90 day sales plan template provides a helpful structure for phased planning. The quarterly tabs allow users to outline objectives, strategies, implementation activities, and tasks for each 30, 60, and 90-day period.
This framework prompts granular short-term as well as long-term thinking on what needs to happen week-by-week and month-by-month to hit targets. All plan details can be conveniently captured within the spreadsheet.
The easily editable and shareable Excel format further enhances the utility of this template for serialized sales planning by quarter.
While templates can undoubtedly accelerate your sales planning process through their structured formats, it’s still important to customize the sections and components carefully based on your specific business needs for an optimal plan.
Execute your plan for sales success with Luru
An impeccable sales planning process is indispensable for scaling revenue and growth. It codifies your pathway to success backed by thorough research and analysis. But a plan alone gets you nowhere. Consistent execution, measurement, and frequent improvements are key to staying agile and maximizing your outcomes.
Once the sales action plan is set, diligently track performance on your defined sales metrics and KPIs. Monitor what strategies and activities are working well versus those that need refinement. Course-correct your tactics based on the data insights. Update your sales plans to keep the momentum going strong.
With a disciplined sales planning process powered by impactful execution, your business can outperform competitors and exceed revenue goals quarter after quarter. The time for strategic sales planning is now.
Ready to transform the way you plan, execute, and analyze your sales? Luru provides an all-in-one sales process automation platform to put you miles ahead. Automate repetitive tasks, get real-time sales insights, and streamline CRM workflows—all from one solution.
Supercharge your sales planning and execution with Luru. Book a demo now to experience the platform firsthand. Let's skyrocket your sales to unprecedented heights.
- What should a sales plan include?
An effective sales plan includes sales goals, target audience profile, strategies and tactics, budget and resource allocation, action plan, and quantifiable metrics. It covers both strategic direction and tactical implementation.
- How to create a strategic sales plan?
Strategic sales planning involves thorough research and analysis, clear objectives, formulated strategies, defined metrics, and an execution plan. Align strategies to objectives, target audience, and budget for an airtight strategic plan.
- What is a sales success plan?
A sales success plan outlines the high-level goals, strategies, resource needs, and execution timeline to achieve sales objectives. It provides a blueprint for sales teams to optimize processes and exceed targets. The focus is on mapping activities and tactics to boost sales results.