11 Steps To Creating A Killer Sales Plan

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

It's the start of a new quarter, and you've just arrived at work to a full inbox.

You slurp down your triple-shot coffee, and try to establish what's urgent and needs tending to now, what can be sorted out later, and what can go straight in the trash.

There's an email there from your boss with the subject line “Sales quota Q2”.

You open that email, and things don't look good.

The expectation on your team is much higher than you'd expected, and for sure higher than your team is currently capable of producing.

You need a plan.

More specifically, you need a sales plan.

Creating a powerful sales plan is no small feat, that's for sure, but that's why we're here! In this guide, we'll show you exactly what goes in a sales plan and guide you through the 11 steps to creating a killer plan for sales success.

What Is a Sales Plan?

A sales plan essentially details how you're going to go about achieving the targets required for your business to be successful.

It lays out the objectives and goals you want to achieve, discusses high-level strategies and tactics for achieving them, and details aspects such as team capabilities and resources, and actions that need to be taken to extend these capabilities.

An effective sales plan achieves a number of objectives:

  1. Provides you with a framework for managing your sales team
  2. Allows you to communicate goals and tactics effectively to your sales rep
  3. Gives your team a roadmap to follow for sales success
  4. Serves as a guiding star to which you can refer and track progress
  5. Assures the leadership team of your ability to deliver on the targets they've set for you

Why Create a Sales Plan?

You can think of sales planning as similar to creating a traditional business plan, except with reference specific to sales development.

It's pretty well-known that the majority of new businesses fail (around 90%), and a leading cause for this incredibly high number is the fact that many founders fail to craft an effective business plan.

It's why 69% of business investors won't fund a startup without first having seen a thorough business plan.

The same applies to the success of your sales team.

If you don't have a plan of attack, then you're plain and simple far less likely to achieve your goals.

Without a documented sales plan, several problems arise:

  • You don't have an understanding of the resources required to propel your team to success
  • Your reps underperform, underearn, and move on to new job opportunities
  • You're unable to rally the team toward a common goal, as you don't have a clear vision for how to get there
  • You don't have anything to measure against
  • Leadership may lose faith in your ability to reach targets
  • You won't know where to turn if and when things don't go well

Creating an effective plan means you're better able to perform accurate sales analysis, you can motivate and inspire your team (and can gain buy-in from the troops), and you can design strategies for enhancing individual performance.

So what does a sales plan actually look like in practice?

What Goes In a Sales Plan?

What Goes In a Sales Plan

A well-designed sales plan has 10 sections:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Goals and revenue targets
  3. Review of prior performance
  4. Market conditions
  5. Target customers
  6. Strategies and tactics
  7. Team capabilities and structure
  8. Current resources
  9. Action plan for teams and individuals
  10. Benchmarks and KPIs

Let's look at each in a little more detail.

1. Executive summary

The executive summary provides a brief description and overview of the entire sales plan.

It should include one to two lines from each of the following sections, meaning the entire executive summary should be less than one page in length.

To maximize the space you have available, consider using bullet points and other design elements.

This is an example of an executive summary from a marketing plan, but a sales plan summary would look fairly similar.

Effective marketing plan


2. Goals and revenue targets

The next section should detail any company objectives you have, as well as the annual and quarterly (or even monthly) revenue targets you have.

Depending on the size and structure of your company, this may be a few bullet points or it may be a comprehensive section that details goals across different teams, for different products or customer segments, as well as information such as revenue, gross profit, and net profit targets.

3. Review of prior performance

Creating a plan for success involves having a solid understanding of how your organization has performed in the past.

This means performing a thorough historical sales analysis.

It's impossible to determine how you'll reach a goal of, say, $2m in revenue if you have no data on how much revenue you generated last month.

The aspects of the performance you review in this section should relate directly to your goals and targets set out in the previous section.

For example, if you have a revenue goal that looks like this:

  • Q1 2022 = $1.5m
  • Q2 2022 = $2.5m
  • Q3 2022 = $3.5m
  • Q4 2022 = $2.5m

Then your review of previous revenue performance should show what you achieved in the same timeframe last year:

  • Q1 2021 = $0.9m
  • Q2 2021 = $1.7m
  • Q3 2021 = $2.1m
  • Q4 2021 = $1.5m

4. Market conditions

Your team is not selling into a vacuum.

The customers you're targeting exist within the wider context of the economy, and in the more specific context of the industry and market you occupy.

This section should provide readers with an understanding of how the market is operating right now, and any positive or negative indications.

Cover aspects such as:

  • Consumer sentiment
  • Market segment growth
  • Your market share
  • Economic growth/decline
  • Inflation/deflation
  • New market entrants
  • Competitive landscape

5. Target customers

Here you'll provide a description of the ideal customer your team is looking to target.

You may have one or several customer personas.

If you're targeting different customers for different products, or you have a few different types of buyers (for example some products may be applicable to marketing managers and small business owners alike), then you'll need to include a section for each target customer.



Include these five categories for each persona:

  1. Demographics
  2. Goals and desires
  3. Current challenges
  4. The main benefit they get from your service/product
  5. Objections and concerns

6. Strategies and tactics

With consideration to the goals and targets you have set, what strategies and tactics are you going to use to get there?

For example, is your team going to take an outbound sales approach, or rely on inbound marketing to drive lead generation?

Will your team be mostly inside sales reps, dialing out on VoIP phones? Or are you going to hire outside sales reps to visit potential customers?

This section of the sales plan can reference sales process documentation, should you have this prepared already.

7. Team capabilities and structure

Here, you'll describe what your team looks like.

It should include roles, costs, and quotas:



Salary (incl. commission)

Monthly quota

Rep 1

Sales Development Rep



Rep 2

Account Executive



Rep 3

Sales Development Rep



Rep 4

Sales Development Rep



Rep 4

Senior Account Executive



You should also include a few paragraphs that describe the capabilities of your team, and shortcomings.

For example, you may have identified that your team is great at prospecting and demonstrations, but struggles to close.

Including this information will help you to build a team and individual development plans to enhance performance and achieve your targets.

8. Current resources

What resources do you have at your disposal right now?

This should include aspects such as:

  • Sales CRM
  • Prospecting and sales intelligence tools
  • Power dialers
  • Physical resources such as laptops and phones
  • Sales reporting tools
  • Learning management systems
  • Sales automation
  • Rep performance monitoring and sales insights

You should also include mention of resources you don't have, and that would be helpful in moving you toward the aforementioned objectives.

9. Action plan for teams and individuals

Action plan for teams and individuals

Use your breakdown of team capabilities to design action plans for each of your sales reps.

The action plan should detail:

  1. The skill requiring development
  2. The goal (what success looks like)
  3. The current situation
  4. Steps to take to improve team ability
  5. How and when you're going to measure improvement

10. Benchmarks and KPIs

Lastly, your sales plan should discuss the key performance indicators that show that your team is (or isn't) heading toward the core goals you've set out at the start.

For example, let's say you know that one of every five product demonstrations leads to a sale and that your SDRs need to talk to six leads for every demo they manage to book.

You also know that 40% of your calls actually get answered.

So, in order to gain one new customer each week, you need to set a KPI for SDRs to call 75 new leads each week (75 calls at a 40% answer rate means 30 conversations, 5 of which book meetings, and one of those will turn into a sale).

11 Steps To Creating A Killer Sales Plan

1. Set Your Goals

The first is to get real clear on what your organizational goals are.

There are a number of goals your company might look to work towards, for example:




Increase sales revenue by $1m

Average deal size

Increase average deal size by $500

Average deal length

Reduce average length of sales by 2 days

Win rate

Increase win rate by 5%

Customer acquisition cost

Reduce CAQ by 10%

Rep activities

Increase daily calls to 120 and emails to 150 per day

Email response rate

Improve cold email response rate by 20%

Setting clear goals helps you to determine the key metrics you'll track, and allows you to assess the importance of various sales tactics,

2. Perform a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT sales analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your sales team and organization as a whole.

SWOT Analysis


The idea here is to use the strengths and opportunities you identify to determine the best strategies and tactics to employ as part of your sales plan.

You'll also use weaknesses and threats identified during the SWOT sales analysis process to create individual development plans and to create strategies to improve your resources either through hiring new reps or by implementing specific software solutions.

3. Analyze Previous Performance

Use your sales insights platform to review how your team has performed in previous years and quarters.

The sales insights should then be compared directly against the goals you've set in step one.

Ask and answer these questions:

  • How close have we come to these goals in the past?
  • What are our biggest areas requiring improvement?
  • What do these sales insights tell me about the state of our team?

Document the previous performance in your sales plan using key metrics and provide some level of written analysis for context.

4. Review Market Conditions and Target Customer Segments

Next, your sales plan should include an analysis of current market conditions, and what that means for your target customer segments.

Research economic data, industry sales insights and trends, and consumer sentiment to provide an explanation of the state of the market right now.

Answer these questions in your market analysis:

  • Is the economy in general growing or shrinking?
  • Is your market sector experiencing growth?
  • How many competitors exist in your industry? Who are they?
  • What percentage of market share do you own?
  • What is consumer sentiment like right now?
  • How are customers in your industry spending money?

You should also provide an analysis of target customer segments, and any changes or specific insights that are relevant to your success in the year following.

5. Define The Customer Journey

Define The Customer Journey

The customer journey defines the steps your buyers take to purchase your product.

Broadly speaking, this journey typically looks like this:

  1. Awareness of issue
  2. Consideration of potential solutions
  3. Decision and purchase

Your sales plan should include a breakdown of the steps your customers specifically will take during this journey.

Retail customer journey


Where are they performing their research? Who and what is influencing them to buy? What options do they consider? How long does this process take? How do they become aware of the issue initially? What are they doing about it now?

Answering these questions should give you a good understanding of the process your customers go through.

Consider interviewing previous and current customers to glean this data first-hand.

Then map the actions out in sequential order.

6. Choose Your Strategy

Now, you're going to outline the broad strategy that defines how you'll approach achieving your sales goals.

There are a few decisions you need to make here:

  • Outbound sales vs inbound sales
  • Inside sales vs field sales
  • Split team (SDR and AE) vs single-seller
  • Account-based selling vs traditional sales approach

7. Build Your Tactics

In this section of your sales plan, you should describe the various tactics you'll use to sell to customers.

Options include:

  • Email outreach
  • Cold calling
  • Door-to-door sales
  • Direct messages via social media
  • Organic social media presence
  • Product demonstrations
  • Webinars
  • Referrals
  • Account-based marketing
  • Sales enablement
  • Follow-up process
  • Cross-selling and upselling
  • Sales automation

8. Assess Your Team and Resources

Here, you'll provide a breakdown of your current team, and any resources you use to sell (such as sales analysis and reporting, automation, CRM, email marketing, and sales intelligence).

Describe the roles your team members occupy, any strengths and weaknesses, and areas that need improving or adding to (via new hires).

9. Create a Plan For Development

Every team has room for improvement, even those who are performing exceptionally well right now.

And, considering that you're creating a sales plan to drive your team toward higher and higher targets, it's likely that your team is going to need some coaching.

Keep this section of your sales plan fairly brief, and describe key initiatives you'll undertake with your team.

You can then break out in separate documentation the individual employee development plans.

10. Set Milestones and Deadlines

Set Milestones and Deadlines

We've got some goals already, but this section of the sales plan goes a step further and outlines the key milestones that tell you whether you're on track or not, as well as some deadlines for success.

For example, if your goal is to increase revenue by $1m next financial year, then you might break this down to a $250,000 increase each quarter.

Or, you might recognize that you'll actually need a bit of time to ramp up to that goal. So might define your revenue milestones and deadlines as:

  1. Q1 - $100,000 more
  2. Q2 - $200,000 more
  3. Q3 - $300,000 more
  4. Q4 - $400,000 more

11. Work Out Your Budget

The last section of the sales plan should describe the budget you have set out for improving your sales team performance, and how you're going to distribute that budget.

You know what they say, you gotta spend money to make money!

Your budget should include items like:

  • What you're going to pay each sales rep
  • Potential commission on the table
  • Cost of new hires
  • Cost of current sales software
  • Cost of new sales equipment and software
  • Investment in social selling or account-based marketing initiatives

How to Measure Your Sales Plan's Effectiveness

Sales Plan's Effectiveness

A sales plan in and of itself is all well and good, but how do you know if it's actually making an impact?

This is where your metrics and reporting come in.

In an ideal world (scratch that, in a necessary world), you've got a capable sales CRM set up with a robust suite of reporting and analytics tools.

This should allow you to look in regularly and understand:

  • Individual rep performance
  • Team performance
  • Drop off rates at each pipeline stage (to identify leaks)
  • Average deal sizes
  • What sales activities are proving most effective
  • Progress toward goals

It's important, then, that you set up some quality KPIs, and establish a regular cadence for reporting.

The best way to do this, and to keep your reps properly motivated, is to get down to the level of behavior.

That means that rather than measuring the effectiveness of your sales plan based on, say, your deal win rate (which you should be tracking too, by the way), you should understand the activities and behaviours your reps exhibit that lead to winning deals.

This might include things like:

  • Number of calls per day
  • Specific word tracks used during phone calls
  • Accurate prospecting and identification of key decision-makers
  • Time and day they're calling

If you're able to accurately identify the micro behaviors that lead to success and drive your metrics forward, then incentivizing and measuring those behaviors is your best lever for success.

Then, set up a cadence of sales reporting and stick to it. A good idea is to have a split weekly/monthly cadence.

Provide weekly updates to your team every Monday, and meet with individual reps each week to discuss progress (or lack thereof, and what can be done to put them back on course).

Then, send out a more thorough analysis of sales performance on a monthly basis, and hold a full-time meeting to review and discuss.

How to Tell When Your Sales Plan Doesn't Work

One of the challenges sales leaders face is that their plans don't always work out as expected.

And when this happens, it can be difficult to determine whether you simply haven't given enough time for your plan to work, or whether you've made a mistake in the planning process.

Use this process to troubleshoot:

  1. Are the factors you've identified in the sales plan (such as market conditions) still correct? If not, there may be an external reason for your sales plan not working out.
  2. Have you and your team been following the plan accurately? If not, all that might be required is a recommitment to the original plan.
  3. Are you making progress toward your goals? If so, it might be that you need to double down on the areas that are working and throw out the ones that aren't.

If none of this appears to be the reason, then you may need to go back to the drawing board.

Don't fall victim to the sunk costs fallacy. If you get a quarter in, and you've not made any progress, consider recreating the plan altogether; you might have taken a wrong approach somewhere.


Sales plan conclusion

If you've been watching carefully, you'll have noticed that there's one helpful tool that's going to be crucial for sales planning success:

The CRM.

You're going to need a powerful, affordable CRM to access sales insights during the planning process, to manage sales throughout the year, and to perform sales analysis and reporting to check you're still on track.

Guess what? That's us!

Book a demo with one of the Ringy team today, and find out how we can propel you and your team to sales success.

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