Creating a Sales Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

A sales plan

Despite what some people like to believe, there’s no one-size-fits-all secret to sales success. After all, every product, target audience, and sales team is different. There are just far too many possible permutations for cookie-cutter solutions to work for every business in every situation. 

But while a single silver bullet doesn’t exist, there is one concept that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest and acts as the foundation for every successful sales operation: the sales plan.

At its most basic level, a sales plan template acts as a roadmap to guide a business towards achieving its sales objectives. A well-structured plan provides clarity on target markets, sales strategies, and the resources and tools required to reach those goals. 

In the following guide, we’ll be exploring the key aspects of crafting a successful sales plan template, tailored to your business’s specific needs and designed to propel your team towards more conversions, more deals, and more bottom-line revenue.

Understanding Your Market and Setting Clear Goals

You can’t sell anything to anybody without first understanding your market. After all, they’re the people that are going to be buying your product or service. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how on earth are you supposed to figure out what to say to them?

Understanding your market is an enormous topic that could be the subject of an article all on its own. But for the purposes of this guide, we’ll be focusing on two major, interrelated components: market analysis and setting goals.

Market Analysis 

The first step to understanding your target market is carrying out an in-depth analysis. The goal of this process should be to deeply understand the needs, preferences, and pain points of your potential customers. As nice as it is to imagine, you simply can’t sell everything to everyone. 

By getting a clear idea of who your buyers are and how they think, you’ll be able to save time and enhance productivity by focusing on them as opposed to the segments of the population who aren’t interested in what you have to offer.

A proper market analysis should include demographic, geographic, and psychologically based segments of your key customer personas. The most important thing to wrap your head around when it comes to personas is that the more specific you can make them, the more impactful they’ll be when it comes to driving sales success. 

Think of each persona as a living, breathing individual, rather than just a collection of demographic information. That way, you’ll be selling to people instead of data points, giving you that much more of an edge for when it comes time to close.

Setting SMART Goals

Goals are intrinsically linked to your market analysis. Once you’ve understood who you’re selling to, it stands to reason that you should keep specific targets in mind, since the focus is always on the end results in the world of sales.

The best kinds of goals to include in your sales plan need to be SMART. You’ve probably heard of the acronym already, but a brief refresher never hurts. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (i.e., there’s a predefined endpoint in time for the accomplishment of the goal). 

The more precise and detailed you can be when it comes to your sales team’s goals, the better your chances of ongoing success. Don’t be afraid to get granular: the whole point of a sales plan template is to set out as clearly as possible exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you’re going to go about it. 

Knowledge is power, after all. The more information you have, the stronger your sales efforts will be.

Setting sales targets

Developing Strategies and Tactics

Once you’ve analyzed your target market and defined the goals you’re going to be pursuing, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty aspects of the fun part: selling. 

There’s a huge range of different strategies and tactics you can employ in order to sell effectively, so it’s vital that you define the particular techniques you’re going to use in your sales plan template to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Sales Strategies 

Outline the strategies you’re going to employ in as much detail as you can. Some of the most popular sales strategies include direct selling, inbound marketing, and partnership development. The most suitable strategies for your business are going to depend on (you guessed it) your market analysis and SMART goals.

For example, partnership development might be more useful for B2B relationships, whereas a B2C-focused sales team should probably devote more time to selling directly.

Don’t forget to take digital marketing strategies, such as social media or paid ads, into account either. Scaleable, effective, and available 24/7, digital marketing gives your team constant access to your target market, making it a vital suite of techniques to include in your sales plan as you set up your team for success. 


You can think of tactics as the practical counterpart to the more theoretical strategies. For each strategy you’ve decided to focus on, try to break it down into actionable tactics that you can carry out on a day-to-day basis. 

Take the example of digital marketing as a strategy: tactics might include email marketing, content marketing, and social media campaigns, which in turn can be broken down into smaller tasks.

By linking your sales strategies and tactics with your target market and SMART goals, your sales plan template will provide a pretty comprehensive guide for who you’re going to sell to and how you’re going to sell to them.


Margins, margins, margins: no sales team ever found success without keeping them in mind. When it comes down to it, profit is the bottom-line goal, after all. It’s only by staying on top of your budgeting needs that you’ll be able to maximize profit and drive the kind of long-term revenue gains you’re aiming for, after all.

Your sales plan should include a detailed description of the budget required for executing it. Some of the costs you need to take into account for this portion include marketing budget; personnel costs (training, salary, equipment, etc); any technological tools you’re planning to leverage as part of your broader strategy; and any other necessary resources specific to the product or service your business is providing.

Don’t fall into the trap of being too optimistic when it comes to costs, either: you’re only hurting yourself if you get your estimates wrong. As with everything sales-related, the more precise you can be, the more you can expect to achieve.

Sales plan budgeting

Measuring and Adjusting Your Sales Plan

There’s no use in having a great sales plan if you’ve got no way to measure its impact. By taking a data-driven approach to your goals, you’ll stand a great chance of spotting holes in your workflow and potential areas for improvement, as well as providing ongoing motivation for your sales team as you tackle the goals you’ve set out to accomplish.

Performance Metrics

The most important element of measuring your sales plan template’s success is by defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These data points are going to be your be-all and end-all for determining how well you’re performing, and might include things like lead generation numbers, conversion rates, average deal size, and customer acquisition costs.

Review, Adapt, Implement

An unfortunate truth about the world of sales is that what seems to be working perfectly today might not do the trick at all tomorrow. In order to stay on top of the constantly shifting modern market, you need to regularly review your sales plan and make any necessary adjustments to keep performance in line with expectations.

If a certain strategy isn’t working, maybe it’s time to change up the tactics used to accomplish it, or maybe something more fundamental has changed and you need to ditch it altogether. 

Or you could feel like your team’s doing a good job, but the KPIs tell a different story. No matter what it is that needs to be changed, only by reviewing all the information you have and adjusting accordingly will you be able to stay as flexible as you need to in order to be competitive in today’s hyper-saturated sales marketplace.

Listen to Your Team

The best managers know that their reps are everything. As a final point, if you feel like input into your sales plan from the people doing the selling themselves would be valuable, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback. 

Maybe some tools aren’t working, or maybe the customer personas aren’t lining up with the people on the other ends of the phone calls. Whatever the issue, you won’t know until you ask.

As your team develops and evolves, your sales plan will too. After a few months in the field, it might look totally different to how it started out: that’s normal, and certainly nothing to be worried about. 

At the end of the day, creating a sales plan can seem like a daunting, possibly overwhelming task. But by grounding it in the fundamental points mentioned above, you stand a great chance of crafting a robust, comprehensive framework for sales success, no matter the industry or business you work in.