B2B Sales

How to Write a Sales Plan Template

As a B2B salesperson, you are aware that each day is an opportunity to inch (or dash) closer to your goals. 

To take those little, often difficult steps consistently (the calls, the follow-ups, the presentations), you have to trust the process and see the glorious finish line. 

In essence, you need a sales plan. 

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In this post, we will go over the exact steps to creating a B2B sales plan so that you and your team can aim high and reach your goals as efficiently as possible. 

What is a Sales Plan? 

You have probably heard of a business plan before. Maybe you have even created one.

As the name suggests, while the business plan outlines the process to reaching business goals, the sales plan focuses on achieving sales goals. A sales plan is a smaller section of a business plan, just like a marketing plan or a product roadmap. 

A sales plan is a written document that explains and gives a tangible form to your long-term sales goals, short-term objectives, target audience, and high-level strategies.

With a sales plan in hand, a new sales rep should be able to fully grasp what they need to do in each part of the job, from prospecting to pricing. 

An effective sales plan will do the following:

  • Paint a clear image of success. 
  • Help your sales team schedule their days.
  • Provide the sales team with quota targets.
  • Set an overarching strategy for making sales. 
  • Track the progress of your sales team.

Why Do You Need a Sales Plan? 

A sales plan has a lot of benefits for your salespeople and your company’s growth. 

When you have a plan that your entire sales team follows and believes in, they become a tight-knit group. 

Make your team feel like their own startup, each playing a role in the mission towards a common goal, and see your sales start to flourish. 

Here are four other benefits of creating a sales plan.

A Clear Path to Your Goals

A sales plan lays out the exact daily actions needed to reach the ultimate revenue goal. 

That way, your sales team knows exactly what to do every day. 

They know which type of prospects to call, how many calls to make a day, as well as what to say. 

More Confidence 

When you have a ladder to the prize, and you are 100% sure there aren’t any broken rungs, you are more likely to climb the ladder. 

Confidence in the process is key. 

sales plan template drives confidence

Without it, sales reps might hesitate to send those cold emails or put all of their energy into a web-demo because they are unsure it will yield results. 

A well-thought-out sales plan eliminates all doubts, so the salespeople can focus on climbing each rung. 

Alignment Between Sales and Marketing

A sales plan democratizes your sales strategy. If it’s in a central location, such as google docs, or your company’s dropbox, marketing can access the document on-demand. That means they can make marketing decisions according to the sales goals. 

For instance, if you need more inbound leads, they can focus on driving traffic to their ebooks. If you need more content to send to clients in the decision-making stage, marketing can assist there too. 

In fact, sales and marketing alignment can help your company become 67% more effective at closing deals. 

Prospects are readers too. They love to do their own research after your sales call. 

Therefore, it’s critical that you form a standardized and accessible plan to help your marketing team help you. 

Train New Reps With Ease

Your new sales reps can learn a lot from just hanging around the team – soaking in all of the best practices, product knowledge, and customer info. 

Reps might hear, “Hey Mike, what pricing should I give them if…” or “They gave this objection, what should I say?” 

But, osmosis learning isn’t enough, and even with a solid training program, you never know if you have covered everything the new sales rep needs to know to succeed. 

A written sales plan that you can tell your new sales rep to study is far more effective. They can go back to it if they ever have a question about the target customer, how to sell against a particular competitor or any other question that might come up.

What To Include in a Sales Plan

A typical sales plan will include a hefty amount of information. 

For instance, if you sell fintech to small businesses, the sales plan should include everything you need to know to succeed in this selling niche. 

A sales plan usually includes the following elements: 

  • Ideal Customer Profile – A description of your target customer that would receive the most value from your product or service. 
  • Revenue Goals – How much your team will bring in each month, quarter, year, etc. 
  • The Roles of Team Members – Who is responsible for what? (It should account for aspects like different regions, or different parts of the sales cycles). 
  • Strategies and Tactics – Actions your team will take during sales cycles. 
  • Sales System – Your system for each rep uses to make sales (Challenger sale, SPIN Selling).
  • Lead Generation -The strategies you utilize to generate B2B leads.
  • Pricing – All pricing information for your solution. Example: Can you offer discounts? At what size of deal? 
  • Challenges – Competitors to study and defeat, or some common objections. 
  • Tools – The B2B sales tools you will use to increase efficiency and hit goals. 

How to Write a Sales Plan

Now that you comprehend the basic foundation of a sales plan, let’s go over creating one from scratch. 

1. The Vision 

First and foremost, you need something to aim for. Whether it’s a revenue target or some other metric, the vision of success should be easy to see. 

To do that, be sure to establish SMART goals

SMART Goals

  • Specific – Make sure you can tell if you actually achieved a particular goal. Don’t just say, “Let’s grow the business a lot. “Instead, be precise: “Let’s open two new shops in the next two years.”
  • Measurable – Attach a number to the goal, e.g., “I want to run an 8-minute mile.” 
  • Achievable – Don’t make presumptions. Do your research about the size of your industry and the likely number of clients you will be able to sign with your specific resources. 
  • Relevant – Of course, make it about sales growth. 
  • Time-bound – Give your team a date by which to achieve your goal. 

If you sell content marketing services, you could make this your sales goal: 

“We will increase our client base by 15% by January 31st of 2021.” 

OR 

If you sell SaaS, you could say: 

“We will increase our MRR by 20% for our new Golden Package by next February 1st.” 

2. Team Members

Maybe your sales team includes 1 VP of Sales, 3 Account Executives, 2 Business Development Representatives, and a Sales Operations Specialist. 

You must set smaller goals for each team member. 

Is your sales ops specialist going to be making cold calls while your AE runs analytics? 

Hopefully not. 

Here, it’s important to assign specific roles to your team members, including quotas, daily activities, and responsibilities. 

Also, think about your team and whether they are enough to achieve your sales goals. Maybe your goal is to expand nationally, and therefore, you need more national opportunities set for your Account Executives. 

If that is the case, it’s a good idea to hire a few more SDRs or BDRs to start forming these new relationships. 

3. Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

You really want to get this one right. When you create this profile, you are laying out the details of your best-fit customer. Since this is B2B sales, that customer will be a company.

Outlining what your ideal customer looks like will allow you to find leads more efficiently, and turn them into paying customers. 

With a well-defined ICP, your team will be starting conversations only with the prospects who will love your service because it perfectly matches their needs. 

ICP

For instance, if you sell inspection software that helps businesses track and share their inspection data, you need to target companies who would receive tremendous value from that service. 

Therefore, your ICP will probably look like this: medium-sized construction companies that do a lot of inspections, yet still use pen and paper. 

Getting your ICP correct will help you design your messaging, prospecting strategy, and sales process. 

Therefore, learning more about designing your ICP should be your first priority.

4. Decision-Maker Buyer Persona

Just as you want to know what your target business is like, you have to understand the person making the purchasing decision.

That person with the final say is the decision-maker. 

For example, if you sell SEO services, the decision-maker will most likely be the person in charge of the marketing budget. 

Maybe one of their common pain points is handling too many marketing projects and needing some backup. 

It is best practice to create a decision-maker buyer persona enabling you to spot a decision-maker at the company during your prospecting efforts.

That way, you will be setting meetings with the person who can actually buy your solution, instead of a middleman. This saves you time. 

How to Create a Decision-Maker Persona

You need to create a fictitious description of your common buyer. This description could include their job title, motivations, responsibilities, and more.  

If all you know is the title of the typical buyer, and you are struggling to come up with other information, there are some things you can do. 

  • Talk to Account Managers – They understand your typical buyer. 
  • Consult your CRM – Look at past closed/won deals and analyze the attributes of the main contact. 
  • Test it out – Try reaching out to different potential DMs and see which ones react. Then find a pattern in their attributes. 

When you understand your decision-makers’ pains and motivations, you will be better able to explain how you can help them. That clarity means more won deals. 

5. Tools and Sales Enablement 

You need to take account of the tools you currently use, and which you need to employ to help you reach your goals. 

For example, maybe you use a CRM to manage your client relationships, but your new goal is to create 100% more sales opportunities this year. 

That probably means you are going to have to ramp up the cold outreach. And to do so, maybe you need to find better leads and increase the efficiency of your cold email practices. 

You might purchase a lead generation software and a sales engagement tool. 

On the other hand, maybe you are crushing opportunity quotas, but struggling with convincing those prospects that your solution is better than competitors. 

In that case, it is a good idea to look into some sales enablement tools (white papers, case studies, or training for your AEs). 

6. Create a Power Statement 

A power statement is a tool for perfecting your sales messaging, especially in prospecting. 

The idea was created by B2B sales consultant, Mike Weinberg, in his fantastic book “New Sales Simplified”. It’s his answer to the “elevator pitch”, which he often finds to be too product-focused. 

In “New Sales Simplified”, Mike writes this about the power statement: 

“Once complete, the power statement serves as a one-page, two or three-minute encapsulation of our sales story. It can be used by itself in full form when speaking with someone face to face (on sales calls) or when elements from the power statement are excerpted for use in other sales weapons (telephone, voicemail, e-mail, presentations, proposals, etc.)”

As you can see, it’s a powerful tool to build. And most of all, it should be a story about the customers you help, not your fancy new tech. 

A Power Statement includes the following 

Headline: This provides context for the listener. Example: “We are the leading data security provider for small businesses in the US.” 

Transitional Phrase: This grabs the contact’s attention by mentioning their title or type of company. Example: “Marketing executives from law firms come to us when…” 

Client Issues / Pain Points: Touch upon common pain points. This should make prospects pay attention if they relate to any of the problems mentioned. Examples: “Under significant pressure to get rid of {Pain Point 1}”, or “Frustrated from dealing with {Pain Point 2}

Create a list of a couple of salient pain points that you can use on cold calls or emails. This will be the longest section of the power statement. 

Offerings:  Include just a few sentences describing what you offer. Remember, the story should mostly be about the customers you help. Example: “We offer SEO services to small and medium-sized businesses to help them increase traffic to their site.” 

Differentiators: Bulleted list of elements that separate you from your main competitors. Example: “Unlike their system, ours is integrated with {widely used software}.” 

As you can see, each of these five elements can be used individually during sales conversations. Standardizing the messaging in your sales plan will help you track what’s working and what isn’t. 

7. Prospecting Strategy 

How will your team generate leads? Is it mostly through outbound or inbound sales? 

In the B2B world, most companies use both. 

Your prospecting strategy could be a combination of cold outreach, content marketing, and event hosting. Whatever mix you choose, make sure you are aligned with marketing so they can help you reach your lead generation goals. 

Also, include quotas and daily benchmarks for sales reps involved in outreach. Maybe that’s 60 calls a day and 50 emails to potential decision-makers. However, be sure to make the numbers attainable and repeatable, or else your sales reps might grow to resent their position. 

Pro Tip: If you notice your BDRs are showing signs of burnout, give them some other responsibilities besides cold calling/emailing. For instance, let them take control of more of the sales cycle.

Let them lead a demo with a new client. Your AE or manager can join the meeting with them and swoop in to assist if the BDR isn’t sure how to respond to a prospect’s question.  

8. Pricing 

Pricing is a tricky part of B2B sales. You want to get that perfect profit-maximizing number, but that’s usually impossible until you have tested different prices. 

So, whatever pricing schedule you choose, make sure to run AB tests to see how the market responds. 

It’s not okay to just pick a price based on your competition. There are a few potential downsides to this approach. 

  • The competition could be basing their pricing based on different costs than those in your organization. 
  • Maybe their product offers less value than yours. 
  • Perhaps they have a pricing model that frustrates the market (per user vs. flat fee)

As you can see, you should rely on more than just what the competition is doing when you’re setting your prices.

Value-Based Pricing

According to Price Intelligently, the best pricing strategy is value-based pricing, especially in the B2B SaaS or tech space. 

That’s because, in the minds of consumers, price equals the value they receive

value based pricing
Example of value based selling process

Second, value-based pricing incentivizes your company to improve its products and services, since it means you can charge higher prices. 

Lastly, with value-based pricing, you also receive credible willingness to pay data

Why is this data so important?

Because pricing is a process of testing, you want the best possible data to guide you towards your final profit-maximizing price. 

What About Discounts? 

It is important to let your salespeople know what discounts they are allowed to offer and when. 

For instance, sometimes companies price to economies of scale, so larger clients (who pay more) get bigger discounts. 

Pro Tip: Remember not to go overboard with discounts. Some reps lose money at the negotiating table because they immediately offer discounts. 

 If your service is stellar and customers see the value, they should be happy to pay. 

9. Action Plan

This will dictate what your team members do each day. Of course, the actions depend on the goals. 

Here is an example of an action plan. 

Goal: Increase upsells to your new product by 30% this year. 

  • Send 1 piece of content per month about the new product to current clients.
  • AEs need to set 5 meetings a month with current clients to introduce the new product. 
  • Reward AEs that bring in the most upsells at the end of each month. 

Of course, each of these actions can be broken down into even smaller steps that your team members take each day. 

So if a BDR needs to generate 20 meetings a month, they have to make a certain number of calls each day. 

10. Track Performance 

Lastly, you want to set up quotas and revenue targets to track your progress toward your goals. 

Work with your VP of Sales and VP of Finance to determine the sales quotas to help you reach your revenue goals. 

Have your Sales Operations Specialist set up dashboards that let you track important lead goals like calls per day, conversations held, demos held, etc. 

Then, every couple of weeks, have a team meeting where you evaluate the progress and locate roadblocks. 

For example, maybe demos produce less than desirable results, and you need to adjust the demo flow or coach your AEs. 

As the maxim goes, you can only improve what you track.

3 Sales Templates to Get Started

Now that you understand the basic ingredients of a sales plan, we want to give you some templates to help you design your own. 

1 Page Sales Plan Template 

A sales plan doesn’t have to be super long. If you want yours to be more digestible, try this one.

Sales Plan Template for Small Businesses

If you are a small business, this is a great template for your sales plan. 

Sales Plan Template (Generic)

Hubspot always puts out great content for marketers and salespeople in the B2B space. Here’s their sales plan template. 

Conclusion

If finding the time to put together an all-encompassing sales plan sounds daunting at the moment, don’t worry. It is okay to start slow. 

Just take it step by step, as we have done in this post. 

Remember, each section of the plan (the vision, the Ideal Customer Profile, the Action Plan) will prove incredibly beneficial to your organization. 

So, go find a quiet place to think, or meet up with one of your co-brainstormers at the company, and spend some time writing up the “vision” section. At least then, you will know where you are aiming. The rest will follow. 

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