Sales planning is the act of putting together a set of strategies to better help sales teams achieve targets and quotas.

What Is Sales Planning?

Nicholas PriceLast updated on March 19, 2024
9 min

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Planning and forecasting are major activities for sales managers, and sales planning is an important component of those processes. New sales are necessary to generate revenue and grow your business. The first time you do sales planning, it typically takes longer than when you have a designated process for it. As you develop your sales planning process, it will take less time and become more refined.

It’s to your company’s advantage to develop a good sales planning process. Sales planning requires aligning your marketing and sales departments and leveraging sales data. It helps to use sales planning templates. To assist your efforts with your company’s sales planning process, we’ve put together some guidelines and best practices for effective sales planning.

What Is Sales Planning?

Sales planning is a set of strategies that are designed to help sales teams reach their target sales quotas and help the company reach its overall sales goals. Sales planning helps to forecast the level of sales you want to achieve and outlines a plan to help you accomplish your goals. A sales plan covers past sales, risks, market conditions, your target personas, and plans for prospecting and selling.

Sales planning occurs at various stages of the sales cycle. Generally, businesses set monthly or quarterly sales goals. Sales don’t happen all on their own just because your sales manager sets goals. By defining the steps in a sales plan, sales managers can help their teams reach their targets and enjoy the rewards that come with collective success.

Another important part of the sales planning process is evaluating the company and understanding its position in the marketplace. Market conditions are ever-changing, so it’s important to study them and to adjust your sales plan accordingly.

Sales plans typically account for short- and long-term planning. Goals without rewards aren’t sufficient to incentivize each salesperson to reach for the sky. The right tools and sales strategies go a long way toward motivating salespeople to reach their targets.

As salespeople reach their goals, you’ll want to set new ones. Every time you set new targets, it’s appropriate to amend your sales plan. Changes to your sales plan may also mean that you need to change how your company allocates resources to ensure that your salespeople have the resources they need. If you haven’t already invested in a cloud-based phone system and VoIP integrations, you might consider how setting up a sales call center, complete with call center software, could help streamline your sales activities and help you reach your goals more easily.

The Role of a Sales Plan for Your Business

In case there’s any doubt about the important role that your sales plan plays in your business, you may be interested to know that a little more than half of sales professionals annually miss their sales quotas. Sales experts attribute this underwhelming percentage to the lack of strategic planning and failure to align sales goals in accordance with conditions in the marketplace.

Top sales performances only come about after proper planning and preparation. A well-thought-out plan streamlines sales tasks, which increases the efficiency and productivity of your sales teams.

For the best results, develop your sales plan well in advance. The best plans account for multiple levels. A common approach is to start with annual targets and break them down by the quarter, month, and week. Also, you’ll need to pre-plan your resources, logistics, and activities for every part of your sales plan. These activities will give you a road map that leads to sales success.

Short-term planning and monitoring are important activities because they give you the opportunity to make changes to your sales plan based on weekly or monthly sales results. If your salespeople are way ahead of – or way behind on – your projections, short-term planning will ensure that sales goals are reasonable and attainable.

A good sales plan means that your sales teams can function as efficiently as possible. Inside sales reps and call center agents can easily use call center software for sales call planning, freeing up outside salespeople to focus on making in-person calls and closing sales.

Sales Planning & Aligning Your Sales Strategy

When your business is experiencing a downturn in revenue generation, this is usually a sign of poor sales and marketing alignment. Misalignment between sales and marketing reduces revenue, negatively impacts customer experience, and makes it tougher for salespeople to meet their quotas.

Here some interesting things about marketing and sales alignment:

  • Sales and marketing productivity decline when there is a misalignment between them.

  • Alignment between sales and marketing improves the customer experience because it helps to improve customer service and to create a single customer journey.

  • Salespeople don’t always use marketing content when there’s no alignment.

  • Marketing software and sales automation software make it possible to develop data-driven sales and marketing plans.

  • Alignment ensures that marketing and sales teams develop profiles of the same audience segments and target personas.

  • Strong alignment means that marketing and sales messaging to customers are consistent and tell the same story.

  • Sales and marketing alignment also has a positive impact on post-sale growth, retention, and brand loyalty.

Overall, when sales and marketing teams align with each other, it positions your company to get the most value from prospects and customers. It’s the best path to take your company to new heights.

The Importance of a Well-Mapped-Out Sales Strategy

It would be great if you could simply hire and train the best call center agents and teach them how to use a cloud-based phone system and software to make sales. The reality is that it’s hard to accomplish much of anything without a plan. Without a road map for success, there’s no way to know where you’re going or how to reach your goals.

Certainly, good sales training is an important part of your sales plan, but that’s just part of it. What you also need is a template for a proven plan to set you on pace for business growth. You could consider a sales plan template master plan for success in sales.

While that seems fairly straightforward, many companies simply don’t do it. Why? Most of them will probably tell you they simply don’t have time. You could easily argue the opposite stance. Sales managers can’t afford to not take the time to use a sales template as a basis for developing a successful plan.

Sales planning is particularly effective when your company offers products or services in a variety of different markets. With every product or service, you’re marketing to audiences with different cultures, needs, and requirements. A sales plan helps you to create a vision for each target market and create specific profiles for each of them. A simple glance at your sales plan tells you how much progress you’re making, and that will help you determine what you need to do to get to the finish line.

Of course, there are risks with every business process and that includes your sales activities. Your sales plan will help you to identify and monitor risks associated with the sales process. This information will help you formulate how to mitigate those risks.

How to Use Sales Planning Templates

A proven sales plan template should be part of your brand strategy because it will guide your business growth every step of the way.

You could think of it as telling your sales story. Every story tells the who, what, why, where, when, and how from beginning to end.

Let’s break the strategic process down into five parts:

  1. Goal setting

  2. Sales forecasting

  3. Market and customer research

  4. Prospecting

  5. Sales

One process seamlessly dovetails with the next. Start with your high-level goals and then factor in the various market factors. Set realistic goals as a benchmark for forecasting reasonable goals in the future. You’ll need to base your goals on several things, including the size of the market, your annual company goals, your sales teams’ experience, and the resources that you have available.

A cloud-based phone system offers dashboard analytics that gives you metrics such as the number of inbound calls and outbound calls and the average call length. This will allow you to set standards for your call agents. Also, it will help you to scale your contact center so that it’s not over- or understaffed.

Marketing and customer research is an important activity that helps you position your company properly for business growth. The right data will determine your niche markets so you can start building traction with a receptive audience. Your niche encompasses your products, content, culture, and branding.

The next step is to identify the most likely sources for finding high-quality leads so that you can start building a quality prospect list. It’s also a great idea to leverage current client relationships as you build your prospecting plan.

Sample Sales Planning Templates

A sales plan provides a way to document your sales goals. It also outlines the strategies you need to take to accomplish them. Your sales plan can do much more than that. You can use it to establish your sales and marketing budgets, describe your marketing strategy, and explain other sales planning issues and strategies.

Your sales plan template may also contain statements about the following elements:

  • Company mission

  • Company history

  • Marketing team structure

  • Sales team structure

  • Call center software

  • Software applications and integrations

  • Marketing strategy

  • Prospecting strategy

  • Target customers and profiles

  • Market positioning

  • Sales goals

  • Marketing and sales budgets

  • Pricing strategies

  • Promotional strategies

  • Accountability–list of individuals who are responsible for various parts of the sales process

Your sales plan template can be fairly simple or very detailed. The most important thing is to put the time into developing it. You can always refine it in the coming years.

With these things in mind, where do you find a plan template? A simple internet search will yield several sources.

Sales plan templates to consider:

If none of these templates appeal to you, you might consider taking various elements from some of the plan templates that are listed and putting together your own customized template. The template is just the starting point that will help you to put your strartegy into place. After that, you’ll also need to monitor your sales and marketing strategies.

Sales Planning Best Practices

Where do best practices come from? In the best interests of a particular industry, it’s common for researchers to share methods and techniques that demonstrate good results. Companies that rely on best practices for sales commit to using their knowledge and technology to ensure success.

Here are some best practices that have evolved from sales organizations:

  1. Factor in training time and turnover when setting sales goals.

  2. Identify obstacles that affect your sales goals and factor them into your overall plan.

  3. Assess sales-related risks and devise a plan to mitigate them.

  4. Set realistic sales quotas — not too high or too low.

  5. Set performance measures according to sales roles.

  6. Scale your call center according to call volume.

  7. Set up a reasonable and attractive incentive or reward system.

  8. Use a data-driven approach for planning, goal-setting, and reward systems.

  9. Continually analyze your plan and adapt quickly to market changes.

  10. Leverage a cloud-based phone system and call center software to improve efficiency and productivity.

Why a Cloud-Based Phone System

A cloud-based phone system can help you to quickly implement these sales planning best practices. Aircall offers a robust set of voice calling features including the dashboard analytics feature that enables you to use a data-driven approach to your plan. Also, Aircall uses an open API technology that creates a seamless connection with CRM systems and sales software integrations. Aircall’s App Marketplace offers a wide variety of CRM and sales software programs to choose from.

With dashboard analytics, you get instant information about call volume, missed calls, call center agent performance, and much more to aid you in sales planning. Your dashboard provides you with the right information to implement a data-driven approach to goal-setting and incentive plans. Data is easily accessible, which enables you to adapt to market conditions quickly, so you can keep a step ahead of your competition at all times.

Check out these and other sales software integrations in the Aircall App Marketplace:

A modern phone system and the right sales software solutions give you access to data that informs decision-making for sales planning, results in higher performance, and increases productivity. The right strategy will assist you in using your data effectively, with the goal of positioning your company for strong sales and marketing alignment in the coming year.

Published on February 8, 2021.

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