10 Steps for Building a Sales Plan


Experienced and effective sales planning is critical to bottom-line success.

While the art of sales has some definite tried and true processes, successful selling is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. In order to ensure success, many pieces of the puzzle need to be assessed and organized for clarity. Only then can targeted sales efforts begin.

STEPS bruno-nascimento-149663-unsplash.jpg


Sales Planning Steps

1)    Define goals and objectives

  • Clearly define business or brand’s specific objectives and KPIs
  • Identify any wider strategic business goals and initiatives plus commercial considerations with which the marketing activity should align
  • General challenges within the business and potential barriers to implementation of the project
  • Timing: realistic, cross-checked with objectives and KPIs
  • Budget: realistic, cross-checked with objectives and KPIs
  • Managing expectations - agreement on achievables, ROI


2)    Market characteristics and trends

  • Assess internal data (e.g. brand / business) and any available external data on consumer or business trends, markets, stakeholders, competitors etc.
  • Determine timing involved to gather additional research, if necessary
  • Are there any wider issues re: marketplace, industry, economy, trade association reports, etc.


3)    General audit (analytics, reports, data)

  • Review any and all analytics, existing transactional data (sales/management reports, raw source data, etc.)
  • SWOT analysis
  • What has worked well to-date? What has definitely not worked? Why?
  • List any other elements and considerations
  • Review marketing efforts to supplement sales (on-brand, support tools)


4)    Competitor audit

  • Primary competitors - 5 W’s
  • Note differentiators


5)    Customer / Stakeholder audit

  • Describe ideal target customer (include personas)
  • Gather research from marketplace; poll/survey existing customers, if possible
  • Identify customer wants or needs and where they turn today to meet those needs
  • Understand how to best reach this target customer
  • Determine general sentiment from feedback loop or reviews, if available


6)    Influencers in the market

  • Who are the primary influencers? What do we know about them?
  • How can we reach and engage influencers?
  • Share functions - contacts, resources, public engagement, etc.


7)    Specific marketing, media and digital audits

  • Assess any media (social media, advertising, PR), if applicable
  • Assess marketing and/or technical considerations
  • Determine ideal tools for support


8)    Additional research

  • If any gaps in understanding, decide whether to commission research (via external or internal support)
  • Invest in industry-specific white papers or more in-depth research (per budget considerations)


9)    Sales strategy development

  • Develop the overarching sales strategy based on information gathered, to include:
    • Summary of discovery insights, including opportunities, identification of priorities, personas, etc.
    • Key points that set direction
    • Breakdown of achievables and outline of sales plan
    • Resources required (by description only); reporting structure/frequency, responsibilities (outline all according to key deliverables)
    • Timing, costs
    • Sales tracking tools


10)  People involved

  • Who re: Approvals and sign-off; ensure agreement to process, budget, timing, KPIs, expectations, etc.


Robyn Hounjet