Sales Planning

Without a sales plan, we are adrift in the market, hoping to succeed. The sales planning process forces us to analyze our environment, determine the resources and support required, and points us in a direction toward our goals. In a previous article, I discussed strategic planning basics; this article will focus on the sales plan.

One of the most enjoyable jobs I had was working for a semiconductor distributor. Our sales manager developed a sales goal for the division based upon past sales, corporate desires and sales team input. Once the goal was determined, everyone developed his or her sales plan to meet the goal. Our plans were simple and were base upon some “science,” we planned how often we’d meet with our customers, how many demos we’d accomplish, we analyzed our market and then submitted our plans.

Planning is about the journey not necessarily the battle. The planning journey prepares the army, by allowing the army to anticipate hurdles, allocate resources and reduce risk.

Michael James Smyth

From my military planning experience, there are two parts of plans, conceptual and detailed. I think of a conceptual plan as a business plan and detailed plans as the plans that make up a business plan such as a sales plan or a project plan. A plan should be continual assessed and updated, things change, assumptions are wrong, the plan must change with the ever-changing environment.

A sales plan is a detailed plan because it explains how the sales goal is to be met. Detailed planning works out the scheduling, coordination, technical issues involved with sales channels, regions, administering and sales force.

A sales plan should be simple and flexible… yes, detailed but also simple and flexible. The sales plan will help you: set your goals, choose a sales strategy, identify sales tactics, execute the plan and motivate your team, budget and review/assess the plan.

Sales Plan Checklist:

  1. Identify your sales goals.
    • What are your revenue targets?
    • Determine contributions by direct and channel sales.
    • Identify resources to meet your goals.
    • Understand your sales model.
  2. Analyze your competitive position.
  3. Develop your sales objectives.
    • Break goals down into achievable objectives.
    • Establish direct and channel sales quotas to meet your goals.
    • Create commission plans consistent with objectives.
  4. Define the tactics to meet your sales plan.
  5. Execute the plan.
  6. Monitor and adjust the plan, as planning is a continuous process.

For additional information, here are related planning and strategy resources.

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