The Sales Manager's Guide to Strategic Planning
Updated: February 18, 2021
Published: December 30, 2020
Have you ever felt like your sales team is doing an okay job, but you know they could be doing better? Or, alternatively, perhaps you're second-guessing some of your hiring decisions — could you have found a rep who would've sold more?
Fortunately (it's a good thing, we promise), this may be due less to the people you've hired and more to the guidance you've provided.
For instance, if you've previously handed your salespeople a list of potential customers and sent them on their way with "You've got this!" ringing in their ears, you might actually be inhibiting your team's growth potential.
On the other hand, if you provide them with a strategic sales plan that clearly outlines the company's goals — and a thoughtfully laid out system to get there — you can expect your salespeople to impress.
Here, let's dive into what a strategic sales plan is, plus how to make one for your own team.
What is a strategic plan?
If sales is a journey, your strategic plan is the roadmap you'll provide your team to help them reach their destination. It is one of the most important activities you will ever do as a sales manager because, without it, your sales team will have no direction and no instruction manual to follow in order to achieve their targets.
This roadmap allows the company to focus on long-term revenue through both the retention of existing customers and the acquisition of new customers. They are often created with investors and shareholders in mind.
What are the benefits of creating a strategic plan?
A strategic plan is essential because if none exists, your sales reps are left to their own devices, making uneducated decisions based on the information they have in the moment. Without knowledge of the company's long-term goals, you can't blame your reps for falling short — they're just working with what they have.
By creating (and following) a strategic plan, you:
- Create a "North star" for your business by establishing a sense of direction
- Allow your organization to be proactive instead of reactive
- Make your team more efficient and productive
- Increase profitability
- Provide baseline expectations your team needs to meet when/if your team hits unexpected challenges
The Elements of a Strategic Plan
This document is sometimes created quarterly, but more often yearly, and it includes several different elements. By answering these questions, you'll be able to create a robust strategic sales plan for your business. You don't have to do this alone. Instead, I'd urge you to collaborate with some of your top salespeople, who likely have unique insights to offer.
What did your business look like last year?
Before you can decide where you're going, you need to know where you've been. A few things to look at (though not all!):
- How much was sold?
- Who on your team closed sales?
- Who were the customers that purchased?
- Will they be back for repeat business?
- How long is your sales cycle?
- Which clients took up the most time vs who had the highest revenue?
What does the market look like?
This includes information about your specific industry and the other companies playing in the same arena. Has anything changed from past years?
What is your value proposition?
What makes your product the right solution for prospects' problems? What makes your company different than all the others who offer similar products or services? Now is a great time to do a SWOT Analysis to determine your:
Be honest. Sugar-coating this exercise won't help you grow.
Who are you selling to?
This includes your target market as well as your buyer personas. Your answers from the prior year question will come in handy here. Knowing who buys your product is important. Knowing who takes up 80% of your time and only brings in 20% of your revenue is gold. Your buyer persona will tell you who your ideal client is, and who you should stay away from.
How much do you need to make?
What are your target revenue goals for the year? For the quarter?
How are you reaching them?
These are the strategies and tactics you will use to connect with your customers. They include:
- Marketing tactics to attract new customers
- Ways to grow existing accounts or bring back old customers
- Methods for leveraging existing customers for referrals
Your sales process should be noted here, as well as the prices you charge and any planned promotions.
Who is on your team?
Outline the structure of your team and clearly communicate who is responsible for what — and by when.
What resources exist?
What tools will your team have access to in order to reach their revenue goals. What type of support will they receive from you, other departments, and outside sources?
Keep in mind that even after the company's strategic plan is created, you will need to work with your individual salespeople to determine how they will meet their individual goals and create a clear plan for them to follow with check-ins and key performance indicators along the way. This will include:
- Their individual revenue goals
- How many sales that represents
- How many calls it typically takes to close those sales
- How much time they should spend on sales calls
- How to work with existing clients and past clients to increase their purchases and give referrals
Strategic Sales Templates and Examples
Like most things in business, there's no need to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch when there are wonderful examples to model your strategic plans after. Once you find one that fits your industry and your company's structure, you can tweak it to meet all of your needs.
Here are a few examples to review:
- A one page strategic plan
- SWOT Exercise
- Sales Strategy Blueprint
If you want your sales team and your business to thrive, creating an annual strategic sales plan is the best action you can take. With a specific destination and a clear path to get there, your salespeople will have the tools they need to succeed.
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Sales | How To
How to Create a Sales Plan in 10 Steps (+ Free Template)
Published March 9, 2023
Published Mar 9, 2023
REVIEWED BY: Jess Pingrey
WRITTEN BY: Jillian Ilao
This article is part of a larger series on Sales Management .
- 1 Establish Your Mission Statement
- 2 Set Sales Goals & Objectives
- 3 Determine Your Ideal Customer
- 4 Set Your Sales Budget
- 5 Develop Sales Strategies & Tactics
- 6 Implement Sales Tools
- 7 Develop Your Sales Funnel
- 8 Create Your Sales Pipeline
- 9 Assign Roles & Responsibilities
- 10 Monitor Progress & Adjust Accordingly
- 11 Examples of Other Free Small Business Sales Plan Templates
- 12 Sales Planning Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 13 Bottom Line
Sales plans enable businesses to set measurable goals, identify resources, budget for sales activities, forecast sales, and monitor business progress. These all contribute to guiding the sales team toward the company’s overall strategy and goals. In this article, we explore how to create a sales plan, including details on creating an action plan for sales, understanding the purpose of your business, and identifying your ideal customers.
What Is a Sales Plan? A sales plan outlines the strategies, objectives, tools, processes, and metrics to hit your business’ sales goals. It entails establishing your mission statement, setting goals and objectives, determining your ideal customer, and developing your sales strategy and sales funnel. To effectively execute your sales plan, assign roles and responsibilities within your sales team and have metrics to measure your outcomes versus your goals and objectives.
Ten steps to creating an effective sales plan
Download and customize our free sales planning template and follow our steps to learn how to create a sales plan to reach your company’s revenue goals.
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Free Sales Plan Template
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💡 Quick Tip:
Once you’ve created a sales plan, give your sales team the tools to execute it effectively with robust customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Use a CRM like HubSpot CRM to help your sales team collaborate on deals, develop sales reports, track deals, and create custom sales dashboards
1. Establish Your Mission Statement
A mission statement summarizing why you’re in business should be part of your action plan for sales. It should include a broad overview of your business’ products or services and your brand’s unique selling proposition. For example, you wouldn’t say, “We provide customers with insurance policies.” Instead, you might frame it as “We provide customers with cost-effective financial risk management solutions.”
It’s essential to fully understand your unique selling proposition before creating a mission statement. This allows you to learn why you’re different from competitors in your industry. It also helps you determine how your unique proposition suits a niche market better.
Steps on how to create a unique selling proposition
For instance, using the same insurance example above, you may realize specific markets are easier to sell based on that selling proposition. Therefore, it’s a good idea to narrow in on your mission statement by saying, “We provide startup businesses with cost-effective risk management solutions.”
2. Set Sales Goals & Objectives
Once you have summarized why you’re in business in a mission statement, begin setting sales goals . Typically, business goals will include one year, but may also include three- or five-year projections.
Steps on how to set sales goals
Here are a few options for how to set sales revenue goals for your business:
- Set sales amount: You may have a specific amount in mind for a sales goal. For instance, you may determine that $200,000 is a reasonable sales goal based on prior sales and your company’s ability to generate new business.
- Desired profitability: First, calculate the total anticipated expenses for the set time period to find the break-even point. From there, you can calculate how much revenue your team needs to bring in to make a certain profit margin. For example, if annual operating costs are expected to be $100,000, and you want to make a 30% profit, your sales goal is $130,000.
- Projected sales forecast: Based on an industry-standard or estimates you attained by running a sales forecast, you may find it’s better to use a projected sales forecast as your sales goal.
Pro tip: Projecting sales can be challenging without a suitable sales forecasting model. Our free sales forecast templates help you create simple, long-term, budget-based, multi-product, subscription-based, and month-to-month business sales forecasts. Some customer relationship managers (CRMs) like Freshsales have sales goal-tracking functionalities that allow you to set and assign sales goals for your team.
Five-year sales forecast template example (Source: Fit Small Business )
Sales goal tracking in Freshsales (Source: Freshsales )
Sales goals must reflect new business revenue and sales from existing or recurring customers. Then, you must add specific sales objectives that identify and prioritize the sales activities your team needs to complete to meet sales goals. This creates an objective way to measure success in hitting goals at all levels: organizational, sales department, team, and individual sales rep, which is an essential part of sales management .
For example, imagine your total revenue goal is $200,000 in year two and $300,000 in year three. You then add an objective, such as stating you want your business’ revenue from existing customers to grow 15% in year three. This can be measured by evaluating your percentage of revenue from existing customers in year three compared to year two.
3. Determine Your Ideal Customer
Determining the ideal customer or target market is the next step of your business plan for sales reps. It may have been accomplished when you developed your mission statement, but also when you set your sales goals and discovered how broad your market needs to be to reach them. Describing your ideal customer helps dictate who you’re selling to and your selling approach.
One way to establish your ideal customer is by creating a series of unique customer profiles . Each profile specifies key demographics, behaviors, interests, job positions, and geographic information about one of your ideal buyer types. Based on your customer profiles, you can then develop more targeted marketing strategies for lead generation and nurturing to move leads through the sales process more efficiently and close more deals.
Pro tip: Making a customer persona can be challenging, especially if it is based on the wrong data or if you just focus on the demographics. Check out our article on creating a customer persona to help you define your company’s ideal buyer types and guide your lead generation and marketing activities.
4. Set Your Sales Budget
After establishing your objectives and identifying your ideal customer personas—and before developing your actual strategies and tactics—you must identify a sales budget to work with. It should include estimated expenses for salaries, travel expenses, and the cost of any software tools or service providers used to help with sales and marketing. While these are meant to be estimates, research and due diligence should be done to avoid financial errors.
One way to set your sales budget, particularly for software tools and services you may be interested in, is to create and issue a request for proposal (RFP). Issuing an RFP allows you to post a summary of your needs to solicit proposals on potential solutions. In addition to providing accurate budget estimates from various qualified vendors and contractors, it may also help you discover cost-effective or high-performing options you were previously unaware of.
5. Develop Sales Strategies & Tactics
A sales strategy explains how you plan to outsell your competitors and accomplish your sales goals. It defines specific, detailed tactics your team will use to pursue your sales goals. These may involve using Google Ads, cold calling, and drip email marketing campaigns as part of a lead generation strategy. Available strategies differ depending on your company’s resources, skill sets, sales operation, and product or service offerings.
Strategies and tactics should be personalized for your ideal customers based on their unique interests, behaviors, and the best ways to connect with them. For example, some customer profiles show your ideal buyer generally only makes purchases based on trusted referrals. In this case, you could implement a referral strategy that provides incentives to generate more customer referrals .
Plus, different sales strategies will be needed to acquire new business vs keeping existing customers. When selling to existing customers, for example, your strategy could include cross-selling tactics where additional products are recommended based on prior purchases. The short-term cross-selling tactics could require customer service reps to send 30 emails per week recommending a complementary product to existing customers.
For a new business strategy, sales reps might rely on emotional selling methods when using cold calling as a tactic. Instead of product features, cold calling scripts would be geared to evoke feelings that lead to buying decisions. Tactics could reflect the objective of having reps make 15 cold calls each week. They could use a script that opens with a story about how a purchase made a customer feel or how someone felt because they didn’t purchase the product.
Pro tip: Ensuring your strategies are properly executed requires excellent sales leadership and a healthy environment for sales reps to operate in. Our how-to guide for building a positive sales culture shows you how to create an environment that promotes high job satisfaction, low employee turnover, and profitability.
6. Implement Sales Tools
Your sales strategy template should reference the software, hardware, and materials you use to manage the sales operation and make each team member more efficient. One of the most notable tools to include is the customer relationship management (CRM) system . It allows your team to organize contact information, streamline sales tasks, and facilitate communication with customers and leads.
HubSpot CRM , for instance, makes it easy to organize information about leads, contacts, and deal opportunities. Additionally, from a HubSpot CRM lead profile, you can initiate a conversation with that contact by calling, emailing, or scheduling an appointment.
HubSpot CRM contact profile (Source: HubSpot )
CRMs are also used to monitor and report sales progress. For example, many have dashboards and functionality, such as alerts, which make it easy to identify where your team may be underperforming. These could also tell you which leads are most likely to convert and should be focused on. Sales information such as deals closed, revenue generated, and leads created can be presented in a detailed report .
These types of insights can also be shown on the CRM’s system dashboard . Pipedrive is an example of a CRM that has a customizable dashboard that displays both activity information and performance-based data. Activity data include emails sent, received, and outstanding tasks to be completed. Performance-based data, on the other hand, have deals lost or the average value of won deals.
Pipedrive’s customizable dashboard (Source: Pipedrive )
Other sales enablement tools can make your sales team more effective. These include voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone systems , lead generation platforms, email campaign tools, content creation platforms, and task automation software. These tools can be found within CRM software or through CRM integrations and standalone applications.
In addition to technology tools, sales and marketing templates should be used to streamline outreach initiatives. Scenario-based, premade sales email templates , for instance, allow salespeople to have an email already crafted for their specific situation.
Creating and storing business proposal templates in your CRM also streamlines the contact procurement and business proposal generation process . This way, whenever a prospect says they’d like to receive a quote or you’re responding to a request for a proposal, you already have a customizable template ready to go.
Pro tip: Effective cold calling scripts sales reps can use as a guide when placing calls to new leads is a tremendous sales tool to include in your action plan for sales. Get started using our guide for writing a cold calling script , which includes examples and free templates.
7. Develop Your Sales Funnel
Setting up a sales funnel within your sales strategy template lets you visualize the stages of the customer journey, from becoming aware of your business to buying from it. By creating and understanding the different statuses of your leads, you can track progress and determine how effective you are at converting leads to the next stages in the funnel.
Using a sales funnel with conversion rates also makes it easier for you to adjust your sales strategies and tactics based on how effectively you’re getting leads through the funnel. For instance, let’s say you have 100 leads in the awareness stage of the funnel. You decide to cold call 50 of them and write a sales email to the other 50 to qualify leads by setting up a product demonstration.
After each campaign, you find you were able to qualify seven of the leads that were cold-called and only two of the leads you had emailed. Based on these funnel conversion rates of 14% (7/50) from cold calling and 4% (2/50) from emailing, you would likely adjust your tactics to focus more on calling instead of emailing.
Do you need help creating a sales funnel for your business? Our guide to creating a sales funnel explains the step-by-step sales funnel creation process and provides free templates and specific examples.
8. Create Your Sales Pipeline
Once your sales process’ sales funnel stages are identified, develop the sales pipeline stages . These stages include your team’s sales activities to move leads through the funnel. For example, you need to get a lead from the sales funnel stage of brand awareness to show interest in learning more about one of your services. To do this, you could add a sales pipeline activity like setting up a demo or presentation appointment through a cold call.
Adding your sales pipeline to your sales strategy is essential because it describes all the activities your sales reps need to do to close a sales deal. CRM systems like Freshsales allow you to create and track the pipeline stages for each lead or deal within the lead record.
Funnel view of Freshsales’ deal pipeline (Source: Freshsales )
Listing each pipeline stage also helps you identify tools and resources needed to perform the activities for each stage. For example, if you use phone calls to initiate contact with or introduce a product to a lead, you could develop outbound sales call scripts for your team.
After the initial contact by phone, you may use email to follow up after a call and then nurture leads throughout the sales process. As part of your follow-up, create and automate a sales follow-up email template to get them to the next pipeline stage.
The sales funnel shows where a lead is in the sales process. The sales pipeline, on the other hand, lists activities needed to drive leads to the next stage in the sales funnel. Both should be used in your sales strategy when defining the repeatable steps required to generate leads and close deals. Check out our article to learn how to create a winning sales process with insights on both creating a sales process and measuring its success.
9. Assign Roles & Responsibilities
Regardless of the size of your business or sales operation, your business plan for sales reps should include the role and responsibility of each person in the sales team. Each role should have a name, such as someone being a sales development representative (SDR). There should also be a summary of their responsibilities, such as “the SDR is responsible for setting up sales appointments using the activities listed in the sales pipeline.”
Measuring the performance of any sales position is simple through key performance indicators (KPIs). Specific KPIs should be used to measure performance for each role and should be included in your plan. Below are some examples of KPIs that can be used by the members of the sales team and their respective responsibility:
- Sales development representative: Responsible for introducing products and services, qualifying leads, and setting up appointments for the account executive. Performance is measured by calls placed, emails sent, and appointments generated.
- Account executive: Responsible for nurturing qualified leads, delivering the sales pitch , sending quotes, and closing deals. Performance is measured by business proposals sent, the average time in the proposal consideration stage, deals closed, and deal closing rate.
- Customer service representative: Responsible for managing customer needs, handling billing, and managing service tickets by assisting customers. Performance is measured by customer satisfaction, retention rates, and total tickets resolved.
- Sales manager: Responsible for the entire sales operation or team for a specific region or product/service line. Performance is measured by job satisfaction rates of sales reps, pipeline and funnel conversion rates, team sales deals closed, and team revenue growth.
While assigning roles in your plan, a sales rep’s territory could be based on geography, industry, potential deal size, or product/service line, creating more specialization for better results. Our six-step process on proper sales territory management is an excellent resource for segmenting, creating, and assigning sales territories.
This section of the business plan is also a prime spot for individually setting sales quotas for each rep or team needed to hit your organizational sales goals. Sales quotas should be a specific KPI for that sales role and be set based on the experience, skill level, and resources of that individual or team. These quotas should also be based on your organizational, department, and team goals and objectives.
10. Monitor Progress & Adjust Accordingly
Once the strategic business plan is in motion, monitor its progress to make any required adjustments. For instance, while your sales operation is running, you may find certain sales tactics are working better than expected, and vice versa. Your sales goal template should account for using that tactic more, as well as any new sales tools, budgetary changes, new roles, and possibly even a new sales goal.
As in the earlier example, if you found that cold calling was significantly more effective than emailing, reduce or abandon the email method in favor of cold calling. You could also invest in sales tools especially useful for cold calling, such as power dialing using a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone system, or hire additional staff to place calls. All of these will be part of your updated business plan.
Pro tip: Focusing on the big picture by creating, executing, and adjusting a strategic business plan is one of the most critical traits of an effective sales leader. For more insights on what it means to be a sales leader and how to become one, check out our ultimate guide to sales leadership .
Examples of Other Free Small Business Sales Plan Templates
Apart from our free downloadable sales strategy template, other providers have shared their version of a free strategic sales plan examples. Click on our picks below to see if these templates fit your business process better:
HubSpot’s free sales planning template helps users outline their company’s sales strategy. It contains sections found in most sales plans, as well as prompts for you to fill out your company’s tactics and information. These include company history and mission, team structure, target market, tools and software used, positioning, market strategy, action plan, goals, and budget.
HubSpot sales strategy template (Source: HubSpot )
HubSpot’s sales goals template with the mission, vision, and story of the company (Source: HubSpot )
Asana’s free sales plan template helps organizations analyze their current sales process, establish their sales objectives, identify success metrics, and plan actionable steps. The sales business plan template is embedded within Asana’s platform, automatically integrating aspects such as goals and measuring them against results or sales performance.
Asana sales plan example (Source: Asana )
Sales Planning Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is sales planning.
Sales planning is creating a document that outlines your sales strategy, objectives, target audience, potential obstacles, and tools to achieve goals within a specified period. This may include your daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and long-term revenue objectives.
What is included in a sales plan?
A sales strategy plan template typically includes the following key elements:
- Target customers, accounts, or verticals
- Stock-keeping units (SKUs)
- Revenue targets or forecasts
- Strategies and tactics
- Pricing and promotions
- Deadlines and directly responsible individuals (DRIs)
- Team structure and coordination
- Market conditions
What are the different types of strategic sales planning?
The type of strategic planning for sales that you choose for your team ultimately depends on different factors. These include your revenue goals, available resources, the ability and bandwidth of your sales team, and your personal commitment to your plans. Once you have determined the details of these factors, you can choose from these types of strategic sales planning:
- Revenue-based sales action plan template: This is ideal for teams aiming for a specific revenue goal. It focuses on in-depth sales forecasting, improvement of conversion rates, and closing more deals.
- Sales business plan based on the target market: This plan is best for businesses that cater to several markets that are different from each other. In this situation, you must create separate sales goal templates for enterprise companies and small businesses.
- Sales goals plan: This focuses on other goals such as hiring, onboarding, sales training plans, or sales activity implementation.
- New product sales business plan: This plan is developed for the launch and continued promotion of a new product.
While any business can set bold sales goals, creating a sales plan outlines how your team will achieve them. By following the best practices and 10-step process laid out above, your sales goal template defines what your sales process will look like. It will help establish baselines for accountability and identify optimal strategies, tactics, and the tools needed to make your team as efficient as possible.
About the Author
Jill is a sales and customer service expert at Fit Small Business. Prior to joining the company, she has worked and produced marketing content for various small businesses and entrepreneurs from different markets, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Singapore. She has extensive writing experience and has covered topics on business, lifestyle, finance, education, and technology.
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The 11 Best Sales Plan Templates To Use Now
Jul 27, 2022
As a business leader, salesperson, or executive in a sales company, it’s important to recognize the importance of planning for success. A sales plan is arguably the most crucial tool that will enable you to prepare for the future of your business and how you can hit your business targets and goals.
In this article, you’ll learn what a sales plan is, how to write one, and tips for creating an effective sales plan. This post also highlights the best sale plan templates for your company or business.
- What are the best sales plan templates?
- 1. Sales Plan Template by Hubspot
- 2. Sample Sales Plan by BestTemplates
- 3. Asana Sales Plan
- 4. 1 Page Sales Plan by BestTemplates
- 5. Online Sales Plan Marker Map by Venngage
- 6. Small Business Sales Plan by FitSmallBusiness
- 7. Sales Strategy Diagram from Creately
- 8. Sales Action Plan by BestTemplates
- 9. 30-60-90 Day Sales Plan by Template.Net
- 10. Microsoft Word Sales Plan from TemplateLab
- 11. 90-Day Sales Play by Template.Net
- What is a Sales Plan?
- What is included in a sales plan?
- How to Write a Sales Plan
- What Goes in a Sales Plan Template?
- Tips for Creating an Effective Sales Plan
- Key Takeaways
Creating your sales plan from scratch can be an intensive and time-consuming process, which is why you should consider using sales plan templates. The following are the best sales plan templates to get you started!
This free sales plan template by Hubspot is a detailed plan with multiple sections that allow you to outline your sales strategy in a simple, coherent manner. The template includes sections for your team structure, target market, company history, goals, budget, action plan, and many more. This simple template simplifies your sales plan for your team and execs.
Best Templates provides a 9-page sales plan that you can download and edit to customize to your specific needs. The template is designed to do all the work for you since all sections are already highlighted, and your job is to fill them in.
Asana’s sales plan promises to help you build a solid sales foundation and empower your team to achieve company goals. With Asana, you can create various sales plans, including a territory plan, a 30, 60, or 90-day sales plan, or a simple sales action plan. Moreover, you can use Asana and Salesforce together to improve your sales process.
Finally, a sales process that gives you the freedom to sell.
Build a repeatable, winning sales process with Dooly's powerful note templates.
Another sales plan by Best Templates can help you work out effective strategies to boost sales. It’s also customizable, so all you need to do is open and edit it using your preferred software app or program, provided it is compatible with MS Word or Pages file formats.
The Sales Plan Maker by Venngage enables you to create and organize your sales plan. To get started, you need to create a Venngage account and pick the sales plan template that suits you best. Venngage allows you to add images, edit text, or develop pictographs and custom charts.
This compact and easy-to-use sales plan template contains all the information you’ll need to set clear sales goals and objectives and the tactics and strategies to employ. Simply download the template, and customize it for your business.
Creately offers multiple customizable professional templates designed to ensure synchronicity across your entire team. You can create a dashboard to monitor the progress of your strategies. The Creately viewer also allows you to embed multiple diagrams in your blogs or business website.
This affordable action plan template by Best Templates has a minimalistic and professional layout for unmatched structure and organization. It’s a fully customizable template that supports MS word and iPages, so editing shouldn’t be a hassle. Download the template from their official website, and get started with your action plan.
This is a comprehensive sales plan that can help you boost your company sales within 90 days. It’s an effective sales plan template outlining all the strategies and tactics you should employ during the 90 days. The template is fully customizable and can be downloaded using your preferred software.
Microsoft Word provides multiple free sales plan template options from TemplateLab . The templates are designed to help organizations plan their sales activities in a structured manner. The plans have sections including an executive summary, goals and objectives, analysis details, organization mission, key performance indicators, marketing strategy, and many more.
This easily editable template is designed to help you plot the activities that should be done over a 90-day period to enable you to meet your organization’s set goals and objectives. The 90-Day Sales Action Plan template is perfect for companies trying to achieve specific goals within a specified timeframe.
A sales plan is a document that features your company’s sales activities, including tactics and strategies to achieve set objectives within a given time frame. One major challenge stunting the growth of companies is a lack of a formal action plan. The executives come up with goals and objectives and leave it at that. Now you know what you’re aiming for, but HOW do you get there?
A sales plan outlines the strategies and tactics that will get you there. It highlights specific step-by-step actions your team will take to achieve business targets. Since it is a dynamic document, it is continually updated to reflect market changes, so you’re always one step ahead of the competition.
A good sales plan is exhaustive in that it establishes the goals, priorities, necessary resources, and timetables. The sales plan should set measurable, precise, and motivating goals. There needs to be a logical order to the steps highlighted in the plan. Additionally, an effective sales plan is a formal document. If you don’t write down your plan, then it is a dream you simply hope to achieve someday. A formally documented sales plan is a firm commitment to reaching your goals and targets.
Sales plans typically differ from company to company. However, specific segments must be included in a sales plan. These are key to your strategic business development, and they include the following:
A good sales plan starts with an executive summary, laying the foundation for the information. This is where you state your company’s vision and mission. The executive summary tells the story of how your company got there and what the company hopes to achieve in the coming years.
This is arguably the most crucial segment in a sales plan. The set goals should be measurable and time-specific. Include revenue targets, which can either be revenue-based or volume-based and the sales effectiveness metrics that will be used to measure them. It’s also vital to ensure the revenue target is achievable by the set time to motivate the sales staff.
Description of strategies and tactics
If you aim to increase your customer base, what specific steps should be taken to achieve it? This segment of the sales plan will include touching base with your marketing team because they’re familiar with the marketing strategy that works best. Working with your sales team to develop the strategies and tactics also helps boost employee productivity and engagement.
Your sales team should have a clear picture of who they’re selling to. Build an ideal customer profile that will be used for your sales pipeline . A good sales plan includes the target audience and the target industries serviced by your company.
Your budget for the year is another key element of the sales plan. How much will be spent on achieving the goals? Clarifying salaries, commissions, bonuses, resource spending, and even miscellaneous costs is important.
The sales plan is not a solitary document. For your sales plan to be effective, it must be an integral part of your sales planning process. You’re not just typing up a document and sending it to your team. You want it to be a guide for your sales staff, which is why you need a strategy.
So what steps should you follow when writing your sales plan?
Start by gathering sales data
Your sales planning needs a foundation, and sales data for the previous couple of years can help you get started. What tactic or strategy has worked for you in the past? What wasn’t so effective? Do you need to improve your cold outreach ? You’ve probably heard the phrase, “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Collect as much data as possible and use the information to identify some of the trends in your industry.
Determine your objectives
The reason you have a sales plan is to help you achieve your business goals. As such, it is one of the top priorities in the sales planning process. Clearly defining your objectives will enable you to develop strategies to reach them. You have to know the what before the how .
Outline your metrics for success
How will you know whether your strategies are working? Success metrics differ based on the industry and the business, but common key performance indicators (KPIs) include ROI, conversion rate, gross profit margins, and more.
Begin sales forecasting
Sales forecasting , loosely speaking, is predicting the future. It is the preparation of an in-depth report that uses historical data, sales activity data, and predictive analysis technology to predict what your sales team will sell over a given period.
Sales forecasting is crucial for the growth of your business. The information from sales forecasting helps answer essential questions that will guide your business approaches.
Develop sales tactics and strategies
Your sales plan also needs to highlight the tactics and strategies you plan to employ to accomplish the set objectives. This section of the plan should be highly detailed, outlining the specific campaigns, such as cold calls and email marketing campaigns, to generate leads for your sales funnel.
The tactics and strategies outlined should be customizable to different customers based on their consumer behavior, interests, and specific needs. You could also implement cross-selling as a way to generate more revenue.
Outline actionable steps
The final step in creating your sales plan is to outline action items. Consider your company’s quota numbers and its capacity when building the specific steps to be followed in the sales process. This can include organizing a daily sales schedule for your sales team to maximize efficiency.
A good sales plan is not too long or too short. It contains detailed information without being unnecessarily lengthy and complicated.
As mentioned earlier, sales plans differ from company to company, but they should generally include the following segments:
- Revenue and sales goals
- Target customers
- Marketing strategy
- Market conditions
- Resources (sales tools and software)
- Action Plan
Creating a sales plan is one thing. Getting your sales team to implement it is another. The following tips will help you create an effective sales plan that will engage all the stakeholders and team members.
Utilize data and statistics
Using relevant data from in-depth research, you can identify key problem areas and opportunities in your sales process that you should tap into. Statistics validate the key assumptions you make in the process. This way, your plan is meticulously thought out and not a spray and pray effort.
Verify all your facts
There are several facts and figures in a sales plan, and you should take the time to verify them all. They need to make sense to the stakeholders and all the team members. Misquoting or using an unverified fact could render your entire plan unusable.
Specify tools and resources
Your plan should also highlight the technology you plan to use at different stages of the sales process. This includes CRM or dashboard software that you can use to track success. It is helpful for both your internal team and the stakeholders.
Align your teams
The success of your sales plan will depend on the alignment of your sales and marketing teams. Getting input from marketing dramatically improves the accuracy of your strategies and tactics. Steps in the sales process, including lead generation, prospecting, and nurturing, should work together harmoniously.
Get your team’s input
It is essential to work with your team in the process. Talk with all your reps to understand any challenges they might be facing. At the top, it’s easy to focus on the numbers and forecasting without considering the rep’s day-to-day activities and whether or not the plans you have are feasible. Working with your team enables you to determine problems that need fixing before the sales plan can be affected.
Failing to plan is planning to fail is a common saying. It’s undeniable that implementing a sales plan will significantly benefit your business, based on the goals you set out to achieve.
The sales plan is not a static document. To improve its effectiveness, it is vital to keep upgrading based on industry shifts and trends or changes within your organization. This will fast-track the growth of your business and set you ahead of your competition.
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Diego Pineda is the author of two novels, 9 non-fiction books, and hundreds of articles and blogs as a science writer, a business writer, and a sales and marketing writer. He's passionate about thought leadership and his latest book is "The Solo Author: How Solopreneurs Earn Money and Authority with a Book Ecosystem."
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8 Examples of Strategic Sales Plans
What Is a Strategic Sales Plan?
When you should implement a strategic sales plan, what to include in your sales plan, 8 examples of plans to implement your sales strategy, how yesware can help your team put your sales plan into action.
A strategic sales plan is a must-have for any business that’s looking to increase their sales, amp up their revenue, bring a new product to market, or branch into a new territory.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about strategic sales plans: what they are, when to create one, and exactly what it needs to include. We’ll also show you a handful of real-life, tangible examples of really effective sales plan components.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
A strategic sales plan is designed to guide a sales organization through their overarching sales strategy. It provides them with access to the resources needed to prospect, pitch to, and close new accounts.
Strategic sales plans can include any combination of the following:
- Ideas: If you utilize a certain sales methodology — consultative selling or target account selling , for example — you might outline its key principles and a few tactical examples of it in action in your strategic sales plan. Your strategic sales plan should also include an overview of your target customer.
- Processes: In order for your sales team to reach maximum productivity, it’s important that your sales processes are clearly defined and standardized. Your sales team — both new hires and seasoned vets alike — should be able to refer to your sales plan for a repeatable, scalable process that’s backed by solid metrics. The processes should provide direction to sales reps that allow them to contribute to the company’s goals.
- Tools & Tactics: The best strategic sales plans are more than just high-level strategy and goals. They also include specific, step-by-step strategies that sales reps can implement in sales conversations, as well as the specific tools and content that reps need to close more deals.
Sales plans also typically spell out the organization’s revenue and overall business goals, as well as the KPIs and benchmarks that sales managers and other stakeholders will monitor to determine whether or not those goals are being met.
They should also outline management’s strategic territory design and quota expectations, with specific indicators and data to back those decisions.
Finally, these sales plans should take into account your current team’s sales capacity, and should specifically address the acquisition plan for any resources that are not yet available but that may be necessary for future growth.
If your sales team doesn’t already have a strategic sales plan in place — that is, one that’s referenced and updated regularly, and is the product of careful data analysis and inter-team collaboration — you may want to consider creating one.
Research shows that the majority of the highest-performing sales teams operate under a formalized, closely monitored sales structure.
On the other hand, most underperforming sales teams lack this structure.
It’s clear that a well-defined sales plan is one of the prerequisites to optimized sales productivity and success; every salesforce should strive to create and adopt one if they want to meet their sales goals more efficiently.
That being said, there are a few key indicators that signal a need for more urgency in putting a strategic sales plan in place.
You’re Trying to Increase Sales
A strategic sales plan will help your sales and marketing teams align their processes so that your outreach efforts are tailored to your target audience.
You’re Looking to Amp up Your Revenue
For startups and small businesses, attaining as many new customers as possible is usually the name of the game.
For larger or more established businesses, however, the business plan may instead emphasize revenue goals. In other words, the deal size starts to matter much more than deal volume.
A sales strategy plan can help salespeople target and nurture higher-value accounts. Sales planning can also boost your revenue by illuminating untapped potentials for revenue growth within your existing customer base through cross-selling, upselling , and referrals.
You’re Gearing Up to Launch a New Product
A sales strategy plan is crucial for businesses that are preparing to bring a new product to market.
Thoughtful sales planning will ensure your go-to-market strategy is optimized and designed for short-term and long-term success by clearly defining and speaking to the pain points of your ideal customer profile.
One last note: for businesses that already use strategic business planning (or for those on their way after reading this article), be sure to update your plan at least yearly. Many businesses at least review their plan, if not update it more formally, on a quarterly basis.
Consider including the following components in your strategic business plan.
A company’s mission statement speaks to its purpose and values, as well as the strategy, scope, and standards of its business doings.
Consider a company’s mission statement like its North Star; it can act as a guiding force for decision-making that’s consistently aligned with the ethics and values of the company.
Industry & Market Conditions
Great sales planning cannot be performed in isolation. It’s important that your plan also takes into account the current market conditions, including any challenges, recent disruptions, or upcoming notable events.
A sales org chart can range in scope from very simple, like the one above, to more complicated. Some go as far as naming individual employees and outlining their specific responsibilities.
A detailed org chart is especially helpful for efficiently onboarding new hires.
Product Info & Pricing
No sales plan would be complete without a one-sheet that outlines the features, benefits, and value proposition of your product or service.
It’s also helpful to include information about pricing tiers, as well as any discounts or promotions available for leverage at a sales rep’s discretion.
While we have no doubt that you’ve hired only the most intrinsically motivated salespeople, remember the bottom line: cash is king.
Money is the primary motivator for most salespeople, regardless of how truly loyal and hard-working they may be.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to include your company’s compensation plan and commission structure in your sales plan. This is a surefire way to motivate your team to continuously improve their sales performance.
Target Market & Customer
One of the single most important components of your strategic sales plan will be your ideal customer profile and/or your buyer persona .
With the tremendous rise in content marketing, it can be challenging for salespeople to keep track of the various materials available for generating new business.
Your strategic sales plan should direct your sales team to the many resources available to them to leverage throughout the sales cycle. It should also highlight the tools, software, CRM, and training — collectively known as sales enablement tools — available to and expected of them.
Branding & Positioning
The strategic sales plan should offer at least a high-level overview of your brand and messaging specifics, including social media presence. Take the time to optimize your company’s LinkedIn presence — it’s a goldmine of new business opportunities.
In today’s day and age, it’s unlikely that your sales and marketing team are working in isolation from one another. At a certain point, sales and marketing strategies start to flow together until they (ideally) perform in harmony.
Still, it’s important to outline the perspective of the marketing team within your strategic sales plan. This will help your salespeople fine-tune their sales pitch and speak more meaningfully to the needs of the customer.
Most salespeople report that their number one challenge in lead generation is attracting qualified leads.
Prospecting can certainly be daunting, but it’s worth the effort to get it right. Tweak and fine-tune the process until you’re sure it’s as efficient as possible. Make sure it’s repeatable and scalable, and map it out within your sales plan.
Any good strategic sales plan will also include a step-by-step section, much like a playbook. Here, you’ll outline the specific tactics and processes — including scripts, demos, and email templates — that have been proven to move prospects through the sales funnel .
Be as specific as possible here. This will act as a blueprint for the day-to-day sales activities for your team.
It can be tempting to leave the numbers with the finance department, but financial transparency can go a long way in creating a culture of trust among your sales team.
You don’t need to go through every line item in the spreadsheet, but it’s not a bad idea to include a high-level look at where the dollars are flowing.
KPIs, Metrics, and Benchmarks
Be sure to give your team a snapshot of how they’re currently performing, with real numbers to back it up. This will help them self-initiate regular SWOT analysis of their own sales actions and processes. This will give them an opportunity to right the course if things aren’t going according to plan.
Remember that your company’s strategic sales plan will be highly unique. It may take some time and tweaking to find the components and format that best meet the needs of your business.
Below are a few components that you might consider including in your sales plan.
A buyer’s guide is a short, simple information sheet that describes your product or service, its features and benefits, and its use. Below is an example of a buyer’s guide from Wayfair .
In many cases, this document is as useful internally as it is for the customer.
One way to avoid wasting time on unproductive leads is to include an ideal customer profile (ICP) in your sales plan.
30-60-90 Day Plan
Microsoft Word Sales Plan Template
Here’s a great example of a sales plan goals template , easily accessible through Microsoft Word.
Well-designed sales territories see a 10% – 20% increase in sales productivity. Pictured below is a basic example of a territory design map.
When designing your territories, keep in mind the following best practices .
Your compensation plan (including a specific commission structure) is one way to motivate your sales reps.
While it may seem controversial or sensitive, the compensation plan is an important component of a strategic sale plan.
Your salespeople should be extremely familiar with the marketing strategies your company is using to attract new leads. Here’s a great example of a template you can use in your sales plan that outlines the different campaigns at work.
This kind of resource will help your reps know who to contact, when, and with what kind of content throughout the sales cycle .
Yesware is the all-in-one sales toolkit that helps you win more business. It can be an invaluable resource for putting your sales plan into action in a way that’s streamlined, productive, and intuitive.
Yesware’s meeting scheduler tool helps you skip the back-and-forth when scheduling meetings.
Meeting Scheduler integrates with your Outlook or Gmail calendar and helps your clients automatically schedule meetings with you during times of availability. New events are automatically synced to your calendar.
It can also create meeting types for common calls, like a 30-minute intro call or a 60-minute demo call. These templates can be automatically saved and generated with custom descriptions and agendas, so everyone can come prepared.
One of Yesware’s most popular features is its prospecting campaigns.
These features enable salespeople to create automated, personalized campaigns with multi-channel touches. The tool tracks communication and engagement throughout the process and helps move prospects through the pipeline with little administrative effort from the sales team.
Yesware’s attachment tracking feature helps you find your winning content by tracking which attachments are most often opened and read by your prospects. You can use these insights to sharpen your content and increase your engagement.
The reporting and analytics tools are also extremely valuable in optimizing your sales plan. These reports enable salespeople to use data to win more business. The feature generates daily activity, engagement data, and outcomes to show you what is/isn’t working across the board.
Try Yesware for free for 14 days to see how it can help your sales team carry out your sales plan today.
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Free Strategic Planning Templates
By Joe Weller | May 16, 2018
The success of your organization — no matter what size or industry — depends on the thoroughness of your planning and vision. A strategic plan can provide a roadmap for accomplishing specific goals, and will increase your chances of reaching objectives on time and budget. In this article, we’ve rounded up the top strategic planning templates in Microsoft Word and Excel, all of which are free to download and fully customizable.
Additionally, we've provided customizable strategic planning templates in Smartsheet, a collaborative, real-time work execution platform that empowers you to better plan, manage, and report on strategic initiatives.
Strategic Business Plan Template
Download Strategic Business Plan Template
Excel | Smartsheet
A comprehensive, strategic business plan may include company information, SWOT analysis, research, goals, resources, risks and more. A template provides structure for your business planning process as well as a communication tool that’s simple to update or modify. Use the template as a guide for evaluating your business, identifying opportunities for growth and development, and creating a strategic plan.
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Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template
Download Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template
A nonprofit strategic plan often emphasizes vision, values, and mission as the foundation for future objectives. A template can be used to clearly define who is being served and what issues need to be addressed. As with a business plan, nonprofit planning may include sections for evaluating risks and opportunities, measuring financial resources, developing a marketing plan, and creating objectives for organizational change.
HR Strategic Plan Template
Download HR Strategic Plan Template
Create a detailed human resources strategic plan for your organization, or modify the template to focus on one specific area, such as recruitment or employee relations. Use the template to translate strategies into measurable action plans. This simple layout makes it easy for readers to quickly view key information.
IT Strategic Planning Template
Download IT Strategic Planning Template
IT is an essential part of any business, nonprofit, school, or government agency. While information technology is just one part of an overall business strategy, creating a separate strategic plan for IT will help ensure that you have a comprehensive roadmap to follow for managing and purchasing new assets, understanding your current and potential technology usage, and aligning your IT goals with business objectives.
Strategic Marketing Plan Template
Download Strategic Marketing Plan Template
Use this free template to help shape your marketing strategy. It combines information on your target market and business with marketing tactics to help you think strategically and create a plan of action. The template can guide your research process or be used as a simple brainstorming tool.
Social Media Strategy Plan Template
Download Social Media Strategy Plan Template
Social media is an integral part of online marketing, and creating a strategic plan can help ensure that you are using your time and resources effectively. Consider your branding, mission, target audience, competition and other factors to determine which social networks and types of content will perform best for your company. Keep track of KPIs and adjust your social media plan accordingly.
SWOT Analysis Strategy Template
Download SWOT Analysis Strategy Template
This matrix template combines SWOT analysis with strategic planning. Examine the relationships between your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and then list related strategies to tackle your goals. The layout of this template allows you to view the SWOT categories and strategies side-by-side, which may be useful for a presentation or summary.
One-Page Strategic Planning Template
Download One-Page Strategic Planning Template
Excel | Word | Smartsheet
A one-page strategic plan is perfect for small businesses or for summarizing a longer planning process. Use this template as is, or edit the layout or included information to better suit your needs. This template includes all the essentials on one page, including values, strengths and weaknesses, goals, and actions.
Strategic Vision Template
Download Strategic Vision Template
Excel | Word
Summarize your strategic vision and plan, highlighting key information for stakeholders, management, investors, or for your own reference. Combining a vision statement with a brief summary of goals, actions and KPIs makes it easy to see how your business values and purpose relate to your objectives. It also provides a succinct summary for use in a presentation or meeting.
University Strategic Plan Outline
Download University Strategic Plan Outline
This template provides an outline for university strategy planning. The actual strategic plan may cover multiple pages and provide an in-depth analysis and detailed mission and vision statements. Strategic planning is an opportunity for universities to look closely at campus needs, institutional values, infrastructure, long-term goals, important obstacles, and more. The strategic plan will be a guiding document that is reviewed and updated regularly.
What Is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is an organization’s process for defining their strategy so that they can accomplish specific goals and objectives. Strategic planning may be utilized on a large scale, such as planning for business growth over several years or to help a nonprofit or governmental organization reach its stated mission. A strategic plan can also be used on a smaller scale, such as crafting a marketing plan or developing strategy for the goals of one department within a business or organization. It is important to note that strategy is distinct from planning: While strategy looks at why certain steps should be taken, a plan outlines how to enact those steps. strategic planning marries these two concepts in order to determine the best possible course of action. The purpose of strategic planning is to provide a thoughtful, deliberate approach to reaching objectives based on an in-depth analysis of both internal and external factors affecting an organization.
A strategic plan often covers multiple years, addressing both short- and long-term goals. It also provides a way of tracking progress and measuring success. However, it’s not a document that is fixed in stone — instead, it’s wise to revisit and adjust a strategic plan periodically based on the evolving vision, objectives, needs, and resources of a business or institution.
Depending on the scope of your plan, you may be working with a team of multiple stakeholders during the strategic planning process. To keep the process running smoothly, make roles and responsibilities clear. Different parties may be responsible for providing data, reviewing the plan, or authorizing strategic decisions. As you prepare for planning, make sure all participants understand what’s involved in the process and have received any relevant information prior to meeting.
Benefits of Strategic Planning
There are benefits of strategic planning, including the following:
- Align the goals of a department or project with larger business goals
- Provide clear communication to team members, stakeholders, or clients
- Clearly define the vision and mission of an organization
- Provide clarity on how to deal with internal or environmental changes
Parts of a Strategic Plan
One way to think about strategic planning is that it identifies any gaps between a current state and desired future state, and then dictates how to close those gaps — how you get from where you are to where you want to be. To that end, various factors are taken into consideration in order to formulate an effective plan. Here are some of the elements often included in a strategic plan.
- Introductory Statement: The introductory statement should briefly describe why the strategic plan was developed and for what time period, and list the authors of the plan.
- Background Statement: This section may provide information about the organization, such as history, management structure, and supporting partners or agencies. Alternatively, you could use this section as a brief business statement — more of an elevator pitch — to concisely describe your business.
- Organizational Structure: Include this information if it’s relevant to evaluate how your business or organization operates and is structured, from governing board to staffing.
- Vision: A vision statement should briefly describe what a company wants to achieve or become. This is one of the primary organizational tenets to consider, along with values and mission.
- Values: These are the principles that an organization stands for and abides by. Many businesses create core value statements to guide company culture.
- Mission Statement: A mission statement describes the purpose of a business or organization. This is distinct from a vision statement because it is not a projected goal for the future.
- Problem Statement: Some plans include a problem statement, which can outline key or discrete issues that need to be addressed.
- SWOT Analysis: A SWOT analysis provides a foundation and context for developing strategy by examining the strengths and weaknesses within and organization as well as external opportunities and threats.
- Goals: As stated earlier, a strategic plan may include long-term as well as short-term (i.e, monthly or quarterly) goals. Objectives should be measurable and broken down into actionable steps, and the action plan for each goal should specify who is responsible for implementing the strategy, a timeline for starting and ending the action, and how the outcome will be evaluated.
- Evaluation: Methods for evaluation should be spelled out in the strategic plan. This could include tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and documenting the progress of action steps on an ongoing basis.
- Executive Summary : This final summary helps employees, investors, or other readers quickly understand your plan.
No matter what type of strategic plan you are working on, using a template provides a simple and quick outline to organize your process. In the following sections, you’ll find free, downloadable planning templates for business, nonprofit, human resources, marketing, IT strategic planning, and more.
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Strategic Plan Template
Use this free Strategic Plan Template for Word to manage your projects better.
When a company wants to map out its long-term business objectives and how it’ll get there, they use a strategic plan. Our free strategic plan template captures all topics that any company needs to define, so everything is aligned with the overall mission and vision of the company. More than that, the free strategic plan template guides you through the actions, resources and costs that will help you get there.
What Is a Strategic Plan?
A strategic plan is a document that company leaders use to capture the company’s future vision, goals and objectives. Unlike a business plan that focuses on short-term goals of serval months to several years, a strategic plan looks at the mid-to-long-term goals such as 3-5 years but is often longer than that.
The strategic plan should be easily shared as it provides a map for the whole company to follow in order to meet its goals. The strategic plan isn’t only shared, but it’s thoroughly understood by company employees, customers, business partners and investors.
Strategic planning and the strategic plan that comes from this process isn’t a one-time occurrence. Teams should conduct strategic planning regularly to quickly respond to changes in the business, industry, legal and regulatory conditions. As conditions shift, so should the response plans.
Why You Need a Strategic Plan Template
A strategic plan template is a great tool in that it’s already laid out for you. Everything you need to define is outlined and saves you the time and effort of creating a new document. Templates are great for creating an archive of consistent documentation, especially as historical data can influence your current strategic plan.
In more general terms, all businesses need a target or direction to work towards. Strategic plans are like the roadmap that gets you there and defines the landscape. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there. That’s true from the highest executive to the newest employee as well as customers, investors and so on.
Strategic plans also help you track your goals across departments. Each department can then set its own goals to help the business achieve its larger goals. These various initiatives can be monitored and tracked with key performance indicators (KPIs). This can be extended to business units, teams and even individuals so everyone is working towards the same goals.
A strategic plan template is only a static document. To implement that plan you need project management software. ProjectManager has online roadmaps that allow you to manage all the projects that feed into your company’s overall mission. You can track your tasks, budgets, resources, processes and more, so you know you’re always progressing. Of course, you can build a strategic plan with milestones in the software, too. Try ProjectManager today for free.
Who Should Use This Strategic Plan Template?
The free strategic plan template can be filled in by any number of people depending on the business. Usually, though, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the owner or top business managers.
However, sometimes specialists are employed or the whole company becomes involved in the strategic planning process. In fact, more voices provide a wider perspective. One person should oversee refining those different perspectives in order to rein in the possible chaos of too many chefs in the kitchen.
Once the strategic plan is finalized, it should be shared among the company. The strategic plan template acts as a guide to keep the long-term goal in sight and how to get there. For some businesses, the customer should also be aware of the strategic plan. Other companies will want to share the strategic plan with investors.
How to Use This Strategic Plan Template
When you download our free strategic plan template for Word, you’ll find it’s broken up into sections. The free template is completely customizable so you can add or subtract as many sections as you need to flesh out your strategic plan. What we provide you with is the backbone of any thorough strategic plan, which is as follows.
1. Executive Summary
To start, you want to summarize what will follow. That’s all the executive summary is; a short introduction to the important information that’ll be fleshed out in the strategic plan. It gives an overview to investors and stakeholders.
2. Vision Statement
A vision statement is a statement that declares the mid-to-long-term goals of the company. Think of it as the target you want to hit with your strategic plan. What this statement should do is project your company into the future and in so doing help to define the plan and execution of getting you there.
3. Mission Statement
The mission statement is a short description of the purpose of the company. It should be no longer than one to three sentences at most and explain what the company does, who it serves and how it’s different from its competitors. But more than a dry definition, it should be inspirational, offering direction and focus for employees and giving customers a clear picture of what they can expect from the company.
4. SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis is used to assess those four aspects of the company. This is how a company can capture its current performance and build a strategy to achieve its future goals. But beyond internal factors or charting the company, make sure to explore external factors as well. This provides a fuller picture of how a company can carve a route to reach its objectives.
5. Business Goals
Business goals should define the target that a company is aiming for in the future. By doing this, a company has a way to measure its success, communicate these goals to its employees and ensure the company is going in the right direction.
6. Marketing Plan
The marketing plan outlines a company’s advertising strategy. It can be used to generate leads and reach a target audience, outreach and PR campaigns. Also included is how the company will measure the effectiveness of the initiatives.
- Market research: Uses competitive analysis, testing, surveys, etc., to determine the target audience and what needs the company is fulfilling or pain point it’s resolving.
- Marketing campaigns: These include promotions, value propositions, differentiation factors, pricing, distribution channels, etc., to see the product or service.
- Marketing KPIs: Using various metrics will help the company measure the success of its campaigns.
7. Operations Plan
The operation plan is an outline of the strategic plan’s goals and how the company plans to meet them. It’s an action plan that shows team members what they’re responsible for in achieving the goals of the strategic plan.
8. Financial Projections
When making financial projections for a company’s strategic plans they should include a forecast of the income statement, the balance sheet and the cash flow statement. These financial projects like the strategic plan are mid-to-long term.
Identify the team members with the skills and experience who will be responsible for executing the operational plan set forth in the company’s strategic plan.
Other Templates to Help with Your Strategic Plan
The free strategic plan document template for Word is a helpful tool to outline a company’s mid-to-long-term objectives. We have dozens of other free templates for Word and Excel that can help you manage every phase of a project, from planning to closure. Here are just a few of the free templates that we offer for download that are related to strategic planning.
Executive Summary Template
If you need help with the executive summary portion of the free strategic plan template, this free executive summary template is a great asset. It breaks down the points you’ll want to capture for an effective executive summary and is a valuable tool to complete that section of the strategic plan.
Marketing Campaign Template
The marketing plan is another section of the strategic plan that can be fully fleshed out with the free marketing campaign template. It outlines all the steps you need to introduce your product or service to market. It has fields to collect the goals of the campaign, identify the target audience and much more.
SWOT Analysis Template
We’ve included a small SWOT analysis table in the free strategic plan template, but you might want more space to capture this important data. If so, use our free SWOT analysis template for Word, which you can then attach to the strategic plan template. This colorful template helps you see where you are and offer guidance to get you where you want to be.
ProjectManager Is a Robust Planning Tool
Free templates are a great way to gather information and develop a strategic plan, but they’re not as good at managing that plan once you implement it. You need more robust tools, not static documents or spreadsheets. ProjectManager is online project management software that connects teams and helps them plan, manage and track their progress in real time.
Track Progress with Real-Time Dashboards
You’ve put the strategic plan in the Gantt chart and can now see the roadmap in a visual timeline. But to make sure you keep to that schedule you need to have a way to monitor progress and performance. Our real-time dashboards track metrics such as time, cost and more all in real time so you can respond quickly to changes that threaten your goals. Unlike other lightweight tools, there’s no configuration or set. It’s ready when you are.
Work How You Want with Multiple Project Views
Gantt charts are great for managers, but they’re not the ones who are will execute the strategic plan. It’s a group effort that involves every department in the company from marketing and sales to IT and manufacturing, and they all use different tools. That’s why we offer multiple project views that share the same real-time data whether you’re using a list view, the visual workflow of a kanban or a calendar to capture important dates. Everyone is working from a single source of truth.
Strategic planning is a big subject and we’ve only scratched the surface. If you want to learn more, you’re in luck. ProjectManager isn’t only a great tool to create and manage your strategic plan, it’s also the online hub for all things project management. We have free blogs each week, tutorial videos, eBooks, white pages and, of course, free templates. Here are a few links to follow and read more about strategic plans.
- 15 Free Word and Excel Templates for Business
- Strategic Planning in Business
- Strategic Planning Models: An Introduction to 5 Popular Models
- A Quick Guide to Strategic Initiatives
ProjectManager Helps You Reach Your Strategic Goals
ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you plan, manage and track your strategic plans. Our collaborative platform connects everyone across departments and time zones. With features that help you manage risk, tasks and resources you’re more likely to adjust to changes in the market and hit your target. See why teams in organizations as varied as NASA, Siemens and Nestle use our tool to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
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Create a sales plan that actually works (tips + template).
- January 21, 2021
True success always starts with a plan. And for sales success, nothing beats a strategic sales plan.
Designed specifically to help your sales team drive more sales, a sales plan can show you where you’re at, where you want to be, and even more important, how to get there.
The question, of course, is how to create a sales plan that actually impacts sales. Keep reading for tips and a template to quickly and confidently create a strategic sales plan for your business.
Table of Contents
What is a sales plan, what is included in a sales plan, sales plan examples: there’s no one right way, the benefits of a sales plan, how to write a sales plan, 7 tips to help you create a sales plan, sales strategy template, selling your sales plan, final remarks.
A sales plan is a strategy document that lays out a company’s plan for improving sales results in a specified time period. A sales plan makes it possible for everyone on the sales team to see the big picture, share the same overall objectives, and work the same plan to achieve them.
It usually includes:
- Specific revenue and performance goals for a given period
- The strategies for achieving them
- The resources and activities required to carry out those strategies
A sales plan covers a lot of important aspects of business growth: revenue goals, selling methods and metrics, target customers, current sales force capabilities, and more.
Specifically, it covers 9 pieces of strategic information.
1. Executive Summary and Scope of The Sales Plan
This section gives a short summary of the document, focusing on goals and the strategies to achieve them. It also states the specific period and other parameters covered by the plan.
2. Business Goals and Revenue Targets
This section clearly establishes revenue targets and may include associated business goals (e.g., optimize lifecycle value through customer success programs, etc). Classifying revenue figures based on different categories (such as line and territory) helps clarify the document.
3. Review of Prior Period Performance
This section presents a recap of the prior period’s performance, identifying mistakes as well as decisive actions that led to a positive outcome. The overarching goal is to optimize the sales plan by adopting inputs and techniques that work.
4. Market and Industry Conditions
This section provides a summary of the market trends that have a high likelihood of influencing sales performance.
5. Strategies, Methodologies, and Tactics
This section recommends the best selling techniques, communication sequences, and playbooks for the specific company.
6. Customer Segments
This section cites all the potential revenue-generating, omnichannel opportunities available for the brand, such as the following:
- New Prospects
- New Segments
The document should describe new segments of the addressable market when they arise.
7. Team Capabilities, Resources, and Upgrades
This section provides a summary and describes the current state of all production inputs (human resources, tech software, specialized sales team, etc.,) required to process and close sales details.
8. Action Plan For Teams and Individuals
This section assigns tasks, activities, and responsibilities to different teams and individuals. Tasks include prospecting activities, meeting appointments, and product demos/presentations.
9. Performance Benchmarks & Monitoring
This section lays out performance metrics to track the systems and processes that help monitor these metrics.
What usually comes to mind when you think about sales plans?
If you’re like most people, it’s the annual sales plan or weekly sales plan — broad strategic and tactical documents mapping out the plan for everything sales-related.
But there are as many different types of sales plans as there are needs for a sales plan.
We’ll go over a few sales plan examples to get you started in the right direction.
30-60-90-day Sales Plan
There’s the 30-60-90-day sales plan. This is designed to help a new salesperson or sales manager get up to speed quickly in their first quarter on the job. The plan includes milestones they’d need to achieve at the 30th, 60th, and 90th day of their ramp-up.
Generally, the 30-60-90-day sales plan can be broken down into 3 sections:
Day 1 to 30:
Learn and understand everything you can about a company from their processes, customers, products, the competition to procedures.
Day 31 to 60:
Evaluate and put your plan into action. Analyze their current processes and assess changes.
Day 61 to 90:
Optimize and make the plan better. It is time to take action. Initiate an action plan. Implement any new strategies and procedures you’ve come up with.
Sales Plan For Specific Sales
A sales process involves using different tactics to approach and convert a prospect into a paying customer.
Another type of sales plan you’ll see a lot is an individual sales plan for specific sales tactics, such as prescribed call sequences, email follow-up frequency, and meeting appointments. This type of plan is similar to an annual/weekly sales plan, but it focuses on measuring and improving results for just one goal or task.
Territory Sales Plan
Meanwhile, sales managers who oversee a geo-location or region often use territory sales plans to give sales directors and VPs more visibility into their sales efforts.
This is a workable plan used to target the right customers and implement goals to increase the income generated and sales over time.
A good territory sales plan will:
- Make your team more productive
- Reduce operational costs
- Increase the number of generated sales
- Improve your customer coverage
- Improve working relationships between clients and managers
Note: It is essential to work on your territory sales plan and avoid making constant changes. Unnecessary changes can tamper with your productivity and your ‘territory’ in general.
Sales Training Plan
And there are sales plans for every area of sales. Sales Enablement might have a sales training plan, for example, and Revenue Ops might have a sales compensation plan.
A sales training plan can be used as a roadmap for different sales training programs. It can be grouped according to positions held in an organization, assets, sales record etc.
A sales compensation plan is an umbrella for base salary, incentives and commission that make up a sales representative earnings.
Therefore, you can schedule a sales training plan to talk to your sales team about the importance of a sales compensation plan and how they can use it to increase revenue and drive performance.
Sales Budget Plan
Lastly, a sales budget plan gives you a sales forecast for a given period based on factors that could impact revenue — like industry trends and entry to a new market segment. Similar to a traditional sales plan, they cover the staff, tools, marketing campaigns, and other resources needed to generate the target revenue.
A good sales budget plan should include the following:
The process of estimating future sales by predicting the number of units a salesperson or team can sell over a certain period, i.e. week, month, year, etc.
Include the number of costs your team is likely going to incur. Remember to have even the smallest expenses to estimate the average sales.
Expect the unexpected:
Always leave room for unforeseen circumstances in your sales budget. For example, new packaging expenses, new competitive market strategies etc.
A sales plan does deliver side benefits (such as promoting discipline and diligence), but it’s really about making sure your sales don’t dry up over time. Which means it’s not optional.
The reality is this: Most of us aren’t planners. We talk a good game, but nothing happens until we’re accountable.
Without a written plan, it’s just talk.
So the first benefit of a sales plan is that it helps you execute on all your best ideas. But that’s not all. A good sales plan will also help you:
- Keep your sales team on the same page, aiming for the same target and focusing on the same priorities.
- Clarify your goals and revenue objectives for a given period.
- Give your team direction, focus, and purpose.
- Adopt a unified set of strategies and playbooks to reach your business and revenue goals.
- Know what your team capabilities are and be able to isolate your needs, from tools to talent and other resources.
- Inspire and motivate stakeholders.
- Track your progress and optimize performance over time.
A sales plan is a pretty straightforward document. It doesn’t need to be written in a formal language or pass your compliance review. It just needs to outline your plans for the coming period, whether that’s a year, a quarter, or a month.
While there are 9 sections in the sales plan template, much of the document simply validates your ideas. The most important pieces of information are:
1. Your goals
Setting smart goals for you and your team is an essential part of creating a sales plan. I believe the biggest mistake you can make when setting goals is solely focusing on numbers.
Smart sales goals should be actively focused on. If it helps, use goal-setting and planning frameworks such as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Create goals that stretch your capabilities, but that seems doable based on your new strategy.
2. Your SWOT analysis
SWOT — short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats — is one of the best frameworks for analyzing your sales team’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths. It helps you to build a bulletproof wall around your plan.
You’ll be able to address what you’re lacking, the areas that need improvement, identify your USP (Unique Selling Point), come up with Value-Based Selling , and your most vital points and how you can exploit them to your advantage.
3. Your strategy
Your sales strategy should be documented to help position your products and services to differentiate your solution from competitors.
A good strategy will help you address your customers’ needs in every stage of your sales plan. For better sales, you can balance inbound and outbound sales strategies for even higher sales.
4. Your tactics
Be aware, though, it’s not just a wish list or a collection of ideas. Your sales plan should be based on actual field data and only use benchmarks and quantities that are measurable. Be clear. Be specific. Be actionable.
Which brings me to another point: A good sales plan is realistic.
It’s fine to have a 5-year goal of hitting $10B. But what about now? Figure out exactly what your current numbers are, and set your targets based on those numbers.
I already mentioned that your sales plan doesn’t have to be a formal document. But it does need to be clearly written, so all team members and stakeholders understand the plan.
Tip #1: Base it on in-depth and up-to-date research
You need relevant statistics and trends in your niche, industry, and ideal customers. Remember, markets and customers are in a constant state of flux. There’s nothing worse than stubbornly chasing prospects who aren’t a good fit anymore while ignoring entire market segments that show a rising demand for your solutions.
Tip #2: Use data and statistics
Use the data from your in-depth research to identify problem areas, find points of opportunity in your sales process, and validate your assumptions and ideas.
You can also use the data to come up with accurate metrics and figures to help predict your sales plan’s outcome.
Tip #3: Verify your facts
Don’t rush! Facts and figures are essential, especially to stakeholders. One simple mistake and your entire plan come tumbling down.
Ensure you take time to review your facts, figures, and forecasts before finalizing the document.
Tip #4: Get tactical
Break the overall sales action plan into tactical plans for individual areas of sales:
- SDRs and account executives
- Sales operations
- Sales enablement
- Customer success
This may require collaboration with cross-functional teams such as marketing, customer support, and product teams.
Tip #5: Use Historical Performance Data
In sales, you can use the past to dictate the future. Historical data will help you set targets for the current period. For example, what were your previous revenue targets? Did you hit them? Why or why not? This information can help you set achievable goals for your current sales plan and know the mistakes to avoid.
Tip #6: List The Tracking Methods You’ll Use
Highlight the tracking methods you’ll use to keep your plan moving forward. That includes performance metrics, monitoring techniques, software, tools, and selling strategies for your business model.
Tip #7: Build a Strong Case For Your Proposed Budget
Stakeholders and superiors are impressed with cold-hard facts. Therefore, having a strong detailed case for your budget will help your sales plan smoothly sail through.
Not only will you outline your plans for the coming period for your budget, but you’ll also need to detail the costs. Be sure to include an ROI analysis for any new tools or talent you think you’ll need.
Are you ready to write your own sales strategy? Here is a sales plan template to help you get started. Here’s how to use the sales plan template to make it useful to you:
Start by using the Sales Plan Template we’ll give you in the next section. Just follow the prompts in the template, so you know what information is needed in each section. Don’t try to be fancy. Use simple language. Focus on being specific and clear.
Then share information in whatever format works best. That may be text paragraphs, tables, lists, charts, graphics, or screenshots. You can also adapt it as needed to suit your business, your sales team, and your needs.
A sales plan should contain the following sections:
1. Executive Summary
This is your opening ‘statement’. It is a formal summary that sum ups the contents of your strategy.
When writing your executive summary , keep it short, and precise. It should be one page or two. Ensure it gives an overview of what is included in your plan. It should talk about:
- The strategies you’ll implement to achieve your goals
- The time-frame you expect to achieve your plan
- The scope of your plans
2. Business Goals With Revenue Targets
This section talks about the revenue target and associated business goals. You can classify revenue figures according to different categories to clarify the sales strategy.
For example, for each goal, you can enter the current outcome and targeted outcome as illustrated in the table below:
3. Review of Past Performance
Take a trip down prior period performance . Note the mistakes that negatively affected the outcome and their strengths which positively impacted the general outcome.
Your goal is to identify the strategies and tactics that work.
4. Specific Strategies, Methods, and Playbooks
List the specific sales strategies, methods, and playbooks you’ll use to achieve the goals listed above.
5. Customer Segments/ Buyers Persona
This section talks about potential revenue-generating streams and different opportunities available for the company and new markets. Remember to include upsells, referrals, and renewals.
6. Team Capabilities and Resources
Here, provide a summary and describe the current production inputs required in the sales process , i.e., human resources, specialized software, sales team, etc.
7. Action Plan
The action plan requires you to set specific strategies and supporting tactics that will be used to achieve a particular goal, i.e. new acquisition. Assign different activities and responsibilities to teams who will run that particular action.
Below is an example of an action plan table:
8. Sales Tools
Go ahead and list the tools you’ll use to ensure the sales plan runs smoothly and all sales processes will be managed using these tools.
9. Performance Benchmarks
This is the last section of your sales plan. It lays out the performance metrics to track the process systems to help and monitor these metrics.
Also, list and provide links to used sources. Explain how the report will be generated and stored. Finally, talk about how the report will be used to review the progress made.
Okay, your sales plan is written. Great! But you’re not done yet.
Your next step is to present it to the sales team, management, and stakeholders. That’s because you need buy-in to make it happen.
When your sales team is on board, they’ll be pumped about doing their assigned tasks. When management is on board, they’ll be excited about giving you the budget you need to turn your plan into a reality. With buy-in as your top priority, it’s important to be prepared to give a solid presentation. In other words, sell it.
One final note: There are lots of reasons you may not get everything you ask for. There may be plans in the works you don’t know anything about yet. Or the budget may need to favor another initiative.
If you don’t get the budget you asked for, be sure to update your sales plan accordingly. The goal is to stretch your team’s capabilities, not do the impossible.
Sales don’t happen without a good sales plan. Fortunately, they’re not as hard as they might seem.
Take your time identifying your biggest challenges and problem-solving to overcoming them. Once that’s done, your sales plan is simply the document that organizes your ideas.
What’s your biggest hang-up when it comes to creating a sales plan? Have you found any tricks that help? Let me know in the comments below.
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The big picture on sales strategy.
Conceptualize, measure and understand the opportunities to improve your customer pipeline and journey.
SALES STRATEGY: "HOW DO WE GET MORE CUSTOMERS TO BUY OUR STUFF?"
WHAT DOES A SALES STRATEGY LOOK LIKE?
Sales is simply a series of interactions & conversations.
When you strip out all of the noise, from a customer's point of view, their journey to purchase is a series of interactions and conversations. A customer is trying to solve a problem, and in their journey to solve it, they may become aware of your potential solution, show interest by seeking more information, consider the solution versus other competitors, and hopefully convert into a customer and a loyal repeat customer.
These interactions could be through a company's website, app, online content, stores, salespeople, partners and distributors, and other customers. You can conceptualize this series of customer & company interactions in two ways. From the perspective of the customer, you can codify the interactions in a customer journey map. From the perspective of a sales team, you can conceptualize the interactions in a sales pipeline.
The first step in developing a strong sales strategy is to abstract the performance of the sales pipeline by applying a series of longitudinal metrics to each stage of the pipeline. How many potential targets are there, suspects, prospects, customers, or repeat customers? How long do they stay in each stage? How many drop off in each stage? How valuable are they in each stage? How have the metrics evolved over time?
Like any process , if you can't measure it, it becomes challenging to improve it. High-performing sales teams automate much of this data through a well-utilized and updated sales CRM system. If your company can't systematically report on the sales pipeline, then developing the capability, infrastructure, and discipline to measure and improve the pipeline should be an initiative in your sales strategy.
TAKING SALES INSIGHT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The 4 ways to grow sales.
There are four ways to grow sales through a customer pipeline:
- Increase Addressable Market - put more people through the mouth of the funnel
- Accelerate Deal Velocity - make each step/stage shorter for the customer
- Improve Stage Gate Success - have the customer say yes to the next step more often
- Increase Deal Size - upsell and focus efforts on the larger deals
Understanding how these four growth metrics evolved over time is a good starting point for diagnosing customer pipeline issues and opportunities. These four growth metrics are outputs of the sales growth drivers, which we go into next.
THE 3 SALES GROWTH DRIVERS
Sales growth comes down to better customer interactions and conversations, more of them, along with a better value proposition and marketing. To make these things a reality, there are three main components to a strong sales strategy:
1. Improving the alignment between the target customer, the differentiated value proposition , marketing, and distribution
2. Incorporating corporate growth strategy initiatives in the sales strategy
3. Developing a strong sales team strategy to improve the sales process and interactions executed by the salespeople, infrastructure, and partners
1. DON'T PASS GO UNLESS YOU HAVE A KILLER VALUE PROPOSITION
Many CEOS misdiagnosis their weak sales by concluding, "it must be the sales team."
A strong sales team is important, but the most important driver of sales is a killer value proposition that creates more value than the competition for target customers. Once you have a killer value proposition, then you need the right messaging, marketing, and distribution that clearly amplifies the value proposition to the target customers.
So, the first thing any sales strategy should address is to make sure there is a clearly defined and articulated target customer, a killer value proposition for the target customer, and impactful messaging, marketing, and distribution focused on the target customer. Alignment on a target customer will make everyone's efforts more focused, efficient, and effective, while differentiation will make customers say yes more often.
Seriously, don't overlook this point. Pretty much every company that grows for decades and becomes a leader in their industry has and continually improves a killer value proposition that creates more value than competitors for the target customers. It is the heart that makes the sales flow for any strong sales team.
Now, we often hear, "well, that isn't under my control." Well, you better figure out how to influence it, because, without alignment and differentiation, the customer will more often than not choose not to do business with your company.
2. WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE BIG PICTURE STRATEGY STUFF?
Hopefully, you have a killer value proposition and aligned marketing and distribution, now what? Well, you need to think through how the high-level corporate growth strategy is going to affect sales and the sales team. Is the company expanding into new markets, customer segments, and geographies? Are there new and improved products, services, and pricing? Are there new distribution channels or marketing campaigns? While it may be a lot to think through, growth expansion initiatives can have a significant impact on sales and the sales team.
Now, a few words of caution. First, be careful not to go after too many options, which can quickly overextend the sales team and the entire company. Companies that fail often go after too many new markets , customer segments, and geographies at the same time. Inevitably, the ambitious agenda creates fragmented efforts, massive complexity, opportunity cost, and ultimately failure. Second, while sales leadership should have a sizeable role in shaping the corporate growth strategy, it should not lead the effort. We see too many companies that try to say yes to everything sales wants to do, which often leads to a lot of running in place and going nowhere. Successful companies have a strong and balanced leadership team stewarding the big decisions and execution around corporate growth strategy.
Growth strategy initiatives are significant inputs into the last part of sales strategy, which is the sales team strategy. The big question is how growth strategy initiatives will affect sales and the sales team. Is there a need for new processes, people, partners, and technology? What is the expected impact on sales, quotas, customer metrics, and pipeline dynamics? This is one of the reasons why sales strategy is so complicated since there are so many dimensions that ultimately need to be addressed by the sales team, with the ultimate goal of having better customer interactions and conversations and more of them.
3. WHAT THE HECK ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THE SALES TEAM?
Now to the heart of sales strategy, which is the sales team strategy. Any team, including a sales team, is simply a collection of processes executed by people, infrastructure, and partners. And, strategy is simply the goals we choose and the actions we take to achieve those goals. So, sales team strategy comes down to the sales team goals and the portfolio of initiatives to improve the processes, people, infrastructure, and partners to a level necessary to achieve the goals.
Below are some options to focus those sales team strategy initiatives on. We'll go over the high-level framing of some of the strategic options .
GET THE PROCESS RIGHT AND THE SALES WILL FOLLOW
Everything every member of a sales team does is a process, whether acknowledged as one or not. Has your sales team documented their processes, measure them? If not, that is a great place to start.
There are four main levels of a sales process outlined below.
At the highest level is the sales team governance , which includes the processes that strategically manage the sales strategy, forecasting, opportunities, overall pipeline, and sales operations. It typically involves weekly or monthly pipeline reviews, quarterly business reviews, and annual strategic planning, budgeting, and forecasting. The better the governance, the better the accuracy of forecasts, sales strategy, performance, and understanding of cause and effect.
The next level of the sales process is the customer journey, which includes every aspect of the journey customers take through an organization's processes to discover, evaluate, purchase, and consume the company's services and products. Strategic initiatives typically target reducing customer effort (e.g., self-help, automation, digital enablement), leaning out the customer processes, and increasing the rate of success on prioritized pipeline stages.
The sales methodology is one of the most critical processes for a sales team. The sales methodology is the overall sales approach between sales team members and customers to drive deal velocity and success. Most sales books focus on sales methodologies, such as spin selling , solution selling , MEDDIC , key account selling , GAP selling , and many others. We'll go a little deeper and synthesize all those books into a handful of important questions to quickly qualify and accelerate a deal.
The last level of the sales process to solve for is the daily, weekly, and monthly activity at the team and individual levels, which typically includes the day-to-day activity management and reporting to drive productivity and deal velocity through the pipeline.
ANSWER THE BASIC QUESTIONS TO ACCELERATE & CLOSE DEALS
There are hundreds of good books on sales methodology, but most of the methodologies come down to answering the basic 5 Ws (who, what, where, why, when) and 1 H (how) questions of a deal to qualify, accelerate and close the deal.
Once again, sales growth is driven by better customer interactions and conversations, and more of them. Weaving these questions into customer interactions, and recording and addressing the answers will help deals get through the pipeline. If you don't have a strong sales methodology, then start developing one that asks and answers the basic customer questions necessary to get a deal done.
TAKE A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO THE PEOPLE PART OF A SALES TEAM STRATEGY
For many B2B companies, sales expense, in the form of salary and commission, is often their largest financial expense, making it especially important to elevate and realize the potential of salespeople and the collective sales team.
There are many questions to answer about the people part of a sales strategy, which all fall into the various categories of our people strategy framework:
- Org Design ( Mission , Corporate Strategy, Structure, Roles & Competencies)
- Employee Journey (Recruiting, Hiring, Onboarding, Development, Evaluation, Advancement)
- Culture (Comp & Benefits, Environment, Norms, Values )
For a complete overview, visit our entire section on organizational strategy , hr strategy - org design , and hr strategy - employee journey & culture . Below, we'll cover some of the more unique elements of sales team strategy.
WHAT SHOULD THE SALES ORG LOOK LIKE?
A challenging question that typically comes up is, "what should the sales org look like?"
There is a lot of art and science in answering this question. Regarding the size of the sales org, utilize benchmarks on revenue productivity per sales team member and percent of sales spend to revenue. You should also analyze the span of control, where each manager should have 8-12 direct reports. You also need to solve for the right amount of levels to the org, the fewer, the better. Finally, there are the actual roles and accountabilities , which we'll get into a bit more next.
HOW SHOULD WE ORGANIZE THIS SALES TEAM?
For many sales teams, better customer conversations and interactions necessitate a high level of specialization to address the needs of specific customer segments , markets, geographies, or stages within the sales funnel. This specialization leads to sales teams organizing around one or more of these dimensions (customer segments, markets, geography, sales funnel stages). What dimensions to organize around is a function of the customer experience, specialization, economics, and complexity.
Many companies are constantly reorganizing their sales team from one dimension to another, such as reshuffling the team from a segment focus to a geographic focus. These reorganizations often fail, due to the ensuing chaos. Most existing sales teams have optimized and refined their multitude of internal and external processes based on their existing organizational dimensions. When a sales team reorg happens, a sales team has to reconfigure its processes, infrastructure, and partners. If the change management of the sales reorg isn't stellar, often the customer journey and sales team devolves into a bit of chaos.
THE LOW HANGING FRUIT OF A SALES TEAM STRATEGY
The adage goes "it's all about the people." We like to expand that to it's all about the recruiting, hiring, onboarding, development, evaluation, and advancement of the people. Improving the employee journey is essential in any sales strategy. The first place to start is to establish best practices in recruiting and hiring. The lowest hanging fruit is typically increasing the number of candidates you recruit and interview while professionalizing the interview and hiring process with standard interview guides and scorecards, group and immersive interviews, and team decision-making .
When it comes to the rest of the employee journey, one of the most impactful exercises is to survey team members about their employee journey, which not only creates a baseline but also solicits good ideas while providing built-in buy-in to improvements. Furthermore, there are a ton of established best practices in each stage of the employee journey.
YOU GET WHAT YOU REWARD
Creating a sales strategy.
In developing a sales strategy, always keep in mind you are solving for two things: 1. the goals the sales team will strive to achieve, and 2. the strategic sales initiatives necessary to achieve the goals.
Whether it takes a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, there are typically four steps in developing a sales strategy, which is:
- Generate insights into the sales pipeline, customer journey, corporate growth strategy, sales team, and overall alignment & differentiation.
- Develop opportunities on how the sales team can improve the processes, people, partners, and infrastructure.
- Prioritize the potential initiatives based on value & benefit versus cost & effort.
- Set the goals and roadmap of the portfolio of sales initiatives
Given the breadth of possible analyses, gaps, opportunities, goals, and initiatives, it is imperative to assemble the best possible internal strategy team to develop and execute a very focused and impact-oriented project plan .
STEP 1: GENERATE SALES STRATEGY INSIGHTS
In developing a strong sales strategy, there are five main areas to generate insights on 1. the sales pipeline, 2. the customer journey, 3. corporate growth strategy initiatives, 4. alignment & differentiation, 5. the sales team (processes, people, infrastructure and partners).
A focused set of hypotheses and analyses will generate a ton of insights, otherwise, a team can "boil the ocean," wasting precious time and resources on things that don't matter. Focus on answering the key questions below, utilizing some of the typical strategic analyses and tools. By doing so, the team will generate the big "aha" insights that will guide the entire strategy project.
STEP 2: DEVELOP SALES STRATEGY OPPORTUNITIES
Once you have foundational insights for the sales strategy, then you enter the "create options" phase, where you need to come up with and develop the improvement opportunities that will drive sales to the next level. This phase drives the overall value of the strategy, since the number and quality of options limits strategies. Make sure you solicit ideas from as many places as possible and get the most creative and knowledgeable people involved to push the thinking.
There is always the opportunity to improve the customer journey, internal sales processes, and cross-functional processes. The lean toolkit , automation , and digital strategies will help sprout and nurture the best ideas. Solicit ideas and feedback from the entire sales team. A simple survey with both structured and open-ended questions will do the trick. There are also hundreds of best practices to improve the maturity of the sales processes , methodologies, people, and infrastructure.
STEP 3: PRIORITIZE THE GREAT IDEAS
Hopefully, at this stage of the project, you have more improvement ideas than resources and budget to execute. Now, we are in the prioritization phase of the project. Before diving into prioritizing the ideas, you first want to see how much you can simplify, rearrange and combine the ideas into some larger potential initiatives.
Now, we get to the fun and collaborative stage of decision-making. Utilize some sort of prioritization or decision matrix to problem solve and debate the potential value/benefit , and cost/effort of each initiative. Get the right leadership and stakeholders in the room to have this robust debate, and potentially have a few rounds to refine and improve the thinking. In the end, focus the strategy on those "no brainer" ideas that are high value/benefit and low cost/effort with a shorter time horizon (3 months to 1-2 years). For the "big bet" initiatives, figure out the timing, budget, dependencies, etc., before making a decision.
One of the most difficult challenges for sales team leadership is deciding on the right portfolio of initiatives. The first part of this challenge is getting enough skilled talent mobilized to successfully execute the initiatives and change management. The second part of the challenge is understanding the amount of change the sales team can realistically handle.
Whatever your decision-making governance , by the end you should have a strong portfolio of initiatives, budgets, owners, timing, and a pretty clear idea of the potential impact on the core metrics of the sales team.
STEP 4: SET THE SALES GOALS, FINALIZE THE ROADMAP, AND EXECUTE
Strategy comes down to setting goals and executing the portfolio of improvement initiatives necessary to achieve the goals. You should distill all of the strategic analyses, problem solving, collaborating, and decision-making into one page of sales goals and initiatives. Of course, there should be a lot more detail (e.g., project plans, resource plans, change management plans, budgets, spreadsheets) behind the one page. However, as you think about communicating the big sales strategy to upper management, the internal sales team, external stakeholders, and partners, one page is always best.
One last thought, invest the time, resources, and commitment to change management . The hardest part of executing any strategy is the necessary behavioral change at the individual level. Thinking through the change management framework for each initiative will pay dividends in driving the change you are seeking.
If you want to talk about your sales strategy with an experienced strategy coach, set up some time with Joe Newsum , a Mckinsey Alum, and the author of this content and website.
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168-PAGE COMPENDIUM OF STRATEGY FRAMEWORKS & TEMPLATES 100-PAGE SALES PLAN PRESENTATION 186-PAGE HR & ORG STRATEGY PRESENTATION 114-PAGE MARKET & COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS PRESENTATION 18-PAGE BUSINESS MODEL TEMPLATE
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BIG PICTURE WHAT IS STRATEGY? BUSINESS MODEL COMP. ADVANTAGE GROWTH
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Sales plan template
A sales plan template gives your sales team an organized framework for everything they need to accomplish each quarter. Learn how you can use a sales plan template to help expedite the sales planning process.
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How often do you create a new sales strategy? For many sales teams, this is something that happens on a quarterly basis. However, developing your strategy from scratch every quarter can take up precious planning time that could be used for selling your product.
Instead of creating your sales plan from scratch every quarter, try using our free sales plan template.
What is a sales plan template?
A sales plan template is a reusable framework that helps develop your sales team’s strategy, success metrics, and end goals. These templates may also include your sales team’s objectives, target audience, and revenue goals.
Why is this important? Instead of starting from scratch, your team can use our free sales plan template as a starting point during quarterly sales planning. This helps expedite the process by providing your team with a basic strategy to work from. Then, all your team has to do is to fill in their specific success metrics, goals, and responsibilities for that specific time period.
What goes into a sales plan template?
There are a few different components that go into a sales plan template. These components may vary depending on the type of sales you work in—software sales are very different from retail sales teams, after all—but the most common components include:
Revenue targets: This is the revenue goal you want your sales team to achieve before your team’s chosen deadline.
Team structure: Who on the team is responsible for what. This means identifying managers, dedicated team members, and who reports to who.
Directly responsible individuals (DRIs) : Anybody on the team who’s responsible for a specific task or part of a project.
Depending on how your team functions and your sales strategy, you can add additional information like:
Current market conditions: This could be information regarding the economic climate, to understand how potential customers are feeling about purchasing at a certain time of year. For example, you can add information like a PEST analysis in this section.
The target market or an ideal customer profile: Information about the ideal customer you’re selling to. This helps your sales team better understand who their target audience is and how to best sell to them.
Competitive data: Any information on your competitors. Competitive analysis information helps give sales people the upper hand by illustrating how your product or service compares to the competition.
How to use our free sales plan template
Creating a sales plan with our free template is simple. Here are a few steps to help you get started.
Analyze your current sales process. If your team has repeatable tasks in your current sales process, your template should capture all of these steps. This will save your sales managers from manually repeating tasks when they create a new sales strategy.
Establish a main sales objective. No matter the quarter, you should always clearly state the main objective you want your team to achieve. This helps your team focus on work that will make the most impact on your sales objective.
Determine success metrics. Connecting your sales goals to your business goals is an important part of developing a sales plan template. Your sales plan template should have a dedicated section for success metrics , so your team knows exactly how certain tasks connect with larger goals. These success metrics should connect directly with the sales objective you established in step two.
Document actionable steps. Our free sales plan template makes it easy to capture the actionable steps your team is taking to achieve the objectives you outlined in step 2. This section ensures you can accurately measure if the work you’re doing is helping to achieve your goals.
Provide important contextual information for your team. Your sales plan template should include information like competitive research, market conditions, and an individual customer profile. This information can be updated and duplicated for future sales plans.
Goals . Goals in Asana directly connect to the work you’re doing to hit them, making it easy for team members to see what they’re working towards. More often than not, our goals live separate from the work that goes into achieving them. By connecting your team and company goals to the work that supports them, team members have real-time insight and clarity into how their work directly contributes to your team—and company—success. As a result, team members can make better decisions. If necessary, they can identify the projects that support the company’s strategy and prioritize work that delivers measurable results.
Reporting . Reporting in Asana translates project data into visual charts and digestible graphs. By reporting on work where work lives, you can reduce duplicative work and cut down on unnecessary app switching. And, because all of your team’s work is already in Asana, you can pull data from any project or team to get an accurate picture of what’s happening in one place.
Automation . Automate manual work so your team spends less time on the busy work and more time on the tasks you hired them for. Rules in Asana function on a basis of triggers and actions—essentially “when X happens, do Y.” Use Rules to automatically assign work, adjust due dates, set custom fields, notify stakeholders, and more. From ad hoc automations to entire workflows, Rules gives your team time back for skilled and strategic work.
Milestones . Milestones represent important project checkpoints. By setting milestones throughout your project, you can let your team members and project stakeholders know how you’re pacing towards your goal. Use milestones as a chance to celebrate the little wins on the path towards the big project goal.
Salesforce . Remove bottlenecks by enabling sales, customer success, and service teams to communicate directly with their support teams in Asana. Share attachments and create actionable, trackable tasks for pre-sales needs. With Service Cloud, connect your implementation and service teams with supporting teams in Asana to deliver amazing customer experiences.
Zoom . Asana and Zoom are partnering up to help teams have more purposeful and focused meetings. The Zoom + Asana integration makes it easy to prepare for meetings, hold actionable conversations, and access information once the call is over. Meetings begin in Asana, where shared meeting agendas provide visibility and context about what will be discussed. During the meeting, team members can quickly create tasks within Zoom, so details and action items don’t get lost. And once the meeting is over, the Zoom + Asana integration pulls meeting transcripts and recordings into Asana, so all collaborators and stakeholders can review the meeting as needed.
Gmail . With the Asana for Gmail integration, you can create Asana tasks directly from your Gmail inbox. Any tasks you create from Gmail will automatically include the context from your email, so you never miss a beat. Need to refer to an Asana task while composing an email? Instead of opening Asana, use the Asana for Gmail add-on to simply search for that task directly from your Gmail inbox.
Slack . Turn ideas, work requests, and action items from Slack into trackable tasks and comments in Asana. Go from quick questions and action items to tasks with assignees and due dates. Easily capture work so requests and to-dos don’t get lost in Slack.
What are the steps to creating a sales plan template?
Instead of creating a sales plan template from scratch, use our free template to kickstart your planning process. By using a template within a project management tool , you also ensure all team members can easily view and access your sales plan in real-time.
A sales plan template is a duplicatable framework your sales team can use to establish a sales strategy over a certain amount of time. For example, you can use the framework to establish your strategy for a specific quarter. This framework can be used as the foundation for your sales team’s quarterly sales plan.
What are the key elements of a sales plan template?
A sales plan template should include a place to track your team’s revenue targets, your team’s structure, key deadlines and milestones, and directly responsible individuals (DRIs). Some additional information you can provide includes the current market conditions, the target audience or an ideal customer profile, and any competitive data that you may have.
Weekly to-do list template
Clarity doesn’t have to be complicated. With a weekly to-do list template, you can create a new task list in seconds every Monday.
Take the guesswork out of task prioritization by creating a prioritization matrix template. Prioritize your work by business impact and needed effort.
Risk management plan template
Starting a project without considering risks is, well, a big risk to take. Prevent major issues from occurring in your project with a risk management plan template.
Change management plan template
Is your organization starting to make some big changes? Create a change management plan template to make the process easier.
Risk register template
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Learn how creating a RAID log template in Asana can help you proactively identify and mitigate project risks.
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How to Write a Sales Plan
Table of contents.
- A sales plan is a blueprint that sets specific sales goals for your business and helps your sales team achieve them.
- For your sales plan to be effective, you should include realistic goals, tools to track your sales, future expectations, commission structure and relevant training programs.
- A sales plan is a critical tool to help a business drive sales and navigate risks.
- This article is for small business owners and sales managers who want to create a successful sales plan.
Every business needs a business plan as well as more detailed road maps that offer guidance to each department working toward that common goal. As the revenue-generating engine of your company, the sales department should be a top priority for this type of document, aptly named the “sales plan.” This guide introduces the concept of a sales plan and gives you all the guidance you need to create a sales plan that works for your business.
What is a sales plan?
A sales plan details the overall sales strategy of a business, including the revenue objectives of the company and how the sales department will meet those goals. This may also include revenue goals, the target audience and tools the team will use in their day-to-day. In addition, the sales plan should include examples of the hurdles and pain points the team might encounter, as well as contingency plans to overcome them.
“[A sales plan] is essential to support the growth of an organization,” said Bill Santos, vice president of the ITsavvy Advanced Solutions Group. “A sales plan helps individual reps understand the priorities of the business as well as the measurements by which they will be evaluated.”
Business plans vs. sales plans
Business plans and sales plans are closely linked. A sales plan, though, should outline the actions that the sales department will take to achieve the company’s broader goals. A sales plan differs from a business plan, though both work toward the same end.
“A business plan is a ‘what’ [and] a sales plan is a ‘how,'” said James R. Bailey , professor of management and Hochberg Professional Fellow of Leadership Development at the George Washington University School of Business. “Business plans are where a firm wants to go. A sales plan is a part of how they can achieve that. A business plan is direction; a sales plan is execution.”
For example, a software company that developed a new mobile application might state in its business plan that the app will be installed by 1 million users within a year of launch, while the sales plan describes how that will actually be achieved.
How to write a sales plan
Every sales plan should suit the individual needs of a different company, so they come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all sales plan; the one you create will be unique to your business. With careful planning, you’ll have a much clearer vision of what you need to accomplish and a road map for how to get there.
Chris Gibbs, vice president of global sales at Centripetal Networks, named some additional items that every sales plan should include.
- Targeted accounts: Assign each salesperson a few key accounts to focus on, and grow from that base.
- Targeted verticals: Sales teams might focus on specific market segments or verticals, such as a particular industry.
- SKUs: Salespeople should emphasize certain SKUs or inventory items rather than get lost in a broad catalog of merchandise to sell.
- Sales and marketing coordination: Sales and marketing teams should work together to create promotions to help generate sales.
- Product road maps: Every company has a road map, and each product should have a road map that shows the plan and direction for a product offering over time to chart out when a product will launch and when it might sunset or be replaced by a newer model.
- Forecasts: Sales forecasting is projecting sales volumes and expectations by comparing them historically to sales of previous years, and then conducting market comparison to determine where sales will fall against the competition.
“Sales plans are extremely important to ensure there is cohesiveness between product teams, sales and marketing,” Gibbs said. “In addition, they’re important for ensuring that timing of new products and/or new version releases coincide with sales objectives and forecasts.”
What are the steps to create a sales plan?
A sales plan is necessary for businesses of every size, from an individual entrepreneur to a Fortune 500 company. When you’re ready to actually write your sales plan, follow these steps:
1. Define the objectives.
Clearly outlining your goals and stating your objectives should always be the first step in creating a sales plan or any other business venture. You should include the expected sales volume and any markets or territories you expect to reach.
For example, let’s say you own a retail store selling household goods and electronics. If your purpose is to establish yourself as a trusted local retailer, ask yourself the following questions:
- If so, are they purchasing anything or just browsing?
- Was it word of mouth?
- Was it through marketing efforts, such as email marketing, direct mail or social media?
- How many are new customers?
- How many are repeat customers?
- Where do you want your sales to come from?
- What are some external and internal factors that could impact your sales? These include industry trends and economic conditions.
When you can precisely state your key objectives, you are setting yourself up to plan later steps around achieving your goals.
2. Assess the current situation.
The next step is to create an honest overview of your business situation in relation to the goal you set in the first step.
Review your strengths and assets. Take a look at your resources and how you can apply them to your goal. This can include personal relationships and competitive advantages like new products or services.
For example, if your goal is to enhance your relationship with your customers, you’d need to ask yourself some questions to examine your current situation:
- What is your current relationship with your customers?
- Where did most of your sales come from?
- Where would you like to expand your sales?
When examining your strengths and opportunities, conduct a SWOT analysis to get a clearer picture of where your business stands.
3. Determine and outline the sales strategies.
Sales strategies are the actual tactics your team will use to reach customers. They can include marketing channels as well as procedures for lead generation and client outreach employed by your salespeople.
Here are two examples of potential sales strategies:
- Use your POS system to retain customer information so you can track current and new customers.
- Employ email marketing, text message marketing , social media, outbound call center services and direct mail marketing campaigns.
4. Define roles for the sales team.
Each member of the sales team should be assigned clear roles, whether they vary from person to person or everyone performs the same functions.
Defining the sales direction of the team is crucial, as it shows the focus of the company and helps the team target and execute sales most effectively.
The plan of attack for the sales team should be communicated clearly by leadership, whether it is from team leaders or the CEO.
5. Inform other departments of sales objectives.
A sales plan shouldn’t just update a company president or C-suite; it should inform the whole organization of the sales team’s objectives.
Clearly outline your plan for the rest of the company to help them understand the goals and procedures of the sales team. Other departments become more efficient when interacting with the sales team and clients. This also conveys a certain level of quality and professionalism to the clients about the company.
6. Provide tools for the sales team.
Provide the tools each member of the sales team needs to achieve the stated goals, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software. The best CRM software is customizable to meet a company’s needs, making it much easier for your team to use the software and work efficiently.
7. Detail how the department will track progress.
Offer strategic direction and insight on how progress will be monitored. Having a quarterly review to assess whether the company is on target is just as important as the plan itself.
Markets change, and so should your sales plan. Keeping it up to date will help you capitalize on the market and achieve your goals. Tracking progress is made easier by the tools you use to collect data. That data will then have to be analyzed and presented in a way which all departments can understand and use for future growth.
Key elements of a sales plan
Every sales plan should also include the following elements.
You need to set achievable goals . Challenge your sales team, but don’t push too hard. Bailey said that these “deliverables” are among the key points to include in a sales business plan.
“Deliverables need to be as specific as possible and moderately difficult to achieve – specific inasmuch as being measurable in a manner that is uncontested [and] moderately difficult inasmuch as making sales goals too difficult can lead to failure and discouragement.”
Midpoint goals also help build morale and keep the team working toward a larger goal. Instead of having one giant goal, creating smaller goals to achieve along the way will keep your team focused.
Set milestones that give you the opportunity to regularly determine whether you are on track to achieve your sales goals or need to make adjustments.
Tracking sales throughout the term is helpful, and you can employ tools to keep track of each team member as well as the department overall. It also helps establish a culture of accountability among salespeople.
“Tools can help, especially project management and CRM software,” Santos said. “Having a weekly cadence of update and review is also important, as it sends a message that ownership and updates are important.”
Clear expectations and a defined commission structure
Assign goals and responsibilities to each team member to make expectations clear. This is true whether or not each team member has the same goals.
“We meet with each individual to come up with a plan that works for them so that they can reach their goals,” said Leah Adams, director of client success at Point3 Security. “We measure results based on numbers. Each team member has his own plan and how they’re going to get there.”
It’s also necessary to spell out the commission structure in full detail.
“The only real difference is how sales count,” Bailey said. “In petroleum-based products … a few big clients are necessary. Compensation needs to be structured not just in contract value, but in graduated terms: Above $1 million, commissions move from 5% to 9%, and so forth. In smaller-volume enterprises, commissions might be front-loaded with higher percentages early, then graduated down. You have to reward what you want.”
Along the way, some training might be necessary to maintain the momentum.
“What’s important to us is that we’re teaching these individuals to be the best salesperson they can be,” Adams said. “We help them do that by constantly training them and giving them knowledge of what’s going on in our industry. Everything stays on track because each member of the team knows their individual goal; though each person has a number, they also know the ultimate goal is for the entire team to hit.”
Adams said that an effective CRM keeps things organized and helps delegate tasks and responsibilities on a schedule that uses the company’s lead information.
Key steps to follow when devising a sales plan
Here are some best practices for creating a sales plan:
- Refer to the business plan. The sales plan should directly address the objectives of the business plan and how those objectives can be achieved.
- Advance clear objectives. The clearer the objectives are, the easier it will be to reach your goals.
- Reference prior sales data. Chart sales over the previous few terms, and project the trend for the current term. New businesses can create sales projections based on expectations.
- Outline the commission structure. This will help motivate your team and help you calculate anticipated costs.
- Be clear about how progress is measured. There should be no dispute about this. If larger clients carry more weight than lower-volume buyers, that should be stated upfront.
The benefits of a sales plan
A sales plan keeps the sales department on track, considering the details of how they must operate to hit their targets and achieve company objectives. Because the sales team is the primary driver of revenue, it is an incredibly important document. [Related article: Adopting a CRM? How to Get Buy-in From Your Sales Department ]
“It’s extremely important to have a sales plan in place, almost a must,” Adams said. “Without this plan, it’s almost impossible to get through the year and hit the company’s sales goals.”
It’s not uncommon to encounter obstacles along the way, however. A good sales plan accounts for that.
“Almost always, you’ll run into the speed bumps along the way, but with a plan in place, it makes it a whole lot easier to navigate through it all,” Adams said. “The sales plan allows you to adjust when necessary so the goal can still be hit. I strongly believe a plan allows you to stay in control and reduce the risk while being able to measure the team’s results along the way to that finish line.”
A solid sales plan helps you deal with unexpected events and acts as a benchmark for where your company is and where you want it to go.
Sales plan templates
Sales templates are helpful in that many of them are based on tried-and-true formats that have been used by businesses across several industries. They can also provide structure so that it is clear to each employee what their role and responsibilities are.
Create your own sales plan by downloading our free template .
“A template helps plan each individual’s daily activities in a structured way,” Adams said. “If you know what each person is doing daily, it’s easier to help correct what’s going wrong. It helps with things like conversion rates, etc. Yes, these templates can be customized in any way a team’s manager sees fit, based on how he believes the team will perform better.”
Sales plans should be unique to the company; however, there are key components they should always include. Because there is somewhat of a formula, you can use a template.
Templates are extremely helpful, Gibbs said. “It creates uniformity for the team, as well as a yearly or quarterly sales plan to present to senior management.”
Gibbs added that templates can easily be customized to meet the needs of a particular business or sales team.
Keeping your team on track with a sales plan
Planning is vital for any business, especially when dealing with sales targets. Before selling your product or service, you must outline your goals and ways to execute them. Essentially, a sales plan enables you to mitigate problems and risks. When there is a clear plan of action, you will know how to proceed in order to attain your goals.
Enid Burns contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.
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How to develop a strategic sales plan for your business
With the rise of remote work, evolving workforce demographics, and consumer behavior changing by the minute, there’s no doubt that any business’s sales tactics need to be adaptable — that means changing your sales tactics to meet buyers where they are (and your sales team where they are, as well).
To do that effectively, you need a strategic sales plan. A sales plan tells you and your entire sales team how to approach sales to maximize revenue, improve customer retention, and meet other sales goals.
In this article, we’re diving deep into strategic sales plans. We’ll cover what they are, why you need one, and how to build one in just 5 steps.
What is a strategic sales plan?
A strategic sales plan is a collection of documents, processes, and other information that defines how your business approaches sales. Your strategic sales plan can include guidelines for prospecting, lead generation, marketing, and more. Essentially, a strategic sales plan provides a roadmap to help you meet your goals. It also provides a framework for adapting to new industry trends.
For instance, 44% of millennials say they don’t want to interact with a sales rep during the B2B buying process:
( Image Source )
As a result, your strategic sales plan should identify ways to minimize sales rep interactions — while still maintaining or increasing revenue.
Why does your company need a strategic sales plan?
Think about all the components of your company’s sales process. From outreach management to lead scoring to relationship management, there are tons of moving parts.
Here are a few other things your strategic sales plan should include:
- Sales goals and KPIs
- Buyer personas for your target market
- Lead scoring criteria
- Primary sales channels
- Marketing strategy
- Prospecting criteria
- Relationship management strategy
- Inbound sales vs outbound sales strategy
- Sales presentations, contracts, and other documents
In 2022, it’s also important to consider your virtual selling strategy. Fifty percent of buyers say working remotely made purchasing easier, which means it’s critical your business maintains that level of ease.
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Find the right CRM system for your sales strategy plan
Before we get into the steps for creating a strategic sales plan, let’s talk about CRMs. CRM software is an invaluable tool to help you manage your entire sales process, from sales planning to lead scoring to the sale.
As we go through the strategic sales planning steps in the next section, a CRM tool will help you stay organized and share your process with your entire team.
Some CRMs, like monday.com, even have a Supporting sales materials template to help you get started.
Your CRM is essential to every part of your sales process. LinkedIn reports that most salespeople only spend 37% of their time actively selling, with the majority of their time taken up by digital paperwork — manual or unnecessary tasks.
A CRM with workflow automation — like one built on the monday.com platform — increases the amount of time your sales reps can spend actually selling, which will drive increased revenue for your business.
Your CRM should support your strategic sales plan. Here’s what to look for:
- Contact and lead management
- Sales pipeline tracking
- Prospecting and outreach management
- Contact and customer relationship history
- Integrations with old CRMs or other tools
- Workflow automation
monday.com’s Work OS platform allows you to build exactly the CRM you need. You can customize any template or board to fit your sales strategy.
Here’s how it works:
5 steps to build a strategic sales plan
To help you build your strategic sales plan, we’ll look at the main steps to creating one for your sales team. Along the way, we’ll also look at how to use the monday.com CRM as you develop your sales plan.
Set the right sales goals
To create a roadmap, you need a destination. That’s why the first step in any strategic sales planning is to determine your sales goal for the upcoming month, quarter, or year.
Your sales goal should follow the SMART method. Record these goals and be sure to share them with your sales team. You can track your sales goal progress in a sales dashboard in your CRM. You’ll get up-to-date information on your sales performance , while anyone in the company who needs sales data can always access a single source of truth.
Tracking your sales data is really important for strategic sales planning. Sales data helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses and optimize every part of your sales process to return the best results.
Strengthen your customer personas
Understanding your audience is the key to an effective sales strategy. When you know what they want and need, where they spend time online, and how they prefer to buy, you can craft a sales strategy based on personalizing your approach to your customers’ needs.
For example, 77% of B2B buyers state that their latest purchase was very difficult or complex. If you’re a B2B seller, you can focus on ways to make your sales process simpler than your competitors to attract new buyers.
Data is your friend when it comes to sales personalization. In fact, 56% of sales professionals use data to target customer accounts. Take your findings and craft buyer personas to help your sales team understand your key audience segments. As you create these and other sales documents, you can track your progress in a monday.com project management board .
Don’t rely solely on personas, though — continuously building unique relationships with your customers to deliver an even higher level of personalization is more important than ever.
Outline your sales pipeline
This is possibly the most critical step of your strategic sales plan: list every stage a prospect will go through before they become a sale. Outlining your sales pipeline is important for a few reasons. First, knowing the customer journey makes it easier to identify problems early and pivot to meet sales goals.
But it’s also key to creating efficient processes for your sales team. As you list your sales pipeline stages, make note of the following key points for your internal sales team:
- When does a prospect become a lead?
- What counts as a conversion?
- Are some touchpoints more valuable than others e.g. an email open vs. a social media ad view?
- When do sales development reps (SDRs) hand off leads to sales executives?
- When does the marketing team hand off leads to the sales department?
When you build your sales pipeline in a monday.com CRM template, you can create custom labels and columns to note exactly where each lead stands.
You can even automate lead handoffs based on certain actions, such as a certain number of touchpoints or email opens, by integrating your other data tools with monday.com.
Choose your sales tactics
Next, you need to decide what methods you’ll use to sell your product or service. To do this, think about what will work best based on your audience. You’ll likely come up with a list of tactics that work best based on different audience segments or other factors.
Your strategic sales plan can include guidance for when it’s appropriate to use each type of sales tactic and how to choose the right one.
Here are just a few sales tactics you might choose at different stages of the sales funnel :
- Find targeted leads
- Leverage retargeting with online marketing
- Display social proof
- Ask for referrals
- Follow up consistently
You might also adopt some consistent sales tactics or values, such as positioning sales reps as knowledgeable consultants. Consider that 88% of today’s buyers think of sales reps as trusted advisors in their industry, and figure out how to meet that expectation for your customers.
Your strategic sales plan should also include tactics for customer retention . 70% of sales professionals say they are prioritizing retaining existing customers, making it worth spending time and energy on following up with leads.
It’s important to continue honing your customer relationships even after closing the sale.
monday.com’s contact management template helps you track your entire communication history in each customer profile , so you can find the right time to follow up or offer new deals based on your prior interactions.
When combined with automation and sales and marketing tools like MailChimp, your monday.com CRM can take care of a lot of your customer relationship management for you by sending follow-ups, scoring leads, and more.
Implement and refine your strategic sales plan with your CRM
Once you’ve finalized each component of your strategic sales plan, it’s time to share it with your team and hit the ground running.
Make sure your sales team can access your sales planning documents and the right boards and views in your CRM. Provide any necessary sales training on the CRM or new sales tactics.
In the early stages of your new sales plan, ask for lots of employee and customer feedback. Use this information to refine and update your sales goals, tactics, and plans to align with what’s best for your business, your team, and your customers.
As your business and customer base grows and evolves, your strategic sales plan will too. Consistently track the impact of your plan so you can stay effective.
To help you do this, invest in a CRM that grows and changes with you. monday.com adapts right along with your business and makes it easy for everyone to get up to speed.
Build your strategic sales plan today
When you look at the facts, it’s simple. Building a strategic sales plan can help your business close more sales and earn more profits. By understanding your customer journey and creating clear guidelines around your sales strategy plan, your team can become more effective and profitable than ever.
Start using a platform like monday.com to build all the tools you need to execute your strategic sales plan perfectly. Try out the monday.com CRM today.
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Sales Plan Template
Develop effective strategies to achieve sales goals, strategize and establish your company's sales targets to align with organizational goals and achieve and increase market share..
- Multiple templates to get a headstart on effective sales planning
- Real-time collaboration to work with remote teams
- Export sales plan as a SVG, PNG, or PDF to publish or share
Over 10 Million people and 1000s of teams already use Creately
Set SMART Sales Goals and Objectives
Powerful visualization capabilities to help brainstorm sales strategies and create execution plans.
Multiple customizable professional templates to visualize your sales funnels, user personas, and customer journeys.
Import data from any source in CSV or Excel formats to analyze and create comprehensive sales plans.
A single infinite workspace to plan everything from customer segmentation, purchasing funnels, and marketing campaigns to centralize planning activities.
Add attachments and links with in-app previews to capture granular details and create comprehensive records on a single canvas.
Ensure Everyone Is in Sync with the Sales Plan
Multi user collaboration with real time mouse tracking and group editing. Work collaboratively with remote team members and other stakeholders on a shared canvas.
Offline sync and smart notifications to ensure that you don’t miss out on any crucial changes.
Use @mention comment threads to have meaningful discussions, follow-ups, and task allocation on the same canvas.
Multiple access levels and share permissions to share, review, edit, and change sales plans.
Achieve Sales Targets
Multiple app integrations to help you import and export data across teams on different platforms.
Built-in presentation tools to quickly create and present the sales plan to multiple stakeholders.
Organize the sales plan in multiple ways with models. Convert your sales plans into a workflow, Kanban board, swimlane, and more.
Use frames inside the canvas to generate page-like layouts to organize your sales plan and easily build a presentation flow.
What Is a Sales Plan?
A sales plan is a tool used to set sales objectives and develop strategies and action plans to achieve them. The ultimate goal of a sales plan is to ensure that the company’s revenue targets are met, thereby enhancing its market share.
Sales Planning Process
- Define the mission and vision statement of your company and set goals and marketing targets for the business. Make sure your goals adhere to the SMART criteria .
- Identify the characteristics of your customers and create a customer profile . If you target several markets with your products, create separate profiles for each.
- Determine the resources you will need and the tools which your team will utilize during the implementation stage.
- Do a competitive analysis to understand where your competitors stand. Analyze their pricing strategies and other trends in the market.
- Define your pricing strategy and discuss methods to promote your products or services.
- Outline the prospecting strategy where you should identify how to close more deals. An ideal tool that can be used to identify the key decision makers that your sales team should reach out to, is the account map .
- Create an action plan laying out the steps you need to take to achieve your goals. You can also create a dashboard to track and monitor the progress of your strategy.
- Export your sales plan as a PDF or image to add to PowerPoint presentations and Word docs. Using the Creately viewer, you can quickly embed the diagrams in websites, blogs or in your intranet.
Home Blog Business How to Build a Project Status Report Template: Complete Guide
How to Build a Project Status Report Template: Complete Guide
The successful project operation of many companies relies on proactive reporting. There are a lot of milestones that can happen during a project’s lifecycle , but a lot can go wrong, too. Stakeholders must be made aware of these through status reports. By presenting this information, stakeholders can better track progress, manage expectations, and make informed decisions to ensure the project’s success.
Hence, this article will explore the elements of a project status report and give practical tips when writing one.
Table of Content
What Is a Project Status Report
Types of project status reports, why are project status reports a vital element in project management, how to create a project status report template in powerpoint, common mistakes in building a project status report.
A project status report is a type of progress report whose chief purpose, according to the book Writing That Works , is to “ inform decision-makers about the status of work performed over the course of an ongoing project.”
This report is generated at regular intervals, which is why it is also known as a periodic report. It describes the progress or status of activities at each stage of the project, which typically includes the following components:
- Project Overview
- Executive Summary
- Work Completed
- Problems, delays, and other factors that may affect the schedule of the project
- Project Schedules
Whether you are managing an internal project or running a contract project, this document plays a pivotal role in keeping all the stakeholders involved on the same page. It’s a living document, dynamically reflecting the current state and projecting the path ahead for those involved in the project.
Project status reports may be categorized based on frequency:
The frequency of these reports depends on the project’s duration, complexity, and the needs of stakeholders.
Fast-paced projects that involve quick development and shorter timelines benefit from more frequent reporting, such as daily or weekly status reports. On the other hand, projects with long-term objectives might necessitate less frequent reporting, such as monthly or quarterly status reports.
Special scenarios, as highlighted in a LinkedIn article , may call for an increase in the frequency of project status reports. For instance, when a project faces difficulties and is not progressing as planned, more frequent reporting becomes essential to communicate challenges, seek guidance, and implement corrective measures promptly.
Ultimately, the key to determining the appropriate frequency of project status reports lies in understanding the project’s unique characteristics and the stakeholders’ specific needs.
Project status reports are a vital element in Project Management for several reasons. They take on even greater significance in Agile Methodologies, which focus on iterative and incremental development.
Agile projects typically work in short iterations called sprints, often lasting one to four weeks. During their runs, regular, frequent status reports become vital for keeping project teams synchronized, promptly addressing impediments, and adjusting plans based on feedback.
Project status reports play an essential role in various Project Management methodologies , specifically for the following reasons.
1. Stakeholder Alignment: Project status reports ensure that all project stakeholders are well-informed about the project’s progress, helping align their expectations and foster a shared understanding of project objectives.
2. Fact-Based Decision-Making: Project status reports are data-driven, allowing project managers and clients to respond effectively to changing circumstances, allocate resources wisely, and prioritize tasks.
3. Averting Crises: Regular project status reports reveal potential risks, issues, or deviations from the project plan, calling the attention of decision-makers to address them before they escalate into crises.
4. Simplifying the Communication Process: Project status reports streamline communication using a standardized format for sharing information rather than engaging in ad hoc or scattered conversations.
Project status reports usually come in letters and memos circulated within a company’s email system or intranet. In some instances, however, they may be presented in face-to-face meetings, requiring a PowerPoint template .
Either way, writing project status reports revolves around similar activities.
1. Gather Project Data
The first step, of course, is to collect all relevant project data you will need for the status report. It may include task status, milestones achieved, issues and risks, resource allocation, budget status, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) important for the project’s success.
If you are using one, project management tools are valuable sources for collecting these pieces of information. These tools provide a centralized platform for project teams to track and manage various aspects of the project, making it convenient to access and consolidate data.
2. Structure/ Format the Report
Decide on the format of the report with special consideration of the preferences of your audience and the nature of the information you want to present. Choose a clean and organized slide layout that accommodates the report’s different sections.
A one-pager project status PowerPoint template can be an excellent option for concise presentations. Such templates typically have multiple sections organized logically on a single slide, making it easy for stakeholders to grasp the project’s status. If needed, you may add more slides for a detailed discussion of each section of the report.
Make sure to use a consistent format for all reports during the project lifecycle. This will make it easier for the audience to focus their attention on information where they need to.
3. Provide a Project Overview
This is a no-brainer. You should start a project status report with a clear and concise Project Overview. In this section, state the project’s name, identify the project sponsor, and project manager(s). You may also include the project’s start date, the date on which the project status report was generated, and the remaining days before the project’s target completion.
Here’s what a project overview may look like:
4. Write an Executive Summary
The body of the presentation begins with an executive summary or project status summary. This section focuses solely on detailing the project’s current status without delving into the overall background unless it’s the first report in the series. The primary objective is to provide stakeholders with a concise and comprehensive update on the project’s progress and key developments.
In the sample project status summary, the writer assumes that the audience is already familiar with the background details of the project, including its scope and objectives. Therefore, a detailed narrative reiterating information already covered in the main project plan is unnecessary.
5. Highlight Tasks Completed
A list of completed tasks should be integral to the overall project status report. This section will outline the tasks or milestones accomplished during the reporting period. It should focus on the significant achievements and progress since the last status update.
Use bullet format for clarity if there are multiple tasks accomplished.
6. Lay Out the Next Steps
After providing a summary of the work completed, the next crucial step in writing a project status report is to lay out the project’s future goals. This section outlines the upcoming tasks planned for the project, providing insights into its direction. Whatever comes into this list will be the subject of the next project status report.
7. Provide Insights to Project Health
Finally, a project status report should be able to provide a holistic assessment of the project’s overall health. This section serves as a crucial tool to assess various aspects of the project’s success, like financial performance, employee productivity, deadline adherence, and assignment quality.
You may use data visualization tools in presenting these pieces of information. Using various types of charts and graphs, stakeholders will be able to compare data and identify trends easily.
For instance, in the CoWork office renovation project status report, the presenters added a pie as an extra slide that indicates the budget usage. They also used a checklist of the tasks that have been or will be completed in the Project Plan area.
1. Inaccurate Data
Not providing meaningful information or, worse, providing inaccurate data is a crime regarding project status reports. As mentioned, the whole point of writing a project status is to help decision-makers to make further decisions. Projects may go tumbling down when these decisions are based on erroneous information.
2. Failing to Define Complexity Level
Complexity significantly influences the management strategies employed in a project. Those with higher complexity present unique challenges that require specific approaches and considerations. Clearly communicate the project’s complexity, challenges, and potential risks to stakeholders to manage their understanding of the project’s progress and limitations.
3. Downplaying Project Issues
Ignoring project issues in the status report can create a false sense of progress. As the presenter, you should proactively communicate the roadblocks your team has encountered or might encounter and provide mitigation strategies to show stakeholders that the project is being effectively managed.
A well-crafted project status report is not just a documentation of progress but also a powerful driver for collaboration, accountability, and project success. It provides foresight into the project’s trajectory, empowering managers and sponsors to make real-time decisions in line with its status.
The report will likely go to high-level managers, so it’s important to write it briefly. Use the one-pager dashboard template from this article to deliver concise updates without unnecessary narratives.
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