The Importance of Sales Planning: Your Path to Success

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Sales planning is a crucial aspect for CEOs, sales managers, and salespeople. However, it is surprising how many companies ignore sales planning. Especially if we compare with the percentage of companies that make a marketing plan.

In this article, we will look at the reasons behind and go into the details of effective sales planning. Afterwards, you will have a clear understanding of what sales planning means, and what should be included in your sales plan, and you will also receive a sales plan template.

What is sales planning?

Sales planning involves creating a plan at the organizational level to achieve the set sales goals. For salespeople, it acts as a map to guide them to perform the right activities and structure their work efficiently.

Why sales planning gets deprioritized

Sales planning is a critical part of successful sales, but it’s a task that too often ends up at the bottom of companies’ priority list. Several factors can explain this common tendency.

  1. Short-term focus: Many companies fall into the trap of focusing on immediate profits and quick results. This short-term thinking can lead to sales planning being sidelined in favor of dealing with day-to-day challenges.
  2. Lack of understanding: Sometimes management lacks a complete understanding of how important sales planning is to achieving long-term growth and success. Sales may have worked historically and therefore, according to management, there is no reason to do anything different.
  3. Lack of follow-up: Even if a sales plan is drawn up, it can easily be forgotten if there is no clear follow-up structure. Without regular evaluation and adaptation, the plan becomes ineffective.

To maximize the chances of reaching sales targets, it’s crucial to overcome these obstacles and give sales planning the attention it deserves. A well-developed sales plan can help companies better understand their customers, increase revenue, and create a solid foundation for the future. By prioritizing sales planning, companies can achieve sustainable growth and major competitive advantages in the long term.

What should your sales plan include?

In some cases, such as when you work on projects in a short period, sales planning is called “performance projects.”

Every sales plan starts with a well-defined, measurable goal. To set your goal, consider using the double-SMART checklist. It ensures that your goal is challenging, believable, measurable, and emotionally engaging.

After defining your goals using the double-SMART checklist, you need to create an activity plan. The plan transforms your sales goals into concrete activities and makes your sales plan practical and feasible.

The final step in your sales plan is to motivate yourself. It’s important to ask yourself tough questions, like, “Why do I want to achieve this goal?” (see rest of the questions below). By challenging yourself during the planning phase, you will have a strong source of motivation to lean on during difficult times.

Sales planning template

Goals

Set goals that meet the criteria of the double-SMART checklist and then break your goal into three different levels.

  • Safety level
  • Realistic level
  • Barrier-breaking level

Activity plan for each level

Different organizations work in different ways, so you can choose the time frame for your activity plan. It is common to plan for the year, quarter, or month and to have a simpler plan for the week.

When you break down your sales plan into activities, it is important to prioritize which activities are most relevant to measure and take into account the time you have at your disposal. This way, you make it easier to adapt your activities to each level of your goal. For example, if you can schedule 10 new customer meetings per week, you’ll need to close deals with a certain conversion rate to reach your peace of mind level. To reach your realistic or breakthrough level, you need to increase conversion without conducting more new customer meetings.

Motivate yourself:

Reflect on the questions below and formulate your answers. Remember that these answers will help you deal with setbacks and challenges. Take this exercise seriously and make sure there’s a genuine reason behind your goal.

  • Why do you want to achieve the goal?
  • What are your three essential sub-goals (measurable and timed)?
  • How will you celebrate each milestone and how will you celebrate when you reach your main goal?
  • What potential obstacles may prevent you from reaching your goal?
  • How will you deal with and overcome these obstacles?
  • How do you motivate yourself when the going gets tough?
  • What can you do to remind yourself of your goals every day?

Sales planning example

To show what sales planning can look like, we have written together a fictitious example. The figures and targets are completely fabricated. When you do your sales planning, you must know how high a conversion rate you have on each activity. If you don’t know your numbers, the first step is to start measuring how many contact attempts you need to make to book a meeting. After that, you can continue to measure the different steps in the sales process until you know how high your conversion rate is. It is important to add that you can estimate your conversion rate to make an initial sales plan. After that, your next sales plan will become more realistic as you start writing down your numbers and conversions.

Goals (Meets the double-SMART checklist)

My realistic goal for 2024 is to generate sales of SEK 2 million. Half of these sales come from new customers and half from existing ones. My security level is 1.5 million SEK, and my barrier-breaking level is 3 million SEK.

Activity plan

Based on the average business value, I can work backward from my goal. To achieve SEK 2 million in sales with an average business value of SEK 200,000, I need to close 10 deals in a year. With my current conversion rate, I can calculate the number of conversations I need to have and how many contact attempts I need to make.

Activity plan for the safety goal

  • Sales value: 1 500 000 SEK
  • Number of quotes sent: 12
  • Number of decision meetings: 24
  • Number of proposed solutions: 80
  • Number of meetings: 270
  • Number of conversations: 900
  • Number of contact attempts: 1,800

Activity plan for realistic goal

  • Sales value: 2 000 000 SEK
  • Number of quotes sent: 14
  • Number of decision meetings: 30
  • Number of proposed solutions: 90
  • Number of meetings: 350
  • Number of conversations: 1,200
  • Number of contact attempts: 2,100

Barrier-breaking target activity plan

  • Sales value: 3 000 000 SEK
  • Number of quotes sent: 18
  • Number of decision meetings: 42
  • Number of proposed solutions: 110
  • Number of meetings: 590
  • Number of conversations: 1,800
  • Number of contact attempts: 2,700

Once I’ve created my complete activity plan, the next step is to plan my dream week. The dream week becomes a template for how I should plan my time. It helps me decide how much time to spend on each activity. According to CSO Insights, only 33 % of an inside sales rep’s time is spent selling – That’s why it’s important to plan your time.

Motivate yourself:

I want to prove that Salesonomics was right to hire me as a salesperson. In addition, I strive to earn enough money to afford a new home near the sea.

My three most important sub-goals are:

  1. Book 135 meetings during Q1.
  2. Present 50 solution proposals during the first half of the year.
  3. Achieve SEK 1 million in sales during the first half of the year.

When I reach my intermediate goals, I will reward myself with a luxurious dinner at a restaurant. When I reach my main goal, I will plan a weekend getaway with someone I value highly.

One potential obstacle is that I don’t have enough conversations, which can cause me to miss my meeting goals. To deal with this, I will create a clear weekly and daily plan as well as seek support from a colleague to hold myself accountable.

During difficult times, I will remind myself of my goals to regain energy and stay focused. I will insert a picture of my target as wallpaper on the phone to remind me of my goals daily.

Conclusion sales planning

Sales planning is an essential tool for achieving your sales goals and fostering a results-driven culture within your organization. By following the steps outlined in this article and taking advantage of the included sales plan template, you and your team can set yourself on the path to success. Stay motivated, stay focused, and watch your sales rise.

We at Salesonomics are happy to help you develop a process for sales planning. We offer strategy development and other services to help you reach your revenue goals. Don’t know where to start? – Contact us.

Simon Blanche

Simon Blanche