Sales are the lifeblood of every organization, fueling growth and success. But before we get too deep, let's make sure we're on the same page. If you're not convinced yet, we'll skip the sales plan; however, if you're ready to embrace it, we're here to offer our support!

“52% of outbound marketers say their strategies are “ineffective,” while only 32% of inbound marketers have the same belief.”- IronPaper - Inbound vs Outbound Article

Without a well-defined sales plan, a company's growth and profitability can be at risk. A sales plan serves as a roadmap that outlines the strategies and tactics a business will use to achieve its revenue targets. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the impact and critical points such as:
Annual Goals by Quarter
Target Market Analysis 
Propositioning Statements
Leading Activities (calls, meetings, deals)
90-day Priorities 

By the end of this blog, you'll have a clear understanding of why a sales plan is indispensable and how to create one that drives success.

The Foundation of Success - Annual Goals by Quarter

Defining Annual Goals

The first step in building an effective sales plan is to set clear, measurable, and achievable annual goals. These goals serve as the overarching targets that your sales team will work towards throughout the year. Annual goals provide a sense of direction and purpose, helping your team stay focused on the big picture. Here are some key considerations when defining annual goals:

Revenue Targets: Start by setting specific revenue targets for the year. Consider factors like historical sales data, market trends, and growth objectives.

Sales Volume: Determine the number of units or deals your team needs to close to reach the revenue targets.

Market Share: Assess your current market share and set goals for increasing it.

Customer Acquisition: Establish a customer acquisition target. How many new customers do you aim to bring on board this year?

Customer Retention: Don't forget about retaining existing customers. Set targets for reducing churn and increasing customer loyalty.

Timing: Make sure you have given yourself enough time to cater your sales plan to the goals you have envisioned for the next year. When do you start considering the sales goals for the next year?

Breaking it Down by Quarter

Once you've defined your annual goals, the next step is to break them down into quarterly targets. This quarterly breakdown adds a sense of urgency and makes the goals more manageable. Here's how to do it:

  1. Distribute Evenly: Distribute your annual goals evenly across the four quarters, taking into account any seasonality or market fluctuations.
  2. Set Quarterly Targets: Determine specific, measurable quarterly targets for revenue, sales volume, market share, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
  3. Adjust as Needed: Be prepared to adjust your quarterly goals if unforeseen circumstances arise. Flexibility is crucial in adapting to changing market conditions.

Identifying Your Target Market

Customer Targeting - Chalkboard with Hand Drawn Text, Stack of Office Folders, Stationery, Reports on Blurred Background. Toned Image. 3d Render.

Prospecting is hard. More than half of salespeople believe it’s more difficult to get in front of prospects than it was five years ago. And when surveyed, 40 percent of salespeople agreed that prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process.” - Zendesk Blog

Understanding the Importance of Target Market Analysis

Before diving into the nitty-gritty details of your sales plan, it's crucial to have a deep understanding of your target market. Your target market is the group of potential customers most likely to buy your product or service. Conducting a thorough target market analysis helps you tailor your sales strategy to meet this group's specific needs and preferences.

Demographics: Consider factors such as age, gender, income, education level, and geographic location of your target audience.

Characteristics & Traits: Explore the attitudes, values, lifestyles, and behaviors of your potential customers. What motivates them to make buying decisions?

Pain Points: Identify the pain points or challenges your target market faces that your product or service can address.

Competition: Analyze your competitors' strengths and weaknesses in serving the same target market.

Creating Buyer Personas

One effective way to understand your target market is by creating buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data and market research. They help you empathize with your customer's needs and preferences. Here's how to create them:

  1. Research: Collect data from surveys, interviews, and market research to gather insights about your target audience.
  2. Segment: Divide your target audience into different segments based on common characteristics and behaviors.
  3. Create Personas: Develop detailed buyer personas that include information about their goals, challenges, objections, and communication preferences.
  4. Align: Ensure that your sales and marketing teams are aligned with the buyer personas to create consistent messaging and outreach strategies.

Crafting Compelling Propositioning Statements

The Power of a Value Proposition

A compelling value proposition is at the heart of any successful sales plan. It's a clear and concise statement that communicates the unique benefits and value your product or service offers to your target market. Crafting a compelling value proposition is essential for grabbing your potential customer's attention and convincing them to take action.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Identify what sets your product or service apart from the competition. Is it superior quality, innovative features, cost-effectiveness, or exceptional customer service?

Customer-Centric: Focus on the customer's needs and pain points. Your value proposition should address how your offering solves their problems or improves their lives.

Clear and Concise: Keep your value proposition concise and easy to understand. It should be a sentence or two that captures the essence of what you offer.

Crafting Effective Propositioning Statements

To create effective propositioning statements, follow these steps:

  1. Identify Benefits: List the primary benefits your product or service provides to customers.
  2. Define Features: Determine the features that enable these benefits.
  3. Connect Emotionally: Consider the emotional impact of your offering. How does it make customers feel, and how can you convey that in your messaging?
  4. Test and Refine: Continuously test and refine your propositioning statements based on customer feedback and market insights.

Leading Activities for Sales Success

DaBrian Sales Dashboard Image

“Only 24.3 percent of salespeople exceeded their quota in 2021. That may be because reps are simply not getting in front of enough people. 

66.7 percent of salespeople admitted they made contact with 250 or fewer prospects in the past year. Meanwhile, 15 percent of salespeople made contact with over 1,000 prospects in the same year.” - Zendesk Blog

The Importance of Leading Activities

These are the day-to-day actions that your sales team takes to drive success. These activities are the building blocks of achieving your sales goals. Every day leading activities include making calls, conducting meetings, and closing deals. To ensure your team stays on track, it's essential to define and measure these activities.

Leading vs. Lagging Indicators: Leading activities are proactive actions that influence results (lagging indicators). By focusing on leading activities, you have more control over achieving your goals.

Activity Metrics: Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) related to leading activities. For example, you can measure the number of calls made per day, the number of meetings scheduled, or the number of proposals sent.

Creating an Activity Plan

To create an effective activity plan, consider the following steps:

  1. Align Goals: Ensure the leading activities align with your quarterly and annual sales goals. Each activity should contribute directly to achieving those goals.
  2. Set Activity Targets: Set specific targets for each leading activity. For example, your sales team might aim to make 50 cold calls per day or schedule 15 prospect meetings per week.
  3. Map Sales Process: Map out your sales process to understand which activities are critical at each stage. For instance, prospecting activities are crucial in the early stages, while closing activities are essential in the later stages.
  4. Train and Support: Provide your sales team with the training and resources they need to excel in these activities. Regular coaching and feedback are essential for improvement.

90-Day Priorities - The Roadmap to Success

The Significance of 90-Day Priorities

While annual and quarterly goals provide long-term direction, 90-day priorities are the detailed action steps that guide your sales team on a day-to-day basis. These priorities break down the quarterly goals into manageable tasks and ensure that everyone on the team knows what they should focus on.

Short-Term Focus: 90-day priorities help your team stay focused on immediate objectives and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by long-term goals.

Agility and Adaptation: In a rapidly changing business environment, 90-day priorities allow your team to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

Accountability: Assign specific responsibilities for each priority, making it clear who is responsible for what.

Creating 90-Day Priority Plans

To create effective 90-day priority plans:

  1. Align Goals: Ensure that each 90-day priority aligns with the corresponding quarterly goal. Clarify how accomplishing these priorities will contribute to achieving the larger objectives.
  2. Break it Down: Divide the 90-day period into monthly and weekly milestones. What needs to be accomplished each month to stay on track?
  3. Allocate Resources: Assess the resources (time, personnel, budget) needed to achieve these priorities and allocate them accordingly.
  4. Review Regularly: Schedule regular check-ins to monitor progress and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that you are on the right track to meet your quarterly and annual goals.
  5. Celebrate Success: Don't forget to celebrate small wins along the way. Recognizing and rewarding achievements can boost morale and motivation.

Putting it All Together - Building Your Sales Plan

The Blueprint for Success

Now that we've explored the pivotal components of a sales plan—annual goals by quarter, target market analysis, propositioning statements, leading activities, and 90-day priorities—it's time to put it all together into a comprehensive sales plan. Here's how to do it:

Implementation and Continuous Improvement

Executing Your Sales Plan

Once you've created your sales plan, the next crucial step is to put it into action. This involves deploying your sales team, providing them with the necessary resources, and monitoring their progress closely. Effective implementation requires:

Clear Communication: Ensure that your sales team understands the plan and their roles within it. Hold kickoff meetings and provide ongoing communication and training.

Accountability: Assign responsibilities for each aspect of the plan and establish accountability mechanisms to track progress.

Monitoring and Reporting: Continuously monitor the KPIs and metrics you've defined in your plan. Use these data to make informed decisions and adjustments as needed.

Adaptation: Be prepared to adapt your plan based on real-time feedback and changes in the market. A flexible approach is essential for success.

Continuous Improvement

 A successful sales plan is not static; it evolves and improves over time. Regularly review the effectiveness of your plan and make adjustments as necessary. Consider these steps:

  1. Post-Quarter Evaluation: At the end of each quarter, conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your team's performance against the plan's goals and priorities.
  2. Feedback Gathering: Collect feedback from your sales team about what worked well and what needs improvement. Also, seek input from customers to refine your value proposition and sales approach.
  3. Plan Refinement: Based on your evaluation and feedback, refine your sales plan for the next quarter or year. This might involve adjusting goals, priorities, or strategies.
  4. Training and Development: Invest in ongoing training and development for your sales team to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date.

In conclusion, a well-structured sales plan is the linchpin of sales success. It provides direction, focus, and a roadmap for your sales team to achieve their goals. By defining annual goals by quarter, understanding your target market, crafting compelling propositioning statements, emphasizing leading activities, and prioritizing 90-day action plans, you can create a sales plan that sets your team up for success. Remember that a sales plan will never be a static document; it requires continuous evaluation, optimization, and improvement to keep your sales efforts aligned with your company's growth objectives. With a well-executed sales plan, your team can thrive in the competitive world of sales and drive your business to new heights.

Need help getting started on your sales plan? Download our free template to get your sales team moving in the right direction!

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