Working in sales can be challenging at times, and after working in a sales role for a while, you may begin to feel fatigued or experience low motivation. Wouldn’t life be easier if you had access to business plan templates for sales representatives?
Reignite your drive and excitement and give yourself a great gift — something that keeps on giving even after years of working as a sales rep or account executive. Give yourself something that can improve your performance and increase revenue. Give yourself the gift of a business plan.
A business plan requires you to think about your efforts from a high level. Who are you targeting? What are your performance goals? How do you plan to achieve them? Not only will a high-level view of your audience and goals help you meet and exceed them, but it might even help you climb the sales career ladder.
Below, I share the key elements of a sales business plan.
Sales Business Plan Layout
- High-Level Review
- Tactics and Actions
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Sales and Marketing Alignment
- Obstacles to Success
- Personal and Professional Development
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I’ve found it easiest to start with the end in mind and work backward from there. Naturally, your goals will include your company’s expectations (i.e., quota), but why not go even further?
Be more specific. What do you want to achieve?
A promotion? A certain level of income? A certain number of conversions per month? X number of new clients acquired over the year? How about increasing your average deal size? Whatever it is, put it down in writing and build a plan to get yourself there.
It’s powerful to write down our goals. One year, I decided to write five goals on the whiteboard in my office. At year-end, I had hit four of them, including finally buying the classic car I have had my eye on for 30 years.
2. High-Level Review
Got your goals on hand? Great. Now take a few minutes to ponder the strategies you pursued previously. Which ones worked well and made sense to incorporate again this year? And which didn’t work at all and either need to be adjusted or scrapped altogether?
This review will be your guidepost as you create a strategy and action plan. Be honest with yourself during this reflection. Consider asking for feedback from managers, peers, and clients. You might even seek feedback from prospects who didn’t end up buying from you. What can you do better? Was there anything about your sales tactics that put them off? Why did they choose a competitor over you?
If this all sounds vague, take a numbers approach to this review. Instead of reviewing your sales strategies, review how your numbers fared throughout the year — revenue generated, number of meetings, number of proposals, number of demos, close rate, and so on. (Your review will be even more telling and powerful if you combine that qualitative review with a quantitative one.)
3. A Strategy
Once you have articulated what you want to achieve, here are the next logical questions to ask:
- How will you do better to reach your goals?
- What new markets will you approach?
- Which customers and prospects will you target?
- How will you frame the sales conversation or sharpen your sales story?
- What new things will you try on the phone, online, or face-to-face?
See that review that we did in that last step? This is where it’ll come in handy. Having a clear idea of what worked and what didn’t will tell you what you should keep or remove from your new strategy. For example, if last year you sent follow-up emails three days after a demo, you could try sending follow-up emails two days this time. This is one of the tactics you could use.
That brings me to my next point. After creating a strategy, it’s time to come up with some tactics and take action.
4. Tactics and Actions
This section is critical because sales is a verb (it may not be in the dictionary, but in my book, it is).
The most well-intentioned goals and the soundest strategies mean nothing if you don’t know what steps to take to achieve them. So for this section of your plan, ask yourself, "What activities am I going to commit to?"
For example, you’ll have X number of face-to-face conversations per month or make Y prospecting calls per week. Whatever the activities are, they should drive what ends up on your calendar on a daily or weekly basis.
Let's say your goal is to make more sales in a shorter time. Include the resources and tools you'll use to achieve that goal in your business plan. In this case, one option would be to use a CRM database to help you keep track of your prospects and eliminate manual data entry (e.g., logging emails and calls), ultimately increasing your efficiency.
5. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Action is action, but if there’s no way to measure its success, you won’t know what worked and what didn’t. You’ll therefore want to put metrics in place to monitor your progress. I recommend setting target numbers for the following KPIs:
- Raw number of deals closed
- Close ratio
- Revenue per account
- Customer retention rate
- Calls and emails
- Quotes or proposals
Remember, set a target number for each of these metrics. That way, you have something to reach toward. You can manually keep track of this information or use dedicated sales software. Or you can ask your manager to give you the performance data.
6. Sales and Marketing Alignment
You know what you want to do, how you’re going to do it, and which metrics you want to track. As you carry out your strategy, be sure to align your efforts with the efforts of your company’s marketing team.
Aligning your sales plan with a whole other department may sound over-the-top, but hear me out: sales teams depend on marketing teams to deliver leads. Even when you’re prospecting, marketing has likely identified the types of companies — and the best job titles — you should use for outreach.
When those leads get to your desk, it’s time to sell to them in a way that continues the nurturing process that marketing started. Say the lead was acquired when they downloaded an ebook on how to improve their productivity. When that lead gets assigned to you, propose your company’s product as a solution. Don’t try to sell it as if you don’t know the person and why they’re there.
It’s helpful to have a CRM that keeps track of your leads’ marketing-related activity. That way, you know which pages they’ve visited, what they’ve downloaded, and whether they’ve reached out to your company before. When carrying out your sales strategy, do so in a way that can fulfill the promises extended by marketing. Take a look at the content on your website, your company’s slogan, and your buyer personas. Use this information to create the perfect pitch.
After, connect with the marketing team to let them know whether that was a good lead or whether the buyer personas and the content on the website need adjustment. If your team does not meet regularly with marketing, bring the issue to your manager. Marketing and sales alignment is critical for your plan’s success.
But there are other obstacles to look out for, too — and you must have them.
7. Obstacles to Success
This is a unique addition I haven’t seen in many plans, but I think it’s an important component. This is where you lay out what could prevent you from reaching your goals and highlight areas where you might need some help. The truth is that you likely know what will get in the way of your success. So instead of using these obstacles as excuses later, point them out at the beginning.
Think carefully: What obstacles will keep you from succeeding?
Do you need new tools or different technology? More flexibility? Better internal support? Put it down in writing now. That way, when you present your plan to your manager (and I strongly encourage you to present your plan to your manager and maybe even a few peers), you give them a chance to support you.
They can either remove the obstacle or tell you it can't be removed in the short term. Either way, it’s in your best interest to declare these potential pitfalls now so that they’re not excuses down the road.
8. Personal and Professional Development
This is another important aspect of the business plan that's often overlooked. I regularly see salespeople fail because they’ve stopped learning and growing.
Many have become stale. Others are bored and ineffective from deploying the same techniques year after year. You wouldn’t go to a doctor that didn’t read medical journals and was treating patients with the same protocol he used twenty years ago, would you?
So commit to growing as a sales professional this year. What are you going to do to grow in your career?
What conferences are you going to attend? Which books are you going to read? Which sales blogs will you follow?
Now, once you have the layout for your sales business plan solidified, you must do two things:
- Get it down on paper - You’re more likely to achieve goals if you write them down. Just trust me on that.
- Get more specific - Using an actual business plan template can prompt you to think deeper about your motivation and action plan.
Below is a free business plan template you can use to get started.
Free Business Plan Template
Start building your business plan with this free template.
Featured Resource: Free Business Plan Template
Your goal is to think like a business. I’ll teach you how to adapt each section of this general business plan to fit your role as a sales representative.
Section 1: The Business Opportunity
The business opportunity is an overview of why you’re doing what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, and what you hope to achieve. Include your mission statement as a sales representative and why you’re working with the leads and accounts you chose.
In a typical business plan, this section is called an executive summary and highlights the most crucial information for readers. This means you can get creative and inspirational with it, summarizing the information that will motivate you most.
Section 2: Company Description
The company description can refer to the organization(s) you sell for, or you can consider yourself the business being described. Because this is a personal document, choose the format that will most benefit you.
Keep in mind that there are a few elements to include in this section:
Section 3: Company Purpose
This is a short description of the business, providing a high-level overview of who they are, what they offer, and who they offer it to. You might consider creating multiple purposes if you sell on behalf of more than one organization or outlining your purpose as a salesperson.
Section 4: Mission Statement
A mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of an organization. If you’re making multiple company descriptions, include one for each organization. You can also include a personal mission statement for why you’ve chosen this organization and how you plan to support their success.
For example, say I’m a sales rep for an editorial company. My mission statement might be “to reach out to writers suffering from imposter syndrome and encourage them to consider editorial help so they can publish with confidence … and inspire future writers who dream of doing the same.”
Section 5: Core Values
Use the core values for the organization(s) you work for, why you chose them, and how they will manifest in your interactions with prospects. For example, HubSpot’s values are humility, empathy, adaptability, remarkableness, and transparency.
If your organization doesn’t have clear core values defined, feel free to come up with your own that will serve as your modus operandi. Three to five values are what you want to have.
Section 6: Product & Service Lines
This section will include:
- Product or service offerings - What are the lines you’re trying to sell, and what functionality does each have?
- Pricing model - How much does each product or service cost prospects, how much commission do you make for each sale, and what parameters do you have for discounts or special deals?
Outline this information in an easy-to-scan table.
COMMISSION PER SALE
DEALS AND DISCOUNTS
Section 7: Team
In a typical business plan, this would manifest as an overview of the company and all the key leadership roles. However, the most relevant information could be key contacts at your company or companies you sell to, including your sales and marketing contacts (if applicable). If you’re filling out the template to create your sales plan, you’d simply include yourself.
Section 8: Industry Analysis
In this section, you’ll take a look at the state of the industry, including your company’s competitors and your prospect’s competitors. You’ll ask:
- Is the market in growth or decline?
- Who are your competitors?
- What edge do they have over your product?
- How can you get your prospects to buy into the product you’re selling instead?
Your sales manager might already have answers for you or relay new information as it becomes available.
If you’re filling out a business plan to understand your prospects, you’ll want to answer similar questions:
- Who are their competitors?
- What challenges are they looking to solve?
- Is their industry in decline, and if so, can your product help them grow during this decline?
Section 9: Target Market
This will manifest in your business plan as an overview or outline of whom you’re targeting, including general demographics and psychographics. You might want to include:
- Business title
- Location and language
- Pains or problems they're looking to solve
Consider consolidating this information and creating dedicated buyer personas.
Section 10: Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are fictional representations of individuals within your target market. The best practice is to create a buyer persona for each “type” of customer you serve. You can do so using HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool and exporting the information into your business plan.
If you’re filling out the template for a prospect, come up with a buyer persona for the target audience they serve.
Section 11: Location Analysis
Where is the geographic location of your target market? Explain why you’ve chosen the location and the benefits of it. Do the same for your prospects and customers if you’re using the template for them.
Here’s a template you can use:
[Organization name] serves [Location] because [reason]. We found that one of the key drivers of a successful acquisition is [key element], which means our target buyers tend to be in [more specific location descriptor]. We plan to tap into this market by [method].
This might manifest as something like:
“Editorial Company serves authors throughout the United States because editorial work can be done online with virtual meetings and file sharing. We found that one of the key drivers of a successful acquisition is participation in online writing groups, which means our target buyers tend to be active in social media circles. We plan to tap into this market with inbound marketing.”
Section 12: Implementation Timeline
In this section, a business typically specifies how long it will take for its operation to be up and running. They take logistics, partnerships, and other operational elements into account. For your sales plan, you might specify an implementation timeline for various checkpoints, including software adoption, sales-marketing meetings, and more.
Say you told your sales manager you need sales software to keep track of the KPIs you identified earlier. You should take into account the time it will take for that CRM to be purchased and distributed to your team.
If you’re filling out the template to understand a prospect, consider laying out a timeline that specifies when they’ll buy the product, when you’re to follow up with them, and so on.
Section 13: Marketing Plan
If your organization is an inbound sales organization with a marketing department, you might include your marketing and sales service-level agreement (SLA) in this section.
On the other hand, if you’re responsible for cold outreach and prospecting, this section might be helpful to complete on your own. The elements you’ll need to consider are:
- How is this product or service unique and unbeatable compared to its competitors?
- Why are potential buyers going to be interested in the product or service?
- How will you address the buyer persona’s biggest challenges and goals?
- What are your main lead acquisition channels (e.g., search engine marketing, event marketing, blogging, paid advertising, etc.)?
- What do you plan to prioritize this year for lead acquisition?
Tools and Technology
Financial Considerations and Funding Required
This section is likely more suited for sales reps who are commission-only. You’ll want to consider how much financial collateral will be your responsibility as you sell for the organization. You’ll want to outline:
- Startup costs
- Sales forecasts
- When you'll break even
- Profit and loss projections
These things can be estimated and calculated in Excel and then imported into the template. There’s also a section on the funding required, but you won’t need to fill it out as an individual sales representative. And since your prospects have already secured funding or are established firms, you won’t need to fill this out to understand their business.
Section 14: Sales Plan
Now, finally, we’ve reached the sales plan. This will be done in a separate worksheet — a Google Doc or Word document that you can continue to edit as you evolve in your sales role. You will likely be able to draw on your experience to outline the following:
- How will you reach and engage with new leads?
- Are you pursuing an inbound or outbound sales strategy?
- Why does your prospecting strategy make sense for your business?
Sales Organization Structure
- Who do you report to within the organization?
- Is there a marketing department and existing SLA between the departments?
- How are leads qualified?
- What are your main customer acquisition channels (e.g., online purchasing, through a rep, on location, via email, etc.)?
Tools and Technology
- What tools or systems are you equipped with (e.g., CMS, live chat, etc.)?
We've covered the different parts of a sales reps' business plan, but what does one of these plans actually look like? Here are five amazing examples of individual business plans for sales reps.
Individual Business Plan Examples for Sales Reps
1. Individual Development Plan
An individual development plan (IDP) is a document that you would make to identify your goals and objectives to your employer. After identifying your goals, ensure that your objectives follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal framework. Lastly, for each action, assign a target date. While it does not need to be a specific day of the year, set your timeline by quarters of the year — as seen in the above example.
In addition to the long-term and short-term goals that the above example from Simplicable demonstrates, the resources required section is another useful component of the individual development plan. It directly informs your employer that you require support to achieve the goals and objectives that will ultimately benefit the entire company.
2. Medical Sales Business Plan
While a medical sales business plan can help you land a promotion, it could be decisive in helping you impress a hiring manager. It should include your learning goals, your plans for establishing yourself, and your game plan for generating sales. For medical sales business plans, the 30-60-90 day sales plan is customary in the industry.
The UNC Health Care example above is a hybrid of the 30-60-90 plan in that it focuses on the long-term goal of change at the end of three months. Although it doesn’t focus on medical sales, it accurately demonstrates the progression of this plan. In a typical 30-60-90 sales plan, you would state your goals, the action steps you will use to reach them, your target dates, and your metrics for success.
3. Automotive Sales Business Plan
Automotive sales business plans are slightly more challenging than other business plans because there are a lot of factors to consider. When building your plan, you need to start with an analysis. It includes an analysis of your company, industry, customers, and competitors.
Once you have included in-depth analysis, focus on demonstrating your ideas with the four Ps of marketing. The four Ps of marketing are product, price, place, and promotion.
First, outline your focus products. Second, discuss price. You can include current pricing and any proposed changes. Further analysis would include how these prices stack up against competitors and how they affect your customers.
Third, concentrate on your location. This information should detail how your location either adds or decreases traffic and propose solutions for the latter. Lastly, recommend promotions. In the automotive industry, customers are always looking for the best deal.
You also have to be very visible with your marketing. Possibly one of the most important sections of your automotive sales business template, include a detailed course of action for promotional ideas and plans.
4. Territory Business Plan
A territory business plan should cover your sales territory. Historically, sales territory is the division of geographical regions for assignments to sales representatives. These representatives are responsible for all customers or clients within that area.
Now, industry, sales potential, and customer type affect territory business planning. An example of customer type is focusing your territory planning on individuals with the same median income. Instead of using geography, this alternative can lead to more strategic success.
When creating a territory business plan, you want to start by analyzing your business goals and objectives. As you build your plan, include an analysis of your prospects and a SWOT analysis. It’s a planning technique that identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This information will allow you to propose strategies for sales territories and devise an action plan.
5. Quarterly Business Plan
Creating a business plan for an entire year can be too complex. By separating the year into quarters, you can make your business strategy more actionable. Quarterly business planning is when you set goals and objectives and measure performance after each quarter. Typically, the year segments into Quarter 1 (January 1 to March 31), Quarter 2 (April 1 to June 30), Quarter 3 (July 1 to September 30), and Quarter 4 (October 1 to December 31).
Quarterly business planning focuses on short-term goals that ultimately help fulfill any long-term goals. Your quarterly business plan should include your focus areas, metrics for determining success, and your action plan.
Crush Your Sales Goals with a Business and Sales Plan
With the plan I’ve shared, you'll be prepared to take on any goal or challenge in your career. Consider it a gift to yourself that keeps on giving. Use your plan like a living document, review it weekly, and make tweaks as necessary along the way. Let it dictate what makes it onto your calendar. At year-end, you will be amazed at what you accomplished and thankful you invested the time to do this now.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jun 9, 2022 8:00:00 AM, updated June 10 2022