How to Write a Sales Plan

Table of contents.

Elizabeth Veras

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.

Realistic goals

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.

Sales tools

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.”

Training programs

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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Business plan vs. sales plan. do i need both.

Mike Lindert of Sales Xceleration is a member of XPX Chicago

The Dual Imperative: The Significance of Having a Business Plan and a Sales Plan for Startup Success

Introduction

Launching a Startup is an exhilarating journey that requires careful planning and execution. Entrepreneurs must develop two crucial blueprints to establish a solid foundation for success: a comprehensive Business Plan and a focused Sales Plan . While the Business Plan outlines the overall strategy and direction of the venture, the Sales Plan acts as a roadmap for achieving revenue targets.

Business Plan vs. Sales Plan – An Important Distinction. The Business Plan and the Sales Plan are critically different yet complementary elements of a successful business launch.

Business Plans are typically developed for a particular audience like C-Suite Executives, CEOs, CFOs, etc., and focus on raising funds with a Banker or conceptually pitching other funding sources like Private Equity or Venture Capital investors. Business Plans are developed from the “top-down” based on broad, industry-level market assumptions and often rely on the addressable market size, projected market share, average selling price, renewal rates, annual revenue projections, inflation adjustments, etc.

Sales Plans are typically developed by the Sales Leader to validate the Business Plan and verify the resources required to achieve the Business Plan’s revenue projections. The Sales Plan is a detailed, “bottom-up” sales forecast that uses a reiterative process to confirm the sales resources (people, processes, systems, infrastructure, etc.) needed to ensure the timely delivery of projected Sales Revenue.

In this article, we will explore the importance of having both a Business Plan and a Sales Plan in the Startup ecosystem and how they work together to drive sustainable growth. Beyond Startups, this article offers a very effective approach that can be deployed in other business situations, such as Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures, Integrations, Reorganizations, and Turnarounds.

The Business Plan: Charting the Course

Strategic Vision and Mission

The Business Plan serves as a strategic compass, providing a clear vision and mission for the Startup. It outlines the long-term goals, target market, and value proposition of the business. By defining the purpose and direction, the Business Plan helps align the efforts of all stakeholders toward a common objective.

Market Analysis and Competitive Landscape

A thorough market analysis is a crucial component of the Business Plan. It involves studying the target market, identifying customer needs, and evaluating potential competitors. Market research helps the Startup understand its customers, anticipate trends, and position itself effectively in the market.

Operational and Financial Planning

A robust Business Plan includes detailed operational and financial strategies. It outlines the organizational structure, key responsibilities, and operational processes necessary to achieve the business goals. Additionally, it projects top-down financial forecasts, including revenue projections, expenses, and funding requirements, which help the Startup plan for contingencies, manage resources efficiently, and attract investors or lenders.

The Sales Plan: Planning to Grow

GTM Strategy & Sales Tactics

The Sales Plan details the Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy and sales tactics needed to drive sales growth. This may include sales channel selection, lead generation techniques, pricing strategies, and promotional activities. By mapping the sales process, Startups can streamline operations, optimize resource allocation, and enhance the customer experience.

Target Customer Identification

Understanding the target customer is crucial for Startups to tailor their sales strategies. The Sales Plan outlines the Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP), including demographics, pain points, and buying behaviors. By identifying the target customer, Startups can refine their messaging and design effective sales processes to maximize conversion rates.

Clear Sales Targets

A Sales Plan is essential for Startups as it clarifies sales objectives and targets. It defines measurable goals, such as revenue targets, customer acquisition numbers, the number and types of salespeople, experience levels, hiring plans, ramp-up time, sales quotas, the number of marketing qualified leads, projected calls/meetings per week, RFPs/month, win-loss projections, estimated conversion rates, manufacturing constraints, product availability, margin expectations, KPIs, etc. By setting clear sales objectives, the Sales Plan enables the Startup to focus its efforts and allocate resources effectively.

The Symbiotic Relationship: Business Plans and Sales Plans

Adaptability

The symbiotic relationship between the Business and Sales Plans allow for agility in adapting to changing market dynamics. As Startups navigate uncertainties and unexpected challenges, the Business Plan can be revised to accommodate strategic pivots, while the Sales Plan can be adjusted to capitalize on emerging opportunities. This flexibility ensures that the Startup remains responsive to market trends and customer demands.

Ensuring Alignment

The Business Plan and the Sales Plan must work in harmony to ensure alignment between the strategic vision and sales execution. The alignment enables the organization to maintain cohesiveness in its messaging, branding, and customer interactions. An aligned Sales Plan ensures that the Startup’s sales efforts support the overall revenue goals. Ideally, the Business and Sales plans need to meet in the middle. Once aligned, the Sales Leader can develop a sales budget for the Sales Organization. How much does it cost to build and maintain a sales team capable of delivering the desired results?

Performance Tracking

Both plans provide a framework for performance tracking and evaluation. The Business Plan allows Startups to assess their progress toward the overarching business goals, while the Sales Plan enables tracking of sales targets, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction metrics. Regular evaluation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) empowers Startups to identify areas of improvement, refine their strategies, and make data-driven decisions.

The best way to validate a Business Plan is by creating a “bottom-up” Sales Plan that incorporates known variables to generate monthly/quarterly/annual Sales forecasts that align with the “top-down” revenue projections in the Business Plan. Any disconnects found during this process will allow the Company to address potential flaws pre-launch, which can save the company millions of dollars without having to rework the Business Plan, delay the launch, miss sales projections, or negatively impact the Company’s valuation. It can also provide Operations with an accurate monthly sales forecast to order raw materials, plan inventory, and develop manufacturing schedules.

Bottom Line. Market Reports and Market Data are excellent sources of general industry information and trends when building a Business Plan; however, engaging a strong Sales Leader to develop and execute an actionable Sales Plan will ensure you have the necessary sales infrastructure and resources in place to launch and grow a profitable business.

If this article describes some of the challenges your business is experiencing, why not engage a Sales Advisor who can help elevate and accelerate your business? Book a confidential, no-obligation meeting with Strategic Elevation to learn more.

business plan vs sales plan

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

About the author

Mike Lindert of Sales Xceleration is a member of XPX Chicago

Mike Lindert

CEO ADVISOR & FRACTIONAL CSO, PROVIDING SALES SOLUTIONS FOR B2B BUSINESSES. Top Line Revenue Growth, Sales Strategy, Sales Structure, Sales Assessments, Sales Staffing, Resource Optimization, On-Site Sales Leadership.

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What is a Business Plan? Definition and Resources

Clipboard with paper, calculator, compass, and other similar tools laid out on a table. Represents the basics of what is a business plan.

8 min. read

Updated November 30, 2023

If you’ve ever jotted down a business idea on a napkin with a few tasks you need to accomplish, you’ve written a business plan — or at least the very basic components of one.

The origin of formal business plans is murky. But they certainly go back centuries. And when you consider that 20% of new businesses fail in year 1 , and half fail within 5 years, the importance of thorough planning and research should be clear.

But just what is a business plan? And what’s required to move from a series of ideas to a formal plan? Here we’ll answer that question and explain why you need one to be a successful business owner.

  • What is a business plan?

Definition: Business plan is a description of a company's strategies, goals, and plans for achieving them.

A business plan lays out a strategic roadmap for any new or growing business.

Any entrepreneur with a great idea for a business needs to conduct market research , analyze their competitors , validate their idea by talking to potential customers, and define their unique value proposition .

The business plan captures that opportunity you see for your company: it describes your product or service and business model , and the target market you’ll serve. 

It also includes details on how you’ll execute your plan: how you’ll price and market your solution and your financial projections .

Reasons for writing a business plan

If you’re asking yourself, ‘Do I really need to write a business plan?’ consider this fact: 

Companies that commit to planning grow 30% faster than those that don’t.

Creating a business plan is crucial for businesses of any size or stage. 

If you plan to raise funds for your business through a traditional bank loan or SBA loan , none of them will want to move forward without seeing your business plan. Venture capital firms may or may not ask for one, but you’ll still need to do thorough planning to create a pitch that makes them want to invest.

But it’s more than just a means of getting your business funded . The plan is also your roadmap to identify and address potential risks. 

It’s not a one-time document. Your business plan is a living guide to ensure your business stays on course.

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

Related: 14 of the top reasons why you need a business plan

What research shows about business plans

Numerous studies have established that planning improves business performance:

  • 71% of fast-growing companies have business plans that include budgets, sales goals, and marketing and sales strategies.
  • Companies that clearly define their value proposition are more successful than those that can’t.
  • Companies or startups with a business plan are more likely to get funding than those without one.
  • Starting the business planning process before investing in marketing reduces the likelihood of business failure.

The planning process significantly impacts business growth for existing companies and startups alike.

Read More: Research-backed reasons why writing a business plan matters

When should you write a business plan?

No two business plans are alike. 

Yet there are similar questions for anyone considering writing a plan to answer. One basic but important question is when to start writing it.

A Harvard Business Review study found that the ideal time to write a business plan is between 6 and 12 months after deciding to start a business. 

But the reality can be more nuanced – it depends on the stage a business is in, or the type of business plan being written.

Ideal times to write a business plan include:

  • When you have an idea for a business
  • When you’re starting a business
  • When you’re preparing to buy (or sell)
  • When you’re trying to get funding
  • When business conditions change
  • When you’re growing or scaling your business

Read More: The best times to write or update your business plan

How often should you update your business plan?

As is often the case, how often a business plan should be updated depends on your circumstances.

A business plan isn’t a homework assignment to complete and forget about. At the same time, no one wants to get so bogged down in the details that they lose sight of day-to-day goals. 

But it should cover new opportunities and threats that a business owner surfaces, and incorporate feedback they get from customers. So it can’t be a static document.

For an entrepreneur at the ideation stage, writing and checking back on their business plan will help them determine if they can turn that idea into a profitable business .

And for owners of up-and-running businesses, updating the plan (or rewriting it) will help them respond to market shifts they wouldn’t be prepared for otherwise. 

It also lets them compare their forecasts and budgets to actual financial results. This invaluable process surfaces where a business might be out-performing expectations and where weak performance may require a prompt strategy change. 

The planning process is what uncovers those insights.

  • How long should your business plan be?

Thinking about a business plan strictly in terms of page length can risk overlooking more important factors, like the level of detail or clarity in the plan. 

Not all of the plan consists of writing – there are also financial tables, graphs, and product illustrations to include.

But there are a few general rules to consider about a plan’s length:

  • Your business plan shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to skim.
  • Business plans for internal use (not for a bank loan or outside investment) can be as short as 5 to 10 pages.

A good practice is to write your business plan to match the expectations of your audience. 

If you’re walking into a bank looking for a loan, your plan should match the formal, professional style that a loan officer would expect . But if you’re writing it for stakeholders on your own team—shorter and less formal (even just a few pages) could be the better way to go.

The length of your plan may also depend on the stage your business is in. 

For instance, a startup plan won’t have nearly as much financial information to include as a plan written for an established company will.

Read More: How long should your business plan be?  

What information is included in a business plan?

The contents of a plan business plan will vary depending on the industry the business is in. 

After all, someone opening a new restaurant will have different customers, inventory needs, and marketing tactics to consider than someone bringing a new medical device to the market. 

But there are some common elements that most business plans include:

  • Executive summary: An overview of the business operation, strategy, and goals. The executive summary should be written last, despite being the first thing anyone will read.
  • Products and services: A description of the solution that a business is bringing to the market, emphasizing how it solves the problem customers are facing.
  • Market analysis: An examination of the demographic and psychographic attributes of likely customers, resulting in the profile of an ideal customer for the business.
  • Competitive analysis: Documenting the competitors a business will face in the market, and their strengths and weaknesses relative to those competitors.
  • Marketing and sales plan: Summarizing a business’s tactics to position their product or service favorably in the market, attract customers, and generate revenue.
  • Operational plan: Detailing the requirements to run the business day-to-day, including staffing, equipment, inventory, and facility needs.
  • Organization and management structure: A listing of the departments and position breakdown of the business, as well as descriptions of the backgrounds and qualifications of the leadership team.
  • Key milestones: Laying out the key dates that a business is projected to reach certain milestones , such as revenue, break-even, or customer acquisition goals.
  • Financial plan: Balance sheets, cash flow forecast , and sales and expense forecasts with forward-looking financial projections, listing assumptions and potential risks that could affect the accuracy of the plan.
  • Appendix: All of the supporting information that doesn’t fit into specific sections of the business plan, such as data and charts.

Read More: Use this business plan outline to organize your plan

  • Different types of business plans

A business plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all document. There are numerous ways to create an effective business plan that fits entrepreneurs’ or established business owners’ needs. 

Here are a few of the most common types of business plans for small businesses:

  • One-page plan : Outlining all of the most important information about a business into an adaptable one-page plan.
  • Growth plan : An ongoing business management plan that ensures business tactics and strategies are aligned as a business scales up.
  • Internal plan : A shorter version of a full business plan to be shared with internal stakeholders – ideal for established companies considering strategic shifts.

Business plan vs. operational plan vs. strategic plan

  • What questions are you trying to answer? 
  • Are you trying to lay out a plan for the actual running of your business?
  • Is your focus on how you will meet short or long-term goals? 

Since your objective will ultimately inform your plan, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish before you start writing.

While a business plan provides the foundation for a business, other types of plans support this guiding document.

An operational plan sets short-term goals for the business by laying out where it plans to focus energy and investments and when it plans to hit key milestones.

Then there is the strategic plan , which examines longer-range opportunities for the business, and how to meet those larger goals over time.

Read More: How to use a business plan for strategic development and operations

  • Business plan vs. business model

If a business plan describes the tactics an entrepreneur will use to succeed in the market, then the business model represents how they will make money. 

The difference may seem subtle, but it’s important. 

Think of a business plan as the roadmap for how to exploit market opportunities and reach a state of sustainable growth. By contrast, the business model lays out how a business will operate and what it will look like once it has reached that growth phase.

Learn More: The differences between a business model and business plan

  • Moving from idea to business plan

Now that you understand what a business plan is, the next step is to start writing your business plan . 

If you’re stuck, start with a one-page business plan and check out our collection of over 550 business plan examples for inspiration. They’re broken out over dozens of industries—you can even copy and paste sections into your plan and rewrite them with information specific to your business.

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Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

business plan vs sales plan

Table of Contents

  • Reasons to write a business plan
  • Business planning research
  • When to write a business plan
  • When to update a business plan
  • Information to include
  • Business vs. operational vs. strategic plans

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Crafting the Perfect Sales Plan vs. Marketing Plan in 2023

Are you struggling to create effective sales and marketing plans that can drive your business forward? You’re not alone. Crafting the perfect sales plan vs. marketing plan is an essential yet complex process, requiring a deep understanding of your target market, clear goals, and a well-defined strategy.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of crafting the perfect sales plan and marketing plan in 2023, comparing their key differences and highlighting their potential impact on your organization’s success.

Short Summary

  • Sales and marketing plans have different goals , focus areas, processes, and tools.
  • Aligning sales and marketing plans is essential for business success to maximize the impact of initiatives.
  • Developing an effective plan requires setting SMART goals tailored to target customers & leveraging various channels/content for promotional activities.

business plan vs sales plan

Understanding the Sales Plan and Marketing Plan

Sales and marketing plans are the backbone of any organization’s growth strategy. These marketing and sales plans outline the steps necessary to promote products and generate revenue through marketing efforts, ultimately driving the organization’s success. While both sales and marketing plans share the common goal of boosting sales, they differ in their objectives, focus areas, and processes.

A sales plan outlines the strategies that a business will use in order to sell its products and services. This helps the company increase its revenue. On the other hand, a marketing plan focuses on identifying the business’s target market and devising strategies for engaging those customers through various marketing activities. Aligning sales and marketing plans can lead to a 208% higher revenue from marketing initiatives and a 32% average year-over-year revenue growth.

Sales Plan Definition

A sales plan is a strategic document that outlines the business’s objectives in regard to selling products or services. It serves as a roadmap for generating revenue from marketing initiatives by facilitating the journey from lead generation to customer conversion.

The objectives of a sales plan should be clearly defined, quantifiable, and relevant to the requirements of customers. It is crucial to identify a target market, analyze customer buying attitudes and behaviors, and devise advertising strategies. Some tactics employed in sales include opportunity limitation, highlighting areas of discomfort, and utilizing the assumptive close.

Marketing Plan Definition

A marketing plan, on the other hand, is a comprehensive strategy for promoting a business, its products, and services to reach target customers. It typically includes:

  • Target markets
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Unique selling points
  • Marketing tactics by channel.

An effective marketing plan needs to start with the unique value proposition of a product or service. It should then cover an extensive marketing strategy that integrates online and offline channels. Finally, it should set a clear budget. The purpose of a marketing plan is to serve as a comprehensive blueprint for promoting a business, its products, and services to reach target customers.

Key Differences Between Sales and Marketing Plans

While both sales and marketing plans aim to drive revenue growth, they differ in their goals, focus areas and processes. Sales plans prioritize generating revenue through the conversion of target customers into purchasers. In contrast, marketing plans emphasize reaching and raising awareness among the intended demographic.

Sales plans are more tactical and precise, focusing on direct selling techniques and interactions with prospects. Marketing plans, however, are broader strategic documents that guide the overall marketing efforts, including advertising, public relations, and social media campaigns.

Sales and marketing plans also employ diverse technologies and tools to oversee and monitor their operations and engagements with potential and existing customers. Understanding these differences can help businesses allocate resources more effectively and create a cohesive strategy that maximizes the impact of both sales and marketing efforts, including sales and marketing activities, with the support of the marketing department.

Goals and Objectives

The primary objectives of sales plans are:

  • Attain financial targets
  • Cultivate relationships with buyers to stimulate purchases
  • Bring in revenue
  • Focus on converting prospective customers into actual customers.

Marketing plans, on the other hand, are intended to raise awareness and draw in potential customers. The primary goal of marketing is to create and cultivate leads, which eventually feed into the sales process. Thus, marketing plans aim to generate awareness and interest in a business’s products or services, while sales plans focus on converting that interest into revenue.

business plan vs sales plan

Focus Areas

Sales plans concentrate on customer acquisition and retention, with tactics such as cold calling, email campaigns, and face-to-face meetings. The primary emphasis of a sales plan is on acquiring and retaining customers, with the ultimate goal of generating revenue.

Marketing plans, in contrast, prioritize brand building and customer engagement, utilizing promotional activities and channels such as advertising, public relations, and social media. The primary objective of a marketing plan is to promote brand awareness and foster customer relationships, ensuring a steady flow of leads for the sales team to convert.

Processes and Tactics

The formulation of a sales plan typically involves direct selling tactics, such as cold calling, email campaigns, and face-to-face meetings. These tactics are focused on building relationships with prospects and converting them into customers.

On the other hand, a marketing plan encompasses a variety of promotional activities and channels, including advertising, public relations, and social media. These activities aim to raise awareness, generate interest, and foster engagement among the target audience, ultimately feeding leads into the sales process as part of a well-executed marketing campaign.

Aligning Sales and Marketing Plans for Success

Aligning sales and marketing plans is vital for business success, leading to increased revenue growth, better customer experiences, and improved collaboration between departments. By synchronizing their efforts and working towards shared objectives, sales and marketing teams can ensure more efficient use of resources and maximize the impact of their initiatives. This process of sales and marketing alignment is crucial for achieving optimal results.

To achieve alignment, businesses can implement strategies such as regular communication, shared goals and KPIs, and collaborative planning and execution. These strategies help to create a unified customer journey, develop a shared language, and establish a shared set of metrics, resulting in a more cohesive and effective approach to sales and marketing.

Benefits of Alignment

Aligning sales and marketing plans can result in improved conversion rates, enhanced customer retention, and more efficient utilization of resources. Higher conversion rates lead to higher revenue, a better understanding of target audiences, and a more satisfactory customer experience.

Improved customer retention can result in enhanced customer loyalty, heightened customer satisfaction, and increased customer lifetime value. Optimizing resource utilization can also lead to cost reductions, increased productivity, and improved efficiency.

Strategies for Alignment

To ensure alignment between sales and marketing plans, businesses can implement strategies such as creating a unified customer journey, developing a shared language, and creating a shared set of metrics. These strategies help to establish a common understanding between the marketing team and sales team, fostering collaboration and ensuring that both teams are striving towards the same objectives.

Regular communication between sales and marketing teams is also essential for the successful implementation of strategies. By maintaining open lines of communication, any potential issues or conflicts can be identified and resolved, ultimately leading to a more cohesive and effective approach to sales and marketing.

business plan vs sales plan

Developing an Effective Sales Plan

Developing an effective sales plan involves setting clear goals, identifying target customers, and creating actionable strategies and tactics. By following a structured process and focusing on the specific needs of your target market, you can create a sales plan that drives revenue growth and supports your overall business objectives.

In this section, we’ll explore the steps involved in developing an effective sales plan, including setting sales goals, identifying target customers, and creating sales strategies and tactics.

Setting Sales Goals

When setting sales goals, it’s essential to ensure they are:

  • Time-bound (SMART)

These goals should align with your overall business objectives while also being tailored to the requirements of your target customers.

Establishing clear, measurable sales goals can help keep your sales team focused and motivated while also providing a benchmark for tracking progress and evaluating performance. By setting achievable yet challenging sales targets, you can drive revenue growth and support the long-term viability of your business.

Identifying Target Customers

Identifying your target customers is a critical step in the sales planning process, as it helps to ensure your sales efforts are directed toward the right audience. By creating detailed buyer personas, you can gain insight into the needs and preferences of potential customers, allowing you to tailor your sales strategies and tactics accordingly.

Market research, customer surveys, and competitor analysis can be utilized to identify target customers and create a comprehensive understanding of buyer needs and preferences. With a clear picture of your target customers, you can develop sales strategies and tactics that resonate with their unique needs and preferences, ultimately leading to increased conversions and revenue.

Creating Sales Strategies and Tactics

To develop effective sales strategies and tactics, it’s essential to address customer pain points and offer unique value propositions. Sales tactics may include cold calling, email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, and social media campaigns, while sales processes may encompass lead generation, lead nurturing, and customer onboarding.

By focusing on the specific needs of your target customers and offering solutions that address their unique challenges, you can develop sales strategies and tactics that drive conversions and revenue growth. It’s also crucial to monitor key performance indicators, such as customer lifetime value, customer acquisition cost, and customer retention rate, to evaluate the effectiveness of your sales strategies and make necessary adjustments.

Crafting a Comprehensive Marketing Plan

Crafting a comprehensive marketing plan involves defining objectives, developing strategies, and implementing tactics to reach and engage your target customers. By creating a marketing plan that is aligned with your overall business objectives, you can ensure a cohesive approach to promoting your products or services and driving customer acquisition and retention.

In this section, we’ll explore the steps involved in crafting a comprehensive marketing plan, including defining marketing objectives, developing marketing strategies, and implementing marketing tactics.

business plan vs sales plan

Defining Marketing Objectives

Establishing clear marketing objectives is a crucial first step in crafting a comprehensive marketing plan. These objectives should support your overall business goals and drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and retention.

To ensure your marketing objectives are aligned with your business goals, it’s essential to make them SMART.

This will help you track progress, evaluate performance, and identify areas for improvement, ultimately leading to a more effective marketing strategy.

Developing Marketing Strategies

Developing marketing strategies involves leveraging a mix of channels, content, and marketing and promotion strategies to reach and engage your target customers effectively. By utilizing a variety of marketing channels and tailoring your content and promotional activities to your target audience, you can maximize the impact of your marketing efforts and drive customer acquisition and retention.

Market research, competitor analysis, and a clear understanding of your target customers’ needs and preferences can help you develop marketing strategies that resonate with your audience and drive results. Additionally, it’s essential to continually monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategies, making adjustments as needed to optimize performance.

Implementing Marketing Tactics

Implementing marketing tactics involves:

  • Tailoring your marketing activities to specific customer segments
  • Aligning them with your overall marketing objectives
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Content marketing initiatives
  • Social media marketing
  • Other promotional activities are designed to reach and engage your target audience.

To ensure your marketing tactics are effective, it’s crucial to monitor key performance indicators, such as website traffic, conversions, and customer engagement. By tracking these metrics and making necessary adjustments, you can optimize your marketing tactics and drive better results for your business.

business plan vs sales plan

Sales and Marketing Plan Templates

Sales and marketing plan templates can help streamline the planning process and ensure all essential elements are covered. By providing a structured format for outlining your sales and marketing plans, these templates can save time and effort, allowing you to focus on the strategic aspects of your business.

Creating a sales and marketing plan can be a daunting task with the right template.

Sales Plan Template

A sales plan template provides a structured format for outlining sales goals, target customers, and strategies for achieving success. It serves as a guide for organizing and directing the sales process, including identifying target customers, setting sales objectives, and determining the steps to achieve them.

Sales plan templates may be customized to suit specific business requirements and can include sections such as:

  • Market analysis
  • Sales strategies
  • Performance tracking

By utilizing a sales plan template, you can ensure a comprehensive and well-organized approach to your sales planning efforts.

Marketing Plan Template

A marketing plan template offers a comprehensive framework for defining marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics to reach and engage target customers. It provides a structured format for covering essential elements of a marketing plan, such as:

  • Target audience
  • Goals and objectives
  • Competitor analysis
  • Content creation
  • Measurement and evaluation

By using a marketing plan template, businesses can ensure that their marketing plans are complete, well-organized, and aligned with their overall business objectives. This can ultimately lead to more effective marketing efforts and better results for your organization.

business plan vs sales plan

Crafting the perfect sales and marketing plans is an essential process for driving business growth and success. By understanding the differences between sales and marketing plans, aligning these plans for success, and developing effective strategies and tactics, businesses can maximize the impact of their sales and marketing efforts. Utilizing sales and marketing, plan templates can further streamline the planning process and ensure a comprehensive approach to achieving your business objectives. With a clear focus on reaching and engaging your target customers, your sales and marketing plans will drive revenue growth and support the long-term viability of your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in a sales plan.

A sales plan is a business plan that outlines achievable goals, metrics, KPIs, targets, strategies, resources, team structure, customer information, and expectations for a certain period of time. It helps teams reach their objectives and maximize sales performance.

The plan should include a timeline, budget, and resources needed to reach the goals. It should also include a strategy for tracking progress and measuring success. Additionally, the plan should include a plan for how to adjust the strategy if needed. Finally, the plan should include a plan for the future.

Is sales strategy and marketing strategy the same thing?

Sales strategy and marketing strategy are distinct but complementary activities, with the former focusing on how to convert prospective customers into paying customers and the latter targeting how to attract leads and build awareness.

A holistic approach that involves both departments working together is necessary to ensure successful outcomes.

What would your marketing and sales plan be?

A successful sales and marketing plan should guide both teams in reaching, engaging, and converting target prospects into profitable customers. It must outline strategies for creating awareness of your product/service and set pricing and distribution structures that will provide the highest return on investment.

What is the primary goal of both sales and marketing plans?

The primary goal of both sales and marketing plans is to increase sales and maximize profits.

How can I align my sales and marketing plans for success?

Regularly communicate and set shared goals and KPIs to ensure effective alignment between your sales and marketing plans, resulting in successful execution.

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sales plan

Sales Plan 101: Definition, Types, Template

Any business is all about sales. Whether a company practices B2B or B2C, the main goal is to receive revenue. Only a steady approach with a defined sales plan can guarantee a successful outcome. 

A strategic sales plan is the map for business processes related to trading, dealing with customers, and organizing sales operations . In this article, you will learn the definition of a sales plan, its structure, and types. Moreover, you will get acquainted with a sales plan template and the basics of creating it.

What Is a Sales Plan?

Sales plan is the hub around which the entire operations of the company revolve around. 

A sales plan is a business plan that features the development of the company’s sales activity with set objectives within a particular time frame. 

In other words, it’s a strategic plan where one specifies sales goals, tactics, challenges, target market and steps you will take to execute the plan. 

Setting goals and time frame to achieve them isn’t the only aim. Give the same importance to working out tactics and a precise sales strategy . This part includes analyzing all the resources, deciding on the amount to use, and describing the specific activities.

Download Free Sales Planning Template Now! 

Sales Plan Objective

The Structure of a Sales Plan

Sales plan examples differ, depending on the exact type. But we will pay closer attention to this a bit later in the article. Generally, it includes nine areas of strategic business development. They are:

1) Executive summary

Executive summary is like laying the foundation bricks of your organization. State your company’s vision and mission. What is the ultimate sales goal ? To reach X million revenue by Q4 2021, or increase share price to X amount. In your executive summary, include background on your company’s founding story and how you got to where you are and where you want the company to be in X years. 

2) Set business goals, including revenue targets

You can either set a revenue-based goal or a volume-based goal like having a target of $100 mn Annual Recurring Revenue or expanding product portfolio, or increasing customer base. Keep an achievable revenue or volume target; only then your sales plan can be achieved. 

3) A brief analysis of the performance during the prior period

Give some context to your sales team on the previous year’s performance to know where they are and what needs to be done differently to get to where you want to. 

4) Industry and market overview

Competitor analysis, swot analysis, industry trend reports and market research go a long way in understanding your market position. Having a keen eye for this in your sales planning helps craft your sales plan better. 

5) Description of strategies, tactics

For instance, if your goal is to achieve 100 mn revenue, what is the sales strategy to achieve this number? Then your sales plan should include the following tactics- 

  • Introduce aggressive selling strategies 
  • Tap new markets
  • Give deep discounts 
  • Retarget customers 
  • Cross-sell products to existing customers 

6) Customer segments

Your entire sales team should have clarity on who they are selling to, always. Your sales plan should include target audience, target industries, and ideal customer profiles that your company caters to with its products and services.

7) Resources and team capabilities

If your sales team is tiny, how do you expand your team to meet sales targets and achieve the sales plan? Hiring guidance should also be included in the sales plan. If your outbound sales team is running thin, then your sales plan should state how many resources are required over a particular period and should have a sound outbound hiring strategy in place. 

8) A detailed plan for a team and each member

Ensure clear delegation of roles and responsibilities and at each stage, there should be smooth handoffs and communication. Having a CRM can help bring visibility into the sales pipeline and process for all team members. 

9) Budgets 

An essential element of the sales plan is the budget for the year. How much are you willing to spend to achieve your goals? This would include salaries, bonuses, commissions, training costs, team building activity costs, resources spends, and miscellaneous costs. 

Any sales plan sample consists of these sections. You can alter some of it if they are not necessary for your organization. You can tailor it to suit your organization’s culture and processes.

How to Use CRM Data During Black Swan Events Freshsales Blog

What Are the Benefits of a Sales Plan for Business

In pursuing high revenues, sales managers work out an exact sales plan, including determining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks – SWOT-analysis in the business language.

Having a sales plan helps to do this in terms of sales activities. Here is the list of benefits a company would reap if it has a well-structured sales plan:

1) Clear goals and revenue targets to achieve within a limited period

With an organized sales plan in place, every team member is clear on what they need to contribute to your organization’s success. For example, your sales goal could be to leverage $5,000 in five new deals within a month. 

2) Specific ways of achieving the target

A sales plan lays out the tactics to achieve sales targets. Define the target audience, marketing tools, and techniques to use in your sales plan. For instance, some companies employ guerilla marketing tactics to achieve aggressive sales targets. 

3) Unified labor policies that contribute to operations consistency

All procedures related to your sales teams, campaigns, employees, etc. form a part of your sales plan. Include compensation packages, commission rules, leave policies, in your sales plan, etc.

4) Deep understanding of the company’s strengths and weaknesses

Sales plan should gear your sales team to bring out the strengths of your company. Include competitive battle cards and SWOT analysis in your sales plan to focus on your product strengths. 

5) Ability to effectively track progress

If an employee fails to meet the predetermined sales goals, rethink the sales approach or provide additional sales training.

6) Discipline and diligence

For instance, an employee is more task-oriented, once he knows he must close five deals per month. 

Types of Sales Plans

There is no unified sample sales plan template. They differ according to the company’s purpose. Although most of the sales plans are rather similar, the following types can be distinguished:

  • Annual/quarterly/weekly sales plan – It’s a traditional business sales plan that features revenue goals, tactics, and specific time period by when it should be accomplished.
  • 30 60 90 sales plan – This milestone based sales plan specifies a goal to achieve within set milestones – 30, 60 or 90 days – and is ideal for new sales managers. Helps draw up strategic and tactical activities based on this plan. 
  • Sales budget plan – A sales plan that provides a forecast of factors that could influence revenue within a specific timeframe
  • Sales tactics   plan – This is a tactical sales plan that includes execution strategy, detailed daily or weekly plans such as email follow-up frequency, meeting appointments, and prescribed call sequences for different sales teams.
  • Territory-based sales plan – It features tactics for sales teams across different territories, considering the working environment and market dynamics of a specific area.
  • Sales focus area plan  – This plan dives deep into different sales domains like sales compensation or sales training plan.

business plan vs sales plan

10 Steps to Create a Sales Plan

These ten steps will help to create a sales plan:

1) State Your Company’s Mission

The foremost step is to define the company’s mission, e.g., delivering the best user experience through innovation. Whether you sell a commercial retractable awning , groceries, or clothes, the operations should be consistent with brand values. According to the data from Lucidpress , brands with consistent presentation has increased the revenue by 33%.

2) Set Objectives and Timeframe

Define the objective and time within which a sales team has to achieve them. For example, drive $10,000 in revenue within a month. 

3) Describe a Team

There are many types of sales teams. For example:

  • The island: Involves an owner and sales representatives responsible for every step of the sales process (generating and qualifying leads, closing deals) on their own.
  • The assembly line: A sales force is broken down by functions (e.g., a lead generation team, sales development representatives or prospectors, account executives, a customer success team). A customer moves to a new team as the sales process unfolds.
  • The pod: A team consists of sales development representatives, account executives, and a customer success representative.

4) Define a Target Market

The target market is a starting point for working out further tactics. 

Group your target audience by income groups, like high-net-worth individuals or middle-income groups. You can even group them based on B2B or B2C customers, and so on.

The core aspect is to describe the target audience precisely. For instance, for a women apparel store in NYC – women 18-40 years old live in NYC and its boroughs. Stating your ideal customer profile helps market a product with minimum costs and maximum effectiveness.

5) Evaluate the Resources

A company has to know its assets. In terms of a sales plan, businesses should analyze those which are related to the operations, e.g., the number of sales employees and the level of their expertise, the budget, the equipment (phones, marketing tools, computers, cars).

6) Make a Comparative Analysis with Competitors

Market overview and analysis are crucial in any business plan. It’s vital to know where business, its product, or service stands. One has to explain the distinguishing features that make the business stand out from others. For example, an innovative product, free delivery, convenient location, higher expertise, etc.

7) Set the Budget

Layout all the costs that you think you will incur to achieve those sales targets. Some of the expenses that are part of sales plans include salaries, commissions, sales tools , training, travel, printing costs, hiring costs, etc, which ultimately determine the budget. For example, according to your estimates, it will account for $5,000 per month. Consider this while setting revenue targets.

8) Define Company’s Marketing Strategy

This step implies describing pricing and promotions. It’s isn’t the final step, so some of the promotions a company included in the plan may change later. Also, one has to mention core actions a business is going to take in order to increase brand awareness and generate leads. For example, in the very beginning of Fortuna Visual we practiced a 20% discount for clients who will recommend us to others. 

9) Work Out the Strategy

This stage is where a company states how the sales team must qualify the generated leads. Apart from the exact tactics, one has to determine the criteria for prospects to meet before sales representatives reach out. (e.g., a company operates for five years minimum, its annual income is $100,000).

10) Define an Action Plan

Summarizing the plan to reach each particular objective. For example, a sales goal, such as a 20% increase in referrals. Actions: 

  • Hold a referrals techniques workshop
  • Run contest for referral sales
  • Increase commission on referral sales by 5%.

There is no single plan that can fit your company perfectly. There will be hurdles along the way, and you can always mold the shape of your sales plan until you start seeing favorable results. Take your time to identify opportunities and ways to overcome challenges.

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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

Jess Pingrey

REVIEWED BY: Jess Pingrey

Jillian Ilao

WRITTEN BY: Jillian Ilao

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This article is part of a larger series on Sales Management .

Manage Sales With CRM

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  • 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.

Five-year sales forecast template example (Source: Fit Small Business )

Freshsales sales goal tracking filter options.

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 sample lead profile.

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 plan template

HubSpot sales strategy template (Source: HubSpot )

HubSpot’s sales plan template with the mission, vision, and story of the company

HubSpot’s sales goals template with the mission, vision, and story of the company (Source: HubSpot )

Visit 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 template

Asana sales plan example (Source: Asana )

Visit 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.

Bottom Line

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

Jillian Ilao

Jillian Ilao

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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What Are the Differences Between a Sales Plan and a Marketing Plan?

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Although many people use the terms “sales plan” and “marketing plan” interchangeably, they are in fact (or should be) two very distinct documents. One simple way to outline the differences is to think of the marketing plan as the macro view, whereas the sales plan is the micro… however both plans are working towards the same overall company revenue goals and targets.

The purpose of a marketing plan is to identify your target market and outline the strategies you will use to build awareness, advertise and ultimately sell to them. The purpose of a sales plan is to identify how exactly you will meet your revenue goals, outlining the strategies you will use to sell your products and services to your customers. In a way, you might like to think of your company’s marketing efforts as the bait that lures the fish toward the rod, whereas your company’s sales efforts are the fisherman who actually reels them in.

The Marketing Plan As mentioned above, your marketing plan is the strategy map for how you will reach your customer base.  The first step in devising a marketing plan is to understand who your target market is. Then, once you have identified this target market, the marketing plan must layout which strategies you will use to create brand awareness, get brand recognition, and advertise your product/services to the right audience. 

Essentially, it defines how you can differentiate your product or service (what are its unique selling points and benefits) and make it stand out in a crowded marketplace (how does it solve a particular problem better than any other solution out there). Your marketing plan will also identify the appropriate channels (e.g., print, email, social media, television, etc.) for promoting your products or services.

The Sales Plan While the marketing plan looks at identifying the target market and creating awareness, the sales plan is focused explicitly on achieving conversions. The two plans are directly related: the intel from your marketing plan about to whom you are selling, and what will make your product or service stand out from the crowd, will feed your sales plan.

The sales plan itself, however, will have a narrower focus and gets into the nitty-gritty: a month-by-month forecast of the number of sales you need to achieve in each territory and precisely what you are going to do to get there. Excellent sales planning is integral to sales success. It encompasses past sales, market issues, who your ideal customers are, and how you’re going to find, engage and sell to them.

As you can see, a sales plan and a marketing plan are clearly connected and must be aligned for your company to achieve sales success. Many businesses fall into the trap of neglecting marketing efforts and putting resources solely into a sales-focused approach. This places too heavy a burden on the sales team, often resulting in a need to slash prices or rely on promotions. When marketing and sales work together to create a product-focused approach - highlighting your product or service’s benefits and how it solves a business need - your marketing plan will reel your customer’s in and make it easier for your sales rep to close the deal.

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Marketing plan vs business plan: What’s the difference?

  • Marketing Plan

Marketing plan vs business plan: What’s the difference?

For business owners, nonprofit directors, and community group leaders, the process of writing a business plan or creating a marketing plan can seem intimidating. They may know the ins and outs of what they do every day and have fantastic ideas on how to grow and market their organizations, but the act of putting it on paper often feels like stepping into a world with opaque rules and confusing jargon.

Fortunately, the reality of both business and marketing plans is that they aren’t nearly as complicated as many people think. In fact, most business owners have written both without realizing it, even if only in an informal manner.

Creating a formal business or marketing plan uses a lot of the same steps business owners already take when sketching out new marketing ideas on a napkin or doing some quick back-of-the-envelope math to figure out how to expand into a new city.

But before moving forward with the process, it’s important to know which one you need. In other words, what’s the difference between a marketing plan and a business plan?

Create a marketing plan that works for your business with Jotform’s easy-to-use marketing form templates .

The biggest difference between a business plan and a marketing plan is the scope of what they cover. While both documents can be quite lengthy and thorough, they don’t address the exact same information.

A business plan is typically a much broader document that covers every aspect of your business: operations, supply chains, human resources, materials costs, and — yes — marketing. In fact, a marketing plan will usually be a section of a business plan.

Marketing plans tend to focus much more narrowly on the specifics of making customers aware of and likely to buy a product or service. A marketing plan may touch on some of the same things a business plan does, like the cost of goods sold, but only as they relate to being able to sell those goods to consumers.

Another key difference between the two is how far into the future they look. Business plans, for example, tend to cover a much longer period than marketing plans. A typical window for a business plan, for example, is about five years. A typical window for a marketing plan, on the other hand, will be a year to three years.

The two are updated differently as well. Business plans rarely need to be replaced or updated unless there’s a significant change in the business — a completely new product category, a new business model, or some global event that changes the way a company performs its core function.

Marketing plans are often updated every year. They tend to be part of the yearly budgeting activities that help business owners plan how they will allocate resources to various departments.

This makes sense when you think about it. Companies change their marketing much more often than they change their business model.

The reasons for creating a marketing plan and a business plan are often similar but not identical. Most often, business owners create both to secure financing. Banks and investors frequently ask for business and marketing plans before agreeing to loan money or invest in the company.

But external demands aren’t the only or even the most important reasons to write both kinds of plans. A business plan is a great way to formalize the ideas behind how and why a company works the way it does. It’s a fantastic way for business owners to put down on paper many of the things they’ve been intuitively doing, and cement processes and procedures for running a company.

Business plans are also great at helping you to prepare for future needs. By going through the exercise of writing a full business plan, business owners get an idea of where they are and what kinds of initiatives and resources they need to meet their goals.

Marketing plans are also incredibly useful internally. As we mentioned above, they are an important part of the annual budgeting process. Sitting down and thinking through all of the marketing needs can help both validate a company’s marketing initiatives as well as determine the ideal amount of money to allocate toward marketing.

The bottom line

A marketing plan is a part of a business plan. That’s the easiest way to remember the difference between the two. The business plan shapes everything about the way a company works, and lays out big-picture goals and ideas.

The marketing plan paints a more detailed picture of how the company will use marketing to achieve the goals laid out in the business plan. The marketing plan is department level and has to coexist with plans for other departments — HR, operations, legal and regulatory, and others.

Both plans are important in successfully running a company, but the business plan is more important because it will at least outline some marketing initiatives. For business owners who only have time to create one, the business plan is the logical choice.

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What Is a Short-Term Marketing Plan?

6 types of business plans, what are the benefits of a business plan.

  • Checklist for a Business Plan
  • What Objectives Should Be Used for a Business Proposal?

The business plan and the marketing plan are both essential aspects of successful businesses. These plans not only help businesses organize their operations, but help benchmark their success or failure. Since business industries change with customer demand and the economic environment, the business plan and marketing plan must evolve throughout the lifespan of the business.

The Positive ROI of Business Plans

The business plan provides a wide overview of the business, which includes information on staff, operations, location, marketing and financial aspects, as well as clearly outlined missions and goals. Often used as a financial tool, the business plan provides lenders with necessary details to determine if the business is viable, financially sound and able to repay.

Although business plans are most commonly known for assisting new businesses, they should be used throughout the life of the business. Not only does it help to develop competitive strategies, the business plan can determine if the actual activity of the business matches the forecasted plans. Founders who write business plans are 2.5 times as likely to start businesses than individuals who miss this vital step, reports careers agency TopTal .

Marketing Plan Helps You Strategize

The marketing plan details the specific marketing actions that achieve the company's missions and goals. For instance, this plan identifies the price points for the products you are selling, target markets and competition. It explains how the business generates customers through advertisements, trade show participation and new referrals. By explaining how the business will overcome competitive challenges by other companies, the marketing plan is a key section within the business plan and requires detailed industry research and consideration.

Marketing plans are, by definition, strategic, reports the industry magazine Business 2 Community . They force you think about how you will get your product in front of customers, and gets you used to working with timelines and key performance metrics. Investors want to make sure you have these ducks in a row before you invest.

Business Development Vs Marketing Vs Sales

The business plan and marketing plan are interdependent and must be consistent with one another if you are to generate sales. The business plan identifies the goals and missions of the business, while the marketing plan explains how the business will achieve, if not exceed, those goals and missions. If the plans of the business change, the business's course of action also changes. A good marketing plan should never deviate from the objective of the business plan.

Things to Consider

Both plans should be reviewed periodically. While the business plan can be reviewed once a year, the marketing plan should be reviewed once per quarter at the beginning of the fiscal year. Reviewing periodically ensures that the business is operating according to outlined strategies. Comparing actual versus outlined activities helps measure business success and identify any new or updated strategies that are in-tune with current economic environment.

There are no length requirements for the business plan or the marketing plan. However, both plans should be long enough to provide concise and detailed information. The benefits of marketing and business development are only realized if the information within the plans is well-researched and includes supporting evidence for facts presented. The goals, missions and strategies within these plans should be measurable and attainable, and reviewed and updated as the business evolves.

  • TopTal: The Undeniable Importance of a Business Plan
  • Business 2 Community: 6 Reasons Your Marketing Plan is More Important Than the History of Your Business

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Find your idea. write your plan. start your business., q&as: marketing plans vs. business plans.

A: If you have a simple one-product or service-type business, the marketing plan may closely parallel the marketing segment of your annual business plan. However, a good marketing plan should articulate in more depth marketing elements and techniques than is customarily done in a general business plan.

An in-depth analysis of many factors, including the market, consumers, and competitors, as well as a detailed course of action, should be integral to the marketing plan. (See the Sample Marketing Plan presentation.) If you have multiple products or services, you should create a separate, detailed marketing plan for each.

Your annual business plan, on the other hand, should provide a summary of all anticipated combined marketing expenditures and a general overview of your marketing strategy. But don’t get into the level of detail that you would in the separate business plan. Remember, the main purpose of the annual business plan is to allow you to get a grasp on the big picture of your business. The main purpose of the a marketing plan is to nail down specific details of the individual marketing elements for one product or service.

Q: When should a single-product business create multiple plans?

A: Even if your business has only one product or service, you should consider doing a detailed marketing plan each time you plan a significant change in your marketing approach or in the nature of your product or service. For example, a retailer may want to do a detailed marketing plan before launching a major off-price sale or for a seasonal promotional strategy. A service business may consider doing a detailed marketing plan before substantially changing prices or offering discounts.

Q: Should a new marketing plan be created for each product or service?

A: If you produce multiple products or offer multiple services, then you should prepare a separate marketing plan for each related product line, if not for each individual new product offering. If you are doing your analysis carefully, you might uncover some very important marketing differences between even closely related products.

For example, competitive and marketplace studies may reveal that the low-end version of one of your products is similar to those made by several other firms. You may find that launching an expensive ad campaign for this product would be ineffective because there are no unique features or benefits to play up and the profit margins on this product can’t support extensive promotional activities. On the other hand, careful analysis of the higher-end version of the same product may uncover a combination of insignificant competition and strong product features and benefits that fully warrant an all-out advertising campaign.

Yes, you might very well be creating marketing plans forever! But they are an essential competitive tool. Marketing plans can help you gain ground on your competitors and channel the energies of your business in the most powerful direction in an orchestrated way.

In our book publishing business, for example, we made a separate plan for not only every single book that we published, but also for many we considered publishing but either decided not to or lost out to a competing publisher’s higher bid. An important reason for creating preliminary marketing plans, for products we had not even yet acquired the rights to, was to help us decide whether we should take on the project, and if so, how much we should bid for the rights. As a company, we created about five to ten marketing plans every single week!

You don’t have to start from scratch for every marketing plan you create. You can start with a basic template appropriate for your business or you can start with the plan you created for a similar product or service. Then think hard—what worked well? What didn’t work well? And what are some new ideas you might want to try this time?

Q: How often should marketing plans be updated or changed?

A: This depends upon the type of business you are in, as well as many other factors. However, most small businesses don’t reevaluate their marketing plans as often as they should. Although a very small business offering a single service with a limited advertising budget may do fine rigorously reevaluating its marketing plan annually, most businesses should plan a review at least quarterly, if not monthly.

If you aren’t happy with the results of your marketing or think you have the potential to perform better, keep reevaluating. Subject your marketing plan to a review as often as is necessary to develop and maintain the business results you want.

If you can shift your marketing resources among different products or services, and the sales of your products or services are volatile, then it might not be excessive to reevaluate your marketing plan weekly. Sometimes, especially if your product is trendsetting or timely, it is imperative to review marketing plans daily as new information on consumer preferences, sales projections, and/or distribution opportunities are brought to your attention.

At our book publishing company, we reviewed and often changed several marketing plans every week. Sometimes, especially when we were launching a particularly important new book, we would review and change marketing plans as often as every single day. We would try to get daily sales reports, review our inventory levels, review the publicity and marketing events, and consider upcoming promotional opportunities.

Q: Who should be involved in creating marketing plans?

A: Unlike the annual business plan, one person should be assigned primary responsibility for developing a marketing plan for a particular product or service line. The most obvious choice for this task is the product manager or marketing manager for that product or service line. In smaller businesses, the owner or CEO will usually take on this role.

Although one person is assigned primary responsibility for developing the marketing plan, he or she should seek input from everyone within the company as well as outsiders. Feedback from salespeople and existing or potential customers can prove invaluable.

Q: How do I determine prices?

A: Many small businesses charge too little for their products or services and their profit margins suffer. Especially if you are selling a product that is at least a little different than other products, or selling just about any service, try not to sell on price point alone. As a rule of thumb, I would charge as much as the market will bear, raise prices aggressively each year, and ensure I make a healthy profit on each sale.

For More on Business Plans

For more on how to create business plans see my course, How to Create a Business Plan. This course includes step-by-step video instructions, samples and fill-in-the-blank templates for both a one page business plan and a full length business plan. It also includes instructions, samples and templates for all financial statements and projections.

How to Create a Business Plan is one of over 130 courses included with BusinessTown. Other popular courses include Start-a-Business 101, How to Find a Business Idea and The Complete Guide to Digital Marketing. You can try BusinessTown for free .

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22 Best Sales Strategies, Plans, & Initiatives for Success [Templates]

Discover sales strategy examples, templates, and plans used by top sales teams worldwide.

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FREE SALES PLAN TEMPLATE

Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

sales strategies initiatives and templates to plan your quarter

Updated: 10/17/23

Published: 10/17/23

A strong sales strategy plan creates the foundation for a cohesive and successful sales organization.

Sales strategies and initiatives also align salespeople on shared goals and empower them to do their best work — keeping them happy and successful, too.

Free Download: Sales Plan Template

In this guide, we'll dig into some sales strategies and initiatives that can help you generate more leads and close more deals. But first, let’s define what a sales strategy is.

What's a Sales Strategy?

Types of Sales Strategies

Building a Sales Strategy Plan

Inbound vs. Outbound Sales

Sales Initiatives

Sales Strategy Examples

What is a sales strategy?

A sales strategy is a set of decisions, actions, and goals that inform how your sales team positions the organization and its products to close new customers. It acts as a guide for sales reps to follow, with clear goals for sales processes, product positioning, and competitive analysis.

Sales Strategy: Cranney sales process graphic

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Most strategies involve a detailed plan of best practices and processes set by management.

Why is a sales strategy important?

A clear sales strategy serves as a map for the growth of your business. Your sales strategy is key to future planning, problem-solving, goal-setting, and management.

An effective sales strategy can help you:

  • Give your team direction and focus. Strategic clarity can help your sales reps and managers understand which goals and activities to prioritize. This can lead to improved productivity and outcomes.
  • Ensure consistent messaging. Your sales strategy can help your team deliver a consistent message to prospects, partners, and customers. This can increase both trust and effectiveness.
  • Optimize opportunities. Strong sales strategies will help you target the right prospects and customize your approach. This can help your team make the most of every sales opportunity.
  • Improve resource allocation. Your sales strategy outlines priorities and resources. In turn, this can help your sales team use their time, effort, and resources efficiently. This efficiency can boost your team's ability to focus on high-potential deals.

Let's cover some popular sales strategies — including inbound sales.

Sales Strategies

  • Increase online sales through social media.
  • Become a thought leader.
  • Prioritize inbound sales calls as hot leads.
  • Properly research and qualify prospects.
  • Implement a free trial.
  • Don't shy away from cold calling.
  • Offer a demonstration of the product.
  • Provide a personalized, clear end result.
  • Be willing to adapt your offering.
  • Close deals with confidence.
  • Nurture existing accounts for future selling opportunities.

1. Increase online sales through social media.

Social media is one of the most popular ways that people consume information these days. That’s why nine out of ten retail businesses are active on at least two social platforms. With the data on your side, increasing online sales through social media is attainable with some creative thinking and strategic planning.

Although it may be tempting to jump on the hottest social media trend or go where your competitors are, that probably won’t be your best choice. Time is precious and you’ll want to build your pipeline as efficiently as you can. So, be diligent about figuring out where your target customers are spending their time and meet them where they're most active.

Keep in mind that your tone and voice may need to adjust to the platform so that you can connect with your audience. You’ll want your content to blend in naturally with the platform and not seem out of place.

Featured Guide: 37 Social Selling Tips for LinkedIn

Download the Guide

2. Become a thought leader.

Sharing your advice, tried-and-true best practices, and niche expertise are some of the most long-lasting ways to build your personal brand and lend more credibility to your organization. I’m sure we all can agree that nobody wants to feel like they’re being sold to. Instead, it’s better to help people by offering solutions to their problems.

Thought leaders do exactly this, and it’s even been backed up by Edleman data . In its 2022 Thought Leadership Impact Report , Edelman found that "Thought leadership is one of the most effective tools an organization can use to demonstrate its value to customers during a tough economy – even more so than traditional advertising or product marketing, according to B2B buyers."

According to the study, 61% of decision-makers said thought leadership could be moderately or very effective at demonstrating the value of a company’s products compared to traditional product marketing. Additionally thought leadership becomes even more important during economic downturns with 51% of C-suite executives stating it has more of an impact on purchases.

So what’s the catch?

Not all thought leadership content is created equal. While it can positively affect a company, poor thought leadership can be devastating to a company’s sales goals. A quarter of decision-makers who answered Edleman’s previous survey reported that thought leadership content contributed to their reasons for not doing business with an organization . Ouch!

Before you plan a spree of LinkedIn posts to drive leads, consider who your audience is, what they need to know, and how your organization can help. And, it may not hurt to have a second set of eyes from your marketing, communication, and PR departments review your plan first to make sure everything is on-brand (and trackable!)

business plan vs sales plan

Free Sales Plan Template

Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent sales plan.

  • Target Market
  • Prospecting Strategy

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

3. Prioritize inbound sales calls as hot leads.

There’s the age-old question: "Should I discuss product pricing with a prospect on the first sales call?" The honest answer is: It depends.

You and your sales team know your process front and back and if you’ve seen success with pitching with pricing first, last, or somewhere in between, stick with what’s working for you.

Besides that, your team should always prioritize those prospects who call into sales first. These hot leads are definitely interested in what you have to sell and want to know enough information about how it’ll benefit them before they make a decision.

By prioritizing talking to these prospects as soon as they call or send an email, you’re putting your best foot forward and showing them that you’re helpful, solutions-oriented, and considerate of their time. If it means closing the deal on the first call , there’s no harm in it so long as the customer has the information they need to make an informed decision.

4. Properly research and qualify prospects.

Even the strongest sales strategy can't compensate for targeting the wrong customers. To ensure your team is selling to the right type of customer, encourage them to research and qualify prospects before attempting to discuss your product. They'll find that more work on the front end can lead to smoother closing conversations later on.

Outline the criteria a prospect should meet to qualify them as a high-probability potential customer. This should be based on a prospect’s engagement history and demographics.

Featured Guide: 101 Sales Qualification Questions

Hubspot Sales qualification questions offer

5. Implement a free trial.

Offering a free trial or freemium version of your product is a highly effective way to convert prospects. HubSpot’s sales strategy report found that free trials were 76% effective followed by a freemium option with 69% effective in turning prospects into paying customers.

sales strategy example: graph showing popularity of free trial offerings

Free trials give potential customers the opportunity to test your product out before committing. You can place restrictions on your free version like limited features or usage caps. Besides offering prospects a risk-free chance to try your product, free trials also help build brand loyalty and expand your customer base. Prospects that have a positive experience using the free version will be more likely to convert to the paid version.

6. Don't shy away from cold calling.

In sales, cold calling is unavoidable. But it doesn't have to be miserable. There are a number of cold-calling techniques that really work, including our bulletproof cold-calling template . Have your sales team practice cold calls with one another before making actual calls; it'll boost their confidence and get them comfortable with the script.

7. Offer a demonstration of the product.

Pitching can be the make-or-break moment in a sales strategy. The sales pitch has to be a powerful, compelling presentation, but it also can't come on too strong lest you scare away the prospect.

Study the elements of a successful sales pitch and prove to prospects how they’ll benefit from making the purchase. Have your team practice amongst themselves, too. Better yet, test your presentations on a few loyal customers and gather their feedback.

8. Provide a personalized, clear end result.

When customers come to your business, they aren’t necessarily looking for a product or service, they’re looking for their desired end result. These customers want to purchase a means to improve their own operation, or simply improve their strategies with the help of your offering.

After you explain your product or service offering, you have to personalize the benefits to each client in a way that’s valuable to them.

If you’re selling customer service software to a small business that has no experience with one, it’s your job to educate them on its use in the setting of a small business, not to manage hundreds of employees in larger ones. By doing so they will have an easier time seeing how they can use it and spend less time debating what they’ll use it for.

By painting a clear picture of the end result, your customer will be able to see the value of the purchase and feel more inclined to accept the offer.

9. Be willing to adapt your offering.

In sales conversations, you should expect to come across clients with unique demands. It’s only natural when working with companies that have different structures and needs.

Instead of saying "you won’t" or "you can’t" — make sure your sales strategy is adaptable to accommodate the customer’s desire.

10. Close deals with confidence.

How you close a sale is just as important as how you start the conversation. Encourage clear, concise, and firm closing techniques to make sure your sales team sets the right expectations and delivers on their promises.

Keeping a list of proven, go-to closing techniques will help salespeople routinely win deals. Such techniques can include the now or never close, "If you commit now, I can get you a 20% discount," or the question close, "In your opinion, does what I am offering to solve your problem?"

Sales strategies offer, sales closing guide

Available for free is our downloadable Sales Closing Guide to improve your closing techniques and to close deals with confidence.

11. Nurture existing accounts for future selling opportunities.

Once a deal is done, there's no need for a sales strategy ... right? Wrong. Account management is an incredibly important part of the sales process, encouraging loyal, happy customers, and leveraging cross-selling and upselling opportunities .

After your sales team sees success with the sales strategy, form a partnership between your sales team and customer service/success teams. Ensuring customers’ continued satisfaction with your product or service will make them more likely to do business with your company again and even advocate for it.

Sales Strategy Types

Who is your sales strategy for.

The most important element when choosing the best type of sales strategy for your business is your customer .

Once you consider your customer needs, it's time to think about your sales team — the professionals who are responsible for closing deals.

Your sales strategy needs to offer a framework that attracts and engages prospects. At the same time, it needs to enable your team to build relationships that help them achieve sales targets.

For these reasons, a sales strategy shouldn't be one-size-fits-all. Every customer and team is different; so, each organization should draw up the type of sales strategy that works best for their needs.

Outbound Sales Strategy

In outbound sales strategies — the legacy system of most sales teams — companies base their sales strategy on the seller, not the customer.

Outbound sales processes often include cold calling, purchasing email lists, and other cold prospecting techniques. And daily success is often based on the quantity of connections, not the quality.

Outbound sales teams often rely on manually-entered data to monitor the sales pipeline and coach their salespeople. They may also run sales and marketing independently, which can create a disjointed experience for buyers.

Inbound Sales Strategy

In inbound sales strategies — the modern methodology for sales teams — companies base their sales process on buyer actions.

They automatically capture seller and buyer data to monitor the pipeline and coach salespeople. Inbound sales strategies connect to the three stages of the buyer journey — awareness, consideration, and decision. Then, sales reps will map their tactics to the right step in the customer journey.

Many popular types of sales strategies have a customer-centric approach, including:

  • Account-based selling
  • SPIN selling
  • Value-based selling
  • Consultative selling

Learn about these approaches and more in this post about customer-centric selling systems .

Another important point — the inbound methodology aligns sales and marketing, creating a seamless experience for buyers. Check out this post to learn more about inbound sales and how to develop an inbound sales process.

Inbound vs. Outbound Sales Methodology

In the past, buyers suffered through evaluating a product and deciding whether to buy it using only the information offered to them by the seller. Today, all of the information needed to evaluate a product is available online and buyers are no longer dependent on the seller.

If today’s sales teams don’t align with the modern buyer’s process and fail to add value beyond the information already available to them, then they’ll have no reason to engage with a sales team.

As mentioned above, inbound sales benefits buyers at each stage of the buyer process:

  • Consideration

inbound sales methodology sales strategy hubspot

Inbound sales teams help the buyer become aware of potential problems or opportunities and discover strategies to solve problems. Then, they evaluate whether the salesperson can help with a problem, which leads to that buyer purchasing a solution to their problem. Inbound sales reps are helpful and trustworthy, creating partnerships rather than power struggles.

Not sure how to get started with inbound selling? Every sales team should have a sales strategy plan outlining its goals, best practices, and processes designed to align the team and create consistency.

Keep reading to learn how to create a sales strategy plan for your team.

Sales Planning: Building a Sales Strategy Plan

Now that you have the template you need, let's go over how you can build a sales strategy.

How to Build a Sales Strategy

  • Develop organizational goals.
  • Create a customer profile that is tailored to a specific product offering.
  • Hire, onboard, and compensate sales team members adequately.
  • Create a plan to generate demand.
  • Measure individual and team performance.
  • Track sales activities.

To build a comprehensive sales plan, you’ll find the following activities helpful along the way:

1. Develop organizational goals.

Setting goals is a no-brainer for most sales teams. Otherwise, how else will you know you're executing the right activities for the best results? To develop clear organizational goals for your sales strategy:

Involve cross-departmental stakeholders.

When developing sales goals, avoid doing it in a silo. Get input from stakeholders across the organization since every department is held accountable to the company’s bottom line.

Create SMART goals.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Setting SMART goals helps your team simplify and track complex or long-term sales goals .

For example, a specific, measurable, and time-bound goal could be to sell 150% of the projected sales quota in Q2. Your internal team will create this goal and can decide whether this goal is relevant and attainable.

SMART goals help reduce confusion when it’s time to review your strategy to see what worked and what didn’t. Attainability is also important, because unrealistic sales goals can impact team motivation.

Connect individual goals to organizational goals.

If you're creating a team-specific strategy, you may also want to set goals for individual team members. Building ownership and accountability into sales goals can help keep your team aligned. It also makes your sales strategy more cohesive.

2. Create a customer profile that is tailored to a specific product offering.

A detailed profile of the target customer — a buyer persona — is essential to an effective sales strategy. There are many ways you can create a useful buyer persona.

Find target markets and segments.

First, look at your industry as a whole. Get to know your ideal customer's company size, psychographics, and buying process. You may want to look at industry trends too.

Conduct market research to understand customer needs and preferences.

Next, do some market research. This template can help you streamline the process and understand which types of research will be best for your business.

You may also want to do some competitor analysis at this stage. Once you know the strengths and weaknesses of competing brands you can more easily find gaps that you can fill for specific customers.

Create a clear value proposition to attract your ideal customer to your product or service.

Your product offering should outline the product benefits. It should also use insights from your customer profile to emphasize features that solve your target customer's pain points.

Your business may already have a clear value proposition, but if not, you can use these free value proposition templates to draft one.

Quick tip : Be sure to schedule time to update and refine your buyer persona to make sure it aligns with current customer trends and expectations.

3. Hire, onboard, and compensate sales team members adequately.

To develop your sales strategy, you must have a powerful sales team in place.

According to HubSpot research, the churn rate for sales teams was about 35% in 2021 and 2022. But the ideal churn rate for most businesses is around 10%, a significant difference.

To create a supportive and successful sales team that can both support and enhance your sales strategy:

Create great processes for hiring new members of your sales team.

To begin this process, create a list of criteria for sales managers to screen for when interviewing candidates. A well-defined job description and competency framework are also useful. These tools can help your team with recruiting and retaining top talent.

Develop sales onboarding, training, and development programs.

Your training and onboarding program should prepare your sales team to sell effectively and efficiently. It should also help sales reps build advanced skills and industry knowledge.

But what if you don't have the resources to develop comprehensive training in-house? In these situations, think about combining organization-specific training with online sales training programs .

Create a motivational compensation and rewards plan.

Many organizations connect sales compensation to organizational sales goals. Regardless of what compensation plan you choose, make sure that it meets or exceeds industry expectations. It should also inspire your team to celebrate individual and team achievements.

4. Create a plan to generate demand.

This section should include a detailed plan for how to target potential customers to increase awareness of your offering. For example, using paid social acquisition channels, creating e-books, hosting webinars, and other strategies in this post.

Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template

Hubspot sales plan template offer

Download the Template for Free

As you create your sales plan, be sure to consider these tips:

Create targeted messaging and positioning for your target audience.

This positioning will help your team create a foundation for targeting your top audience. It will also help you choose the best channels and tactics for each campaign. This boosts your chances of increasing demand and qualified leads with each sales strategy.

Add clear goals and KPIs to your sales plan.

This step will help you stay motivated and track the effectiveness of your sales strategies. This approach can also help you change or update your strategies for effectiveness over time.

Create processes for lead nurturing and follow-up.

Once you've generated demand, it's time to convert. But not every lead generation opportunity translates to qualified leads or sales opportunities.

As you track your newly generated demand, find ways to align your processes with your buyer's journey. Then, use sales automation tools to manage leads and create personalized follow-ups. This can help every rep on your team send the right message at the right time.

Optimize your sales plan and process.

Build in time to review your metrics. Then, use A/B testing, customer feedback, and sales team insights to refine your sales strategy plan.

5. Measure individual and team performance.

Time to track! Once the infrastructure is set up, create a procedure for tracking performance on the individual, team, and company levels.

Tracking your efforts is imperative if you plan to optimize your processes and practices for growth in the future. Even if you’re just getting started setting benchmarks for the team, write those down and track your progress toward them.

Build useful metrics to track sales performance.

This measurement can take the form of quarterly KPIs, weekly dashboards, monthly reviews, or some combination of all three. It should also highlight the specific metrics that the team should focus on.

If you're not sure where to start, these KPIs can help you align performance expectations with sales goals :

  • Revenue targets
  • Sales quotas
  • Conversion rates
  • Lead-to-opportunity ratios
  • Average deal size
  • Pipeline velocity

Think about real-time performance tracking.

While business KPIs are useful for the long-term, fast-moving industries may need real-time tracking. To get an at-a-glance look at sales team performance, choose tools that can give you instant visibility, like Sales Hub .

Real-time insights can help you find and address issues more quickly. They also create opportunities for proactive sales performance management.

Create a process for sharing performance data.

With performance metrics, you have data that can help you offer constructive feedback and coaching to each member of your team.

Whether you offer one-on-one meetings, performance reviews, or team huddles, be sure to make space for these conversations. They’re a great way to understand performance gaps, offer guidance, and share best practices. This process also supports individual and team development.

It can also help you understand whether it’s your team or your strategy that needs extra attention.

6. Track sales activities.

Data is key to an effective sales strategy plan and sales activity metrics can help you go beyond individual team performance.

Collect a range of sales activity data.

Sales activity metrics can help you understand how the team approaches day-to-day sales as a whole. You should track everything from the sales presentation to closing techniques.

Collect data to see how your sales team performs beyond call or deal numbers, in individual activities such as:

  • Meetings scheduled
  • Presentations delivered
  • Proposals submitted
  • Sales presentation success rates
  • Closing techniques

Comparing this data to other goal metrics can show you patterns, best practices, and areas for improvement.

Track lead and prospect sources.

If you’ll be publishing thought leadership content or sourcing leads from social media, make sure that any link you share is trackable with a UTM parameter.

Trackable links aren't just valuable for learning which channels are generating the most leads. They can also help you focus your resources on the channels that generate the most relevant qualified leads for driving sales.

Focus on continuous improvement.

Once you have a complete set of analytics to track your strategy, use it to refine your sales strategies, team knowledge, and plans. A clear data-driven process will make it easier to use customer feedback to grow your sales. It will also give your sales team the ability to flex with industry and market changes that could impact your business.

  • Refresh your buyer personas regularly.
  • Actively align sales and marketing.
  • Listen to your prospects.
  • Invest in sales development and team-building.

Businesses should always be looking for ways to innovate their approach to sales . Here are some creative things sales reps and teams can do on their own to jumpstart their performance, stand out from the competition, and boost team productivity.

1. Refresh your buyer personas regularly.

Buyer personas inform all kinds of activity at your business, including (and most importantly) who your marketing and sales teams pursue as customers. But as your market and company shift, your buyer personas can become out-of-date — which can cause your sales team's work to become stagnant and ineffective. Work with your marketing team to refresh your buyer personas to best equip your sales team for prospecting and outreach.

2. Actively align sales and marketing.

Speaking of marketing, create and honor a service-level agreement (SLA) between your sales and marketing teams. This agreement will detail how each team can support each other, contribute to the other's goals, and honor boundaries in a way that still moves prospects toward conversion.

Download our free SLA Template for Sales & Marketing to align Sales & Marketing goals and activities.

3. Use a CRM.

Successful sales teams and strategies require the right tools. HubSpot all-in-one CRM eliminates manual work and streamlines your sales activity and data. It also keeps your sales team up-to-date about all relevant activity with your prospects — an important transparency factor that helps motivate and align your team.

4. Listen to your prospects.

Just because prospects aren't customers doesn't mean they can't give valuable feedback. As you move prospects through their sales funnel and (especially) when they drop off, ask for candid feedback about their experience with your team and products. You may learn something that can help convert them or your next prospect.

5. Invest in sales development and team-building.

The best sales teams not only align with customers but also with their coworkers. Sales is a difficult career and can lead to burnout without proper encouragement and camaraderie. Invest in sales development and team-building activities to keep your sales team feeling satisfied and supported.

Sales Strategy Examples from Successful Sales Teams

In this section, we’ve analyzed two incredibly high-performing sales teams and how they achieved success using their unique sales strategies.

Founded in 2006, HubSpot has since grown to over 184,000 customers in over 120 countries and over $1.7 billion in annual revenue. With an IPO in 2014, HubSpot is now valued at over $24.63 billion.

That said, we want to share a few pages from our own sales strategy playbook.

Hire the right people according to repeatable evaluation criteria.

We first started by determining a list of attributes that made a successful sales rep: Work ethic, coachability, intelligence, passion, preparation and knowledge of HubSpot, adaptability to change, prior success, organizational skills, competitiveness, and brevity.

From there, we established a repeatable process to evaluate candidates during interviews based on these weighted criteria.

Train the sales team by making them wear customers’ shoes.

Again, the first step we took was to define the sales process that we thought would be most successful. We outlined our unique value proposition, target customer, competition, most common objections, product features and benefits, and so forth.

Then we created a hands-on training program that would not only imitate the sales process for reps before they actually began selling but also allow them to experience our target customers’ pain points.

Today, a large part of our training program involves making reps create their own website and blog, and then drive traffic to it. This exercise allows reps to better consult potential customers in the future. We also use exams, certification programs, and presentations to measure each rep’s performance.

After employees are onboarded, we continue tracking their progress throughout the various stages of our sales process. The primary criteria we look at includes: leads created, leads worked, demos delivered, and leads won. Then we measure these criteria against each other to create ratios such as leads created to leads won.

We track each stage in the process so that if a rep is struggling with any particular metric, we can dig deeper to understand why that’s the case.

Align sales and marketing.

The sales and marketing teams work closely together in a process we call " Smarketing " to generate consistent leads each month.

In this process, marketing understands which qualities a sales lead needs to meet before it’s handed over to sales as well as how many of those qualified leads it must create each month to meet our sales projections.

Meanwhile, the sales team understands how long they should wait before contacting a lead and how many attempts they should make to contact that lead. All of these decisions are led by data and science, not by gut.

Shopify is known for consistent momentum and customer satisfaction.

Loren Padelford, VP at Shopify and General Manager of Shopify Plus, shared his secret sauce for increasing sales .

Hire great people, not necessarily great salespeople.

Hiring is arguably one of the most essential components of a great sales strategy. Many sales managers , though, are misled into believing that they must hire sales superstars. Padelford looks for six key personality traits when hiring salespeople: intelligence, work ethic, history of success, creativity, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness.

The truth of the matter is that sales teams first must look for great people and then train them so they become great salespeople.

Treat sales as a science, not an art.

According to Padelford, we can now measure sales down to the second. We can explain success according to cold, hard data points rather than mystical qualitative assessments. Every sales team should be tracking their average deal size, average sales cycle length, lead-to-deal conversion rate, calls per day per rep, and the number of deals in the pipeline.

Each of these metrics, tracked over longer periods of time, will inform companies about the health of their sales process and pinpoint areas they need to improve upon.

Build a smart, technological foundation.

Before Padelford took over the sales process at Shopify, sales reps would manually log phone calls and emails into the CRM, consuming five precious hours each week. With a sales force of 26, that added up to 130 wasted hours per week.

Realizing this misuse of time and capital, Padelford led Shopify to adopt the HubSpot CRM . With the CRM, sales reps were able to receive notifications when prospects opened their emails, clicked links, and viewed document attachments.

With the prospecting tool , they also have access to over 19 million prospects as well as detailed information about said prospects like estimated revenue, the number of employees, suggested email addresses, and so forth.

Maintain a high-quality pipeline by eliminating unqualified leads.

Shopify uses the 4/5 Threshold to filter out unqualified leads, thereby allowing its sales reps to focus on selling to leads who have a higher probability of becoming customers.

When evaluating whether a lead is qualified, a rep must have a concrete answer to four of the following five variables:

  • Pain : Is the prospective customer experiencing a prominent business issue or challenge that requires them to make a change?
  • Power : Is the prospective customer directly involved with the decision-making process? If not, who is?
  • Money : Does our offering fall within their budget constraints?
  • Process : What's their buying process?
  • Timeline : What stage are they in the buyer’s journey? Will they purchase within a reasonable time frame?

Grow Better with Sales Strategies, Initiatives, and Templates

Every company can benefit from crafting a sales strategy plan. The free template below includes everything you’ll need to customize your strategy for your business and sales team. Regardless of what strategy you choose, always implement a buyer-first approach. Learn from these winning sales team examples, too, to grow your sales team and performance.

Editor's note: This post was originally written in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Here's how much shoppers plan to spend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday

By Elizabeth Napolitano

Updated on: November 24, 2023 / 10:18 PM EST / MoneyWatch

Despite mounting financial pressures, holiday shoppers say they are planning to shell out more money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year than last. 

That's according to a recent  survey from auditing firm Deloitte that shows consumers plan to spend an average of $567 between Black Friday and Cyber Monday this holiday season, or 13% more than they spent during the four-day shopping extravaganza in 2022. 

Check out CBS Essentials for information on the best Black Friday deals:

  • 47 best Black Friday 2023 deals from today's top sales
  • 25 best laptop deals of Black Friday 2023 to shop today
  • 25 best Black Friday TV deals 2023 has to offer today

Consumers have bumped up their holiday shopping budgets as retailers this year have  stepped up sales and deepened discounts  to attract households squeezed by inflation and rising credit card rates.

"Cyber Week is off to a strong start, with Thanksgiving driving a record $5.6 billion in online spend as consumers took advantage of strong discounts and continued their shopping plans, virtually," said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights.

Deloitte surveyed 1,200 consumers between Oct.19 and Oct. 25. 

Despite the early rise in holiday spending, consumers are feeling strapped for cash as their savings dwindle and their credit card debt grows . And although forecasters predict easing inflation will continue to slow , many necessities like food and rent remain significantly more expensive than they were before the pandemic. 

Those cost pressures have left consumers "a lot more cautious about spending," Neil Saunders, a retail analyst at GlobalData Retail, told CBS MoneyWatch. At the same time. many shopper are also "more receptive to bargains," increasing the likelihood that they'll spend during Black Friday, Saunders said. 

Best Black Friday deals in years 

Both the number of Black Friday shoppers and the size of their budgets are growing, as retailers reduce prices to lows not seen in years. This holiday season, toys, games and hobby gear are on track to see their best bargains since 2020, according to a Reuters  analysis  of federal labor data. Men's suits, outerwear, sports coats, women's dresses and audio equipment are 8% to 14% cheaper compared with pre-pandemic levels, the analysis shows.

According to Adobe's  estimates  toys will be discounted 35% on average this year, compared with 22% a year ago, while electronics prices will be slashed 30%. compared with 27% over the same period in 2022.

More than half of shoppers plan to take full advantage of store bargains during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with four in 10 consumers planning to complete all of their seasonal shopping during that four-day sales window, according to Deloitte's survey. Meanwhile,  data  from the National Retail Federation shows that 182 million people are expected to shop between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday this year, marking the highest turnout of holiday shoppers since 2017. 

  • Consumers spent $5.6 billion on Thanksgiving Day — but not on turkey
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Shoppers are earmarking more of their money for virtual holiday shopping, rather than deals at brick-and-mortar stores, Deloitte's survey shows.  

According to the poll, shoppers plan to spend $169 in online purchases this Black Friday, a 40% increase from $121 in 2019. By comparison, consumers say they plan to spend $138 on in-store purchases on Black Friday this year. 

—The Associated Press contributed reporting

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Exclusive: Toyota group companies plan $4.7 billion sale of Denso stake

A Toyota Logo is seen at a Toyota dealership in Zaventem

A Toyota Logo is seen at a Toyota dealership in Zaventem, Belgium, November 25, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

  • Group companies to sell about 10% stake by year-end-sources
  • Toyota Motor expected to remain Denso's top shareholder-sources
  • Denso to buy back shares to offset hit to share price-sources

TOKYO, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor (7203.T) and two affiliates plan to sell about 10% of components maker Denso (6902.T) by year-end, a stake likely worth about $4.7 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sale of shares in Denso would mark the latest step by the world's top selling automaker to cash in on stakes in affiliates as it ramps up production of fully electric vehicles, a capital-intensive endeavour that spans research and development to an overhaul of the factory floor.

Toyota, Toyota Industries and Aisin will sell Denso shares worth a total of about 700 billion yen ($4.7 billion) at current market prices, the two sources said.

Toyota Motor's portion of the sale will represent short of half of the roughly 10%, with Toyota Industries and Aisin making up the remainder, the sources added. Denso, a key Toyota supplier, is the world's second-largest maker of automotive components.

Denso also plans to buy back some of its own shares in the open market to offset the potential hit to its share price, according to the sources, who declined to be named because the matter remains confidential.

In a statement, Denso said it was considering a share sale, a buyback and other capital measures, but that nothing had yet been decided. A Toyota spokesperson said the company was not in a position to comment on Denso, while a Toyota Industries spokesperson said nothing had been decided. Aisin said reports of the share sale were not something it had announced itself.

At $4.7 billion, it would be the second-biggest such share offering in Japan this year, after the more than $9 billion sale of shares in Japan Post Bank (7182.T) in March, according to LSEG data.

It would also be the biggest share offering in the auto industry in more than a decade, highlighting the stakes involved in the pivot to battery electrics.

CROSS-SHAREHOLDINGS

Japanese companies traditionally took stakes in their group affiliates or business partners, a practice known as cross-shareholding which critics say hampers corporate governance.

Companies have been slowly unwinding these holdings for years, but the trend gained momentum after the Tokyo Stock Exchange recently urged firms to improve their use of capital.

Toyota Motor, which held some 24.2% percent of Denso as of the end of September, is expected to remain as the top shareholder.

Buyers of the shares are expected to largely be domestic investors, and the price has yet to be determined, the sources said.

Toyota in July said it would sell a stake worth about 250 billion yen in telecoms company KDDI Corp (9433.T) after unveiling a sweeping plan to improve the driving range and cut costs of battery electric vehicles.

Denso shares, which were down almost 4% before the news, extended losses after the Reuters report and fell as much as 6.8% on the day, closing 4.9% lower. Toyota shares finished little changed, as did the benchmark Nikkei 225 (.N225) .

($1 = 148.2400 yen)

Reporting by Miho Uranaka, Daniel Leussink and Maki Shiraki; Editing by Nobuhiro Kubo, David Dolan and Jamie Freed, Miral Fahmy and Louise Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

business plan vs sales plan

Thomson Reuters

Daniel Leussink is a correspondent in Japan. Most recently, he has been covering Japan’s automotive industry, chronicling how some of the world's biggest automakers navigate a transition to electric vehicles and unprecedented supply chain disruptions. Since joining Reuters in 2018, Leussink has also covered Japan’s economy, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, COVID-19 and the Bank of Japan’s ultra-easy monetary policy experiment.

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New Bidder Aims to Save Bankrupt Trucking Firm, if Creditors Go Along

The plan would put Yellow back on the road with thousands of unionized drivers, but would force the government to wait longer for a loan repayment.

A row of four parked white trucks with the Yellow insignia.

By Peter Eavis

When Yellow abruptly shuttered its operations in the summer and filed for bankruptcy protection , few thought that a buyer would emerge and try to revive the long-troubled trucking giant.

Now a prominent trucking executive has assembled a last-minute plan to acquire Yellow out of bankruptcy — a proposal that seeks not only to rehire many of the company’s employees but also to work with their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to create a healthy business.

The plan rests on getting the Treasury Department to allow Yellow to postpone repayment of a $700 million rescue loan that it made to the company in 2020 . The Treasury may not accept the plan because there are legal obstacles to extending the loan. And it stands to be repaid sooner under the plan that Yellow has already filed in the Delaware bankruptcy court, which involves selling the company’s terminals and other assets to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in cash. Some trucking analysts say reviving Yellow will be hard because many customers will have moved on to other trucking companies that are much better run than the old Yellow.

But Sarah Riggs Amico, the trucking executive leading the deal, said that only her plan could bring back thousands of jobs, adding that she had the experience to build a leaner company in partnership with the Teamsters and assemble an executive team that can win back customers.

“Restructuring Yellow provides an opportunity to bring back tens of thousands of fair-wage, union truck-driving jobs while bolstering America’s supply chain,” said Ms. Riggs Amico, the executive chairwoman of Jack Cooper, a private auto-hauling trucking company. “Who wouldn’t find that a worthy effort?”

Under the proposal, Ms. Riggs Amico’s group would extend the Treasury loan so that it would be repaid in 2026 instead of next year, according to a person familiar with the bid. The group would also borrow $1.1 billion to pay off other secured creditors and bankruptcy lenders, and provide the new company with cash to operate. And it would issue $1.5 billion of preferred shares to unsecured creditors — the biggest of which is the Central States Pension Fund — that don’t get all their claims paid in bankruptcy. The Central States fund would get some $500 million of the preferred shares, according to the plan, far less than the $4.8 billion that Yellow owes it.

Ms. Riggs Amico’s bid was sent to Yellow’s management on Tuesday. The company must now consider whether to accept the bid. An auction to sell Yellow’s assets, possibly lasting several days, was scheduled to begin Tuesday. Yellow did not respond to requests for comment.

Ms. Riggs Amico and other female executives would own 51 percent of the new company, which would be separate from Jack Cooper. The new Yellow plans to employ some 15,000 people, according to the person familiar with the plan, down from 30,000 earlier this year.

“The Teamsters have a framework agreement to lay the foundation for good union jobs, fair wages and strong benefits once a new company is in place,” Kara Deniz, a Teamsters spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Government labor market data suggest that roughly 10,000 Yellow employees have found jobs elsewhere, said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking at FTR, a forecasting firm that focuses on the freight industry.

That implies that some 20,000 Yellow employees are still looking for work. “I have a lot of friends that are still without jobs,” said Mark Roper, a former Yellow driver from McDonough, Ga., who found a job at another trucking company. “I have a lot of friends that are on the verge of losing their house.”

Though bringing back lost trucking jobs and resurrecting a unionized company may appear attractive goals to the labor-friendly Biden administration, the Treasury may not believe it has the legal authority to extend the loan — it was made under the CARES Act , passed to provide relief early in the pandemic — and it may have qualms about further backing a company that struggled for years.

“There is no clear authority for Treasury to compromise the claim in any way that does not maximize returns for the U.S. government,” said Adam Levitin, a law professor at Georgetown University who specializes in bankruptcy.

In a statement, a Treasury spokesperson said: “Treasury is one of several creditors taking part in the bankruptcy process. We will continue to work to ensure taxpayers, and impacted workers and their families are treated fairly.”

Thomas Nyhan, the executive director of the Central States Pension Fund, said on Sunday that the fund was trying to determine the financial benefit of each plan as the terms of the rescue bid changed. And he said there may be a legal obstacle: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act generally prevents a pension fund from owning securities issued by companies contributing to the fund — the preferred stock under the Yellow rescue plan — though there can be exemptions. “This is a very complicated problem,” Mr. Nyhan said. “We haven’t come to a conclusion, mainly because the deal keeps evolving.”

Members of Congress from both parties have written to the Treasury, urging it to consider extending its loan, including Senators Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, and Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. Mr. Hawley wrote this month that assisting the sale of Yellow to an acquirer was “a common-sense step to keep Yellow’s trucks on the road, and keep its work force gainfully employed.”

The Treasury’s loan came from a pot of money to help companies designated as crucial to national security. It drew scrutiny because of the links between Yellow and the Trump administration, and because the Justice Department had sued the company, accusing it of overcharging the Department of Defense for freight services . Yellow last year agreed to pay a $7 million fine to resolve the case.

Yellow was a big player — another is Old Dominion — in the less-than-truckload sector, in which a truck will carry goods for more than one customer. Companies in the sector often have a network of terminals and warehouses to store goods between shipments and typically travel shorter distances than truckload companies, whose vehicles carry goods for one customer over longer distances.

Analysts say Yellow underperformed because it failed to effectively integrate big acquisitions and because it had higher costs, which some attribute in part to the unionization of its work force.

Ms. Riggs Amico, a Democratic primary candidate in Georgia for the U.S. Senate in 2020, has experience restructuring Teamster trucking companies. She oversaw Jack Cooper’s acquisition of two auto-hauling trucking companies with Teamster work forces, and her plan for Yellow envisions hiring executives who specialize in the less-than-truckload business. ( Jack Cooper, whose employees belong to the Teamsters, itself filed for bankruptcy in 2019.)

Some of Yellow’s rivals are interested in snapping up its terminals under the current plan in Delaware bankruptcy court. Estes Express has submitted a stalking horse bid — an offer intended to set a minimum price for assets — of $1.53 billion for Yellow’s shipment centers. That sum would provide enough cash to pay off the Treasury and a secured loan of around $500 million now held by Citadel, a Wall Street firm.

Ms. Riggs Amico’s plan would pay off Citadel but ask the Treasury to extend its loan. Some experts say this would mean taxpayers were taking a back seat to Wall Street.

“It’s helping private parties make money off of a distressed-debt investment, and there’s no real reason for Treasury to do that,” Mr. Levitin, the Georgetown professor, said.

Citadel declined to comment.

In Congress, those open to Ms. Riggs Amico’s bid acknowledge that other creditors would be getting ahead of Treasury but think the compromise a necessary evil to save jobs.

But it is not clear whether there would be much room left for a resurrected Yellow. Trucking experts say the market is gradually coping with the loss of the company, which once accounted for roughly 12 percent of drivers in the less-than-truckload sector. Mr. Vise, the trucking analyst, said Yellow’s exit had pushed trucking rates higher as customers scrambled to find other carriers. But he expects the sector to heal soon.

“Yellow’s shutdown did not seriously disrupt the less-than-truckload market,” he said.

An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the initial step in a bid for Yellow led by Sarah Riggs Amico. The bid was submitted to the company, not to the bankruptcy court.

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Peter Eavis reports on business, financial markets, the economy and companies across different sectors. More about Peter Eavis

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Daryl Hall is suing John Oates over plan to sell stake in joint venture. A judge has paused the sale

FILE - Daryl Hall, left, and John Oates, recipients of BMI Icons awards, pose together before the 56th annual BMI Pop Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 20, 2008. Hall has sued his longtime music partner John Oates, arguing that his plan to sell off his share of a joint venture would violate a business agreement the duo had.(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

FILE - Hall of Fame Inductees, Hall & Oates, John Oates and Daryl Hall appear in the press room at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April, 10, 2014, in New York. Hall has sued his longtime music partner John Oates, arguing that his plan to sell off his share of a joint venture would violate a business agreement the duo had. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Daryl Hall has sued his longtime music partner John Oates, arguing that his plan to sell off his share of a joint venture would violate the terms of a business agreement the Hall & Oates duo had forged.

The move quickly prompted a judge to temporarily block the sale while legal proceedings and a previously initiated arbitration continue.

A Nashville chancery court judge issued the temporary restraining order on Nov. 16, writing that Oates and others involved in his trust can’t move to close the sale of their share of Whole Oats Enterprises LLP to Primary Wave IP Investment Management LLC until an arbitrator in a separately filed case weighs in on the deal, or until the judge’s order expires — typically within 15 days, unless a judge extends the deadline.

Chancellor Russell Perkins issued the order the same day Hall filed his lawsuit, which was largely brought forth under seal, obscuring most details. An order Wednesday by the judge allowed more filings to be made public, though many details about the pair’s business agreement and the proposed sale remain under wraps.

FILE - Music mogul and entrepreneur Sean "Diddy" Combs arrives at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, May 15, 2022. Two more women have come forward to accuse Combs of sexual abuse, one week after the music mogul settled a separate lawsuit with the singer Cassie that contained allegations of rape and physical abuse. Both of the new suits were filed Thursday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Writing in favor of sealing certain filings, Hall’s attorneys reasoned that it’s a private dispute under an agreement with confidential terms, concerning a confidential arbitration process.

Although the publicly released version of the lawsuit didn’t specify what’s at stake in the sale, Primary Wave has already owned “significant interest” in Hall and Oates’ song catalog for more than 15 years. In a 2021 interview with Sky News, Hall alluded to disappointment with the sale of his back catalog.

“Oh, in the early days, it got sold off for me and I didn’t get the money,” he said. In the same interview, he advised artists to retain their publishing rights, saying “all you have is that.”

The lawsuit contends that Hall opened an arbitration process on Nov. 9 against Oates and the other defendants in the lawsuit, Oates’ wife, Aimee Oates, and Richard Flynn, in their roles as co-trustees of Oates’ trust. Hall was seeking an order preventing them from selling their part in Whole Oats Enterprises to Primary Wave Music.

According to the lawsuit, Oates’ team intimated at the time that the sale could close within days, although no arbitrator had been picked yet to sort through the conflict.

The lawsuit says Oates’ team entered into a letter of intent with Primary Wave Music for the sale, and alleges further that the letter makes clear that the music duo’s business agreement was disclosed to Primary Wave Music in violation of a confidentiality provision.

“Thus, the entire Unauthorized Transaction is the product of an indisputable breach of contract,” the lawsuit states.

The case will be taken up at a Nov. 30 court hearing.

The Associated Press sent emails to attorneys for both parties and to representatives for Primary Wave Music on Friday. Still unclear is whether the dispute centers on the music catalog of Hall & Oates, a soft-rock-and-pop duo best known for its No. 1 hits “Private Eyes,” “Rich Girl” and “Maneater.”

Daryl Hall and John Oates got their start as Temple University students before signing with Atlantic Records in 1972. In the decades since, they have achieved six platinum albums and many more Top 10 singles with their unique approach to blue-eyed soul. Hall & Oates was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and its latest album, “Home for Christmas,” was released in 2006. The duo continued to perform as of last year.

“We have this incredibly good problem of having so many hits,” Oates told the AP in 2021, just before resuming a national tour that had been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Believe me, it’s not a chore to play those songs because they are really great.”

Sherman reported from Copperas Cove, Texas.

MARIA SHERMAN

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