How to Develop a Sales Strategy – an Operating Plan for Your Sales Team

In a prior article, I wrote about what companies should include in a Strategic Plan which focuses on the Corporate Strategy. Of course, the right sequence requires the executives to craft their Corporate Strategy first (i.e. should be planned and finalized first before any other business functions craft their strategy) – it will serve as the foundation for Sales, Marketing, Product, Customer Success and other strategies.

Now I want to follow up on that with some insights on setting an effective strategy for your sales force – your Sales Strategy. What is Sales Strategy?  It is an operating plan for your sales group – please see the post “What is a Sales Strategy?” for more details.

While there is no one-size that fits all and no typical or standard Sales Strategy template that will work for everyone, I propose the general outline below as one that that will cover most of the key areas effectively and for most of the technology companies (almost irrespective of the stage they are in) but of course some contextual adjustments will always need to take place.


“An action plan to achieve your sales goals” – Mark Donnolo


Sales Planning

  • Go-to-Market Plan
    • The MAP (from the Go-to-Market Plan)
      • M: Market – Market & Segment
      • A: Account – Company Profile
      • P: Persona – Target Buyer Profile (profile of your target buyer)
  • Sales Operating Model
    • Bottoms-Up Pro-Forma Model
      • Detailed Capacity Planning and Analysis as well as Revenue Projections based on Leads by Sources, HC of SDRs & AEs, Conversions to Opportunities, $ASPs and % Win Rates by Segments, and Stress Tests
    • Top-Down model
      • Based on the market and other higher level assumptions
  • Sales Budget
  • Sales Organization Design
    • Detailed Headcount / People Plan
      • Recruiting (based on a Capacity Model)
      • Onboarding Plan
      • Sales Team Development & Training
  • Sales Territory Design
  • Coverage Plan
  • Segmentation Strategy
  • Compensation Plan
    • Includes incentives
    • Comp Calculators for the sales team
    • etc.
  • Quota Setting Plan
  • SWOT Analysis for the Sales Group

Sales Execution

  • Detailed Sales Process
    • Specifies stages with entry and exit criteria
    • Documents clear steps the sales team must take
  • Sales System Methodology (i.e. the CHAMP Selling System, or Sandler Selling Methodology, etc.)
  • Opportunity Management
  • Pipeline Management
  • Account Management
  • Sales Playbook
    • Sales motions
    • Sales plays
    • Note: while you need to plan it out during your Sales Strategic Planning cycle, the Sales Playbook itself will typically end up as a standalone document that your new reps will be trained on during their onboarding and your existing team will refer to frequently throughout the year)- you have to plan your high-level top plays necessary for your SDRs & AEs to execute (please refer to this article that I wrote a couple of years ago: The 10 Sections You Must Have in Your Sales Playbook)
  • Sales Prospecting Plan
    • the plan for Sales prospecting teams and the process for their prospecting efforts
  • Channel Partner Plan
    • Channel Sales: Distribution & Resellers
    • Channel Optimization
  • Dashboards for the Sales Group
    • KPIs and sales metrics
    • Sales Activity KPIs
    • Sales Pipeline KPIs
    • Sales Results KPIs

Sales Management Plan


  • Interlock and alignment of all key functions
  • Sales & Product Strategy Alignment and the SLA (critical yet missing from 80%+ of companies’ Sales Plans)
    • What new products will be introduced in the year and the assumptions of how they will drive revenue growth, etc.
  • Sales & Marketing Alignment and the SLA
  • Sales & Customer Success Alignment and the SLA

Sales-Supporting Functions

  • Pricing Strategy
    • needs to get to the requisite $ASP to hit your targets
  • Sales Operations
    • effective Sales Ops is always a proactive and critical function in the sales organization – analysis, reporting, data planning and insights for the Sales Leadership and management used strategically (and not just tactically or reactively)
  • Sales Enablement (see more about Sales Enablement here)
    • provide the sales professionals what they need to increase productivity and performance and helps make the sales force more effective in engaging the prospective customers throughout the buying process

Sales Technology / Stack

  • CRM
  • Systems
  • Sales BI/Analytics like InsightSquared
  • Sales Engagement technologies
  • Sales Prospecting technologies


It’s time for a 2019 Sales Kickoff – if you are a CRO or a VP of Sales then you need to have your Sales Strategy ready to communicate to the sales team (and marketing and, actually, the rest of the company too or at least in a simplified, summary format).

What else?  What are some other thoughts on designing a successful Sales Strategy?