How Do I get Started with my 2019 Sales Plan?

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

Calling all sales leaders! 2019 is right around the corner and that means your 2019 revenue number is probably bouncing around your head right about now. Questions like:

  • Am I even going to hit quota this year?
  • How is my last quarter going to set me up for 2019?
  • Will my number be realistic with the team I have today?
  • What should my revenue mix look like next year (% of new business, % of client growth)?
  • What sales leaders or reps need to go or stay?
  • Is our compensation program working to drive the right behaviors?
  • What kind of profitability will I need to maintain?
  • How effective is our market coverage and will it be good enough for next year?
  • Will I even keep my job?

One thing is for sure, it’s certainly not an easy answer and it takes hundreds of hours of planning, research, evaluation of different solutions, tools, compensation, culture, sales talent review and much more! Being a partner in a small business, I can relate to the challenges and fully understand the extra lift and hours that sales leaders will be faced with in the next 3-4 months of planning for next year. How does one start a sales plan leading into a new year? Of course with the end in mind! You get the number handed down from your CEO who’s responsible to shareholders in delivering a certain revenue number and certain EBITDA number.In most cases, as the CRO, SVP or VP of sales you have no real say in what that number will be but you will be responsible for delivering those results.

In preparation for the upcoming business planning season for those with year ends of December 31st, I thought it might be a good idea in this blog to help layout a simple framework for your high level thinking to get you in the planning mode. Let’s look at your plan in these 4 major categories:

Revenue Plan:

Since the balance of the categories will be affected by the revenue, it makes sense to start with our revenue plan. Let’s say you just got handed your revenue number from your CEO for the year – now what? Ok, let’s break it down:

Let’s start with the company numbers you’ve been tasked to hit:

  • Where are you going to set the team top line sales number to ensure you hit your revenue mandate?
  • What EBITDA number to you have to hit? Based on your EBITDA number don’t forget to keep in mind your product or service prices? Adjusting these levers can have a dramatic impact on top and bottom line numbers.
  • Of course one of the other important numbers you’re looking for is your budget. Are you doing more with less or are you getting a growth budget?

Now that you’ve established your team’s number you’ll need to figure out what your revenue mix is going to look like. By using past data trends and looking closely at your Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP) within your marketplace, you will need to break down the following:

  • How much revenue can I drive from net new clients?
  • How much revenue can I drive from existing clients?
  • How much churn will I have with existing clients and how can I reduce that churn?

Market Coverage:

Now that you have an idea of how much revenue you believe you can drive by revenue mix you will now need to figure out your market coverage. How will you build your direct and indirect selling machine to achieve your revenue targets and how will your equip your selling machine to achieve result:

New Acquisition Team

  • What does my new client acquisition team and strategy look like?
  • How will I equip the new acquisition team to succeed?
  1. Size of team
  2. Selling tools needed
  3. Training needed

Client Success Team

  • What does my client success team and strategy look like?
  • How will I equip the new acquisition team to succeed?
  1. Size of team
  2. Tools needed
  3. Training needed


  • What does my client churn % look like and what can I do to reduce it?
  • What impact will reducing churn have on my revenue numbers?
  1. Size of team
  2. Selling tools needed
  3. Training needed

Quotas & Compensation

Have you ever heard the saying “ You get what you pay for!”, well the same holds true in compensation models so you really need to plan carefully how you break up the quota’s and compensation or otherwise you could be incenting the wrong behaviors or could be creating a mass exitus of sales reps due to poor execution of delivering an effective quota and compensation plans. Here are some things to keep in mind:


  • Are reps going to be motivated by your compensation plan?
  • Does your plan incent the proper behaviors?
  • Is the plan clear and easy to follow?
  • Do you have effective accelerators to drive overperformance?
  • Is your compensation plan competitive in the marketplace?

Territories & Quotas

  • Is your territory and quota logic make financial sense for the rep and company?
  • Are each territories compared against benchmarked or randomly selected?
  • Does the territory coverage meet the corporate sales and objectives?
  • How does the new plan compare with the prior plan and how much will it cost the company?


  • Does the new quota and compensation model align with the corporate goals and objectives?
  • Will this new plan also align with your talent acquisition strategy

Sales Talent

Of course the whole plan will fall apart if you don’t have the right people on your teams.  Having run a Sales Talent Recruiting agency for 8 years, I can honestly say this sounds easier than it is. Finding the right attitude, drive, ambition and emotional intelligence in sales people will take time and a strong process. Here are some questions to help guide you:

  • What hires you anticipate needing for the year?  Don’t forget about churn!
  • Work with Human Resources on your sales talent hiring plan and process.
  • Build a solid hiring and onboarding process to include modern digital sales skills training in addition to product and process training.
  • Use an objective benchmarking system that will help you compare your top performers with your new hires. Sales profiling tools are very helpful for this.
  • Measure and compare how your hiring process is producing top talent for continuous improvement of the hiring process.

In summary, the above is not a complete and exhaustive list or a plan onto itself.  This blog was designed to help bring you into the planning session with a good high level overview to help get you into the right frame of mind as you get the ball rolling.  As you starting thinking about your revenue plan, skills training and planning your Sales Kickoff  don’t forget that modern digital selling and social selling can help impact your outcomes in many areas in 2019:

  • New Acquisition Team – Impact new strategies to source and acquire new clients.
  • Client Success Team – Impact new strategies to go deeper and wider in existing accounts.
  • Churn – Impact new strategies on how to continually be top of mind with your existing customers and educating them of your value you bring.

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