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How Business Plans and Sales Plans are Different but Complementary

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Business and sales plans are closely linked. The sales plan, though, should outline the actions that the department will take to achieve the company’s broader goals. A sales plan differs from a business plan, though both work toward to the same end.

A sales plan is there to lay out the objectives, high-level tactics, determine the target audience and the potential obstacles in reaching that audience. While it is like a traditional business plan, a sales plan focuses specifically on the sales strategy that will meet the company’s objectives.

“A business plan is a ‘what’ as a sales plan is a ‘how.’ Business plans are where a firm wants to go,” said James R. Bailey, professor of leadership development at the George Washington University School of Business. “A sales plan is a part of how they can achieve that. A business plan is direction; a sales plan is execution.”

Where a software company that produces apps might state that they want to be installed on every smartphone or desktop, or a hardware-based company will describe how it wants to have its widget in every household, the sales plan should describe how that will be achieved. This begins by stating the company’s goals, then outlining a strategy for the sales team to achieve that goal. The sales plan should identify the roles and responsibilities of each member of the sales team and forecast how – and how fast – these goals should be met.

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