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Create a sales forecast template in 5 simple steps (with examples)

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A strong sales team is the key to success for most companies. They say a good salesperson can sell sand at the beach, but whether you’re selling products in the Caribbean or Antarctica, it all comes down to strategy. When you’re unsure if your current strategy is working, a sales forecast can help.

What is a sales forecast?

A sales forecast predicts future sales revenue using past business data. Your sales forecast can predict a number of different things, including the number of new sales for an existing product, the new customers you’ll gain, or the memberships you’ll sell in a given time period. These forecasts are then used during project planning to determine how much you should allocate towards new products and services. 

How to calculate sales forecast

Sales forecasts determine how much you expect to do in sales for a given time frame. For example, let’s say you expect to sell 100 units in Q1 of fiscal year 2024.To calculate sales forecast, you’ll use past data to predict future trends. 

When you’re first creating a forecast, it’s important to establish benchmarks that determine how much you normally sell of any given product to how many people. Compare historical sales data against sales quotas—i.e., how much you sold vs. how much you expected to sell. This type of analysis can help you set a baseline for what you expect to achieve every week, month, quarter, and so on.

For many companies, this means establishing a formula. The exact inputs will vary based on your products or services, but generally, you can use the following:

Sales forecast = Number of products you expect to sell x The value of each product

For example, if you sell SaaS products, your sales forceast might look something like this: 

SaaS FY24 Sales forecast = Number of expected subscribers x Subscription price

Ultimately, the sales forecasting process is a guess—but it’s an educated one. You’ll use the information you already have to create a data-driven forecasting model. How accurate your forecast is depends on your sales team. The sales team uses facts such as their prospects, current market conditions, and their sales pipeline. But they will also use their experience in the field to decide on final numbers for what they think will sell. Because of this, sales leaders are more likely to have forecasting accuracy than new members of the sales team.

Sales forecast vs. sales goal

Your sales forecast is based on historical data and current market conditions. While you always hope your sales goals are attainable—and you can use data to estimate what your team is capable of—your goals might not line up directly with your forecast. This can be for a number of reasons, including wanting to create stretch goals that push your sales team beyond what they’ve done in the past or big, pie-in-the-sky goals that boost investor confidence.

Why is sales forecasting important?

Sales forecasting helps you keep a finger on your business’s pulse. It sets the ground rules for a variety of business operations, including your sales strategy and project planning. Once you calculate your sales projections, you can use the results to assess your business health, predict cash flow, and adjust your plans accordingly.

[inline illustration] the importance of sales forecasting (infographic)

An effective sales forecasting plan:

Predicts demand: When you have an idea of how many units you may sell, you can get a head start on production.

Helps you make smart investments: If you have future goals of expanding your business with new locations or products, knowing when you’ll have the income to do so is important. 

Contributes to goal setting: Your sales forecast can help you set goals outside of investments as well, like outshining competitors or hiring new team members.

Guides spending: Your sales forecast may be the wake-up call you need to set a budget and use cost control to reduce expenses.

Improves the sales process: You can change your current sales process based on the sales projections you’re unhappy with.

Highlights financial problems: Your sales forecast template will open your eyes to problem areas you may not have noticed otherwise. 

Helps with resource management : Do you have the resources you need to fill orders if it’s an accurate sales forecast? Your sales forecast can guide how you allocate and manage resources to hit targets.

When you have an accurate prediction of your future sales, you can use your projections to adjust your current sales process.

How to create a sales forecast template

There are different sales forecasting methods, and some are simpler than others. With the steps below, you’ll have a basic understanding of how to create a sales forecast template that you can customize to the method of your choice. 

[inline illustration] 5 steps to make a sales forecast template (infographic)

1. Track your business data

Without details from your past sales, you won’t have anything to base your predictions on. If you don’t have past sales data, you can begin tracking sales now to create a sales forecast in the future. The data you’ll need to track includes:

Number of units sold per month

Revenue of each product by month

Number of units returned or canceled (so you can get an accurate sales calculation)

Other items you can track to make your predictions more accurate include:

Growth percentage

Number of sales representatives

Average sales cycle length

There are different ways to use these data points when forecasting sales. If you want to calculate your sales run rate, which is your projected revenue for the next year, use your revenue from the past month and multiply it by 12. Then, adjust this number based on other relevant data points, like seasonality.

Tip: The best way to track historical data is to use customer relationship management (CRM) software. When you have a CRM strategy in place, you can easily pull data into your sales forecast template and make quick projections.

2. Set your metrics

Before you perform the calculations in your sales forecast template, you need to decide what you’re measuring. The basic questions you should ask are:

What is the product or service you’re selling and forecasting for? Answering this question helps you decide what exactly you’re evaluating. For example, you can investigate future trends for a long-standing product to decide whether it’s worth continuing, or you can predict future sales for a new product. 

How far in the future do you want to make projections? You can decide to make projections for as little as six months or as much as five years in the future. The complexity of your sales forecast is up to you.

How much will you sell each product for , and how do you measure your products? Set your product’s metrics, whether they be units, hours, memberships, or something else. That way, you can calculate revenue on a price per unit basis.

How long is your sales cycle? Your sales cycle—also called a sales funnel—is how long it takes for you to make the average sale from beginning to end. Sales cycles are often monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Depending on the product you’re selling, your sales cycle may be unique. Steps in the sales cycle typically include:

Lead generation

Lead qualification

Initial contact

Making an offer


Closing the deal

Tip: You can still project customer growth versus revenue even if your company is in its early phases. If you don’t have enough historical data to use for your sales forecast template, you can use data from a company similar to yours in the market. 

3. Choose a forecasting method

There are two basic forecasting methods you can use when sales forecasting. The top-down method starts with the total size of the market and works down, while the bottom-up method starts with your business and expands out.

Top-down method: To use the top-down method, start with the total size of the market—or total addressable market (TAM). Then, estimate how much of the market you think your business can capture. For example, if you’re in a large, over-saturated market, you may only capture 3% of the TAM. If the total addressable market is $1 billion, your projected annual sales would be $30 million. 

Bottom-up method: With the bottom-up method, you’ll estimate the total units your company will sell in a sales cycle, then multiply that number by your average cost per unit. You can expand out by adding other variables, like the number of sales reps, department expenses, or website views. The bottom-up forecasting method uses company data to project more specific results. 

You’ll need to choose one method to fill in your sales forecast template, but you can also try both methods to compare results.

Tip: The best forecasting method for you may depend on what type of business you’re running. If your company experiences little fluctuation in revenue, then the top-down forecasting method should work well. The top-down model can also work for new businesses that have little business data to work with. Bottom-up forecasting may be better for seasonal businesses or startups looking to make future budget and staffing decisions.

4. Calculate your sales forecast

You’ve already learned a basic way to calculate revenue using the top-down method. Below, you’ll see another way to estimate your projected sales revenue on an annual scale.

Divide your sales revenue for the year so far by the number of months so far to calculate your average monthly sales rate.

Multiply your average monthly sales rate by the number of months left in the year to calculate your projected sales revenue for the rest of the year.

Add your total sales revenue so far to your projected sales revenue for the rest of the year to calculate your annual sales forecast.

A more generalized way to estimate your future sales revenue for the year is to multiply your total sales revenue from the previous year.

Example: Let’s say your company sells a software application for $300 per unit and you sold 500 units from January to March. Your sales revenue so far is $150,000 ($300 per unit x 500 units sold). You’re three months into the calendar year, so your average monthly sales rate is $50,000 ($150,000 / 3 months). That means your projected sales revenue for the rest of the year is $450,000 ($50,000 x 9 months).

5. Adjust for external factors

A sales forecast predicts future revenue by making assumptions about your growth rate based on past success. But your past success is only one component of your growth rate. There are external factors outside of your control that can affect sales growth—and you should consider them if you want to make accurate projections. 

Some external factors you can adjust your calculations around include:

Inflation rate: Inflation is how much prices increase over a specific time period, and it usually fluctuates based on a country’s overall economic state. You can take your annual sales forecast and factor in inflation rate to ensure you’re not projecting a higher or lower number of sales than the economy will permit.

The competition: Is your market becoming more competitive as time goes on? For example, are you selling software during a tech boom? If so, assess whether your market share will shrink because of rising competition in the coming year(s).

Market changes: The market can shift as people change their behavior. Your audience may spend an average of six hours per day on their phones in one year. In the next year, mental health awareness may cause phone usage to drop. These changes are hard to predict, so you must stay on top of market news.

Industry changes: Industry changes happen when new products and technologies come on the market and make other products obsolete. One instance of this is the invention of AI technology.

Legislation: Although not as common, changes in legislation can affect the way companies sell their products. For example, vaping was a multi-million dollar industry until laws banned the sale of vape products to people under the age of 21. 

Seasonality: Many industries experience seasonality based on how human behavior and human needs change with the seasons. For example, people spend more time inside during the winter, so they may be on their computers more. Retail stores may also experience a jump in sales around Christmas time.

Tip: You can create a comprehensive sales plan to set goals for team members. Aside from revenue targets and training milestones, consider assigning each of these external factors to your team members so they can keep track of essential information. That way, you’ll have your bases covered on anything that may affect future sales growth. 

Sales forecast template (and example)

Below you’ll see an example of a software company’s six-month sales forecast template for two products. Product one is a software application, and product two is a software accessory. 

In this sales forecast template, the company used past sales data to fill in each month. They projected their sales would increase by 10% each month because of a 5% increase in inflation and because they gained 5% more of the market. They kept their price per unit the same as the previous year.

[inline illustration] 6 month sales forecast (example)

Putting both products in the same chart can help the company see that their lower-cost product—the software accessory—brings in more revenue than their higher-cost product. The company can then use this insight to create more low-cost products in the future.

Pair your sales forecast with a strong sales process

A sales forecast is only one part of the larger sales picture. As your team members acquire leads and close deals, you can track them through the sales pipeline. A solid sales plan is the foundation of future success.  

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9 Free Sales Forecast Templates to Super-Charge Sales Growth in 2023

Sales forecasting templates might not sound all that exciting. Fair enough. After all, who wants to create more reports—on top of all your other responsibilities?

If you're feeling a little skeptic, take a walk with me and imagine this scenario involving two different sales managers :

Which of these sales managers is more likely to get the budget they want?

No brainer. It's Sales Manager 2 every day of the week.

What's the difference between their pitches? A solid sales forecast to back up the substantial investment they're asking the VP to make.

Sales forecasts can be exciting—they give you the superpower to see what's coming down the pipeline. More importantly, they're easy to create using the right sales forecasting templates.

In this guide, we'll give you a step-by-step method to create a sales forecast and access to several free sales forecast templates (in both Microsoft Excel & Google Sheets format).

But first, let’s quickly touch on why sales forecasts are key to growing your sales team—and your business.

Why Are Sales Forecasts Crucial for Sales Teams?

Sales forecasting provides a window into your business's future. Depending on the template, it can help you:

  • Predict sales figures for the next quarter: Much like projecting total contract value growth, sales forecasting provides a roadmap for anticipated revenue, enabling you to plan and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Make more accurate cash flow projections
  • Predict expenses
  • See where to invest marketing dollars
  • Better allocate hiring budgets
  • Spot emerging trends early on
  • Diagnosis potential issues in your sales flow early

Lastly, it is a powerful motivation tool for your sales team—especially if you have a longer sales cycle. It allows you to paint a clear picture showing how the work your team is doing today will pay off.

9 Best Sales Forecast Templates (Free Google Sheets + Excel Templates)

Not every sales team needs a super complex sales forecasting model. For instance, small businesses only want (and need) to track a few important metrics. On the other hand, eCommerce companies must track multiple products—which gets challenging without a template.

So, we've sorted through all the free sales forecast templates we could find (in Excel + Google Sheets format), and even created one of our own. Choose the template that works best for your company, sales team, and industry.

Pro tip: Tired of spreadsheets? Cut out the third-party tools with Close's built-in Sales Funnel Reporting .

1. Best General Forecast Template (Without a CRM)

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best General Forecast Template

This sales forecasting template from Close provides a simple way to track and forecast two years of sales. The first tab allows for adjusting funnel metrics depending on your sales cycle, average deal size, lead growth, and number of leads.

The second tab forecasts sales by month based on meetings booked, new opportunities created, and leads closed/won. A chart at the bottom displays expected growth.

The only thing better than this is having sales forecasting built right into your CRM ( like with Close ), which enables you to have powerful integrations that enrich your forecasting accuracy and pipeline health over time.

Get the free template here .

2. Best Forecast Template for a Lead-Driven Sales Process

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best Forecast Template for a Lead-driven Sales Process

This template is ideal for companies that track their lead generation efforts and monitor their monthly sales forecast. You’ll see it breaks the year into quarters and tracks leads in all stages of the sales funnel .

The best part? This is a Google Sheets template (which can be accessed via Google apps and can also be downloaded for use in Microsoft Excel).

This template tracks deal value and uses a weighted forecast model. It can also predict the probability of closing, which is a helpful metric for B2B companies. You can download it right here .

3. Best Free Forecasting Template for Multiple Product Businesses

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best Forecast Template for Multiple Product Businesses

Does your company sell multiple products or services? This sales projection template could be a great choice for a business with more complex offerings. It tracks the number of units sold for each product line over 12 months on a single spreadsheet to streamline your forecasting accuracy.

It also carries over sales history from three previous years, making it easy to compare sales by unit, month, or across years. You can download it right here in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel format. Just make a copy, and start editing the sheet.

4. Best Forecasting Template for Retail Businesses

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best Forecasting Template for Retail Businesses

This template is ideal for retail stores that want to forecast sales, track gross sales, and mark up percentage and profit margin for each item with the goal of generating more new business. The yellow cells allow you to input your own data, and the spreadsheet uses smart Excel automation formulas to calculate forecasts.

While it doesn't display the previous year's data in this view, you could easily create a pivot table in Excel or Google Sheets to pull data from several years. That way you can compare average sales, total sales, and other sales KPIs that matter to your leadership. You can pick this one up right here .

5. Best for Long-term Future Sales Analysis (36 Months of Historical Data)

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best Forecasting Template for Long-term Future Sales Analysis

This is one of the most colorful templates on the list, but that's not why we included it. This template is ideal for companies that want to monitor long-term data closely.

In addition to 12 months of full historical sales data, you'll also see detailed insights and data for the past five years, including overall revenue for each type of item. This is a good option if you want to focus your sales analysis on the long and short-term. You can grab this one right here .

6. Best Sales Forecasting Model for Scenario Planning (New Product Launches)

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best Forecasting Template for Scenario Planning

Forecasting sales for a new product launch can be a challenge—which is why many companies do a soft launch without high expectations.

After a soft launch, use this forecasting template to track initial sales data and project your next five years of sales. Head over here to download this one .

7. Best Free Template for Multiple Products at Different Growth Rates

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best Forecasting Template for Multiple Products at Different Growth Rates

Looking to track product sales that grow at different rates? This spreadsheet tracks growth and forecasts revenue for 12 months—even if the products or services grow at different rates. This is a great fit for businesses with legacy products that regularly launch new products.

This forecasting chart also includes five years of historical data so you can see overall sales growth at a glance. Pick this template up right here .

8. Best for Short-Term Forecasts

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best for Short-term Forecasts

Want to plan your inventory or marketing campaigns for just the next few weeks? This 3-month forecast template can help.

Customize the start date, then enter your number of units and price per unit to get projections. It’s simple and effective. Download this template right here .

9. Best for Daily Forecasts

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Best for Daily Forecasts

Now, let’s shorten the projections even more—to a daily window. This one is primarily useful for businesses in the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries.

With this template, predict your sales on a daily or weekly time frame. This granular vision can help you optimize day-to-day sales. Plus, you can rely on the historical sales data and add weekly notes.

Grab this forecast template here .

How to Choose the Right Sales Forecast Template (& Forecasting Methods for Your Business)

The right forecasting template provides access to the sales KPIs that matter most to your sales team. But not all businesses are the same.

Retail businesses may need to track hundreds of products and dozens of different suppliers, while a SaaS company might only offer three pricing plans—but have a really long sales cycle.

You need to find the right template for your business needs. Otherwise, you'll be left floundering in a sea of useless data.

Here's how to select the right sales forecast template for your organization.

Get Clear on Your Sales Goals & Set Realistic Sales Revenue Targets

Different sales goals and revenue targets rely on different data. For example, if you want to predict sales over the next two years, you'll want a forecast template that covers a longer time period.

Goals can also impact which template will work best for your team.

For example, suppose an eCommerce company wants to increase monthly sales by 10 percent and boost customer lifetime value. In this case, they'll need a different template than a small business looking to increase sales from a specific customer segment.

Next, set realistic revenue targets using overall market growth as a benchmark. If your industry expands by 25 percent, a 10 percent growth rate might be too low, while 50 percent is likely too high.

Look for a template that fits your business goals and revenue targets.

Consider Your Business Type & Plan Ahead for Sales Fluctuations

Your business type is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a template. The size, industry, age, and growth rate can all impact which template will work for you.

Also, consider how often your sales fluctuate. For example, an eCommerce store may have 10 to 15 fluctuations a year, so they need a template that can handle their data. On the other hand, a small fly fishing business may have just two fluctuations—on and off-season.

Look for a template that suits your business model and accommodates your sales fluctuations.

Decide Which Method of Sales Forecasting to Use for Your Sales Team

When it comes to sales forecasting methods, there is no one-size fits all solution.

You'll need to adjust your forecasting based on your historical data, the metrics you need to track, and your confidence in the data. Your goals and KPIs also impact the forecasting methods you use.

Here are seven sales forecasting methods, including who should use them:

  • Lead-driven forecasting : Looks at previous lead conversion rates and projects future sales based on current lead volume. Best for organizations with clear historical data and a steady stream of inbound leads, such as SaaS or technology companies.
  • Length of sales cycle forecasting : Tracks how long a typical lead takes to close based on lead type. Best for organizations with insights into the entire sales pipeline and well-aligned sales and marketing teams, especially B2B.
  • Opportunity stage forecasting: Calculates how likely a lead is to close based on specific actions and lead type. Ideal for businesses with good historical data on closing rates.
  • Test-market analysis forecasting: Leverages data from a soft release to get a sense of projected revenue. Best for startups or businesses launching a new product line or service.
  • Historical forecasting : Forecasting data based on historical data and market trends. Works well for any business with at least a year of historical data.
  • Multivariable analysis: A complex analysis that considers multiple factors and closing ratios. Best for companies with varying deal sizes and close rates or selling multiple products or services.

Make sure whatever template you choose fits your analysis method.

Look at Historical Data & Past Sales Metrics

We've already discussed how historical data can impact your sales forecasting, but it's also an important factor in choosing the right template.

Before choosing a template, look at your past metrics and historical data. How much data do you have? If you have several years' worth of data, consider a template with a longer forecasting model.

What data do you want to include based on your business type and forecasting methods? Make sure the template you choose includes the fields important to your business.

Research External Market Conditions to Create an Accurate Sales Forecast

Finally, spend a few hours researching current market conditions and consider how they may impact your sales forecast. For example, if your industry is growing fast, you might select a forecasting template that updates in near real-time.

On the other hand, if a large competitor is acquiring another company, that might make growth more challenging, and you might need to lower your growth expectations.

Look for a template that works well with current market conditions.

How Do You Calculate Sales Forecasts Quickly?

Here’s a simple formula that SaaS businesses can use for a specific forecast period:

Number of expected new customers x Average deal size

The accuracy of such a forecast depends on various factors, including your churn rate, upsells, changes to your existing subscriptions, market conditions, etc. The more informed your assumptions, the better your accuracy.

Pro tip: Are you starting to notice your time is getting consumed by forecasting sales and managing your sales process? Maybe it's time to move to a CRM .

For example, Close’s Opportunity Funnel Report displays funnel insights and graphs to help visualize the health of your pipeline—and make forecasting a breeze.

Best Sales Forecast Templates - Close Funnel Report


How to Create a Custom Sales Forecast Template: Five Easy Steps

Sometimes, you need to do it yourself. Sales forecasting can be simple—especially if you create a forecasting template based on your own sales process and KPIs. Assuming you’re already tracking your sales, here are the steps to create your own template.

Step 1: Choose Sales Performance Metrics

What do you want to track? Whether it’s the sales quotas of individual sales reps, your gross profit, or simply one-year sales projections, choose KPIs based on your goals.

You can check out this exhaustive list of KPIs , but most SaaS businesses can start by calculating their run rates. Keep in mind that it requires a few months of revenue data to project your annualized revenue.

Here's the sales run rate formula :

Projected sales = Run rate (Current sales/number of sales periods elapsed) X the remaining number of sales periods

How to Create a Custom Sales Forecast Template - Step 1

This is one of the easiest ways to predict future growth, and it’s a great starting point. We’ll refine it in the fourth step, but now let’s start creating a template.

Step 2: Create a Layout for Your Template and Add Formulas

Now, add relevant formulas for your chosen metrics so that your sheet can make automatic forecasts based on your data input.

The specific columns you include in your layout depend on the KPIs you want to track, and the information you want to include.

If we were calculating the annual run rate, you could use one column for the month, another for the sales in that month, and another for calculating the total sales up to the current month.

How to Create a Custom Sales Forecast Template - Create a Layout for Your Template and Add Formulas

Next, you want to create formulas for the average monthly rate and the annual run rate formula (ARR), which will be your average monthly sales X 12. These two can be additional columns.

How to Create a Custom Sales Forecast Template - Create formulas for the annual run rate

Step 3: Calculate Your Sales Forecast

Now it’s time to test your template. Input data and let the spreadsheet automatically calculate your sales forecast. In our example, after inputting data for January through March, here’s what the forecasted annual run rate looked like:

How to Create a Custom Sales Forecast Template - Calculate Your Sales Forecast

Step 4: Adjust for External Factors and Strategic Business Plans

Our simple run rate formula doesn't consider seasonality, competition, market changes, or business growth.

If seasonality or trends impact your sales, calculate the percent change from your average month during periods of spike or dip. For example, if your sales typically spike by 30 percent in November, you can adjust your sales run rate to account for these trends.

Internal changes can also impact sales forecasting. Are you launching new products ? How have product launches performed in the past? Are you marketing to new customer segments? How many new customers do you expect these new markets to add to your customer file?

Refining your formula will improve your forecast's accuracy, leading to informed sales plans and decisions.

If you want to create a comprehensive SaaS revenue forecast model from scratch in Excel, check out this tutorial .

Step 5: Integrate the Template Into Your Process (& Keep Improving It)

Most sales reps spend only one-third of their day selling to prospects. So, you want to integrate the sales forecasting template into your workflow naturally, so it doesn’t diminish productivity. Work to blend it with your team's existing spreadsheets or software.

Set up a regular cadence for importing data into the template—either manually, or automatically from another software. Then, generate forecasts based on inputted data.

To keep your forecasts relevant, regularly review the accuracy of the results. Make adjustments to your template as needed—and remember that a change in business strategy or market conditions should also invite revisions.

Want to sophisticate your forecasts and consider advanced trends? Then you must use evolved sales forecasting methods. Get more detailed insights into sales forecasting here .

Using Forecasting Templates to Predict + Optimize Future Revenue

When it comes to sales forecasting, the right template can make all the difference. If you're still doing the process manually, you might miss out on actionable insights that could help your team meet and exceed your sales goals. Plus, manual forecasting takes a lot of valuable time—and is prone to error.

So, choose one of the above templates to create a standardized forecasting approach for your company, but don’t be afraid to make it your own. Add columns, include metrics that matter, and even plug in your brand color and name.

Or, you can just design a template from scratch.

Remember that your template isn’t static. Keep refining your forecast assumptions, and iterate to improve accuracy. Over time, you'll end up with a custom sales forecasting spreadsheet that makes you look like a superstar—and boosts your revenue potential.

Want even more actionable insights? See how Close gives you access to the reporting metrics that matter .

But even if you’re working without a CRM, or using another product to manage your sales process, grab our free sales forecast template to achieve your goals that much faster.

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Free Financial Templates for a Business Plan

By Andy Marker | July 29, 2020

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In this article, we’ve rounded up expert-tested financial templates for your business plan, all of which are free to download in Excel, Google Sheets, and PDF formats.

Included on this page, you’ll find the essential financial statement templates, including income statement templates , cash flow statement templates , and balance sheet templates . Plus, we cover the key elements of the financial section of a business plan .

Financial Plan Templates

Download and prepare these financial plan templates to include in your business plan. Use historical data and future projections to produce an overview of the financial health of your organization to support your business plan and gain buy-in from stakeholders

Business Financial Plan Template

Business Financial Plan Template

Use this financial plan template to organize and prepare the financial section of your business plan. This customizable template has room to provide a financial overview, any important assumptions, key financial indicators and ratios, a break-even analysis, and pro forma financial statements to share key financial data with potential investors.

Download Financial Plan Template

Word | PDF | Smartsheet

Financial Plan Projections Template for Startups

Startup Financial Projections Template

This financial plan projections template comes as a set of pro forma templates designed to help startups. The template set includes a 12-month profit and loss statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement for you to detail the current and projected financial position of a business.

‌ Download Startup Financial Projections Template

Excel | Smartsheet

Income Statement Templates for Business Plan

Also called profit and loss statements , these income statement templates will empower you to make critical business decisions by providing insight into your company, as well as illustrating the projected profitability associated with business activities. The numbers prepared in your income statement directly influence the cash flow and balance sheet forecasts.

Pro Forma Income Statement/Profit and Loss Sample

sales forecast template for business plan

Use this pro forma income statement template to project income and expenses over a three-year time period. Pro forma income statements consider historical or market analysis data to calculate the estimated sales, cost of sales, profits, and more.

‌ Download Pro Forma Income Statement Sample - Excel

Small Business Profit and Loss Statement

Small Business Profit and Loss Template

Small businesses can use this simple profit and loss statement template to project income and expenses for a specific time period. Enter expected income, cost of goods sold, and business expenses, and the built-in formulas will automatically calculate the net income.

‌ Download Small Business Profit and Loss Template - Excel

3-Year Income Statement Template

3 Year Income Statement Template

Use this income statement template to calculate and assess the profit and loss generated by your business over three years. This template provides room to enter revenue and expenses associated with operating your business and allows you to track performance over time.

Download 3-Year Income Statement Template

For additional resources, including how to use profit and loss statements, visit “ Download Free Profit and Loss Templates .”

Cash Flow Statement Templates for Business Plan

Use these free cash flow statement templates to convey how efficiently your company manages the inflow and outflow of money. Use a cash flow statement to analyze the availability of liquid assets and your company’s ability to grow and sustain itself long term.

Simple Cash Flow Template

sales forecast template for business plan

Use this basic cash flow template to compare your business cash flows against different time periods. Enter the beginning balance of cash on hand, and then detail itemized cash receipts, payments, costs of goods sold, and expenses. Once you enter those values, the built-in formulas will calculate total cash payments, net cash change, and the month ending cash position.

Download Simple Cash Flow Template

12-Month Cash Flow Forecast Template

sales forecast template for business plan

Use this cash flow forecast template, also called a pro forma cash flow template, to track and compare expected and actual cash flow outcomes on a monthly and yearly basis. Enter the cash on hand at the beginning of each month, and then add the cash receipts (from customers, issuance of stock, and other operations). Finally, add the cash paid out (purchases made, wage expenses, and other cash outflow). Once you enter those values, the built-in formulas will calculate your cash position for each month with.

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3-Year Cash Flow Statement Template Set

3 Year Cash Flow Statement Template

Use this cash flow statement template set to analyze the amount of cash your company has compared to its expenses and liabilities. This template set contains a tab to create a monthly cash flow statement, a yearly cash flow statement, and a three-year cash flow statement to track cash flow for the operating, investing, and financing activities of your business.

Download 3-Year Cash Flow Statement Template

For additional information on managing your cash flow, including how to create a cash flow forecast, visit “ Free Cash Flow Statement Templates .”

Balance Sheet Templates for a Business Plan

Use these free balance sheet templates to convey the financial position of your business during a specific time period to potential investors and stakeholders.

Small Business Pro Forma Balance Sheet

sales forecast template for business plan

Small businesses can use this pro forma balance sheet template to project account balances for assets, liabilities, and equity for a designated period. Established businesses can use this template (and its built-in formulas) to calculate key financial ratios, including working capital.

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Monthly and Quarterly Balance Sheet Template

sales forecast template for business plan

Use this balance sheet template to evaluate your company’s financial health on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. You can also use this template to project your financial position for a specified time in the future. Once you complete the balance sheet, you can compare and analyze your assets, liabilities, and equity on a quarter-over-quarter or year-over-year basis.

Download Monthly/Quarterly Balance Sheet Template - Excel

Yearly Balance Sheet Template

sales forecast template for business plan

Use this balance sheet template to compare your company’s short and long-term assets, liabilities, and equity year-over-year. This template also provides calculations for common financial ratios with built-in formulas, so you can use it to evaluate account balances annually.

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For more downloadable resources for a wide range of organizations, visit “ Free Balance Sheet Templates .”

Sales Forecast Templates for Business Plan

Sales projections are a fundamental part of a business plan, and should support all other components of your plan, including your market analysis, product offerings, and marketing plan . Use these sales forecast templates to estimate future sales, and ensure the numbers align with the sales numbers provided in your income statement.

Basic Sales Forecast Sample Template

Basic Sales Forecast Template

Use this basic forecast template to project the sales of a specific product. Gather historical and industry sales data to generate monthly and yearly estimates of the number of units sold and the price per unit. Then, the pre-built formulas will calculate percentages automatically. You’ll also find details about which months provide the highest sales percentage, and the percentage change in sales month-over-month. 

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12-Month Sales Forecast Template for Multiple Products

sales forecast template for business plan

Use this sales forecast template to project the future sales of a business across multiple products or services over the course of a year. Enter your estimated monthly sales, and the built-in formulas will calculate annual totals. There is also space to record and track year-over-year sales, so you can pinpoint sales trends.

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3-Year Sales Forecast Template for Multiple Products

3 Year Sales Forecast Template

Use this sales forecast template to estimate the monthly and yearly sales for multiple products over a three-year period. Enter the monthly units sold, unit costs, and unit price. Once you enter those values, built-in formulas will automatically calculate revenue, margin per unit, and gross profit. This template also provides bar charts and line graphs to visually display sales and gross profit year over year.

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For a wider selection of resources to project your sales, visit “ Free Sales Forecasting Templates .”

Break-Even Analysis Template for Business Plan

A break-even analysis will help you ascertain the point at which a business, product, or service will become profitable. This analysis uses a calculation to pinpoint the number of service or unit sales you need to make to cover costs and make a profit.

Break-Even Analysis Template

Break Even Analysis

Use this break-even analysis template to calculate the number of sales needed to become profitable. Enter the product's selling price at the top of the template, and then add the fixed and variable costs. Once you enter those values, the built-in formulas will calculate the total variable cost, the contribution margin, and break-even units and sales values.

Download Break-Even Analysis Template

For additional resources, visit, “ Free Financial Planning Templates .”

Business Budget Templates for Business Plan

These business budget templates will help you track costs (e.g., fixed and variable) and expenses (e.g., one-time and recurring) associated with starting and running a business. Having a detailed budget enables you to make sound strategic decisions, and should align with the expense values listed on your income statement.

Startup Budget Template

sales forecast template for business plan

Use this startup budget template to track estimated and actual costs and expenses for various business categories, including administrative, marketing, labor, and other office costs. There is also room to provide funding estimates from investors, banks, and other sources to get a detailed view of the resources you need to start and operate your business.

Download Startup Budget Template

Small Business Budget Template

sales forecast template for business plan

This business budget template is ideal for small businesses that want to record estimated revenue and expenditures on a monthly and yearly basis. This customizable template comes with a tab to list income, expenses, and a cash flow recording to track cash transactions and balances.

Download Small Business Budget Template

Professional Business Budget Template

sales forecast template for business plan

Established organizations will appreciate this customizable business budget template, which  contains a separate tab to track projected business expenses, actual business expenses, variances, and an expense analysis. Once you enter projected and actual expenses, the built-in formulas will automatically calculate expense variances and populate the included visual charts. 

‌ Download Professional Business Budget Template

For additional resources to plan and track your business costs and expenses, visit “ Free Business Budget Templates for Any Company .”

Other Financial Templates for Business Plan

In this section, you’ll find additional financial templates that you may want to include as part of your larger business plan.

Startup Funding Requirements Template

Startup Funding Requirements Template

This simple startup funding requirements template is useful for startups and small businesses that require funding to get business off the ground. The numbers generated in this template should align with those in your financial projections, and should detail the allocation of acquired capital to various startup expenses.

Download Startup Funding Requirements Template - Excel

Personnel Plan Template

Personnel Plan Template

Use this customizable personnel plan template to map out the current and future staff needed to get — and keep — the business running. This information belongs in the personnel section of a business plan, and details the job title, amount of pay, and hiring timeline for each position. This template calculates the monthly and yearly expenses associated with each role using built-in formulas. Additionally, you can add an organizational chart to provide a visual overview of the company’s structure. 

Download Personnel Plan Template - Excel

Elements of the Financial Section of a Business Plan

Whether your organization is a startup, a small business, or an enterprise, the financial plan is the cornerstone of any business plan. The financial section should demonstrate the feasibility and profitability of your idea and should support all other aspects of the business plan. 

Below, you’ll find a quick overview of the components of a solid financial plan.

  • Financial Overview: This section provides a brief summary of the financial section, and includes key takeaways of the financial statements. If you prefer, you can also add a brief description of each statement in the respective statement’s section.
  • Key Assumptions: This component details the basis for your financial projections, including tax and interest rates, economic climate, and other critical, underlying factors.
  • Break-Even Analysis: This calculation helps establish the selling price of a product or service, and determines when a product or service should become profitable.
  • Pro Forma Income Statement: Also known as a profit and loss statement, this section details the sales, cost of sales, profitability, and other vital financial information to stakeholders.
  • Pro Forma Cash Flow Statement: This area outlines the projected cash inflows and outflows the business expects to generate from operating, financing, and investing activities during a specific timeframe.
  • Pro Forma Balance Sheet: This document conveys how your business plans to manage assets, including receivables and inventory.
  • Key Financial Indicators and Ratios: In this section, highlight key financial indicators and ratios extracted from financial statements that bankers, analysts, and investors can use to evaluate the financial health and position of your business.

Need help putting together the rest of your business plan? Check out our free simple business plan templates to get started. You can learn how to write a successful simple business plan  here . 

Visit this  free non-profit business plan template roundup  or download a  fill-in-the-blank business plan template  to make things easy. If you are looking for a business plan template by file type, visit our pages dedicated specifically to  Microsoft Excel ,  Microsoft Word , and  Adobe PDF  business plan templates. Read our articles offering  startup business plan templates  or  free 30-60-90-day business plan templates  to find more tailored options.

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sales forecast template for business plan

On This Page

Forecasting isn’t about seeing into the future

Successful forecasting is driven by regular reviews, step 1: set up your lines of sales, step 2: forecast line by line, but how do you know what numbers to put into your sales forecast, estimate direct costs, never forecast in a vacuum, timing matters, live with your assumptions, how to create a sales forecast.

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11 min. read

Updated October 27, 2023

Female entrepreneur standing at the front of her shop reviewing receipts to start organizing categories for a sales forecast.

Business owners are often afraid to forecast sales. But, you shouldn’t be. Because you can successfully forecast your own business’s sales.

You don’t have to be an MBA or CPA. It’s not about some magic right answer that you don’t know. It’s not about training you don’t have. It doesn’t take spreadsheet modeling (much less econometric modeling) to estimate units and price per unit for future sales. You just have to know your own business. 

Sales forecasting is much easier than you think and much more useful than you imagine.

I was a vice president of a market research firm for several years, doing expensive forecasts, and I saw many times that there’s nothing better than the educated guess of somebody who knows the business well. All those sophisticated techniques depend on data from the past — and the past, by itself, isn’t the best predictor of the future. You are.

It’s not about guessing the future correctly. We’re human; we don’t do that well. Instead, it’s about setting down assumptions, expectations, drivers, tracking, and management. It’s about doing your job, not having precognitive powers. 

What really matters is that you review and revise your forecast regularly. Spending should be tied to sales, so the forecast helps you budget and manage. You measure the value of a sales forecast like you do anything in business, by its measurable business results.

That also means you should not back off from forecasting because you have a new product, or new business, without past data. Lay out the sales drivers and interdependencies, to connect the dots, so that as you review plan-versus-actual results every month, you can easily make course corrections.

If you think sales forecasting is hard, try running a business without a forecast. That’s much harder.

Your sales forecast is also the backbone of your business plan . People measure a business and its growth by sales, and your sales forecast sets the standard for  expenses , profits, and growth. The sales forecast is almost always going to be the first set of numbers you’ll track for plan versus actual use, even if you do no other numbers.

If nothing else, just forecast your sales, track plan-versus-actual results, and make corrections — that process alone, just the sales forecast and tracking is in itself already business planning. To get started on building your forecast follow these steps.

And if you run a subscription-based business, we have a guide dedicated to building a sales forecast for that business model.

Most forecasts show several distinct lines of sales. Ideally, your sales lines match your accounting, but not necessarily in the same level of detail.   

For example, a restaurant ought not to forecast sales for each item on the menu. Instead, it forecasts breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and drinks, summarized. And a bookstore ought not to forecast sales by book, and not even by topic or author, but rather by lines of sales such as hardcover, softcover, magazines, and maybe categories (such as fiction, non-fiction, travel, etc.) if that works.

Always try to set your streams to match your accounting, so you can look at the difference between the forecast and actual sales later. This is excellent for real business planning. It makes the heart of the process, the regular review, and revision, much easier. The point is better management.

For instance, in a bicycle retail store business plan, the owner works with five lines of sales, as shown in the illustration here.  

sales forecast template for business plan

In this sample case, the revenue includes new bikes, repair, clothing, accessories, and a service contract. The bookkeeping for this retail store tracks sales in those same five categories.

There are many ways to forecast a line of sales.

The method for each row depends on the business model

Among the main methods are:.

  • Unit sales : My personal favorite. Sales = units times price. You set an average price and forecast the units. And of course, you can change projected pricing over time. This is my favorite for most businesses because it gives you two factors to act on with course corrections: unit sales, or price.
  • Service units : Even though services don’t sell physical units, most sell billable units, such as billable hours for lawyers and accountants, or trips for transportations services, engagements for consultants, and so forth.
  • Recurring charges : Subscriptions. For each month or year, it has to forecast new signups, existing monthly charges, and cancellations. Estimates depend on both new signups and cancellations, which is often called “churn.”
  • Revenue only : For those who prefer to forecast revenue by the stream as just the money, without the extra information of breaking it into units and prices.

Most sales forecast rows are simple math

For a business plan, I recommend you make your sales forecast a detailed look at the next 12 months and then broadly cover two years after that. Here’s how to approach each method of line-by-line forecasting.

Start with units if you can

For unit sales, start by forecasting units month by month, as shown here below for the new bike’s line of sales in the bicycle shop plan:

sales forecast template for business plan

I recommend looking at the visual as you forecast the units because most of us can see trends easier when we look at the line, as shown in the illustration, rather than just the numbers. You can also see the numbers in the forecast near the bottom. The first year, fiscal 2021 in this forecast, is the sum of those months.

Estimate price assumptions

With a simple revenue-only assumption, you do one row of units as shown in the above illustration, and you are done. The units are dollars, or whatever other currency you are using in your forecast. In this example, the new bicycle product will be sold for an average of $550.00. 

That’s a simplifying assumption, taking the average price, not the detailed price for each brand or line. Garrett, the shop owner, uses his past results to determine his actual average price for the most recent year. Then he rounds that estimate and adds his own judgment and educated guess on how that will change. 

sales forecast template for business plan

Multiply price times units

Multiplying units times the revenue per unit generates the sales forecast for this row. So for example the $18,150 shown for October of 2020 is the product of 33 units times $550 each. And the $21,450 shown for the next month is the product of 39 units times $550 each. 

Subscription models are more complicated

Lately, a lot of businesses offer their buyers subscriptions, such as monthly packages, traditional or online newspapers, software, and even streaming services. All of these give a business recurring revenues, which is a big advantage. 

For subscriptions, you normally estimate new subscriptions per month and canceled subscriptions per month, and leave a calculation for the actual subscriptions charged. That’s a more complicated method, which demands more details. 

For that, you can refer to detailed discussions on subscription forecasting in How to Forecast Sales for a Subscription Business .

The math may be simple, yes, but this is predicting the future, and humans don’t do that well. So, don’t try to guess the future accurately for months in advance.

Instead, aim for making clear assumptions and understanding what drives your sales, such as web traffic and conversions, in one example, or the direct sales pipeline and leads, in another. Review results every month, and revise your forecast. Your educated guesses become more accurate over time.

Experience in the field is a huge advantage

In a normal ongoing business, the business owner has ample experience with past sales. They may not know accounting or technical forecasting, but they know their business. They are aware of changes in the market, their own business’s promotions, and other factors that business owners should know. They are comfortable making educated guesses.

If you don’t personally have the experience, try to find information and make guesses based on the experience of an employee,  your mentor , or others you’ve spoken within your field.

Use past results as a guide

Use results from the recent past if your business has them. Start a forecast by putting last year’s numbers into next year’s forecast, and then focus on what might be different this year from next.

Do you have new opportunities that will make sales grow? New marketing activities, promotions? Then increase the forecast. New competition, and new problems? Nobody wants to forecast decreasing sales, but if that’s likely, you need to deal with it by cutting costs or changing your focus.

Look for drivers

To forecast sales for a new restaurant, first, draw a map of tables and chairs and then estimate how many meals per mealtime at capacity, and in the beginning. It’s not a random number; it’s a matter of how many people come in.

To forecast sales for a new mobile app, you might get data from the Apple and Android mobile app stores about average downloads for different apps. A good web search might also reveal some anecdotal evidence, blog posts, and news stories, about the ramp-up of existing apps that were successful.

Get those numbers and think about how your case might be different. Maybe you drive downloads with a website, so you can predict traffic from past experience and then assume a percentage of web visitors who will download the app.

Direct costs are also called the cost of goods sold (COGS) and per-unit costs. Direct costs are important because they help calculate gross margin, which is used as a basis for comparison in financial benchmarks, and are an instant measure (sales less direct costs) of your underlying profitability.

For example, I know from benchmarks that an average sporting goods store makes a 34 percent gross margin. That means that they spend $66 on average to buy the goods they sell for $100.

Not all businesses have direct costs. Service businesses supposedly don’t have direct costs, so they have a gross margin of 100 percent. That may be true for some professionals like accountants and lawyers, but a lot of services do have direct costs. For example, taxis have gasoline and maintenance. So do airlines.

A normal sales forecast includes units, price per unit, sales, direct cost per unit, and direct costs. The math is simple, with the direct costs per unit related to total direct costs the same way price per unit relates to total sales.

Multiply the units projected for any time period by the unit direct costs, and that gives you total direct costs. And here too, assume this view is just a cut-out, it flows to the right. In this example, Garrett the shop owner projected the direct costs of new bikes based on the assumption of 49 percent of sales.

sales forecast template for business plan

Given the unit forecast estimate, the calculation of units times direct costs produces the forecast shown in the illustration below for direct costs for that product. So therefore the projected direct costs for new bikes in October is $8,894, which is 49% of the projected sales for that month, $18,150.

sales forecast template for business plan

Never think of your sales forecast in a vacuum. It flows from the strategic action plans with their assumptions,  milestones , and metrics. Your marketing milestones affect your sales. Your business offering milestones affect your sales.

When you change milestones—and you will, because all business plans change—you should change your sales forecast to match.

Your sales are supposed to refer to when the ownership changes hands (for products) or when the service is performed (for services). It isn’t a sale when it’s ordered, or promised, or even when it’s contracted.

With proper  accrual accounting , it is a sale even if it hasn’t been paid for. With so-called cash-based accounting, by the way, it isn’t a sale until it’s paid for. Accrual is better because it gives you a more accurate picture, unless you’re very small and do all your business, both buying and selling, with cash only.

I know that seems simple, but it’s surprising how many people decide to do something different. The penalty for doing things differently is that then you don’t match the standard, and the bankers, analysts, and investors can’t tell what you meant.

This goes for direct costs, too. The direct costs in your monthly  profit and loss statement  are supposed to be just the costs associated with that month’s sales. Please notice how, in the examples above, the direct costs for the sample bicycle store are linked to the actual unit sales.

Sales forecasting is not about accurately guessing the future. It’s about laying out your assumptions so you can manage changes effectively as sales and direct costs come out different from what you expected. Use this to adjust your sales forecast and improve your business by making course corrections to deal with what is working and what isn’t.

I believe that even if you do nothing else, by the time you use a sales forecast and review plan versus actual results every month, you are already managing with a business plan . You can’t review actual results without looking at what happened, why, and what to do next.

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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.

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sales forecast template for business plan

How to write a sales forecast for a business plan

Table of Contents

What is a sales forecast?

Why do you need a sales forecast, how do you write a sales forecast, top-down or bottom-up, writing your sales forecast, calculating a sales forecast, how can countingup help manage your forecasting.

Sales forecasts are an important part of your business plan . If done correctly, they can give accurate projections of your business’ cash flow, and let you better prepare for the year ahead. They can also make it easier to find the right investors . While it’s easier for existing businesses with plenty of data, you can still calculate a sales forecast for a new business .

In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • How can you manage your forecasting?

A sales forecast is a prediction of your business’ future revenue. In order to be an accurate prediction, the forecast is based on previous sales, current economic trends, and industry performance. Having a sales forecast is a useful tool, because it gives you a better idea of how to manage your business. 

Having a sales forecast is like using the past to have a peek into the future of your company. It might not be 100% accurate, but it can help you plan any future spending, or prevent any cash flow issues from occurring. 

You can also use your sales forecast to monitor your business’ progress. For instance, if your business regularly performs better than your forecast, it could be a sign that your business is continuing to grow. On the other hand, if your actual sales are frequently less than expected, this could be a sign that your business is struggling and needs adjustment. 

It’s important to remember that any projections you make aren’t guaranteed, there can be advantages and disadvantages of financial forecasting . 

Now we’ve run through why having a sales forecast can help you run your business, let’s look at how to write one. 

While there are two types of sales forecasting (top-down and bottom-up), one is a lot more accurate for small businesses than the other. A top-down forecast looks at the market as a whole and attributes a portion of the market to your business. 

A top-down approach may work for large businesses that already own a significant chunk of the market. When forecasting for a small business, it’s easy to overestimate your market share. For example, a 1% market share may not seem like a lot, but a small restaurant owning 1% of the £89.5 billion UK market is extremely unrealistic.

The alternative to top-down is bottom-up. A bottom-up sales forecast starts with existing company data (like customer or product information) and works up to revenue. Since this starts with the company, it’s easier to 

Your sales forecast is ultimately a prediction of your revenue over a set period. It considers the amount you think you’ll sell, and the cost of those sales. We’ve included how to calculate a sales forecast below.

A sales forecast consists of three separate values: revenue, cost of goods sold, and gross profit. For estimating values in the calculations below, it’s best to use any existing business data to be as accurate as possible. 

To calculate your predicted revenue:

  • Make a list of your available goods and services
  • Note the price of each of your goods and services
  • Estimate the expected sales of each good or service
  • Multiply the price by the estimated sales to get your estimated revenue
  • Add them all together to get your total revenue

For example, if your food truck business sold pizzas at £10 and burgers at £5, you would multiply these values by how much you expected to sell. For calculating a weekly sales forecast, you might estimate selling 60 pizzas and 80 burgers. Your predicted revenue for that week would be £600 for pizzas and £400 for burgers — giving £1,000 total.

In order to figure out how much profit you’ll make, you also need to calculate your costs for those predicted sales. To calculate your predicted costs:

  • Figure out how much each good or service will cost per unit
  • Multiply each cost by the projected sales

Using the same example as above, assume a single pizza cost £3.50 to make and a burger cost £2. Using the estimated sales, the total cost for your pizzas (3.5 x 60) would be £210, and £160 for your burgers (2 x 80). Combining these two figures gives you a total cost of £370.

The last step is to work out your gross profit , and it’s a relatively simple calculation.

  • Subtract the total predicted cost from your total predicted revenue

Continuing with the example above, your revenue (£1,000) minus your costs (£370), leaves you with a projected gross profit of £630 for the week. Using this estimate, you can then plan how much working capital your business should have access to. It’s important to remember that these are only estimates, and your actual values can be higher or lower than your forecast.

If you want your forecasts to be as accurate as possible, you need to refer to all of your business’ financial data. Since collecting and collating this data can be challenging, you may want to use financial management software like the Countingup app. 

When trying to calculate your sales forecasts, having an up-to-date log of your current sales can be hugely beneficial. By combining a business current account with accounting software, Countingup is the only software that provides real-time cash flow tracking. 

The Countingup app also provides business owners with access to automatically generated profit and loss statements. These can prove invaluable when trying to stay aware of all your business’ costs.

Start your three-month free trial today. Find out more here .


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22 Sales Projection Templates for 2021 Forecasts

22 Sales Projection Templates for 2021 Forecasts

Casey O'Connor

What Is Sales Forecasting?

Types of sales forecast templates, forecasting templates for startups, forecasting templates for businesses with multiple products, forecasting templates for b2b companies.

Sales projection templates can help you quickly and easily create an accurate, data-driven sales forecast for your team.

Sales forecasting is an important exercise for any sales team that wants to see significant year-over-year growth and the ability to fine-tune their sales process in specific, targeted ways. 

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of sales forecasting, as well as provide various forecast templates to help you streamline the process. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Top Forecasting Templates for Startups

A sales forecast is a data-driven prediction of the financial outcomes a business will most likely see at the end of a given time period. A sales forecast can provide insight into the performance of individual sales reps, full sales teams, or even entire organizations. 

For overworked salespeople, making financial projections about future sales that may or may not come to fruition can seem like an exercise in futility. But a thorough, carefully considered sales forecast can be a huge asset to your business .

sales forecast template for business plan

In order to create an accurate sales forecast, consider how the following factors currently impact your bottom line:

Your business goals are a very important benchmark for your sales team to keep in mind as you create your sales forecast. While your goals may not directly factor into the actual template, they will help steer your decision-making processes. Both short-term and long-term SMART goals will help give structure to your forecast.

sales forecast template for business plan

Sales Process

Your sales process map will be another helpful tool in creating your sales forecast (if you don’t have one yet, check out our tips on creating one here ). Use your sales process map to pull data points and determine areas of strength and growth.

Company Standards

Chances are that your sales team is made up of salespeople from all different backgrounds and experiences — what one sales rep considers a “qualified lead” may be entirely different from the next. The same goes for things like follow-up communication — how much is too much? Should the follow-up process start on LinkedIn , or via email? 

While it may feel laborious, it’s worth your time to standardize and define these kinds of terms with your team. Use your sales process map to guide this exercise. Having consistency in your metrics will go a long way in pinpointing your sales projections.

In business, every penny counts (this is particularly true for small businesses and start-ups). If you’re not tracking every single penny that goes into and out of your business ( many businesses aren’t ), you need to start ASAP. Your sales projections will only be as accurate as your accounting, and the devil here is in the details. 

sales forecast template for business plan

Don’t worry — you don’t need to go and cut funds from every department. Sometimes knowing the numbers is just as powerful as trimming them. But you’ll only reap the benefits of sales forecasting if you take a good hard look at the dollars you’re currently spending — all of them. 

Befriend Your CRM

If your company utilizes any CRM software, now’s the time to start maximizing it. Your CRM can be a great way to track the many moving pieces that make up a sales forecast. Make sure you understand its full functionality , as many companies tend to only stick to the surface-level features.

When executed correctly, sales forecasts can give you very valuable insight into various aspects of your sales performance over a period of time. It also gives investors a really compelling reason to inject money into your business — if your forecasted sales are promising, they’ll be much more likely to invest.

Different businesses have different needs for sales forecasting templates. These templates may include things like multiple products, multiple time frames, seasonality considerations, and other variables. It’s important to make sure the template you choose captures the full financial picture without overcomplicating it. 

In general, there are seven main types of forecast templates. Some of these standardized templates may work for your business, but you should also feel free to use these as a starting point, and customize as needed

(Don’t be intimidated by this process — you can do most of this with Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets!)

1. Lead Driven Forecasting

With this lead-driven forecasting template , you’ll be relying on extensive knowledge of your leads. Each lead source gets a value assigned, and projections are calculated accordingly.

sales forecast template for business plan

Because this template requires a lot of data about leads and their behaviors, it may not work well for businesses that are just starting out and still researching their customer base. 

2. Length of Sales Cycle Forecasting

Length of sales cycle forecasting  predicts the probability of a deal closing based on where they are in your sales cycle. It then assigns each deal a value based on how far along they are in the process. 

sales forecast template for business plan

This template works well for companies who have robust CRM or other automation tools.

3. Opportunity Stage Forecasting

Opportunity stage forecasting is similar to the previous two templates, though it doesn’t account for source of leads or exact length of sales cycle. Instead, it assigns a probability to each prospect based on what stage of the sales process they’re in. 

sales forecast template for business plan

This template will take these probabilities, assign them a value, and add those values into your sales projection as your leads move through the sales process. 

4. Intuitive Forecasting

Intuitive forecasting is pretty self-explanatory, and the least objective approach to sales forecasting . It relies on a sales rep’s experience to make judgments about how much  value each deal will bring to the company. 

Sales reps might consider any of the following as they make their forecast:

sales forecast template for business plan

This method is difficult to scale, but it also doesn’t require a ton of historical sales data — it’s a good fit for many startups as they gather sales data. 

5. Test-Market Analysis Forecasting

Test-market analysis forecast templates are used when launching new products. This method requires that you perform and collect data on a small test launch, and apply those results to your overall forecast.

sales forecast template for business plan

6. Historical Forecasting

This is a very data-driven approach — it uses your historical sales data to predict future  growth. It’s relatively quick and easy, but it has its downfalls. 

Sales Projection Templates

Historical forecasting  does not take any external factors into account, like market conditions or sales team changes. It simply looks at your history of sales. It also assumes year-over-year growth, which isn’t always the case. For most companies, historical sales data is a hugely beneficial piece of the sales forecast, but not the entire basis.

7. Multivariable Analysis

Sales Projection Templates

This multivariable analysis example spits out forecasts for gross profit and growth rate, but you could also formulate to predict things like profit margin or total revenue.

Without long-term historical sales data, it can be hard for many startups to create detailed projected sales reports. This is also true for older businesses who are launching a new product. In cases like these, it’s best to start with a simple projections template. 

Here are some of the most basic, easiest-to-use templates we found for businesses that are just starting out. Click on the template’s header to download each one. 

8. One-year Sales Forecast

One-year Sales Forecast (Google Sheets):

Sales Projection Templates

This template has very few inputs for historical sales data. All you need to include are the year, product, unit type, and the number of units sold. The spreadsheet has built-in formulas that will calculate the remaining rows automatically.

9. Best & Worst Case Scenario

Best & Worst Case Scenario (Excel):

Sales Projection Templates

This template works well for companies who have only minimal data, and can give new businesses a target forecast range rather than precise numbers. For startups, this can allow for flexibility while still pursuing aggressive growth.

10. Expense-Focused

Expense-Focused (Excel):

Budget Sales Forecast Template

This template does a really nice job of breaking down all the various expenses that go into running a business. It could work really well for startups who are still learning how their cash flows in and out. 

11. Monthly Sales

Monthly Sales (Microsoft):

Sales Forecast Graph

This template is great for startups that want to cut out the extra noise and simply determine whether their efforts are paying off month-to-month while they’re starting out.

12. Simple Monthly Reporting

Simple Monthly Reporting (PDF):

Monthly Sales Report

Businesses with multiple products (many e-commerce businesses fit this description, for example) sometimes struggle to create a sales forecasting template that’s fluid enough to capture the performance of many different profit streams. 

Take a look at some of the best templates we found that are flexible enough to meet those needs. 

13. 12-Month Forecast for Multiple Products

12-Month Forecast for Multiple Products (Excel):

12 Month Sales Forecast Template

This template is detailed enough to see how each product fits into the bigger picture, but also simple and intuitive enough that a fledgling business could use it effectively.

14. Color-Coded Outputs

Color-Coded Outputs (Excel):

Sales Projection Templates

This template does a really nice job of streamlining the data from multiple product sales and arranging them in an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read manner. 

15. Opportunity-Based

Opportunity-Based :

Sales Forecasting Template

This template  allows you to input sales based on deal stage, size, and probability. It’s best suited for companies who have a more developed understanding of their leads and sales process.

16. New Product Launch

New Product Launch (Excel):

New Product Sales and Profit Forecasting Model

This template is great for companies who are launching a new product and want to look at projections for that product in isolation. Because new products sometimes take longer to get off the ground and aren’t necessarily representative of sales projections as a whole, it can be good to look at their performance removed from the bigger picture — at least in the beginning.  

17. Individual Growth Rates by Product

Individual Growth Rates by Product (Excel):

Revenue Forecasting

This template does the dirty work for you by breaking down growth rates by individual products, so you can pinpoint the ones that are making the biggest impact.

Here are a few examples of sales forecasting templates for B2B companies.

18. Lead-Driven B2B

Lead-Driven B2B (Excel):

Lead Driven B2B

This template allows salespeople to enter data following a lead-driven approach. It assigns a projected value based on what stage the lead is in.

19. Projected Volume

Projected Volume (Excel):

sales forecast template for business plan

20. Site Traffic Projections

Site Traffic Projections (Google Sheets):

sales forecast template for business plan

This template download has wonderful step-by-step instructions for inputting your data and analyzing the results. The template uses site traffic as one of its metrics, so it would work best for e-commerce or other heavily web-based businesses.

21. Multivariable Analysis

Multivariable Analysis (Google Sheets):

Sales Forecast

This template allows for projections based on a number of different variables, including seasonality. The template is great for businesses that have many external variables to consider. 

22. Historical Growth Rate

Historical Growth Rate (Excel):

Sales Projection Templates

This template uses your historical sales data to predict future growth. Because the only inputs are past sales, it’s important to make sure that this data is very robust — we recommend at least two years of historical sales figures for this template.

Hopefully, one of many of these templates will be a good fit for your sales forecasts. They can be used as a guide to creating your own custom template in Excel or Google Sheets. Make sure to include the constants — things like unit sold and cost of goods sold — but tweaking the templates can go a long way in making them a more powerful tool for your business.

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Run » finance, how to create a financial forecast for a startup business plan.

Financial forecasting allows you to measure the progress of your new business by benchmarking performance against anticipated sales and costs.

 A man uses a calculator with a pen and notebook on his desk.

When starting a new business, a financial forecast is an important tool for recruiting investors as well as for budgeting for your first months of operating. A financial forecast is used to predict the cash flow necessary to operate the company day-to-day and cover financial liabilities.

Many lenders and investors ask for a financial forecast as part of a business plan; however, with no sales under your belt, it can be tricky to estimate how much money you will need to cover your expenses. Here’s how to begin creating a financial forecast for a new business.

[Read more: Startup 2021: Business Plan Financials ]

Start with a sales forecast

A sales forecast attempts to predict what your monthly sales will be for up to 18 months after launching your business. Creating a sales forecast without any past results is a little difficult. In this case, many entrepreneurs make their predictions using industry trends, market analysis demonstrating the population of potential customers and consumer trends. A sales forecast shows investors and lenders that you have a solid understanding of your target market and a clear vision of who will buy your product or service.

A sales forecast typically breaks down monthly sales by unit and price point. Beyond year two of being in business, the sales forecast can be shown quarterly, instead of monthly. Most financial lenders and investors like to see a three-year sales forecast as part of your startup business plan.

Lower fixed costs mean less risk, which might be theoretical in business schools but are very concrete when you have rent and payroll checks to sign.

Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software

Create an expenses budget

An expenses budget forecasts how much you anticipate spending during the first years of operating. This includes both your overhead costs and operating expenses — any financial spending that you anticipate during the course of running your business.

Most experts recommend breaking down your expenses forecast by fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are things such as rent and payroll, while variable costs change depending on demand and sales — advertising and promotional expenses, for instance. Breaking down costs into these two categories can help you better budget and improve your profitability.

"Lower fixed costs mean less risk, which might be theoretical in business schools but are very concrete when you have rent and payroll checks to sign," Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software, told Inc . "Most of your variable costs are in those direct costs that belong in your sales forecast, but there are also some variable expenses, like ads and rebates and such."

Project your break-even point

Together, your expenses budget and sales forecast paints a picture of your profitability. Your break-even projection is the date at which you believe your business will become profitable — when more money is earned than spent. Very few businesses are profitable overnight or even in their first year. Most businesses take two to three years to be profitable, but others take far longer: Tesla , for instance, took 18 years to see its first full-year profit.

Lenders and investors will be interested in your break-even point as a projection of when they can begin to recoup their investment. Likewise, your CFO or operations manager can make better decisions after measuring the company’s results against its forecasts.

[Read more: ​​ Startup 2021: Writing a Business Plan? Here’s How to Do It, Step by Step ]

Develop a cash flow projection

A cash flow statement (or projection, for a new business) shows the flow of dollars moving in and out of the business. This is based on the sales forecast, your balance sheet and other assumptions you’ve used to create your expenses projection.

“If you are starting a new business and do not have these historical financial statements, you start by projecting a cash-flow statement broken down into 12 months,” wrote Inc . The cash flow statement will include projected cash flows from operating, investing and financing your business activities.

Keep in mind that most business plans involve developing specific financial documents: income statements, pro formas and a balance sheet, for instance. These documents may be required by investors or lenders; financial projections can help inform the development of those statements and guide your business as it grows.

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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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sales forecast template for business plan

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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.


Free Sales Plan Template

Sales Plan template cover

Thank you for downloading!

💡 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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How to Build a Sales Forecasting Plan (+ Template)

How to Build a Sales Forecasting Plan (+ Template)

Sales forecasting is a critical component to a sales team's success, yet many organizations don't have a structured plan. In fact, a recent report found that 67% of sales organizations do not use formal forecasting plans.

Why should forecasting be a focus for sales leaders? Creating a sales forecasting plan for your team can lead to increased growth, revenue, and performance. Knowing how to forecast sales will also help with setting achievable and accurate quotas for your reps. Lastly, sales forecasting impacts the entire company — these reports are used to dictate budgets, planning, and future strategy.

There are many ways to forecast sales. It’s important to know where to start and what information to incorporate when creating a forecasting system for your team.

In this article, we’ll break down what you’ll need to build a sales forecasting plan. We’ll also give an overview of different forecasting approaches based on company specifics and general characteristics of effective plans.

Demodesk sales forecasting template

Where to start with sales forecasting

If you want to know how to forecast sales, you will first need to clarify and collect some pertinent information. Before you begin building your sales forecasting plan, start with the following:

What are your objectives?

What are your sales goals? Are you hoping to grow revenue by a certain percentage? Are you launching a new product and want to focus on those sales in particular? Figure out what your specific objectives are first. This will help you build a specialized plan for your goals and set up accurate quotas for your reps.

Use historical data for initial insights

History is the best teacher, so pull as much statistical data as you can regarding the team’s past sales performance. Also, pull any relevant industry information like market growth research and economic insights, particularly if you have a seasonal business model. All of this historical data will be an important tool for building your sales forecast plan. Once you’ve determined your department’s (and company’s) objectives and have collected the applicable information, then you can look at which forecasting style would be best suited for your particular sales team.

How to approach sales forecasting

Your forecasting process will depend on a few different factors like your specific industry as well as the growth stage of your business. Here are a few items to keep in mind when deciding how to begin forecasting your sales.

Sales organization components

Take into consideration additional elements like your sales team's business maturity, the size of your team, the specifics of the product you’re selling, and the department’s current budget. Importantly, note the consistency of the incoming sales data. Are you receiving all the necessary information in a consistent (and timely) fashion to make precise estimations?

Company growth stage

The company’s current size and business stage will have an impact on how you forecast sales. For example, take the forecasting differences between startups and established businesses:

‍ Sales forecasting for startups

‍ Startup businesses will require a simple forecasting method since there is no historical data to reference for future insights. In addition, the company’s goals are typically more focused on growth strategy and investor financing, so forecasting will need to come from a structured sales process.

This means you must solidify a sales process first and invest in a CRM tool to streamline data collection and trackability. Once more data has been compiled, then you’ll be able to evaluate reports and create adjustments to your forecasting plan.

Since there is a lack of historical data, you will need to utilize other sources for information. Feedback and insight from your sales reps (and their prospects) will be influential, along with additional research from consumer reports, market research, and industry contacts.

Sales forecasting for medium/large sized business

‍ With more established companies, there is historical information available to reference. Using this quantitative data, you can incorporate more complex reporting methods and algorithms, which means the forecasting plan you choose can get more granular.

Also, a more established company will have additional information when it comes to repeat business statistics versus new client expectations. This will help define your forecast even further

Bottom-up vs top-down forecasting

Generally speaking, there are two ways to forecast sales. You can generate estimations from either the top-down or the bottom-up, depending on your sales data.

Bottom-up forecasting starts with the information specific to your product — the average price per sale multiplied by the expected number of sales — and then expands from there. Additional factors like your website traffic data, outreach numbers, sales team size, and marketing statistics will also come into play. In simpler terms, bottom-up forecasting begins with a micro view of your business, then moves upward.

On the opposite side, top-down forecasting is a macro view of your sales forecast. With this method, you would start with the size of the market — or total addressable market (TAM) — and then forecast how much of that market you would be able to occupy for the upcoming year. This method has far less detailed data since it’s more of a general estimation, but may be helpful for newer companies with no historical sales data.

If you are trying to decide which forecast style to implement, one of the best solutions is to use both! By utilizing both methods, you are more likely to find a middle ground with your estimations, which means they are more likely to be accurate.

Once you finalize your reporting approach, it’s time to build your sales forecasting plan.

Building the sales forecasting plan:

Now that you have collected all the relevant data and decided on the best forecast style for your team, you can use that information to begin to build your plan. Here’s a quick guide to help you start:

Building the Sales Forecasting Plan

1. Determine forecasting timing

The type of plan you build will depend on if you want to forecast all sales within a certain period of time (quarterly, monthly, etc) or if you want to track sales for a particular output only.

Also, consider any seasonality factors when it comes to your products. For example, if you have an additional product release every Q4, then your forecasting plan may need to look different for that quarter specifically.

2. Breakdown sales cycle

Define your sales cycle by creating a breakdown of the average time spent in each stage — leading you to determine the average length of your particular sales cycle. This helps to understand the timeline for each sale, which feeds directly into the forecast.

3. Utilize current sales metrics

Using the historical data you already pulled, define additional variables like average sale prices and renewal rate percentage. Incorporate your Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) numbers, as well as your conversion rates, turn rates, and average growth trajectory.

4. Create a template

Based on your sales cycle, metrics, objectives, and sales team specifics create a template that incorporates all of these factors. You can build your own template from scratch (download the template below) or you can use an automated forecasting tool that connects to your CRM for an easier transition. Here are some resource examples:

  • Excel: Using an excel template is an efficient choice if you have a small sales team or limited products to track.
  • Automation tools: If you use automation for your sales process, then there may be an integrated forecasting-style feature within the software. For example, the Lead Enrichment software Cognism automatically predicts the likelihood of a prospect converting. This insight is a helpful addition to your estimation of future sales.
  • Pick a method: You can choose from multiple forecasting methods that can help ensure accuracy within your plan. Based on your forecasting approach, choose a method that accommodates it . For example, if you are a medium-sized business with a sizeable sales team, a good amount of past sales data available, and a sophisticated CRM system, then a multivariable or historical forecasting method could be a good fit.

5. Formalise and share with the team

Once you’ve created your plan, formally document the process for full sales team transparency. It’s important that sales reps know how you are forecasting their sales — insight into the overall process will lead to a better understanding of their quotas and goals.

Successful Sales Forecasting Plan

‍Characteristics of successful sales forecasting plans

Sales forecast plans are unique to each company. However, there are some general characteristics of successful plan structures. Here are some components to keep in mind:

Scalable and adjustable

Your sales forecasting plan will need to grow with you, so be sure it has the space to be flexible. Feedback will be an important aspect of your forecasting plan, so also make sure to allow room for future improvements.


Data will be one of your most important tools when building, testing, reviewing and adjusting your sales forecasting plan. Invest in CRM software to streamline data content through automation.

Incorporates company goals and objectives

Your sales strategy will be based on the goals of your department and the company as a whole. Therefore, your forecasting plan should reflect those objectives (and be flexible when those goals shift as well!).


Since forecasting impacts the planning of budgets, risk management, and plenty of other business-wide decisions, gather insights from multiple teams when creating your plan. There should be cross-departmental visibility into your forecasting reports, so including their perspectives will be a helpful tool when creating your plan.

Don’t forget to reassess your forecast plan as often as possible — you want to scale it as the company grows, but also adjust accordingly when needed.

Knowing how to forecast sales is a vital component of leading your sales team. When creating a plan that is specific to your company, remember to integrate historical data, as well as sales metrics, market research, and cross-departmental insights to give you a well-rounded forecast framework.

By building your own forecasting plan, you are enhancing your sales team and helping them achieve greater results. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that companies with accurate sales forecasts had a 10% greater chance at growing their revenue year-over-year. Investing time into building a sales forecasting plan will set the foundation for a versatile and profitable sales organization.

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Small Business Plans

Creating a Sales Forecast for a Startup Business

What are the benefits of learning to forecast your sales  .

In short, being able to forecast your sales accurately is a business superpower.  Get good at this one thing, and everything else becomes more manageable than when you do not have an accurate sales forecast. So here are just a few benefits. 

Planning and Goal Setting:  A sales forecast helps you set your business’s realistic and achievable sales goals. It provides a roadmap for your revenue targets, allowing you to plan your resources, strategies, and investments accordingly. In addition, it helps you align your business activities and track progress toward your desired sales objectives.

sales forecast template for business plan

Risk Management:  A sales forecast enables you to assess the viability and sustainability of your business idea. By analyzing sales trends, market conditions, and customer behavior, you can identify potential risks and challenges. In addition, it helps you anticipate fluctuations in demand, market saturation, or competitive threats, allowing you to develop contingency plans and adapt your strategies to mitigate risks.

Decision Making:  A sales forecast provides valuable insights for decision-making in various areas of your business. It helps you evaluate the potential impact of pricing changes, product launches, marketing campaigns, or expansion plans on your sales performance. With a clear understanding of your expected sales, you can make informed decisions about investments, product development, market-entry, and other strategic initiatives.

Performance Evaluation:  A sales forecast serves as a benchmark for measuring the actual sales performance of your business over time. By comparing your forecasted sales with the actual results, you can assess your business’s effectiveness in achieving its goals. In addition, it allows you to identify areas of improvement, adjust your strategies, and take corrective actions to enhance your sales performance.

How Can You Create an Accurate Forecast for a New Business? 

Creating an accurate sales forecast for a new business without historical data can be challenging, but there are several approaches you can take to develop a reasonable estimation:

Market Research:  Conduct thorough market research to gather information about your target market, industry trends, customer preferences, and competitors. Identify similar businesses or products and analyze their sales figures, growth rates, and market share. This information can serve as a benchmark for estimating your own sales potential.

Industry Analysis:  Understand the broader industry dynamics and factors that may impact your sales. Look into the market size, growth rate, seasonal patterns, and any relevant economic or regulatory factors. Consider how these factors influence customer demand and adjust your sales forecast accordingly.

Customer Surveys and Interviews:  Engage with potential customers through surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather insights about their needs, preferences, and purchasing behavior. This primary research can provide valuable information to estimate the size of your target market and understand potential demand for your products or services.

Expert Opinions:  Seek advice and guidance from industry experts, mentors, consultants, or professionals with experience in your field. They can offer insights based on their expertise and knowledge of similar businesses, helping you develop a more informed sales forecast.

Bottom-Up Approach:

  • Break down your sales forecast into smaller components based on specific product lines, customer segments, or geographical regions.
  • Estimate the potential sales for each component by considering factors such as pricing, market share, target customer reach, and promotional activities.
  • Aggregate these estimates to arrive at an overall sales forecast.

Sensitivity Analysis:  Recognize the uncertainties associated with a new business and perform sensitivity analysis to understand how changes in various factors can impact your sales forecast. For example, consider scenarios where sales are higher or lower than expected and evaluate the potential outcomes and their implications for your business.

Conservative Approach:  When dealing with limited data, being conservative in your sales forecast is generally wise. Avoid overestimating sales and instead focus on realistic and achievable projections. This approach will help you manage expectations, plan resources effectively, and mitigate potential risks.

Remember that creating a sales forecast for a new business is inherently uncertain, and there will always be a degree of estimation involved. Continuously monitor and update your forecast as you gather more data, launch your business, and gain real-world insights. As your business evolves, you can refine your sales forecast based on actual sales data and customer feedback.

What is a Top Down Forecast, and What are the Limitations?

A top-down forecast is an approach to sales forecasting that starts with the overall market size and potential demand and then estimates a company’s sales based on its market share or other relevant factors. It involves analyzing industry data, market trends, and macroeconomic factors to determine the total addressable market (TAM) and then applying assumptions to derive the company’s sales forecast.

Top-down forecasts are often criticized for having limited credibility due to the following reasons:

Lack of Specificity:  Top-down forecasts rely on general market data and assumptions, which may not accurately reflect a particular business’s unique characteristics and circumstances. They do not consider the specific product offering, competitive positioning, or customer segments of the company being forecasted. As a result, these forecasts may overlook critical factors that affect sales performance.

Inaccurate Market Assumptions:  Top-down forecasts heavily depend on the accuracy of the market data and assumptions used. If the underlying market data is flawed, outdated, or based on unreliable sources, it can lead to inaccurate sales projections. Market conditions, trends, and customer behavior can change rapidly, and relying solely on broad market data may not capture these nuances effectively.

Limited Understanding of Company Factors:  Top-down forecasts do not consider the company’s internal factors, such as its marketing strategies, product differentiation, pricing, distribution channels, or customer acquisition plans. These factors are crucial in determining a company’s sales performance and cannot be adequately captured in a top-down approach.

Oversimplification:  Top-down forecasts often simplify the complexity of the market and assume a linear relationship between market size and market share. However, real-world market dynamics can be much more intricate, influenced by factors such as customer preferences, competition, industry barriers, and technological advancements. Failing to consider these complexities can lead to unrealistic sales projections.

Limited Adaptability:  Top-down forecasts are typically static and lack flexibility. They are based on assumptions made at a specific point in time and may not adapt well to changes in the market or the company’s circumstances. In dynamic and rapidly evolving industries, a more agile forecasting approach that can account for shifting conditions may be necessary.

Despite these limitations, top-down forecasts can still provide a starting point for sales projections and offer a broad perspective on market potential. They can be useful in early-stage planning or when evaluating market opportunities. However, to enhance the credibility of sales forecasts, it is advisable to supplement top-down approaches with other forecasting methods, such as bottom-up forecasting, customer validation, market research, and industry expertise. Combining multiple approaches can provide a more comprehensive and accurate sales forecast.

How Detailed Should My Sales Forecast be For My Startup Business Plan 

The level of detail in your sales forecast for a startup business plan depends on various factors, including the nature of your business, target market, industry dynamics, and the purpose of the business plan. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, here are some considerations to help determine the appropriate level of detail:

Time Horizon:  Determine the time period covered by your sales forecast. For a startup business plan, it’s common to forecast sales for the first one to three years. However, the level of detail within each year may vary. Typically, it’s advisable to provide more detailed projections for the first year and then provide broader estimates for subsequent years.

Revenue Streams:  Identify the different revenue streams within your business. If your startup generates revenue from multiple sources or product lines, it’s important to forecast sales for each stream individually. This allows for a more accurate representation of your business’s revenue potential and helps assess the performance of each revenue stream.

Customer Segmentation:  If your business serves different customer segments, consider segmenting your sales forecast accordingly. This enables you to understand the revenue contributions from each customer segment and tailor your strategies accordingly. You can estimate sales for each segment based on factors such as market size, penetration rates, and anticipated customer acquisition rates.

Sales Channels:  Consider the various sales channels through which you plan to distribute your products or services. If you have both online and offline sales channels or different distribution partners, it may be beneficial to forecast sales for each channel separately. This helps in understanding the contribution and effectiveness of each channel in driving revenue.

Unit Sales and Pricing:  Forecast the number of units or products you expect to sell during each period, along with the pricing strategy for each offering. Consider factors such as pricing elasticity, market competition, and expected changes in pricing over time. Combining unit sales and pricing allows you to estimate total revenue generation more accurately.

Sales Assumptions:  Clearly outline the assumptions and rationale behind your sales forecast. Explain the key drivers influencing your projections, such as market demand, customer behavior, pricing, marketing strategies, and competitive factors. This transparency helps readers understand the basis of your forecast and evaluate its credibility.

Sensitivity Analysis:  While not strictly part of the sales forecast, including a sensitivity analysis can add depth to your business plan. This involves exploring different scenarios by adjusting key variables or assumptions to assess their impact on sales. It demonstrates that you have considered potential risks, market fluctuations, or changes in business conditions and have evaluated their effect on your sales forecast.

Remember, the level of detail should strike a balance between providing a comprehensive understanding of your sales potential while avoiding unnecessary complexity or excessive data. The primary goal is to convey a realistic and credible representation of your revenue expectations to potential investors, lenders, or other stakeholders who will be reviewing your business plan.  

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Sales Forecasting

Avoid several common mistakes when developing a sales forecast for your startup business.  

Overestimating sales is a common mistake, especially for startups. Base your sales projections on realistic targets and assumptions rather than wishful thinking.

  Ignoring external factors , such as changes in the economy or new regulations, can lead to inaccurate sales projections. Therefore, consider external factors when developing your sales forecast and adjust it accordingly.

  Reviewing  and adjusting your forecast regularly can lead to accurate projections. For example, you should check your forecast at least once a quarter and adjust it as needed based on changes in your market, competition, and customer behavior.

Sales Forecast for Your Business Plan

The Sales and Marketing section of your business plan should have included a sales forecast. In that section, you might have provided only the narrative and then a final number. 

Or, you might have provided the level of detail shown below. Regardless of whether this was included previously, the table summarizing your sales forecast should be included in the financial section of your business plan. If it is included in both places—be sure they match!  

As shown in the example below, the sales forecast should break out sales by major product category, channel, and geographical region, as appropriate for your business. In the example below, the company has just one location but also has online sales. Adapt this format to align to your business. 

One-Year Forecast by Month 

The one-year forecast for a startup business should be provided by month. This provides lenders and investors with clear insight into the ramp-up time for the business. It also answers one of the most common questions from this audience, “When will the business start generating revenue?” One thing you can be sure of is that you will be held accountable for this ramp-up forecast. Be conservative. 

One year sales forecast by month shown in grid

Five-Year Forecast by Quarter or Year 

Having shown your one-year forecast by month, your annual “run rate” for year two is the December revenue from year one multiplied by 12 (for the twelve months ahead). In other words, even if you just stayed flat after the twelfth month, your year two revenue will show a sizeable gain. Add continued monthly growth, and you’re likely to show significant gains. 

The example below shows a five-year forecast. For a startup business, a three-year forecast is considered acceptable.

chart showing five year sales forecast for startup business

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  • CRM Software

How to Build a Sales Forecast with Templates, Examples and Formulas

Why FO is free

A sales forecast is a crucial part of managing your business. Without it, you will not be able to properly manage your inventory, control cash flow, or grow your operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has made sales forecasting even more challenging, with unpredictable swings across the board, from the products consumers purchase to what channels they use to purchase these products. To create a sales forecast, you can make use of dedicated software or general sales software with forecasting capabilities.

Building a reliable sales forecast for your company is a concern that will always be top of mind for sales professionals. If you want an accurate prediction, this involves intuition, predictive analysis, and good CRM software . In this guide we’ll walk you through all the steps you need to take to be successful at sales forecasting, from how to compute it, to what sales forecasting templates to use. This way, you can have solid data to support your growth strategy.

how to build a sales forecast

How to Build a Sales Forecast Table of Contents

Why do you need a sales forecast, tools for accurate sales forecasting, the basic math you need to calculate sales forecast, types of forecasting methods.

  • Sales Forecasting Templates
  • Factors that Impact Your Sales Forecast

In 2020, retail sales grew by 6.7% or to $4.06 trillion compared to 2019 figures. This is almost double the predicted growth of 3.5% which did not account for the effects of a global pandemic. In 2021, the National Retail Federation forecasts that retail sales will amount to more than $4.33 trillion in 2021 as people get vaccinated and the economy reopens.

Source: National Retail Federation, 2021

In anticipation of increased retail activities, there are a few tips to keep in mind as you do your business forecasting for 2021 . At this point, it’s essential to review the basics of your business. Go over your key targets and customers and review their spending as well as checking your industry for growth or shrinkage. If you are in the B2B space, look into the possibility of adding account-based marketing to your tools. If you are in the B2C space, build your sales forecast around key segments then verify your financial model.

Aside from forecasting, sales forecasting can help you manage other aspects of your business related to your forecast. To help you in selecting the right cloud sales software , take into account how it can help you streamline your processes, provide real-time quotes, and integrate with your CRM, among other considerations.

Sales forecasting helps you gauge your revenues in the immediate future. This can be next month, quarter or year, depending on your definition of a sales period. It helps you manage your supply chain, cash flow and perform strategic planning.

Not doing sales forecasts right is like driving through a dark tunnel with no headlights. Will you reach the other end?

An accurate sales forecast is also a clue to a highly aligned organization. When different business units are on the same page they tend to achieve faster revenue growth and higher margins. In fact, according to data from Miller Heiman Group, having a formal, structured review process of sales forecast increases win rates by 25% compared to not having a formal approach.

How to Build a Sales Forecast

Before we start you need a clear picture of what tools you’re going to need to help you create an accurate sales forecast. This will include:

  • Sales cycle. Do you have a clear pipeline with well-defined stages and length of period to close deals?
  • Closing rate. What’s the probability of closing per sales stage?
  • Deal value. What’s the value of each deal per sales stage?
  • CRM. Selecting a reliable CRM software will help you streamline and automate sales forecasting.

At its base, sales forecasting involves three simple computations:

  • How much you’ve earned so far
  • How much you’ll earn more
  • The sum of both in a given year.

For simplicity, we’ll use monthly as our reporting period (you can always adjust this to quarterly, bi-monthly or weekly periods).

Monthly run rate. The average sales revenue per month so far this year. This is the base of your forecast. You calculate it like this: Sales revenues to date / no. of months to date Example: If your current total sales revenues as of March is $10,000, divide it by 3 months, so your monthly run rate is $3,333.
Forecasted monthly sales. Sales revenues you expect to earn from the remaining months. You calculate it like this: Monthly run rate x no. of remaining months Example: $3,333 (monthly run rate) x 9 months (April to December) = $29,997
Forecasted annual sales. The total sales revenues you expect this year. You calculate it like this: Sales revenues to date + Forecasted monthly sales

But before you eagerly run the formulas above, you need to get your numbers right. That means you have to drill down to the causes of the revenues and evaluate them to arrive at a more accurate forecast. Reverse engineering your revenue goals is one way but for purposes of this article, we’ll stick with standard forecasting techniques.

Here, you can turn to proven methods that break down sales forecasting to measurable metrics. Let’s discuss those next.

1. Opportunity stage forecasting

This method uses the probability of deals to close at each sales stage to forecast revenues. As opposed to simply using past sales as a basis, it looks into the rate by which the sales were closed.

How it works:  You should know the close rate in each sales stage and the deal value . In general, the bottom of the funnel stages should have higher rates than the top of the funnel ones. For example, in initial contact 5% of deals are expected to become customer, while at later stages, such as in the presentation stage, the rate jumps to 40%.

Here’s how you forecast sales using this method:

Forecast = total value of current deals in a stage x close rate

Example: $2,000 worth of deals ready for presentation x 40% close rate = $800 forecasted value per stage.

To get the overall sales forecast simply add all forecasted values per stage.

Pros of this method

  • Easy to calculate
  • Leverages recurring trends
  • Lends to your forecast some statistical truth

Cons of this method

  • Aging deals may screw up data
  • Shifts in trends will lead to an inaccurate forecast
  • Relies on sales reps’ feedback

2. Length of sales cycle forecasting

This method also uses a close rate to predict sales but based on the deal’s age . In effect, it addresses the problem in our first method.

How it works:  You should know your sales cycle and deal value . The closer the deal to the end of the sales cycle, the higher the close rate. For instance, if your sales cycle is 6 months and the deal is at 3 months, the close rate is 50%.

Here’s how you calculate future sales:

Forecast = deal value x close rate at sales cycle

Example: $1,000 deal value x 10% close rate at two months = $100 forecasted value

Again, to get the overall sales forecast simply add the forecasted values of your current deals.

  • It sorts out aging deals
  • Data is objective
  • If you have various sales cycles calculation is complex
  • It doesn’t work for irregular sales cycles

3. Intuitive forecasting

This method relies on the sales reps’ insight on the chances of closing deals . After all, who better to know the deals than those closest to them.

This suits small businesses or startups. Their people are likely to be more engaged with each other than in big organizations; thus, trust is easy to toss around. Startups especially lack historical data, so they rely on this method.

How it works:  It requires no more than asking your sales reps when they think the deal will close and how much.

  • It leverages the insight of the people involved in the deal most
  • It’s simple to conduct.
  • Vulnerable to overoptimism or abuse
  • No scalable way to verify data integrity

4. Historical forecasting

Some call this the lazy way to forecast sales, but it works for others. The idea is to assume the same result will happen month over month , at least. This works best for subscription-based business.

How it works:  For example, last month’s MRR is $500, so you assume the same values for the succeeding months. You can also assume the same sales velocity applies each month. So, if you’ve been increasing sales by 5% month to month, and your current monthly run rate is $500, your next month’s forecast is:

$500 current monthly run rate x 5% sales velocity = $25 additional sales $25 + $500 = $525 forecasted sales next month
  • Quick to calculate
  • Predictable
  • Doesn’t factor in seasonal shifts, external events
  • Assumes demand is constant

5. Multivariable analysis

This is the most complex method in our how to build a sales forecast guide, but the most accurate, too. It uses the various methods above and adds predictive analytics. In short, you combine data in:

  • Probability of closing deals
  • Sales cycle
  • Sales reps’ insights
  • Historical data

Here the math gets convoluted and, if you’re like us, you might feel overwhelmed running numbers on different metrics.

Can you imagine calculating the value of deals closed, guaranteed to close and likely to close for this month if you have hundreds of prospects? That means tracking each deal size MRR and close rate for each sale stage and plotting them across the sales cycle. You also need to consider MRR by client, adding another layer to the math.

You can sweat it out with a manual process or there’s a better way: we highly recommend you use a reliable CRM software for multivariable forecasting Like HubSpot or other simpler Salesforce Cloud alternatives . A CRM software guide  will help you understand these solutions and how they can help.

A  study by the Aberdeen Group shows that 82% of companies that heavily use CRM achieve their overall quota vs. 65% of companies that don’t leverage CRM much. Similarly, 60% of the former’s sales reps achieve their sales quota vs. 50% of the latter’s sales reps.

You’ll realize that tracking actual and predicted revenue using a high-quality CRM tool like  HubSpot CRM will make it simplified and automated , allowing you to stay on top of your game. You can also see where your current sales against your monthly quota.

Furthermore, HubSpot CRM logs sales activities automatically , such as calls, emails, and social media posts. It also gives you total visibility across your pipeline, which helps you track deals and surface their associated records with ease.

sales forecast template for business plan

It’s easy to track your deals, closed deals and leads on HubSpot, a great free CRM .

Overall, this tool provides the context to gauge your sales reps’ closing rate with more accuracy. Moreover, HubSpot CRM is a completely free CRM . If you want to try it out you can easily sign up for HubSpot CRM here .

Sales forecasting templates

If you’re not ready for a CRM push and want to stick with spreadsheets, or you’re just starting out, you can at least level up the process by using sales forecasting templates. A template puts structure to your data. It also disciplines your team to standardize data gathering and reporting.

You can find plenty of templates on the internet. For one, HubSpot is offering a free sales forecasting template , which you can immediately use for any of the first four methods we discussed. It organizes prospects, forecasts monthly revenue and tracks yearly revenue goal. You stay on top of your quota.

Factors that impact your sales forecast

Sales forecasting goes beyond deals and closing rate. A lot of things beyond your team and control will affect your ability to predict with accuracy. You need to consider these factors and adjust your forecast where needed.

  • Seasonality. Demand usually go through high and low seasons, meaning, you won’t have the same month-to-month results.
  • Marketing spend. Post campaigns can create a spike in sales. Find out what the marketing team is up to.
  • Market shifts. These are changes in consumer behavior, technological disruption, and social trends.
  • Competition. What your competitors are planning soon can impact on your future sales. Examples are: a price cut, new product launching and major brand campaign.
  • Internal changes. Changes in your product, brand and organization impact on your future sales. For example, the product gets a facelift or rebranding or price adjustment or your company downsizes its sales team.
  • Top management. Strategic decisions and plans may also impact on your forecast. For instance, mergers & acquisitions, IPOs and new round of fund seeding all have direct or indirect effect on your future sales.

Moreover, always be open to refining your forecast as new opportunities pop up or threats derail your original target. An accurate and honest low-level forecast is always better than an impressive but bloated target. False hope costs money.

Wrapping Up Your Sales Forecast

Creating an accurate sales forecast is your blueprint for future success. So you can accurately generate one, take a look at your sales cycle, closing rate, deal value, and your CRM tool. You can then proceed with computing your run rate, forecasted monthly sales, and forecasted annual sales. You can use different forecasting methods, from opportunity stage forecasting to multivariable analysis. If you don’t have a CRM or sales software, you can use sales forecast templates like those from Hubspot. Whatever route you decide, keep in mind the different factors that impact your sales forecasts, such as seasonality, market shifts, and the like.

Remember, even though nobody can predict the future, you can gauge it with the right intuition, the right formulas and data, and top-notch CRM tools . Your sales forecast can also be complemented with tested CRM tips and approaches to further improve sales revenues. With this, you can build useful sales forecasts even in turbulent times like the pandemic.

We hope this guide on how to build a sales forecast will help you achieve a more reliable goal when you work on your next project. If you need some extra help, you can always try out more accurate sales forecasting by signing up for the free HubSpot CRM tool.

Adam Goldberg

By Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg is a senior market research analyst and one of the key customer experience technology and CRM pioneers working for the FinancesOnline review team. He has been cooperating with FinancesOnline for over 5 years now. During that time Andrew has analyzed more than 2,000 CRM solutions and he’s well-known for his honest reviews and his unique perspective on challenges and opportunities posed by customer-centric innovation. He’s a strong believer in business process automation and the role it plays in customer data management, conversational intelligence, and customer engagement. His work has been mentioned in many major publications and media sites, including MSN, Springer, TheNextWeb, and CIO.

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How to Create a Sales Plan: Template + Examples

Meredith Hart

Published: August 18, 2023

Do you have a sales plan? Entrepreneurs, sales executives, and sales managers all benefit from writing sales plans — whether for their business, department, or team. You must know where you're going before you can hit your key targets, and from there, you must break down the strategies and tactics you'll use to do it.

how to create a sales plan; Sales team creating a sales plan for the upcoming quarter

All of this information can be included in a sales plan (and more). Read on to learn how to draft a sales plan that's right for your organization.

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In this post, we'll cover:

  • What Is a Sales Plan?
  • What Is the Sales Planning Process?
  • What Goes In a Sales Plan Template

How to Write a Sales Plan

Tips for creating an effective sales plan, sales plan examples.

  • Strategic Sales Plan Templates

What is a sales plan?

A sales plan lays out your objectives, high-level tactics, target audience, and potential obstacles. It's like a traditional business plan but focuses specifically on your sales strategy. A business plan lays out your goals — a sales plan describes exactly how you'll make those happen.

sales forecast template for business 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.

Fill out the form to get the free template.

Sales plans often include information about the business' target customers, revenue goals, team structure, and the strategies and resources necessary for achieving its targets.

What are the goals of an effective sales plan?

goals of a sales plan

Sales Planning Process

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that sales planning doesn't just encompass the creation of a sales plan document. For that document to be more than something that gathers dust on the bookshelf, a high-level strategy is required.

You should:

  • Gather sales data and search for trends.
  • Define your objectives.
  • Determine metrics for success.
  • Assess the current situation.
  • Start sales forecasting.
  • Identify gaps.
  • Ideate new initiatives.
  • Involve stakeholders.
  • Outline action items.

Step 1: Gather sales data and search for trends.

To plan for the present and future, your company needs to look to the past. What did sales look like during the previous year? What about the last five years? Using this information can help you identify trends in your industry. While it's not foolproof, it helps establish a foundation for your sales planning process.

Step 2: Define your objectives.

How do you know your business is doing well if you have no goals? As you can tell from its placement on this list, defining your goals and objectives is one of the first steps you should take in your sales planning process. Once you have them defined, you can move forward with executing them.

Step 3: Determine metrics for success.

Every business is different. One thing we can all agree on is that you need metrics for success. These metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs). What are you going to use to determine if your business is successful? KPIs differ based on your medium, but standard metrics are gross profit margins, return on investment (ROI), daily web traffic users, conversion rate, and more.

Step 4: Assess the current situation.

How is your business fairing right now? This information is relevant to determining how your current situation holds up to the goals and objectives you set during step two. What are your roadblocks? What are your strengths? Create a list of the obstacles hindering your success. Identify the assets you can use as an advantage. These factors will guide you as you build your sales plan.

Step 5: Start sales forecasting.

Sales forecasting is an in-depth report that predicts what a salesperson, team, or company will sell weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. While it is finicky, it can help your company make better decisions when hiring, budgeting, prospecting, and setting goals.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, economics has become less predictable. Claire Fenton , the owner of StrActGro — a professional training and coaching company — states, "Many economic forecasters won't predict beyond three months at a time." This makes sales forecasting difficult. However, there are tools at your disposal to create accurate sales forecasts .

Step 6: Identify gaps.

When identifying gaps in your business, consider what your company needs now and what you might need in the future. First, identify the skills you feel your employees need to reach your goal. Second, evaluate the skills of your current employees. Once you have this information, you can train employees or hire new ones to fill the gaps.

Step 7: Ideate new initiatives.

Many industry trends are cyclical. They phase in and out of "style." As you build your sales plan, ideate new initiatives based on opportunities you may have passed on in previous years. If your business exclusively focused on word-of-mouth and social media marketing in the past, consider adding webinars or special promotions to your plan.

Step 8: Involve stakeholders.

Stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organizations with a vested interest in your company. They are typically investors, employees, or customers and often have deciding power in your business. Towards the end of your sales planning process, involve stakeholders from departments that affect your outcomes, such as marketing and product. It leads to an efficient and actionable sales planning process.

Step 9: Outline action items.

Once you have implemented this strategy to create your sales planning process, the final step is outlining your action items. Using your company's capacity and quota numbers, build a list of steps that take you through the sales process . Examples of action items are writing a sales call script, identifying industry competitors, or strategizing new incentives or perks.

One thing to keep in mind is that sales planning shouldn't end with creating the document.

You‘ll want to reiterate this process every year to maintain your organization's sales excellence.

Now that you‘re committed to the sales planning process, let's dive into the written execution component of sales planning.

Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template

HubSpot's Sales Plan Template: 10 Section Prompts for Outlining Your Sales Plan

Ready to write your own plan? Download HubSpot's Free Sales Plan Template to get started.

What Goes in a Sales Plan Template?

sales strategy template

Of course, you'll probably have more than one goal. Identify the most important, then rank the rest by priority.

If you have territories, assign a sub-goal to each. That will make it easier to identify over- and under-performers.

Lay out your timeline too. Having regular benchmarks lets you know if you're on track, ahead, or behind in meeting your targets.

Suppose your sales goal for the first quarter of the year is selling $30,000. Based on last year's performance, you know January and February sales are slower than March.

With that in mind, your timeline is:

  • January: $8,000
  • February: $8,000
  • March: $14,000

You should also write in the DRIs if applicable. For example, maybe Rep Carol‘s January quota is $5,000. Rep Shane, who's still ramping, has a $3,000 monthly quota. On a smaller team, this exercise helps people avoid replicating each other‘s work and shifting blame around if targets aren't met.

10. Set your budget.

Describe the costs associated with hitting your sales goals. That usually includes:

  • Pay (salary and commission)
  • Sales training
  • Sales tools and resources
  • Contest prizes
  • Team bonding activities
  • Travel costs

Compare the sales plan budget to your sales forecast for accurate budgeting.

If you want to take your plan to the next level, read on to learn some tips for creating a highly effective sales plan.

We've gone over what you should include in a sales plan, including some examples and mockups.

Learn some tips and tricks for creating a sales plan that helps you hit target numbers and exceed your higher-ups' expectations.

  • Use industry trends to strengthen your plan. When presenting your sales plan to a stakeholder, use industry trends to highlight why your plan will be effective.
  • Specify the technology you‘ll use to track success. You can do this for internal reference or let stakeholders know how you'll measure success. Some tools you can consider include CRM and dashboard software .
  • Support your budget proposal with hard facts and data. If you're creating a budget as a part of your plan, support it with previous performance data and sales forecasts.
  • Create different plans for each team. If you create a sales plan for business development, inbound sales, outbound sales, field sales, and so forth, you can get even more granular and specific in your goals and KPIs.
  • Get marketing's input. Marketing and sales alignment is critical for the success of your sales plan. The more input you have from marketing, the more you can align your lead generation, prospecting, and nurturing efforts.
  • Talk with your sales reps to understand their challenges. It might be easy to get lost in numbers and forecasts. But it‘s important to know your sales representative's day-to-day to understand what will and will not prove effective or feasible.
  • Complete an in-depth competitive analysis. You must know what the competition is doing well to create a plan that nudges your company in that direction.

You can create a few different types of sales plans for your organization. Here are some examples.

30-60-90-Day Sales Plan

sales training template

Download Now: Free Sales Training Template

This general sales plan is defined not by theme but by time frame. You'll create three goals: one for the 30-day mark, another for the 60-day mark, and the last for the 90-day mark. You can choose to focus on quotas or reduce customer churn by a certain percentage.

30 60 90 day plan sample

Marketing-Alignment Sales Plan

sla template marketing sales alignment

Download Now: Free Marketing & Sales Alignment Template

In many ways, a traditional sales plan is already aligned with marketing. Still, you can create a marketing-alignment sales plan if your organization has not yet aligned both of these departments.

marketing and sales SLA example

Download Now: Free Strategic Business Planning Template

A strategic sales plan for business development will focus on attracting new business to your company by networking with other companies, sponsoring events, and doing outreach. In your sales plan, you'll want to choose the right KPIs that best reflect performance for these specific outreach channels.

growth action plan for business development

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template

A market expansion plan outlines a task list and target metrics when expanding into a new market or territory. This type of sales plan is specifically concerned with addressing a target market in a new geographical area.

market expansion plan example

Download Now: Free Product Launch Kit

If you're launching a new product, create a sales plan specifically to generate revenue from the new launch.

product classification sheet for product sales plan

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


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