Ensure Sales Success

Is it true that most sales reps don’t hit their goals?

My friend Tiffani Bova shared 26 Sales Statistics that Prove Sales is Changing and one of them is that sales professionals spend just 34% of their time selling so it is no wonder that 57% expect to miss their quotas.

Are you worried? I am.

Whether you’re setting your sales goals or in the thick of delivering on them, here are three steps you can take to ensure sales success this year. Don’t let your sales reps fail on your watch. What can you do? Here are some ideas.

1. Plan to Succeed

Spend more time planning to succeed. We all have very long to-do lists and we tend to just ‘go do’. If we spent more time planning, we would be more successful.

Do you have a strategic plan?

In order to build a strong sales plan, you must start with a strong strategic plan. Many startups and growing businesses do not have a formal strategic plan but do have the basics captured in a way that they can be shared. Consider taking time out to develop a strategic plan if you don’t have one. I recommend business leaders update their strategic plan every year before building their sales plan.

There are many great programs out there to help you build or update a strategic plan. A favorite of mine is OnStrategy— it’s easy to use and walks you through the process of online training. It’s a robust planning process and maybe more than your company needs so I have two others I recommend for startups and fast-growth companies, the strategic plan from Simple Success Plans and The One Page Business Plan.

With all three programs, you end up with a one-page format that makes it easy to review throughout the year and have easy access to updates.

Update annually!

I update my plan every year and it is worth the time it takes. I do it with my team and it helps us all get focused on where we are going next. I urge you to do the same. But that’s not the trick. Review your plan frequently to be sure you are on track and to make adjustments.

Big Tip

My biggest tip is to agree on the sales goal with your team so you can build a solid plan that takes the company the direction you want to grow.

2. Create a Realistic Sales Plan

So many times, I see companies with unrealistic sales goals and no idea of how to hit them, only that they want to hit them.

Reality

Some companies apply percentages to last year’s revenue number to come up with the expected growth. This is based on what investors and stakeholders want. Unfortunately, this method is like picking numbers out of thin air and not based on reality. Typically, there is little research behind this and no understanding about what is possible in the marketplace, with the people, resources, and dollars available.

Remember

Revenue is not the only measure of sales, profitability should be considered. Sometimes a small growth in revenue with better margins that lead to higher profit is a better plan.

Some companies are looking for a percentage of the market. I’ve heard things like this, “It’s a $6 billion market, we just want 1 percent of that.” Sounds reasonable, right?

To get sales growth without imploding your company, you need a solid plan, and the plan needs to start with realistic goals. Instead of deciding that you need 15 percent growth because that’s what the company leaders or investors expect, go to the sales team and figure out their capacity. Then decide what people and resources are needed to go beyond that capacity and what will that cost.

Increasing Sales

Increasing sales may mean increasing headcount. It also might mean decreasing headcount and redistributing large accounts to get better growth from existing customers. Sales growth needs to come from the retention of existing customers, the growth of existing customers and new business.

Four questions to ask:

1. With the current sales team and process, how much of an increase is realistic?

2. With improved processes what is possible?

3. What resources will be needed to get the increase desired?

4. Can we generate enough leads to fill the pipeline full enough to hit the number?

Create a Sales Plan for Growth

Once you have a strategic plan in place, you can create a plan specifically for your sales growth that describes exactly how and what resources will be needed. Once you have a realistic goal and understand the resources needed you are on your way.

A critical factor in hitting sales goals is lead generation. Most companies don’t generate enough leads between sales and marketing to hit their number. It is a serious problem that causes a tremendous amount of stress. Your sales plan needs to specifically address how you will generate enough qualified leads to hit the number you set.

3. Share Your Plan

Once you have a plan, you must share it with your team, so every person understands the vision and the role they play in the success of the company. I recommend sharing at least parts of the strategic plan with your employees, but there are key areas that need to be shared.

Who Needs the Sales Plan?

The sales plan needs to be shared with sales, marketing, customer support, delivery and any other departments that have an impact on that number. It’s best if the entire company knows the sales goal and is onboard to make that number.

You are Responsible

When a sales team fails, everyone fails, so why not have a culture where everyone supports sales giving them a higher chance of success. Way too often, missing the number is blamed on the sales team. The entire company should know the goal and be concerned about whether the sales team hits the number. They should know the role they play in supporting that.

Ultimately, you as the company leader are responsible for that plan being successful.

Lagging Indicators

We tend to measure sales with lagging indicators. We set a plan to hit a number and at the end of the quarter, we know whether we hit the number or not.

Planning allows you to fill your pipeline with enough leads so that you have more than enough to hit your number. Don’t wait. Measure the activity that is leading. You’ll know at the beginning of the quarter whether you will hit your number and have time to do something about it, rather than waiting until the end.

Start Planning Now!

I know you don’t have time to plan. Too many things are piling up on your desk. Too many people are waiting. There are lots of fires to put out. You can stay focused on all of that and stress over hitting your number or you can take the time to plan and ensure success. I know, it sounds easier than it is. That’s why I’m here to help. It’s easy, just click and schedule.

About the Author Alice Heiman

Alice Heiman has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. Her innovative sales leadership programs, coupled with her top-down approach to creating long-term change, set up sales leaders and sales-managing business owners to get consistent and sustainable growth.

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