Do you have a plan to succeed?
If you are a successful business owner or salesperson, then I am sure you do.
This time of year, as a business owner who sells, I have strategic planning on my mind. I am evaluating how my year has gone and, with only two months left, predicting how I will end my year.
If I have exceeded my goal, I am analyzing how I did it and whether I can continue to do it. I am thinking about product development for the upcoming year, strategic alliances, training and programs, and how to make the upcoming year even better.
All business owners need strong strategic plans, and part of that is making sales plans. Each salesperson needs a sales plan that paves the way to hit the goals in the strategic plan.
I coach business owners to develop strong sales plans as part of their strategic planning. As most of the business owners I know are also selling and managing their sales teams, this becomes crucial.
Salespeople need to build sales plans for themselves, even if their companies don’t require it.
I’m not a strategic-planning expert, but I do build one for my company each year, and I help many of my clients with their plans. There are many great programs out there to help you build a plan. A favorite of mine is My Simple Strategic Plan.
If you’ve never done a strategic plan, now is the time to start.
I have helped develop so many strategic plans, I can tell you that at most companies, the sales portion of the plan tends to be the weakest. I see clear direction in operations and other areas, but not in sales. Most have lofty revenue targets, but the details on how to reach those targets are missing, and typically the budgets needed to attain them are not well thought out.
Your strategic plan needs to include your revenue targets and a clear plan to reach them, including the appropriate budget for marketing to generate leads, as well as a budget to support sales. Then, of course, execution is what counts, but that’s another blog post.
Start with a Sales Objective
Let’s work through an example together. Start with your objective. Let’s work with this one: Generate $1,000,000 in sales. That’s the easy part; most people know what numbers they are trying to reach. Next, set your goals. Many people get this far. Take a look at the goals below. Typically, the missing piece is the list of action steps for each goal. If you take the time to plan down to this level, you are much more likely to hit your revenue target. Here are some example goals for the sales objective of “Generate $1,000,000 in sales revenue,” as well as action steps to support them:
Goal: Hire an additional salesperson to carry a $100,000 quota by Feb. 28, 2015.
- Write job description, success factors, and job ad by Nov. 1, 2014.
- Source candidates through current employees, ads, LinkedIn, and networking by Dec. 10, 2014.
- Interview candidates by Jan. 31, 2015.
- Choose candidate by Feb. 10, 2015.
- Start onboarding and training by Feb. 28, 2015.
Goal: Have existing salespeople attend 2 networking events each week, starting Jan. 1, 2015.
- Determine which networking events to attend and who will attend by Dec. 1, 2014.
- Develop a networking strategy for those events by Jan. 1. 2015.
- Prepare appropriate follow-up and schedule time to do the follow-up prior to each event by Dec. 31, 2014.
- Assess your networking efforts and determine whether they are getting results; if not, make appropriate changes to your networking strategy by March 31, 2015.
Goal: Consistently hold salespeople accountable for 3 meetings per day, starting Jan. 30, 2015.
- Block time on calendars for meetings by Jan. 1, 2015.
- Attend 8 networking events in Jan. to fill sales funnel with prospects by Jan. 31, 2015.
- Schedule meetings with new contacts established at Jan. networking events by Jan. 31, 2015.
- Be sure you have enough prospects to hold 3 meetings per day, either initial meetings or follow-ups. If not, get referrals, make calls, go network (ongoing).
- Build in time on your calendar daily to follow up from each meeting.
Goal: Develop a plan to have a consistent flow of referrals by Jan. 1, 2015.
- Put a customer satisfaction plan into place to determine satisfaction of current customers by Jan. 31, 2015.
- Develop a referral program, including the best way to ask for referrals and rewards, by Jan 1, 2015.
- Develop and practice a best method for sales team members to ask satisfied customers for referrals on a regular basis by Jan. 31, 2015.
- Measure quantity and quality of referrals monthly.
Plan to Hit Your Target
These are just a few of the goals that would help ensure you meet your sales number for the year. Taking the time to write them out with your team is essential. Once your plan is written out, it’s easy to start executing it.
Note: You are not done with your plan at that point. It’s important to revisit your sales plan and your entire strategic plan on a regular basis. Once a month might be too often; quarterly is usually right for most companies, but waiting 6 months is too long. The review allows you to assess your success and make changes to your plan before you get too far into the year and end up not hitting your revenue target. We are all very busy these days, and there are so many things that need our attention (and steal our attention). If you have a sound plan, stick to it and review it; you are highly likely to succeed.
Set yourself up for success
Let’s schedule a sales strategy session to make a plan to exceed your sales goals. Want to discuss it? Schedule a call with me now.