The Importance of Sales Planning
It always amazes me when I talk to a sales person who has not built a sales plan, and then they wonder why they did not hit their sales goals.
Not having a plan is like running your business on a wing and prayer and hoping that the dart you threw blindfolded will hit the bullseye. While there is a chance you might get lucky and hit the bulls eye, there is a better chance you’ll poke someone’s eye out.
So why do sales people leave it to chance, and not write a yearly sales plan? More often than not it’s because they may not know how, and no one in the organization has written one either to help coach them through the process.
Why build a sales plan? “Don’t just Think it ink it”
- Helps to plan for the unforeseen risks so they can be overcome
- Gives a benchmark of where we want to go, how we can get there, and allows us to adjust the plan as necessary
- It drives creative thinking- helps focus on the bigger picture.
1st Step of Building a Sales Planning Process is to Analyze where you are at?
To determine where you are going you first have to see where you have been.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What business are we in?
- Who are our customers?
- Where did most of my sales come from?
- Where do we want my sales to come from?
- What are some external/Internal factors that can impact my sales? Eg. Industry trends, Technology, Competition, Business Environment etc..
2nd Set your Goals
Your goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time bound)
- Achieve 1 Million in New Sales by December 31st, 2015
- Sell 2 Corporate wide Licenses by December 31st, 2015
- Grow Distributor Network by 30% by December 31st, 2015
3rd Step Develop the Sales Plan
This is the meat of your sales plan and is the most critical in helping you achieve your goals. It should outline all the strategies and tactics that you are going to use to overcome the obstacles that you may face in meeting your goals.
Strategy – Your Plan of Attack to Reduce Risk
A Strategy is a plan or action designed to achieve a particular goal. One way to develop sales strategies is to write down the risks/obstacles that you see in achieving your goals then write down some ideas on how you can overcome them. These include internal and external factors.
Tactics- Short-term actions to help you execute on your strategy
Tactics have clear deliverables and outputs using people, tools and time and have minimal risk. When trying to determine your tactics it’s best to write down the steps/milestones that will help you to execute and support your strategy.
Finally it’s time to Execute on your strategy.
Action speaks louder than words. Now that you have taken the time to plan out your attack now it’s time to act on it. Your The sales profession is one of the few professions where you can control how much you make or don’t make by the actions we do or do not take. The plan is to help take away some of that mystery to help you use your creativity to hit those goals.
Evaluate and Review Planning Processes
The world/market is constantly evolving if you write a plan and only look at it at the end of each year that’s like looking in a rear view mirror instead of looking where you are going. Just as important as writing the plan it’s important to:
- Review the plan quarterly in review meetings
- Review what went well, what did not, and make adjustments
- Score Card: Measure and Benchmark.
While there are many reasons why sales may not have met their goals the underlying theme comes down to a few critical factors:
- No clear written goals
- No plan written to how to achieve them
- Failure to commit or take action on the plan
- Not setting goals that are realistic.
A Sales Plan is a crucial tool in helping us succeed in sales, writing down a plan makes it a reality and helps us to identify risks and formulate a battle plan. It helps us to benchmark where we are at and where we want to go so we can make adjustments to achieve our goals.