- The Killer Sales Plan
- The 3 Ground Rules for Your Sales Plan
- The 6 Simple Steps to Develop Your Killer Sales Plan
The biggest cause of poor sales productivity is a lack of focus by sales people on the sales activities that can make a difference and “move the needle.”
Sales people need to be able to quickly identify the main focus of their selling and align their strategies and sales actions accordingly.
Who Is This For:
- Professional Service
- Indirect (3rd party)
Your Company Size:
- CEO/Business Owner
- C-Level Executive
- Sales Manager
Specific Goals and Objectives:
With this guide, the sales reader will be able to develop tightly defined sales plans that increase sales focus, enhance a salesperson’s use of their selling time, reduce ramp-up time on new assignments or new territories and improve overall sales productivity.
The Killer Sales Plan
A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.George S. Patton
There Is No Such Thing as Perfect Sales Plan
George S. Patton arguably was one of America’s most successful field commanders in World War II.
He didn’t believe that a “perfect plan” could exist in combat because there were just too many variables at play that he could not anticipate or control.
However, what he could control was the basic performance of his soldiers as they executed his plans and strategies in some of the most decisive battles in North Africa and Europe.
Similarly, you do not need a perfect plan to achieve your sales goals. However, you do need a plan. In fact, you will in all likelihood need more than one plan before you hit your big goals (for reasons I explain below.)
When You Need a Sales Plan
There are multiple occasions that give rise to the need for a sales plan. Sales planning is too often thought of as just an activity that you do at the start of a new sales year.
Too often managers and salespeople are guilty of writing detailed sales plans in preparation for a sales kickoff meeting and then sticking them in a drawer and never referring to them.
Sales planning is not something you do for show; you do it for the dough.
When do you need a sales plan? Here are a few examples:
- At the start of a new sales year;
- At the start of every quarter;
- When you start a new sales job;
- When you take over a new territory;
- When you start a new company;
- When you assume a sales management role;
- When you launch a new product or service
The Reasons You Need a Sales Plan
The purpose of a sales plan is to help sales people achieve the following:
- Develop a detailed understanding of their sales goals;
- Define the required plan objectives, and establish a set of practical strategies and tactics that they can easily implement to achieve their goals;
- Identify the risks and dependencies in the plan that could be roadblocks to your success.
The Essential Elements of a Killer Sales Plan
- A pragmatic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. You have to be brutally honest with yourself about the strengths and weaknesses in your sales game. The strategies and tactics you incorporate into your plan have to build on your strengths. Don’t make plans that are dependent on you mastering new skills or knowledge in a short period of time.
- Logical, common sense strategies and tactics. Don’t be afraid to try new strategies. Just be certain that they are grounded in common sense. If your normal close ratio is 10%, don’t build your plan on strategies that assume that your close ration will be 30%. That just wouldn’t be logical.
- Benchmarks for disciplined, consistent, and proactive execution each and every day. Regardless of the specific tactics that you will employ in your plan, they have to be based on an unshakeable foundation of certain proactive sales activities that will happen each and every day. This means setting benchmarks for the number of calls that you will make each day; how many emails you will send each day; how many webinars you will hold, how quickly you will respond to leads; how quickly you will return all phone calls. And so on. (add to the spreadsheet)
The 3 Ground Rules for Your Sales Plan
Here are 3 simple ground rules that have to be incorporated into your Killer Sales Plan.
1. Your plan period can’t exceed 90 days.
Plan in small chunks of time.
Because life happens and everything changes.
You can’t forecast everything that will happen to you and your prospects during a 12 month period, let along for the next 90 days.
Too many variables come into play. You know that the sales actions you take next month will be influenced by the actions you take this month. Your schedule and daily activities will always be influenced by your success or failures during the current plan period.
For instance, if you are assigning your salespeople the task of creating their sales plans for the next sales year, do not have them map out detailed action plans for the entire year. Focus on just the next 90 day period.
2. Every plan needs milestones to measure your progress.
How long do you stick with a plan before you decide if it is working?
You need to collect data about how well you are executing your plan. Creating milestones gives you the opportunity to regularly determine if you are on track or not to achieve your goals and make the necessary adjustments.
3. Your plan has to be shared with your manager(s) and your peers.
Sales is a team sport not just an individual vocation. Share your goals, your strategies and your planned tactics with managers and peers to gather feedback. It is a priceless way to learn new ideas that could help improve your performance.
In addition, by sharing your plan you are asking people to hold you accountable for the results. There is nothing like shared accountability to provide motivation to succeed.
The 6 Simple Steps to Develop Your Killer Sales Plan
Here are 6 simple steps to develop “The Killer Sales Plan”; a rock-solid plan that you can easily execute and take to the bank.
Step #1: Define Your High-Level Goals
Establish your personal top-level goals for the plan period.
These goals are not your quotas.
In fact, if you are creating the first quarterly plan for a sales year then you want to complete your own planning PRIOR to having a quota discussion with your manager.
Because salespeople who plan to quota usually fall short of achieving the mark. Creating a sales plan that is focused on your quota is a defensive gesture.
Creating your own goals and the plan to achieve them is a proactive, aggressive sales strategy every seller should adopt. Meeting or exceeding quota should be the outcome of executing the strategies and tactics in your plan.
Here are some ideas for top-level goals that should be part of your plan:
- How much do you want to sell this year?
- How many orders will that entail? (And at what average selling price?)
- Define your goal(s) to be something that you have confidence you can achieve through practical sales strategies and consistent hard work.
Break big goals into a series of smaller goals
Remember: you can’t do detailed planning for more than 90 days (one calendar quarter) at a time.
Therefore, if you are setting goals for an entire year, you should create interim goals that you will achieve each quarter.
For instance, if your goal is to sell $1 million in product in the next year, then what are the interim goals you would establish for each quarter?
Step #2: Define What You Will Sell
Develop Your Plan Objectives for the Plan Period
What are Plan Objectives? Objectives are the lower-level goals and milestones that you will use to measure your progress toward successfully achieving your goals.
The best method to develop your Plan Objectives is to build a “bottom-up” model for achieving your goals that consists of a mix of products, prospects, and orders.
Start by defining an objective for each of these categories: a) products; b) prospects; and, c) orders. Then work backwards to calculate the specific level of sales activities required each day and week to meet your objectives.
- What is the mix of products and/or services you need to sell to achieve your Bookings and Revenue goals? Assign a percentage to each product/service you sell and make sure they add up to 100% of each goal.
- Translate your product/service percentages into a dollar objective for each product/service type that you sell.
Defining the mix of products and services mix you need to sell will dictate your target market(s) for 2014 and provide a defined focus for your prospecting and business development activities.
- What will be your conversion rate of leads into qualified prospects? What will be your conversion rate of qualified prospects into orders?
- Based on your lead conversion rate, how many new leads will you need over each quarter, month, and week to achieve your goals?
- Based on your prospect conversion rate, how many active prospects will you need at any one time over the plan period?
- How many active prospects will you need at any one time to meet your quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals?
Defining conversion ratios and prospecting metrics will give you clear benchmarks during the sales year to evaluate the effectiveness of your sales processes and determine what improvements or adjustments, if any, you must make to achieve your goals.
These ratios and metrics also provide clarity regarding the quantity and quality of prospecting you must perform to develop a robust pipeline of prospects.
If an insufficient number of leads are supplied by your company’s marketing efforts, then what prospecting activities will you need to do on your own to ensure a consistent, predictable flow of qualified prospects?
- What will be your average order size (for each product/service type in your plan) in dollars?
- Based on your average order size, how many orders will you need to close in the year (for each product/service type in your plan) in order to achieve your revenue goals?
- Allocate these orders over each quarter and month of the year. If you’re in a high-transaction-volume business, then break down your orders by week or day.
Defines milestones for the results you should be seeing from your sales activities.
For example, if your pipeline or funnel is healthy but you are experiencing a shortfall in your orders, this should trigger an assessment of your bottom-of-the-funnel sales processes.
Step #3: Define How You Will Sell
Create Execution Strategies and Action Items
Once you have defined your goals, and have developed a set of detailed objectives, you have to create the Strategies and Action Items that you will execute on a daily basis to make them a reality.
Create at least 2 strategies for every objective that you developed in Step 2. And, create at least 4 action items for every strategy.
Here is an important reminder.
Only develop detailed Strategies and Action Items for the first calendar quarter of your plan period.
It is impossible to do detailed daily activity planning more than 90 days in advance because too many things can, and will, change over that period of time. (See Step 6 below about planning for future quarters.)
Here is a quick example of a strategy and its associated action items for a plan objective, (as you will have developed in Step 2):
Objective: Develop 5 new qualified local prospects per month.
Network with local business owners and C-level executives to build awareness of my services and develop sales leads (and qualified prospects).
Action Item 1.1:
Identify all local weekly and monthly business networking events.
Action Item 1.2:
Attend 2 business networking events per week.
Action Item 1.3:
Obtain 3 referral introductions to potential prospects per week.
Action Item 1.4:
Make 5 new connections on LinkedIn per week
Do proactive lead follow-up and outbound calling to schedule 5 new prospect meetings per week.
Action Item 2.1:
Develop targeted list of local business owners and C-level executives.
Action Item 2.2:
Implement a 9 by 9 out-bound calling program.
Action Item 2.3:
Send 3 LinkedIn Inmails per week.
Action Item 2.4:
Follow-up 100% of all new sales leads within 4 hours.
Step #4: Identify Rash Risks & Critical Dependencies
Take calculated risks. That is quite different than being rash.George S Patton.
Eliminate Rash Risks
It is important to assess what the risks are to the achievement of your plan. Once you have broken down all of your objectives into distinct strategies and action items you can then easily identify the risks to your success.
For instance, if you calculate that the time and resources required to successfully execute all of your Strategies and Action Items for each plan objective will require you to work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, then going ahead with your plan would constitute a “rash risk.” And you would need to rethink your objectives and strategies.
Identify Critical Dependencies
Answer this question: Is your ability to achieve your goals and objectives dependent on factors beyond your control? If the answer is yes, then you need to modify your plan to eliminate those dependencies.
For example, if you factored into your revenue goals an assumption that your company would release a hot new product in Q2 and that it would be available for shipment to customers by the end of May, then that would be a critical dependency.
If the product release were delayed then your ability to meet your goals would be compromised. And that’s a problem for you. You can’t blame falling short of your goals on anyone else.
Or, if you’re a sales manager, and you developed a set of strategies and action items that were based on the assumption that you would receive budget approval to hire a certain number of additional salespeople in Q1 and then your manager said that all new hires would be deferred until Q2, then this too would represent a critical dependency.
Use this step to identify and eliminate critical dependencies in your plan that will prevent you from achieving your goals and objectives,
Step #5: Create Your Benchmarks
The single most important thing to remember about any plan is that its ultimate success or failure depends on execution more than on the creativity of the plan.
The key to your success is the consistent, disciplined execution of your strategies and action items.
Don’t finish the plan and then file it away. It is your roadmap to success. Stay focused on your plan. Make key adjustments as required to keep yourself on track. But stay focused. (Did I mention that before?) And go close a lot of orders.
Step #6: Review and Update Your Plan Quarterly
As discussed in Step #1 above, Strategies and Action Items should initially be developed just for one calendar quarter at a time.
At the end of each quarter, the strategies and action items must be updated and/or revised for the following quarter based on your year-to-date achievement.
If you’re knocking it out of the park, then stay the course and do more of what you’ve been doing. If you’re lagging behind your goals, then you’ll need to analyze why your strategies and tactics aren’t working as expected and revise or replace them.