September 22, 2008

Planning for growth - the objections managers hear when they present their plans and how to avoid them

Here are the 7 most common objections managers hear when they present their plans and what to do about them:

1. Overly optimist sales forecasts, with time to market/revenue and cost underestimated as a result.  Most people will flick to the end of the plan to see your numbers, make sure they stand up to some stress tests.  Make sure the investment in sales and marketing supports your ambitious sales targets.

2. Lack of objective market or opportunity validation, that means not just quoting reports (which is important) but providing direct feedback from potential customers.  Getting some external objective input to the document will very important.

3. Too much technical / product information for the audience in question, causing the overall message about why the company will be successful to get lost

4. Not enough detail on sales and marketing, including stuff like who the customers are going to be, what number of customers, the cost of acquiring customers, the advantage over competitiors, the marketing programme, the lead time, who will do the selling, etc.

5. To much generality and not enough details of what actions will be undertaken and when, a good plan should incorporate a project plan with key dates, actions, dependencies and milestones.

6. Not establishing the credibility of the team  - here are our successes to date, here are our customer and partners, here is our management team and its track record, etc.

7. Not keeping the audience in mind - what is it they need to hear?  Summarise the plan in 2 pages with the audience in mind, using their language, addressing their key concerns, etc.  For example if it is an investor audience then the return on investment and the exit strategy are the key items should be highlighted on page one paragraph one.

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