December 27, 2008

What should your sales plan look like?

No manager wants to spend days writing a sales plan, and no rep, manager, or investor wants to spend hours reading such a plan either.

Everybody agrees that a plan is required, but how to keep it short and at the same include all those key elements that will ensure the sales team stays on course for the year.

Here are some of the key ingredients included in the best sales plans:

1. Too many sales drives stumble at the first hurdle, that is lead generation. So you plan has to include a target and budget for lead generation from multiple sources over time.

2. Activity gets results and for many managers getting the level of sales activity up (e.g. getting in front of more prospects) is a key priority. However, targets and plans in this area must be balanced with the need to improve the level of sales effectiveness. Quite simply, it is a lot better to do 10 meetings and convert 20%, than to do 20 meetings and convert just 10%.

3. Too many plans are short on specifics, in particular those metrics and KPIs that can be used to track progress on a weekily, or monthly basis, including number of meetings, conversion rate from lead to meeting, from proposals to orders, etc. then track them.

The precise form of the KPI will vary depending on the particular managers priorities, but here is a good example.

A start-up company set an assumption regarding conversion or success rates and then set a target for the level of activity required – that is they needed to meet with 7 target companies every month for the first 12 months. That provided the manager with a clear measure against which he could benchmark sales activity and sales effectiveness.

4. Set a target for new and existing revenues, set target for up-selling and cross selling. Outline targets for growing revenue in key accounts and key account management and customer service priorities/policies.

5. Focus on a number of campaigns, around which you can centre your activities. Don’t have one plan for marketing and another for sales, but an consisted and integrated campaign arranged on a quarterly basis for example. Agree the message for each, the target list / target list profile for each, etc.

6. Help individual sales people put together a 2 page plan for themselves. Nobody is more committed to a plan than if they write it themselves. In addition, this an ideal opportunity to coach them towards achieving their full potential. Your overall sales plan is the summation of all the individual sales plans of your team.

7. Don’t beat around the bush, exactly how many leads and meetings will be required for each sales person per week, or per month in order to achieve target.

8. In your overall plan focus on this/next quarter in detail, relating it to the individual sales plans of each of the sales people and the overall campaign set out. Include an rigorous validation of the pipeline, that is related to the key stages of your sales process.

8. Focus on the issues of sales process, sales systems, sales structures, etc, Identifying opportunities to ensure the smooth running of your sales organizations/sales team.

Click here if you would like to read more on why you're going to need a plan, or the questions others are likely to ask regarding your plan.


Anonymous said...

This simply remarkable message

Anonymous said...

This simply remarkable message