Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2013 Sales Planning - Your Plan - Your Destiny!

Welcome to 2013.  While many salespeople are trying to reel-in those last sales of the year, we also have a unique opportunity to begin creating success in 2013.  In speaking with salespeople over the past few weeks, I've heard some interesting comments that strongly reinforced that NOW is the time to plan for 2013:
  • "I've got to get my database tool cleaned up for next year."
  • "I need to sort out which accounts have the biggest potential for me next year."
  • "I have no idea how I'm going to hit my number next year."
  • "With my company changing the comp plan, I have to approach my customers differently next year."
There's an axiom in selling:  We create our own plan for success.  This golden rule is founded in the word "plan."  Annual planning should not be taken lightly and many professional sales consultants insist that salespeople spend a day or two (8-16 hours) really thinking through the strategic approach to a full year's worth of sales activity.  I agree (Covey's Sharpening the Saw Principle).

With this said, you'll find my best advice here on what, how, who, when and why - in regards to Annual Sales Planning:

  1. It Has To Be In Writing.  You just can't ignore the pile of scientific studies which point directly to formalizing the planning process.  Whether it's a simple document, a slide-deck, or even a hand-written process, this must be something that is taken seriously and documented.  This process drives ownership, creative thinking and absolutely higher achievement.
  2. Your Goals Must Align With Your Company's Goals.  While somewhat obvious, don't overlook this important prerequisite.  Most organizations re-align goals at the beginning of the year.  Make sure you take this into account.  As you develop your goals, ask yourself, "How does this goal align with the organizational goals?"
  3. Sales Plans Begin With Goals.  No need for introductions, market analysis, defining statements.  If you haven't figured these things out already, this needs to be a tactical action item in month one.  Goals are the "big-picture" achievements, or milestones that you must achieve in the year to meet your criteria of success.  Studies have shown that people can't focus on more than 3-5 goals, and one of these should certainly be your quota (or sales volume metric).  Keep in mind that goals should be specific and measurable.  [Other goal ideas are:  How many new customers will you get?  How many high-potential targets do I need?  What kind/type/number of networks can I leverage?]
  4. Goals Require Plans.  For each goal that you've identified, think of the things that must be done to achieve the goal.  Plans are the tactical details that must be accomplished.  When you've completed all the plans associated with a goal, you should have achieved your goal.  Document the plans in writing along with time-frames required for each plan.
  5. Sales Logistics - It's Part of the Annual Process.  Document the things you need to do, logistically, to get ready for 2013.  I'll go out on a limb here and say that all of us need to do the following logistical things:  
    • Classify all your accounts/prospects by their potential to contribute in 2013.  Use a ranking system like A, B, C, D, F.  Be consistent.  If you or your company uses a CRM tool (who isn't using one, right?), be sure this is documented in the tool.
    • Re-organize your filing systems.  This could be physical or electronic.  Organize your old emails.  Sort documents that you've been putting off.  Throw-out or delete items you no longer need.  Archive old emails/documents in a safe place for later, easy reference.
    • Create a list of other logistical things that you can't do now, but want to do later in the year.  Maybe this is an action-item list that you keep in your binder or task-tool.
  6. Sales Strategy.  Besides numbers, appointments and other sales activities, it's important to review Sales Strategy at the beginning of the year, and to include a section on strategy in your Annual Sales Plan.  This is about approach, market trends, education/training, and style.  HOW are you going to do things differently in 2013?  WHAT is required for you to implement your new strategy.  Write this all down in a measurable way.
  7. Activity Formula.  While some salespeople simply "wing-it," in terms of level-of-effort regarding sales activities - this is a mistake.  Professional, top-of-their-game salespeople do NOT wing-it.  They prepare and plan for level-of-effort.  Create a simple spreadsheet for your plan that has the following metrics (or your organization's equivalent):  Sales Volume Required to meet your compensation goal, Average Deal Size, Number of Deals required, Number of Proposals required, Number of Appointments/Demos/Meetings required, Number of Cold Calls/Warm Reaches required, etc.  This is an exercise that you can revisit throughout the year.
  8. Sales Obstacles.  What are the things you know of, or might anticipate in 2013, that will get in your way of success?  Let's document all of these and plan on a way to mitigate these obstacles.  Some of these you can push through.  Others will have to be navigated around.  Now is the time to plan for these, so that you can minimize down-time in 2013.  What is the obstacle?  What is the mitigation plan?
  9. Growth, Development and Staying Motivated.  Grow or Die.  Get better or you will surely get worse. Enhance your position, or your competitors will take care of that for you.  Create a spot in your Sales Plan to document the things you will do to ENHANCE your success.  Maybe this is courses, training, peer-mentoring, outside coaching, sales books, blogs?  Maybe this is year you get your college degree?  Pick three important goals in this area and create plans to make this happen.
  10. Present Your Plan.  Would you be surprised to learn that salespeople who formally present their plan to a peer or manager gain (on average) a 15% improved performance over those people who choose to keep things private?  FACT.  Harvard Business Review cites two studies that showed the simple rule of accountability to others helped salespeople achieve more.  Maybe you should present your plan to several people!
Don't let your competitors take advantage of you by failing to PLAN FOR YOUR SUCCESS. It happens all the time.  When you think about it, sales are won or lost by people.  Invest in yourself.  Invest in your family and future.  Plan today for your success in 2013!


No comments:

Post a Comment