As an executive or sales leader you (hopefully) have a strategic sales plan for your business describing how you will go to sell your products and services. To get the absolute best effect from your plan, you need alignment at each level in the organization and a contiguous, seamless, unified approach to the market.
How do you achieve the result of 100% success across your sales team? Part of the answer is to use a system of personal strategic sales planning.
In order for the business to achieve sales objectives, individual sales pro’s each need a personal plan. This is wider than an account plan for a specific deal, and more than a 30/60/90 day plan for a making quota. It’s an underlying, ongoing strategy and set of tactics for how individual sales representatives will spend their days – how to manage their own important part of the business.
One fundamental goal for a personal sales strategic plan is building faith and confidence that if a sales pro follows a plan they will achieve their goals. Of course, you need to believe in and support the plan yourself, and make sure it aligns with team plans. The individual plan is a key for you to teach what it takes for your subordinate to be successful and be a coach to keep them on track, motivated and continually adapting their plan. The genuine feedback when you walk out of a planning meeting with your sales professional should be unbridled enthusiasm, optimism – and confidence. They are confident they know what to do and can do it, and you’re confident, as well.
An individual sales plan may be organized by the tactics necessary to achieve goals. Here’s an example of a goal and tactics for pipeline development.
Pipeline Development (example)
“I will keep my pipeline full by adding $100K in new business opportunities each month and having at least 4 times quota in qualified pipeline for the next 90 days at all times.
- I will accomplish this through new prospecting over the phone, in-person networking, and lead development.
- I’ll commit at least 10 hours per week to new pipeline development.
- I will add this prospecting time on my calendar and keep it sacrosanct – an firm appointment with myself – with no skipping unless for a direct customer interaction.
- I will attend at least one in-person sales networking meeting per week to develop my network.
- I will contact clients and ask for referrals on a monthly basis.
- I will begin each prospecting period by already having a to-do list including a list of target prospects with background information, lead follow-up task lists, lead networking follow up, and everything I need to stay 100% productive during my prospecting period.
- I will measure each prospecting period, and record my success on a daily basis.
- I will set a goal each day depending on my focus, but on average I will attempt 20 contacts with new prospects per session, and have at least 3 meaningful interactions with new prospects per session.
- I will use a variety of approaches depending on the prospect, and will track success and failure for each approach and prospect, modifying during the session based on my results.
- I will continue to learn and develop best practices for prospecting and make prospecting a key sales strength.”
In addition to the pipeline plan discussed above, other elements of the personal sales strategy plan may include:
- Define and refine primary target profile and key opportunities: Who am I selling to? What do they look like – title, industry, geo, likes/dislikes, associations, best reach, etc. An intrinsic, intuitive and deep understanding, not just highlights.
- Develop a personal lead and referral network: Build contacts with sales people and others who can make referrals to me, and reciprocate!
- Goals for success at each key point in the sales process: How many deals meaningful contacts do I need to generate a sale? How many proposals? How many prospects are in the “Search for Alternatives” buying cycle phase versus “Competitive Analysis” phase?
- Identify strengths and weaknesses: I’m good at prospecting and presenting. I’m bad at asking for referrals so I will set my goal to 10 referral requests per month.
- Refine a personal organization system (overlay to company systems): I be in the office or at my desk 30 minutes early to do my planning for the day. I will do all my CRM updates as I go, not all at once at the end of the day.
- Identify and develop key resources: I will organize my marketing materials and learn how best to leverage the company intranet. I will develop my contacts in the Finance department so I know expectations and when to ask for flexibility.
- Have a personal development and learning plan: I want to be sales manager in 18 months so I will take a class in finance for non-finance managers and I will do independent learning on corporate top-level forecasting and each stage of roll-up.
There are many other possible plan components depending on your business, sales targets and goals. Please add comments below!
Remember, you must set definite steps and tactics in each area that will result in an overall positive outcome. Don’t just say “keep pipeline at 4x.” Make sure there are concrete and clear steps to getting there for each element of the plan.
When things are going great!
When the individual is meeting all their goals, everyone is happy and business is booming – but don’t rest on laurels. As a manager, go back to each plan regularly and look for opportunities for improvement. And, use a successful individual plan to see what others should be doing differently or better.
By the way, a fantastic offshoot of working with each team member on a personal sales plan is you’ve just written the template for feedback and the (sometimes dreaded or worthless) quarterly/annual performance review.
When things are going poorly.
A written plan is extremely valuable for troubleshooting what is going wrong for an individual. It’s a schematic for identifying where the breakdown is happening and how to correct it. If you see low sales orders, missed forecasts, etc., work your way back to see which element of the plan is not being met and help fix it. If the sales professional is doing everything correctly in the plan, fix the plan. Compare to others who are more successful, and focus on measurements, behaviors, and activities that are sub-par. Viola – answers leap out. It’s much cheaper, better, faster if you can fix a problem with an existing rep rather than to recruit and train a replacement.
You should have a set of expectations for every member of the team laying out measurements, metrics, best practices and key success factors. They should be clear, consider, easy to understand and – most importantly – effective. You can communicate these expectations via email, posters in the break room, new hire orientation, reminders in sales meetings and one-on-ones. But, in my experience one of the key components of driving peak performance is having personal, evolving sales plans for each team member. Consistently referring back to goals and tactics as part of your coaching routine gives clarity and a persistent reminder of a personal commitment from each member of the team.