There are enough isms on the topic of planning that you would think that most of the world would have gotten the hang of it by now. Fail to plan, plan to fail seems to be the most popular and appropriate saying for any given situation. There are as many reasons why this is important as there are reasons why people don’t do it. This is especially true in sales. You can’t even get everyone to agree on what a good sales plan looks like. It is no wonder why this task gets brushed aside, scoffed at or falls victim to procrastination. The task of planning in and of itself seems daunting enough. No thanks; let’s just wing it this year.
Why is planning so difficult? Is it because we lack a basic template to help guide us through the process? Do we find it to be a waste of time because we know we’re going to go off course sooner than later? Or perhaps it is because of a lack of practice in the discipline of sales planning. Whatever the case, when we don’t plan we leave our fate in the hands of destiny when it should be the other way around. With proper planning and execution, fate should be obeying our commands, or at least behave more like a tamed animal than a wild beast. But enough of this theory stuff, let’s get down to the business of a salesperson business plan.
A salesperson, more than any other person in production, needs a sales plan as his position is more strategic than other parts of production. It involves a lot more unknown variables than any other position. In fact, the sales team tends to be the first leading indicator when there is a change in the market and having a sales plan to base it on is one of the best ways to gauge unanticipated change. Even if your salespeople don’t have their own business plan, they aren’t doomed to fail, but they are greatly hindered in terms of success. There is nothing worse than thinking on your feet everyday as a salesperson, so why make it so hard on ourselves.
A good business plan for salespeople should not be complicated. It would have what any normal plan of this nature would have. What are your goals? How successfully have you attained goals in the past? What are your opportunities, targets and obstacles? What has been working? What has not been working? That’s the easy part. The hard part is assembling this process in a concise, repeatable and logical template so that the salesperson can focus more on the plan than formatting. In fact, with the proper process and template, annual sales planning could take less than an hour for a moderately seasoned salesperson. What do you do with your plan after you have created it is another story.
A good plan should fit on one sheet of paper. Why? Because no one goes back and revisits their planning manifesto in its entirety. No one. A good sales plan should read like any one page executive summary. Digestible, direct and simple. Since this plan should be reviewed no less than on a monthly basis, you should be kind to your future self and be respectful of your own time. A simple check in to see if you are still on track. Are you doing what you said you were going to do? Why or why not?
One important role of the salesperson business plan is to create new challenges and break old bad habits. We, as salespeople, love our bad habits. A business plan in many ways is like our own higher self keeping ourselves accountable for what we know needs to be done.
What better way to catch yourself doing things you no longer wish to do then by reviewing your plan monthly. Or better, have someone else review it with you so that you have a buddy system for your goals?
**You can use our simple one page salesperson business planner to help you with this process. Either way, make sure that your plan has the following attributes:
- Measurable goals.
- Definable actions.
- A process of execution.
- A system of accountability
You will find a tremendous difference in performance when you start following a plan instead of making it up as you go along. You will accelerate towards your goals, course correct faster than anyone else and set the standard in your company for excellence in selling. And all of that usually means that you’ll make a pretty good income too.