Selling during a pandemic, as you likely have realized by now, will take more than tea leaves, luck — and the status quo. It’s critical to be prepared for the known reality and unknown future that lurks on the horizon of the 2021 sales landscape. Though the stakes may seem higher today, a return to the basics is a critical component of future sales success. A solid successful sales business plan is at the core of those basics. This is always important when heading into a new quarter or year, but even more right now.
When your salespeople forge ahead with a solid sales business plan, they’re more likely to improve sales forecasting accuracy, reach their quota, and effectively support the goals of your organization. According to a study cited by Forbes, sales reps who actively manage their time with an intentional approach spend 18.9% more time selling than those who don’t.
Unfortunately, many sales reps fail to prioritize planning and therefore aren’t spending their time as efficiently as possible. But with these six simple steps, your sales reps can identify their sales strategy and create a successful sales business plan that they can use to stay organized and crush their sales targets.
Step 1: Take Measure of the Sales Target
Before reps begin creating a business plan, they should be comfortable with the sales target you’ve set for them. As a sales manager, this should include a post-mortem of sales performance data — typically, for the past 6 to 12 months, but given the impact of COVID-19, you may choose to refer to the sales performance for the same time period in 2019. In doing this, you will be identifying key numbers including gross sales, profits, win/loss ratio, deal size, and other KPIs that are important for your organization. If available, include weekly, daily, and monthly activity numbers such as calls, meetings, and emails.
Based on this data, your company’s overall sales projections, and your corporate strategy, determine the sales target for each of your reps. Then, meet individually with each salesperson to review their previous performance data, and present them with their new sales quotas. This will help your reps see where they need to be, in relation to where they were in the past.
Step 2: Break the Numbers Down
As the sales manager, coach your reps to break their targets into “chunks” that they can organize and attack more effectively.
For example, a $5,150,000 sales target broken down might look like this:
- $3,500,000 Existing Maintenance Accounts
- $500,000 New Product or Service Sales from Existing Accounts
- $300,000 New Accounts with Existing Opportunities
- $250,000 Brand New Accounts from Marketing Leads
- $500,000 New Opportunities from Dormant Accounts
- $100,000 Brand New Accounts from Prospecting
Looking at the target this way makes it more manageable, and easier to develop a detailed plan around it.
Step 3: Identify Obstacles
Salespeople who understand the obstacles they are likely to face can be prepared to overcome them. As part of the planning process, have your reps brainstorm what might get in the way of achieving their goals, as well as tactics for overcoming those obstacles. Take special care to consider whether a lockdown, or other restrictions mandated by the pandemic, will impact your sales activity and, consequently, your goals.
Of course, more mundane obstacles do exist. External factors, such as a disruption in your industry or a contact within an account leaving, could be problematic. Obstacles can also be internal, such as failure to align your company’s marketing strategy with your sales strategy, resulting in poor quality leads. Identifying and addressing obstacles early on gives your team a greater chance for success.
Step 4: Establish an Action Plan
Once your sales reps understand what numbers need to be met and where the opportunities and obstacles lie, they can work to identify an action plan. Have your reps identify specific strategies or projects they can execute to move them towards their goals. Then, be sure they list out the high-gain activities involved in the strategy that they can execute on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to get them where they need to be.
- Your rep may have the GOAL to increase sales of a specific product with current customers by nurturing relationships.
- One STRATEGY to achieve that goal could be to join the professional networking groups those clients are members of, and actively participate in virtual and in-person events (when conditions allow).
- They can then list out the ACTIVITIES they’ll need to complete in order to execute the strategy. For instance, requesting approval to join the professional networking group, sending notes to their clients who are members telling them they look forward to collaborating with them in a safe and socially-distant manner, etc.
This top-down approach will help keep your sales reps organized and manage their time better on a day-to-day basis. It will also give them a clear path to reaching their sales goals.
Step 5: Collaborate with Marketing
Sales and marketing alignment is key, and can really give your organization a competitive advantage. Suggest that each of your salespeople meet with the marketing team to discuss their one-page business plan. When the marketing department understands your team’s sales strategy, they can create a marketing plan to support the sales team and drive quality leads.
Step 6: Execute the Successful Sales Business Plan
The final and most important step of the business plan is execution. Urge your salespeople to keep their sales action plan where they can see it each day and have them schedule the activities they committed to on their personal calendars. By prioritizing and carving out the necessary time, your sales team will have no excuses when it comes to execution – and they’ll be well on their way to success.
The exercise of creating a business plan helps your sales team manage their daily activities in a way that moves them towards achieving their long-term goals. Alan Lakein, says “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” The start of a new calendar or fiscal year is a great time to give your sales reps the skills needed to build their own sales plans and overcome any other challenges they’re up against. The Brooks Group can help your team stay efficient and upgrade their sales performance this summer with targeted skills training customized to your unique needs.