Sales planning – More than just a numbers game | Columnists

Early in my career I spent nearly 10 years in various sales roles, carrying a quota and all that goes with it. It taught me a great deal about time management, prioritization, customer service and the importance of business relationships. I also learned the “dos and don’ts” of sales, how to manage a sales funnel, the difference between a prospect and a suspect, and the critical “flow” of opportunities you have to keep juggling to ensure the goal is met.

For some, it’s all in the numbers: X calls results in Y appointments, and those appointments generate Z sales. Want more business? Make more calls! There is, of course, certain logic to this. Repetition and tenacity do have their strong points, but taking results to another level requires a different way of thinking. Today there are so many more efficient ways to touch your prospects and get their attention. The Internet, search engine optimization and social media have created entirely new opportunities to grow your sales results, and a good sales plan should include how you will tap into these methods.

Making more sales usually means attracting new customers, so your Sales Plan needs to take into account who you want to target and how you will appeal to them. What strategies and tactics will you use, and when? What will you need to spend in marketing and advertising to get the results you want?

As with other planning efforts, a Sales Plan helps you lay out a series of expectations that are specific to your sales activities. An effective Sales Plan will include:

*A look at your industry and markets to determine what may be changing

*An overview of your existing customer base

*An analysis of your key competition and how you will win against them

*The resources you will need to accomplish the goals

*The tactics you will use to attract new business

*Information on any Customer Retention and Loyalty programs you will offer

*How your sales force will be structured, and what compensation program you will offer

*A calendar of sales activities including costs and expected return

*A review of the effectiveness of sales activities

*A scorecard for key metrics such as leads and referrals, proposals, closed deals and average size of a sale

I would also suggest that you develop a profile of your key accounts, including the decision makers, the business they have done with you in the past and what you expect them to do in the future.

Sales planning will enable you to set the desired course for you and your sales team, with a specific set of goals and activities that will generate the results you need.

Warren Williams is president and founder of TurningPoint Business Coaching. He provides coaching to growing businesses in Concord and the Greater Charlotte area. Have a question about this article, or a topic you’d like to see covered here? Contact Warren at [email protected] or visit

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