Creating a plan to get everyone heading in the same direction is a key responsibility of a sales manager in leading their sales team. A well written sales plan defines “What we do, how we do it, and why we do what we do,” – in five pages or less. The plan tells everyone where we are going and how we will get there. Equally important, a sales plan explains to the company what you aren’t going to do. A sales plan isn’t just for identifying goals in January, and can be completed at any time of the year. It can also be implemented to address specific issues that you and your team are facing. Different strategic paths could include:
- Identifying opportunities with higher margins and avoiding lower margin business.
- Covering different geographies or markets than you do today.
- Hiring specialized sales representatives to sell new or different products.
- Deciding to avoid prospective clients who issue RFP’s to you – and all of your competitors.
Sales Plan for the People, not the Products
Creating sales strategy initiatives will set the foundation for successful, tactical sales planning, allowing resource and investment decisions that align with your agreed path.
Some common sales challenges include:
Your organization is not achieving its sales goals, and you assume it must be a “people” problem. You don’t have the right folks to find and close good deals that benefit your company. Every sales leader has faced this dilemma, and has debated this issue internally. But is it always a “people” problem? Is that truly the source of your inability to execute your plan and hit your targets? It is the easiest place to focus and it may be true in your case. However, while we are always striving to optimize the quality of our sales teams, is competency and focus the issue, or is the source of your shortfall maybe upstream?
Your structure doesn’t match your go-to-market strategy. Thus, it doesn’t match your financial or volume sales goals. Do you have the team correctly organized toward your targets? Sales team resources is always less than optimal with positions constantly open. But, how less than optimal is your structure, and how has this impacted the people performance? In today’s world, we know that our teams are expected to overcome big boulders in less than ideal situations. Are your sales support resources properly engaged with a sufficient resource level to win?
Without a plan and a strategy, your company is blinded by a lack of sales direction. It will not be possible to align towards a common target, act transparently within your organization, and understand what success looks like. You will be the general sending a lot of salespeople down different paths – possibly none of which lead to your company goals. With a well-written sales plan, talented sales representatives will execute your visions and set your company up for success.
Michael Wills is the founder of Top Line Solutions, powered by Sales Xceleration. He specializes in Outsourced Sales Leadership, focusing on revenue growth and sales organization for small and medium-sized businesses. Connect with Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to founding Top Line Solutions, Michael led national and global sales teams in the transportation and logistics industry for over 20 years. He has a proven record of exceeding expectations by supporting clients from numerous industries. Michael has led high-performing teams of 15 to 400 people, consistently achieving revenue targets in excess of $1 billion. With an entrepreneurial mindset, Michael’s successes include starting a logistics-service business, which he grew to $20 million with 250 employees within two years.