Squirrel! Use Sales Planning To Avoid The Shiny Objects Syndrome

Are you missing out on sales because you’re running from idea to idea to see what works? Are you dashing from one shiny thing to another?

Then you need to slow down and put down on paper all the ideas you have to drive sales. This simple exercise will help you clarify your thinking, give the team a vision, and create realistic goals that you can benchmark against.

Simply put, creating and implementing a well-thought-out plan greatly improves your chance of success.

Stop fighting it and write your sales goals down

frustrated-with-salesStop resisting it. Writing brings clarity. Even the best sales team will become directionless if they don’t have goals.

Success comes in many forms. People in sales are naturally competitive. Persistence and hard work, many times are wasted, when there is no clear direction, strategy, or metrics to mark the milestones that will lead to success.

Don’t cop out and use the financial plan as a sales plan

Your Financial Plan Is Not A Sales PlanWhat it isn’t a Excel spreadsheet with sales targets or monthly budgets that the finance team developed. Nor, does not have to be some long multi-page document that is impossible to follow-up. 2-3 pages with goals, strategies, and actions that will be reviewed regularly and easily is more than enough.

Field salespeople have a unique aspect to their jobs – they have the ability to decide what to do every moment of every day. The need to make this decision – where to go, who to see, who to call, what to do – distinguishes the sales profession from most others.

The quality of this decision, more than any other single thing, dictates the quality of the sales person’s results. Consistently make effective decisions and your results will improve. Make thoughtless, habitual or reactive decisions and your results will be sub-par.

Create focus for your sales team and you’ll help create success

get results-keep score-winOne of the ways to make sure that you make good decisions about your selling time is to create a comprehensive sales plan.

Many companies are missing out on sales because they don’t have a sales plan. Or the one they’re using isn’t performing like it should. Sure, they might have quarterly sales targets or end of year goals, but they don’t have a strategic plan for reaching them. A well thought-out sales plan is a roadmap that helps you gain new accounts and grow existing ones.

5 tips to help you effectively tackle sales planning

5 Tips to Sell In to Home Depot and Lowe'sDeveloping an effective sales plan isn’t easy, but the payoff could be substantial. As you prepare your sales plan, keep these tips in mind.

  • Be patient. It takes time to fully develop your sales plan, so schedule accordingly and be patient. It’s helpful to schedule time to work on your plan, just like you would schedule time for a meeting. Working on your plan in several phases over a time is the best approach.
  • Establish reasonable goals. High expectations are great, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you set goals that are unobtainable.
  • Post it. Posting your sales plan where you can see it will help you stay on track and gives the team a sense of where the business is headed.
  • Revisit and revise. Don’t shelve your plan and forget it. Your sales plan is a living document that should be revisited regularly and revised when necessary.
  • Keep it simple. Your sales plan should be as short and as simple as possible while still fully exploring each element. Reframe from regurgitating your business plan or marketing plan and use bullets, headings and subheadings to break your sales plan into an easy to read format.

An effective sales plan provides you with strategies to acquire new business as well as strategies that expand business with your current accounts. Start drafting your sales plan today and create a plan of action that takes your business to new heights.

Good Selling!

 
Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

Planning Success: 5 Critical Steps To Creating A Marketing Plan

Effective Market Plan OutlineIs your sales team expert at getting around, through or under the walls customers put up? Marketing can help identify and guide the sales team to the best walls to attack. Plus help supply the tools to be even more effective in winning the customer’s attention and, ultimately, their business.

Having a marketing plan forces you to take the time to understand and identify those customers and tools that will have the greatest return – as well as understand the resources necessary for success.

Effective marketing plans are very detailed. They force you to stop and take a snapshot of the marketplace, your customers, competitors and products. With that starting point, they help you define your goals and the path to achieving them.

This guide is an outline to help you put together a comprehensive, strategic and effective blueprint for your business.

Planning for success: your guide to preparing an annual Marketing Plan

There are many steps and details involved in fleshing out a comprehensive and compelling marketing plan, so here are some general guidelines to think about as you get started.

The first step to Marketing Plan success is fully understanding the Situation Analysis

The path to an effective Marketing Plan starts with knowingwhere you are goingThis is an analysis of where we are (ourselves, our competition, our market, our distribution) and how we got there. It should be factual and objective. If possible, your data should reach back at least three to five years. The further back in time your data goes, the more meaningful will be your trend lines. Select what is most meaningful, focusing on those areas where your patterns differ from your competition.

  • The size, scope and share of the market
    • Sales history of yourself and competitors, and share of the market, in dollars and units
    • Market potential and major trends in supply and demand of this and related products
  • Sales, costs and profits of your product
    • Sales history, by sizes or models, by sales regions
    • Cost history, including cost of goods delivered, selling, advertising, administrative, and all other expenses
    • Profit history (not profit on sales and on investment), including competitors if known
  • The distribution channels
    • Identification of principal channels, with sales history through each type including competition if known
    • Buying habits and attitudes of principal channels, your product vs. competitors
    • Your selling policies and practices, in comparison with competitors
    • Trade advertising, literature, samples and displays
  • The consumer or end user
    • Identification of person making the buying decision
    • Consumer attitudes of your product vs. competitors, on quality and price
    • Consumer purchase habits including factors as time of purchase
    • Consumer use habits
    • Your marketing, packaging, promotional and advertising history
    • Website, social media, PR and other educational influences
  • The product
    • Story of your product – quality development, design, sizes or models, delivery and service
    • Comparison with competition and evidence of performance
    • Product research and product improvements planned

The next step to building an effective Marketing Plan is identification of problems and opportunities

  • What are the major problems that are restricting your profit or impeding your growth?
  • What opportunities do you have?
    • Overcoming the above problems?
    • Modifying products, streamlining the product line, or adding new products?
    • Increasing your market penetration or developing new markets?
    • Improving the efficiency of your operations?

Now it’s time to think through where you want to go by creating objectives for your Marketing Plan

  • Creating an Effective Market Plan OutlineYour assumptions for future conditions
    • Level of economic activity
    • Favorable/unfavorable legislation
    • Level of industry activity (market forecast)
    • Activities of competitors: product innovation, marketing strategy, pricing, etc.
    • Changes in customer needs for your products
    • Changes in distribution
    • Changes beyond your control in your own cost of product and sales
  • Your primary objectives
    • Sales and share of market objective
    • Profit objective
    • Turnover objective
    • ROI objective
  • Overall strategy for achievement of primary objectives
    • Sample statement strategy: Shift sales emphasis from product line A to product line B. Emphasize penetration of key market areas X, Y and Z. Reduce capital employed by bringing accounts receivable back to standard P.
  • Functional (departmental)objectives
    • Sales objectives by product and by market
    • Distribution objectives
    • Advertising and promotional objectives
    • Customer service objectives
    • Pricing objectives
    • Product modification objectives
    • New product objectives
    • Product deletion objectives
    • Expense control objectives
    • Manufacturing objectives (plant additions, capacity utilization, unit costs, etc.)
    • Personnel training objectives

Understanding how you are going to get there is the role of action programs in your Marketing Plan

Put Your Marketing Plan Into ActionHere you will detail the specific action steps, priorities and schedules relating to each of the functional objectives. If, for example, one of your objectives for sales was to “increase sales of product X,” now is the time to pinpoint specifics from what will be done, by who, to increase sales with specific customers.

If one of your objectives was to “introduce a new product by X date,” now specify development cost and deadlines, production planning, schedule, market introduction plans, advertising and promotional support, sales and service training needed, etc.

Most of this programming should be delegated and worked out “from the bottom up” rather than from the top down.

Don’t skip the control and review procedures step in creating your Marketing Plan

How do you determine your pricing?  It’s probably a rigorous process, but is it science or art?Decide how you will monitor the execution of your plan once it is set in motion.

  • What kinds of “feedback” information should be rendered periodically to each responsible person so that actual progress can be evaluated against the plan expectations?
  • How frequently should each element of control be reviewed?
  • How should the carious elements of control information be “packaged” so that they:
    • Can readily understand them
    • See important pieces of information simultaneously and in their relationship to each other, so as to determine what corrective action should be taken?
  • Set a date for a full scale review of progress vs. plan

While creating a marketing plan is never a simple task, the process will force you and your team to evaluate the opportunities – and challenges – that your business faces. And because the marketplace is never static, this should be a living document, periodically being reviewed and updated. It never should become a binder sitting on the shelf.

Good Selling!

 

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

 

Are You Building Your Sales Plans Without the Customer?

Are you building your sales plans without the customerWhen it comes to building annual plans, how disciplined are you?

Lots of annual plans are built by the executive team, especially finance.

Where’s your voice?  More importantly, who’s talking to the customer about how to grow their business?  That’s their goal, too.

Mutually strategies don’t just happen.  They need a plan, good communication and, ultimately, agreement.

Use this approach to build an annual customer growth plan

1. Sales Review

Sales ReviewStart your plan by calling out a specific customer.  Not a channel or your “other” group.  Make it personal.

What’s been their sales history?  Break it out by quarter.  Forecast the coming year and compare it to the one just completed.  What’s the percent change? Do this for every pertinent product category

2. Product Review

Product ReviewNow it’s time to dig into what your customer’s product mix was.  What was their top sku’s?  Is this mix expected to change based on trends in the category?

3. Promotional Program Review

Enter planned promotions in this section.  Be sure to include an implementation plan and indicate who will pay, and how much.

4. Promotional Calendar

Enter your promotion and other customer events in the calendar.  Mark the months where the activity will be occurring.

5. Issues to Resolve

Issues to resolve with your customer to grow their businessThis is the section to outline the roadblocks to your success.  Maybe it’s the elephant in the room, but if you and your customer don’t address these issue jointly, the relationship can fray and the growth you plan for won’t materialize.

6. Customer Committed Actions

Customer commitmentJust as you’ll commit to taking certain actions, the customer needs to have skin in the game.  There’s a good chance they will willingly work to grow your product line but committing to specific actions in writing will give you something to measure against all year long as you update the customer on their progress against your joint business plan.  These steps could include price increases, commitment to take new products, joint calls, training and other activities that will increase their product knowledge, sales and profitability.

7. YOUR Committed Actions

Your committed actions to drive growth - for you and your customerEnter YOUR company’s committed actions such as:  Joint calls, customer call frequency, promotional support, customer events, availability, and product, training).  This is critical because in order to grow your customer’s business, you have to be willing to make an investment in that growth.  This commitment will reinforce the customer’s desire to do business with you and increase their confidence that they can achieve the growth you’re suggesting is possible.

Committing strategies to paper is different than having them in your head

Writing down a stBusiness-Planrategy forces you to think.  Developing a business plan with your customer builds your relationship, deeps their commitment to growing the business and helps you jointly work through issues that could stand in the way of success.

Good Selling!