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!

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7 Steps to Writing an Internal Communications Plan

Communication-PlanCommunication is critical within any business setting, but most importantly within a manufacturing facilities − where the right communication can really impact change and translate into business success.

What’s the best way to communicate?  How much should you communicate?  How do you make sure your messages are heard?  This guide will take you step-by-step through the communication process.  It has simple, practical, easy-to-follow information you can put to use immediately.

In another Channel Instincts post (4 Steps to Building an Internal Communication Plan), we laid out the planning side of an internal communications plan. Now that the pre-work has been completed, it’s time to write the plan.

Step 1: Background

Establish the need for the communication plan

Mission-vision-goalsThis section seeks to establish the need for the communication plan and focuses on the background or history of your location.  This section enables you to understand how the organization reached the present situation.

It is important for this section to include a discussion of the organization’s mission, vision and values.  The statements contained within the mission, vision and values impact all aspects of communication.  For example, if part of your plant’s mission is to improve safety, this message should make its way into the communication plan.

Examples of things or events that may shape your current situation are:

  • A merger or acquisition
  • Downsizing
  • Union strike
  • Attitude or behavior of management

Include in the background:

  • Bullet point format list of major events leading up to the time you write the plan—the events and issues that have determined the need for the communication plan
  • Mission statement—all communication should be linked with the mission or goals of the plant
  • Statement of vision and values—all communication should reflect the thoughts contained in these document

Step 2: Situation Analysis

Get to the heart of the problem or opportunity

Planning and CommunicatingThe situation analysis is an analysis of the root cause of the issues within your location.  When creating your situation analysis, first examine the issues to be addressed in the plan.  Then next to each issue, list the facts that support it, both positive and negative.  This activity helps you get to the heart of the problem or opportunity.  For example:

Issue Facts, or Effects of Issue
The merger between XYZ and ABC companies is not complete, and the two cultures are not fully integrated. 1. Low productivity
2. High turnover
3. Redundancy of various functions
4. Greater market share
5. Positioned as industry leader
6. Insecurity among employees—lots of rumors
Recent downsizing was handled poorly, resulting in heightened mistrust and insecurity. 1. Low productivity
2. Loss of key customers
3. Lower operating expenses
4. Communication department was not involved in downsize planning

Now that some issues have been identified, examine the root cause.  In this example the root cause may be:

Employees are perceiving the company’s aggressive growth agenda as a threat to job security.

Until you treat this cause, you will continually deal with its effects.  Once you determine the cause, you can formulate communication strategies that effectively treat the effects.  The final component of the situation analysis is to identify the root cause.

Step 3: Key Messages

The best messages are simple, straightforward and easy for employees to grasp and personalize

Employee CommunicationWhat are the major overall messages you need to share?  These should be aligned with the issues raised in the situation analysis as well as the agenda of company, business unit and plant leader.  The best messages are simple, straightforward and easy for employees to grasp and personalize.  It’s usually best to have about five key messages–too many can cause a loss of focus.


  1. The new re-engineering process has full support of management and the board of directors.  We are committed to making this program work for the good of our shareholders, customers and employees.
  2. The gain-sharing, restructuring and training teams have been created with full support from both union and management and will contribute to the overall operating efficiency at the plant.
  3. Safety is a top priority at the plant.

Step 4: Target Audience

Who are you trying to talk to?

Communication-PlanningIdentify to whom your plan is directed.  You may have more than one audience, or a primary and secondary audience.  For example, in a plant environment, your primary audience may be the primary employees, but many of your key messages should also be communicated to the company headquarters or peer plants.  They should be listed as your secondary audience and different tactics may apply, however the key messages should be related.

Step 5: Objectives

What are the outcomes you expect?

Here’s where we get to the “guts” of the communication plan.  What do you want your plan to do?  What are the outcomes you expect or want as a result of the plan?  This section should reflect your key messages and business objectives.  It should also be aligned with the feedback received from the data gathering portion of the plan.

Objectives vary from key messages in that key messages are what you want to communicate.  Objectives are how you want your key messages used.

For example:

  1. Promote an understanding of the re-engineering process throughout the primary and salaried workforce levels.
  2. Communicate the components of the gain-sharing, restructuring and training teams.
  3. Educate employees on the importance of safety within a manufacturing environment.

Step 6: Tactics/Implementation

What is it you actually want to DO?

communications plan stepsNow it’s time to put it all together.  Using your key messages and objectives, what is it you actually want to DO to make your plan work and fulfill your goals.   What are you going to do about the issues raised in the data gathering or background sections?  Use a grid like the one below to physically outline your tactics.  You may want to organize according to date to create a calendar of events.

Message Audience Delivery Responsibility
Why re-engineering is necessary Primary workers Plant-wide presentation Business leader
Small group Q&A sessions Plant leader
Shift meeting – examples of other re-engineering efforts and results Shift supervisor (organization development leader to supply info.)
Explanation of  gain-sharing All plant employees Distribute gain-sharing brochure Plant communication team
Plant wide email with bullet points of info Plant finance leader
Presentation to union Gain-sharing team
Safety in numbers program All plant employees Program kick off celebration Safety leader
Show safety video Safety leader
Testimonials from those hurt in the past Coordinated by safety leader

Step 7: Evaluation and Assessment

Evaluation and assessment phase is critical in determining the overall success of your communication plan.

employee engagementEach tactic or implementation item should have a corresponding assessment tool.  The evaluation and assessment phase is critical in determining the overall success of your communication plan.  Often, communication is considered non-quantifiable and difficult to measure.  Your communication plan must be carried through this stage if you are to prove its effectiveness.

There are several ways to evaluate and assess:

  • Surveys—surveys are used wherever there is a need to explain the motivations and attitudes driving behavior, to anticipate likely reaction to an announcement or establish a baseline of information in order to measure the effects of a communication plan.
  • Focus groups—a focus group is usually made up of 10 to 12 carefully targeted participants who are questioned extensively on their thoughts and feelings about a particular issue, product, service or communication tool.
  • Interviews—go out and talk to people.  Find out what people think or feel face-to-face.

The final component of this phase is stating the correction action based on the evaluation.  If the assessment uncovered constructive criticism, include this is your plan and the steps you will use to correct the situation in the future.

Any thoughts or ideas on what’s worked for you?  Share your comments with us!