Whether it’s a new year or a new sales cycle, everyone wants the next reporting period to be better than the last. Unfortunately, most organizations operate on hope; and they have dreams instead of goals. What’s the difference between a dream and a goal? An action plan. And as a leader, do you know the secret to crafting a goal-focused, bottom-line-boosting action plan for your sales organization? It’s simpler than you might think…
Confident Planning is Based on Answering the Right Questions
To develop plans of action that can truly help you and your sales team achieve your goals, you have to ask the right questions about your sales organization, your customers, strategy and processes. As a sales leader, here are some of the key questions you’ll need to ask yourself:
How many clients/transactions do I need during the next sales period to achieve our goals?
Of that number, how many do I believe we have already signed up? It’s simple
math at this point (number of clients or transactions needed minus the number in hand equals the number needed). Next, break this into attainable numbers by month or quarter, and by salesperson, product line, etc. The more detail the better. If you do not have specific targets for your sales team to drive toward, you will not have any gauge to measure whether you are on track. At the end of the sales period, if you fall short, you will have no idea why.
What do our “ideal clients” look like?
Do you know who your best and most lucrative clients are? Do you know which products or services yield the best sales margins and most profit? If not, take a little time and figure out these essential elements. I am not suggesting that you turn away profitable customers who don’t exactly fit the “ideal client” profile, but you will, indeed, find more “ideal clients” if you know what they look like.
What can you do for these clients better than our competitors can?
Ask yourself why an ideal client should choose you and your organization and your product or service. What sets you apart? What is your unique selling proposition (USP), your substantial competitive advantage, your value proposition for prospects? If you can’t clearly, concisely and quickly answer these questions, you are setting your salespeople up for failure. By the way, claiming to provide good service or telling prospective clients that you will care about them isn’t enough to differentiate your organization; everyone makes those claims. Be bold. Be unique. Be better than your competition.
What is our tactical plan to achieve our goals?
To reach your goals and boost your bottom line, how many phone calls must your team make? How many meetings must they attend? How many proposals must be presented, tradeshows attended, referrals given? Answers to questions like these make your plan actionable and your goal attainable.
How many salespeople and other employees do we need to generate the desired sales volume?
There are many ways to staff a team. With answers to the questions above, you’ll have a better sense of how to assemble the best team to reach your goals. Do you already have the right staff members in place? Great! If not, how long will it take you to hire the “right” employees? How much will it cost you in lost sales and growth opportunities if you don’t get them on your team?
Do my current employees produce at the right level of productivity (based on the last 90 days)?
If your current sales team members aren’t as productive as you need, what makes you think they are going to perform better in the next 90 days? Or in the quarter after that or the year after that? If they are not performing up to your expectations and requirements, you’ll have to find ways to improve their output or replace them with better performers. It’s a tough call, but it’s necessary.
Do our current compensation programs motivate my sales force adequately?
How can you find out if your current compensation plans motivate your team to produce more? Ask your sales team! Does your program truly inspire your team to close the clients you want, the products or services you want and at the level of profitability you want? If not, the start of a new year or a new sales reporting period can be a good time to make necessary sales compensation program changes.
What distractions must I eliminate to make sure my sales team can be as productive as possible?
Again, ask your team! Chances are that they already know the obstacles that stand in the way of maximum output. Armed with these insights, you can institute changes to enhance your processes and move opportunities through the sales cycle more efficiently. You might discover, too, that your frontline sales professionals or sales closers are spending too much time on activities that less costly sales support personnel should handle. Free up your sales performers to do their job and bring in more sales!
The Bottom Line:
When it comes to maximizing sales, don’t rely on dreams, hope and positive thinking. Instead, set realistic goals and ask the right questions to create your best and most actionable sales plan. Of course, if you need help defining or setting in motion your profit-boosting sales plan, contact a Sales Xceleration Advisor today. They are ready to help you maximize your organization’s sales results.