Looking forward to a fantastic 2022? Better have a plan!
This year is almost over. And what a year it has been. No company’s plan prepared a year ago survived. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses both large and small. We learned to work from home. Even crusty old road warriors managed to learn how to sell virtually. Some of our customers thrived by pivoting their business models to take advantage of the pandemic. Others kept the doors open by modifying how they delivered products and services. And regrettably some of your customers have gone out of business. Thankfully this year is mostly done! Great salespeople are planning now to make 2022 even better than this year.
Yeah, I know no matter how well you plan it never works out that way. If you never believed that before 2020 surely drove that point home. My favorite answer to why plan is from General Eisenhower. This is what he said about planning: “In planning for battle I have found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Great salespeople know that the process of planning prepares them for the challenges of finding and creating customers for life.
What Is A Plan?
When I was in high school I heard a speaker who was then an old grey-haired guy like I am now. The topic of his speech was “never plan to leap a gap in two bounds!” I don’t remember more of his lecture than the title but that bit of advice has served me well. Simply put a plan is the steps needed to get from here to there. Plans must be realistic. If you plan to stop half way across the chasm you are planning to jump you’ll likely land in the bottom of the gully rather than reach the objective. In sales we have goals (or quotas). What do we need to do reach those goals? Great salespeople who had a successful year look back to see what they did to achieve it. Then they factor in what may change in the coming year and decide what to do differently.
What’s In A Plan?
All plans have common elements. First there is the objective or goal. Then an estimation of the resources required to meet the goal. A catalog of the resources currently available. A strategy to acquire resources not available. A timeline of activities necessary for meeting the goal. Plans can be at any level: corporate, division, branch, sales territory and salesperson. In theory if each salesperson’s plan is sufficient to meet their goal the overall goals will be achieved. Great salespeople know how to develop a personal plan to achieve their goals. They understand what metrics they control and how to measure them. And they track those metrics against plan throughout the year.
Are Your Plans Flexible?
Remember General Eisenhower’s quote. He recognized that plans were made at a particular point in time based on facts known then. Once the battle started, unanticipated actions required changes to win the objective. The government and your customers pivoted to stay in business during the pandemic. And great salespeople pivoted to take advantage of the changes. Great salespeople know as plans are implemented all manner of uncontrolled effects will require adjustment to close the deal. Some of the changes a salesperson will make involve personal selling skills. Other changes are driven by customer’s needs. The best plans are guidelines with allowances built in for flexibility. This year planning will include determining what the “new normal” will be. And how to position yourself for success.
What Can You Do Right Now For A Better 2022 Plan?
- Review this past year and celebrate your successes
- Think about why you were successful despite the pandemic
- What will the “new normal” look like in 2022
- How will you achieve your goals in the “new normal”