This year is almost over. Maybe you are completing a few year-end deals to help your valuable customers spend some budget balances. But mostly it’s done. Great salespeople are planning now to make 2020 even better than this year.
Yeah, I know no matter how well you plan it never works out that way. 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 time line 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 over all goals will be achieved. Great salespeople know how to develop a personal plan to achieve their goals.
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. Just like in sales. Great salespeople know as the plans are implemented all manner of uncontrolled effects will require adjustment to close the deal. The best plans are general guidelines with allowances built in for flexibility.
What can I do right now?
- Review this past year and celebrate your successes
- Think about why you were successful
- What might change in your market or within your company in the coming year
- How will you deal with those changes to achieve your goals