Working in sales can be tough at times. After working in a sales role for a while, you may begin to feel fatigued or experience low motivation.
One way to reignite your drive and excitement and remotivate yourself by preparing your own business plan.
A business plan requires you to think about all of your efforts from a high level: Who are you targeting, what are your performance goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?
Not only will a high-level view of your audience, goals, and more, it will help you meet and exceed your goals, but it might even help you get the promotion you’ve been striving for.
Here are our suggestions for what you should include in your sales business plan.
Start with the end in mind and work backward from there. Your goals will obviously include your company’s expectations (i.e. target), but why not go even further?
Be more specific: What do you want to achieve? A promotion? A certain level of income? A certain number of conversions per month? X number of new clients acquired over the course of the year? How about increasing your average deal size? Whatever it is, put it down in writing and build a plan to get yourself there.
2. A Review
Now take a few minutes to think about the strategies you pursued previously. Which ones worked well and make sense to reincorporate this year? And which didn’t work at all and either need to be adjusted or scrapped altogether?
This review will be your benchmark as you create a strategy and come up with an action plan. Be honest with yourself during this reflection. Consider asking for feedback from managers, peers, and clients or a coach. You might even seek feedback from prospects who didn’t end up buying from you. What can you do better? Was there anything about approach that put them off? Why did they choose a competitor over you?
If this all sounds vague, take a numbers approach to this review and review how your numbers fared throughout the year — revenue generated, number of meetings, number of proposals, number of demos, close rate, and so on. (Your review will be even more telling and powerful if you combine that qualitative review with a quantitative one.)
3. A Strategy
Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve, the next question is logical: How are you going to do better so that you can reach your goals?
What new markets will you approach? Which customers and prospects will you target? How will you frame the sales conversation or sharpen your sales story? What are the new things you will try on the phone, online, or face-to-face?
See that review that we did in that last step? This is where it’ll come in handy. Having a clear idea of what worked and what didn’t will tell you what you should keep or remove from your new strategy
4. Tactics and Actions
The most well-intentioned goals and the soundest strategies mean nothing if you don’t know what steps to take to achieve them. So for this section of your plan, ask yourself, “What activities am I going to commit to?”
For example, you’ll have X number of face-to-face conversations per month or make Y prospecting calls per week. Whatever the activities are, they should drive what ends up on your calendar on a daily or weekly basis.
Let’s say your goal is to make more sales in a shorter period of time. Include the resources and tools you’ll use to achieve that goal in your business plan. In this case, one option would be to use a CRM system to help you keep track of your prospects and eliminate manual data entry (e.g. logging emails and calls), ultimately increasing your efficiency.
5. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Action is action, but if there’s no way to measure its success, you won’t know what worked and what didn’t. You’ll therefore want to put metrics in place to monitor your progress. I recommend setting target numbers for the following KPIs:
Raw number of deals closed
Revenue per account
Customer retention rate
Calls and emails
Quotes or proposals
Remember: set a target number for each of these metrics. That way, you have something to reach toward. You can either manually keep track of this information or use a CRM system.
6. Sales and Marketing Alignment
You know what you want to do, how you’re going to do it, and which metrics you want to track. As you carry out your strategy, be sure to align your efforts with the efforts of your company’s marketing team.
Aligning your sales plan with a whole other department may sound over-the-top, but sales teams depend on marketing teams to deliver leads. Even when you’re prospecting, marketing has likely identified the types of companies — and the best job titles — you should use for outreach.
When those leads get to your desk, it’s time to sell to them in a way that continues the nurturing process that marketing started.
7. Obstacles to Success
I don’t often see this in many plans, but I think it’s an important component. This is where you lay out what could prevent you from reaching your goals and also highlight areas where you might need some help. The truth is that you likely know what will get in the way of your success. So instead of using these obstacles as excuses later, point them out right at the beginning.
Think carefully: What obstacles will keep you from succeeding?
Do you need new tools or different technology? More flexibility? Better internal support? Put it down in writing now.
8. Personal and Professional Development
This is another important aspect of the business plan that’s often overlooked. I regularly see salespeople fail because they’ve stopped learning and growing. Many have become stale. Others are bored and ineffective from deploying the same techniques year after year. You wouldn’t go to a doctor that didn’t read medical journals and was treating patients with the same protocol he used twenty years ago, would you?
So commit to growing as a sales professional this year. What are you going to do to grow in your career? What conferences are you going to attend? Which books are you going to read? Which sales blogs will you follow?
Now, once you have the layout for your sales business plan solidified, you must do two things:
Get it down on paper: You’re more likely to achieve goals if you write them down. Just trust me on that.
Get more specific: Using an actual business plan template can prompt you to think deeper about your motivation and action plan.
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