Developing A Strategic Sales PlanWritten By Dave Kahle
Article Date: 11-01-2004
Copyright (C) 2004 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
What was a practice of only the best salespeople, has now become a requirement for everyone.
“Ready, shoot, aim.” Unfortunately, that’s the all-too-common description of the field salesperson’s modus operandi. In a misguided attempt to stay busy and see as many people as possible, too many salespeople subscribe to the theory that any activity is good activity.
There was a time when this was true. Customers had more time, sales was a simpler job, and any conversation with a prospect or customer was a good thing. But times have changed, and the job of the salesperson has become much more complex. The pressure on the salesperson to make good decisions about the effective use of his time has never been greater.
Salespeople now must confront an overwhelming number of potential “things to do,” and that requires them to decide which customers to invest time in, to prioritize their activities every day, and to continually choose from a menu of possible activities. In other words, salespeople must now engage in strategic planning.
Not that this is new. There have always been salespeople who have planned the effective use of their time. It’s a characteristic of superstar salespeople and highly effective sales forces. Unfortunately, they are the minority. Most salespeople have never been trained in the best practices, processes and disciplines that will set them apart from the pack. In this case, that means most have never been exposed to the principles, processes and disciplines of effective strategic planning.
Developing A Strategic Plan
A strategic plan is composed of a set of measurable goals, coupled with a list of the most important, most effective things you or your company can do to reach those goals. A strategic plan is not a detailed action plan. It is probably no more than two or three pages; too much detail defeats the purpose.
Creating a strategic plan for a dealership requires time, preparation, and a gathering of the best minds in the company. So does a salesperson’s strategic plan. Strategic planning for your dealership involves adherence to a formalized process and is often an energizing, inspiring event, from which everyone gains optimism and confidence, having identified the goals, plans and tasks that will bring them the best results. The same benefits should be expected from creating a salesperson’s strategic plan.
Salespeople leave the strategic planning process confident they have identified the most effective focus for their actions and identified the highest priority activities. They emerge confident, focused and optimistic. And that’s a good thing!
To develop a salesperson’s
Sounds arduous and it is. But, by preparing the most effective plans possible, you will equip the sales staff to implement more effectively in the field. Later in the year, the salespeople shouldn’t be tempted to head out on Monday morning without a clear plan in mind, because they have spent this time formulating the plan. And when the press of customer problems and inquiries threatens to overwhelm them, they’ll be held on track by the goals and plans created in the strategic plan.
Excerpted from November 2004 Construction Equipment Distribution.
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- Once a year set aside a significant amount of time dedicated to the task – at least a day or two. The date of the strategic planning session should reflect the salesperson’s selling situation. For some, a time at the end of the fiscal year works; for others, a time at the end of the busy season is best; and for most, a time around the Christmas holidays works.
- One of my clients brings all his salespeople into the office for a planning retreat once a year. In another, salespeople come together for an annual goal setting and strategy developing retreat. At this three-day event, they meet with their sales manager and create specific goals for the year. Then, with the manager, they develop the overall strategy for achieving those goals.
- Find a space where you can work virtually uninterrupted, probably not the dealership.
- Gather the materials you’ll need: account folders; account profiles; company goals for the year; information about key products, services, or categories; computer print-outs of last year’s sales; maps of your territory; and anything else you may want to review.
- Immerse yourself in the process. For the duration of the planning, don’t do anything else that isn’t an emergency. Any interruption will disrupt your thinking.
- Focus on what you are going to produce: A set of sales goals for each salesperson’s territory, a well-defined analysis of customers and prospects, individual goals and strategic plans for each salesperson’s key (A) accounts, and a plan for each territory.
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