Sales Tips: How to Plan Your 2017 for Success
By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company
I remember my first year as a salesperson, the only thing that changed for me on January 1st was the date, my sales compensation plan, and the amount of revenue I was being asked to generate over the next twelve months. My business plan (if you want to call it one) was simply to work on the pipeline I brought with me from the previous year. I had no proactive plan in place as to HOW I was going to generate the revenue that I was being tasked with generating. None!
I realized very quickly that if I was going to fulfill my revenue obligation to my employer and earn the amount of money I wanted to make, I was going to have to come up with a plan - a Territory Sales Plan. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a system, a plan, a course, or a book that I could I could turn to that would tell me what to do and how to do it. However, what I did have was basic management training, skills, and education. It was time to apply those basic management skills (planning, organization, delegation, and control) to my sales territory and job function.
I’ve outlined below a series of steps, a process, that you can follow to begin gathering the information you need to develop your own 2017 Territory Sales Plan.
Step 1: Timing
Here it is, New Years. Almost as important as where to begin is when to begin. If you were thinking you were going to rely on what you didn’t close in 2016, you are a little late to the party. The reality: If you don’t close anything this January, you’re going to have to close twice as much in February just to make year-to-date (YTD) quota! That’s a tall order even for the most accomplished salesperson. The time to begin developing your 2017 Territory Sales Plan is NOW.
Step 2: Analysis
Before you begin to lay out your plan, you first need to analyze:
- 2016 Business, specifically who did you close, what did they buy, where did they come from, and what was the average dollar value of the sales/transaction?
- WIN Rate: What is your win rate when presented with a qualified opportunity?
- Sales History: Are some months or quarters more prolific than others?
- Discounting: What has it cost you in 2016?
- Vertical markets: Are you having greater success in one vertical versus another?
- Existing Pipeline: Who won’t close that you will be carrying over into 2017?
- Products Offerings: Existing products and/or services, new products and/or services and planned price changes?
- Existing Customers: What haven’t they purchased, why would they need it, and who do you need to speak with in order to initiate a sales cycle?
- 2017 Compensation Plan: What will your sales revenue requirement be in 2017?
- Personal Income Requirement: What do you want to make in 2017?
Step 3: Set Goals
Based on your analysis of your customer base, prospects and 2017 revenue requirements, you need to establish goals for what you need to accomplish. Things to consider include:
- How many WINs do you need in order to make your revenue quota? A simple way of establishing that would be to take your 2017 annual revenue requirement divided by the average dollar value of the sales/transaction. That will provide you the number of estimated WINS you’ll need to close in 2017.
- How many of those WINS do want to come from existing clients?
- How many WINS from new name business?
- How many WINS by each quarter?
- Based on your WIN Rate, how many leads will you need to generate your new name business goal?
Step 4: Strategies
How do you intend on reaching those goals? In addition to your individual lead generation efforts and responding to inbound inquiries, do you have any particular growth strategies for your territory?
- Identify the ‘Top Ten’ prospects that you will carry into 2017.
- Are there particular verticals/projects/situations where you have experienced greater success, and you would like to build upon that success?
- Do you want to enhance your mix of business (new name account vs. existing accounts)?
- Are trends emerging in the marketplace that align with your offering?
- Were there Sales Ready Messages® that resonated with your prospects that you want to exploit?
- Do you wish to increase account penetration with core products?
- Will you build your ‘social network’ database and expand the use of referrals?
Step 5: Tactics
- Top Ten Prospects carried over from 2016
- Out of the top ten, identify your five best opportunities.
- Prepare a tactical plan to convert each to ‘E’ status.
- Schedule re-focus meetings to recap goals, reasons and the prospects’ solution.
- Attempt to measure the cost of doing business today and confirm the value to the prospects organization.
- Document the results via a Sales Process Control Letter.
- Share the results with your manager.
- Prospecting/New Business Development
- Minimum of 10-20% of your time; 4 to 8 hours a week.
- Build your pipeline to optimum strength to meet your revenue goal.
- What specific technologies are available to you to enhance your productivity (LinkedIn, InsideView, Leads411, etc.)
- What specific existing accounts, and which specific new name accounts will you pursue based on your strategies?
- What specific method will you use to reach them: referrals, referrals via social networking, cold calls, emails, direct mail, webinars, group sales calls, etc.?
- What specific Sales Ready Messages® will you use to cause them to engage?
- In what order will you use the Sales Ready Messages® and with what frequency?
- Use multiple methodologies in parallel.
Step 6: Plan Execution
- Create a tactical calendar complete with dates and steps to be accomplished.
- This is key. Give yourself ample time to execute each step in your plan.
- Establish success metrics and measure you and your plan’s performance.
- Monitor your own performance weekly!
- Evaluate your pipeline strength on a weekly and monthly basis. Adjust your prospect activity based on that strength.
- Watch for new and unexpected opportunities: vertical markets, trends, issue, etc.
- If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change/modify your plan!
- Plan your work and work your plan.
I’m not going to say that exceptional sales performance doesn’t ‘just happen,’ because sometime it does…sometimes. However, the chances of it happening and the probability of you achieving your sales goals are much better when you have thought about HOW you are going to achieve it and have a plan in place to make it happen.
If you’re a sales manager reading this article, your role is to accomplish your company’s sales goals through the people that report to you. Your job isn’t simply to parachute in at the eleventh hour and close your salespeople’s business for them.
- Ask your salespeople to develop a 2017 Territory Sales Plan
- Provide them with the data (average transaction size, 2017 (revenue goals, etc.) they are going to need to effectively develop their plan
- Facilitate its development by scheduling a one day planning session
- Review it with each salesperson on a monthly basis. This activity will pay HUGE dividends to the salesperson, the sales manager and your company.
Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!