We just finalized work with three of our customers on their 2018 sales plans. The contributions we made fell into one or more of the five categories you can see below. Companies generally spend hundreds of hours to build sales organization plans defining managerial responsibilities, territory coverage, product introductions with cross selling opportunities, compensation, and strategic and key account designations. Usually these plans are delivered in January at a kickoff meeting, and the fanfare around their rollout contributes to the excitement for the coming year.
To ensure that all critical items are in place for a successful 2018, here is a checklist that can be utilized by senior executives and sales leaders.
1- Strategic Plan Communicated: One particular sales leader with whom we work says that the summary of the strategic plan should be no longer than 2 pages, and should be reinforced on a monthly basis with all employees. The plan’s brevity forces key players to make decisions on which channels to market, key strategies to penetrate each, and which team members will be assigned.
2- Clear Expectations Set: All players on the team must know what their revenue targets are, where their “patch” is to work, and how their success will be measured and compensated. There is nothing like ambiguity to distract from full concentration and effort. A sales process helps transform the overall strategy into a tactical execution plan, providing all customer-facing roles with clear direction on how to take each opportunity from lead to revenue.
3- Managerial Cadence on Reviews Scheduled: All of the front line sellers should know when and how they will be reviewed to discuss opportunities, accounts and overall pipeline. This schedule should be “cast in stone” and should include the information that sellers need in advance of the coaching session. Reviews that are done on an ad hoc or catch you soon basis are a recipe for failure.
4- Information Dissemination: You must establish how customer-facing roles will share information within the organization. For most companies, this centers around the use of a CRM system, but other tools such as configure/price/quote tools, customer service updates, and product inventory updates should also be documented. Marketing and sales must be on the same page here to ensure the message the customer receives is effective, and if not, to develop a feedback loop to course correct.
5- Identification of Leading Indicators: Clear, simple metrics should be in place to help sellers and their managers know if there is enough activity in the pipeline well in advance of the upcoming month or quarter end.
We hope these tips help your senior leaders to develop and communicate a clear, effective and actionable sales plan for 2018!