Written By: Mike Weinberg
Sellers need individual business plans because personal performance planning fosters quota and territory ownership, accelerates the adoption of best practices, and builds a foundation for sales productivity accountability.
It is surprising how few sales organizations ask their people to draft annual sales (business) plans. For fifteen years I I’ve witnessed the power of having every member of the sales team write, and when possible, present, business plans to sales management, senior execs, or even better, to the members of sales team.
There is too much benefit derived from this process not to do it. Customize the template offered below. Or even better, salespeople can use the expanded template along with the coaching provided in Chapter 14 of New Sales. Simplified., while sales leaders can get that info better tailored to their needs in Chapter 26 of Sales Management. Simplified.
Provide the template to each member of the sales team and ask them to write and prepare to present their own plan to the team (or just to senior management).
I’ve found it works well to give the team a few weeks to go through the exercise and to be very specific about how long they will have to present their plans. Typically, I’ve observed 20-30 minutes to present and ten minutes for Q & A usually works nicely.
I think there is a lot of room for flexibility as far as what goes into the template. Every business and sales role is different and that is why each company needs a customized plan. Having said that, there are five categories or sections that I believe are essential:
We always start with the end in mind! Possible bullets in this section include total revenue or gross margin goals for the year, # of new accounts or new pieces of business acquired, $ from existing accounts and $ from new accounts, specific product-mix goals, and even asking the rep to “name and claim” the monster account or dream client they will nail this year.
Where is it going to come from? In this section I like to ask questions about market focus, target account lists, major cross-sell opportunities, most growable or most at-risk accounts, what new approaches will the rep take to get in front of new prospects, how will they better penetrate current customers, where will they concentrate their efforts and so on.
In this section I want to hear about activity and metrics. What’s “The Math?” How many calls, initial face-to-face meetings? What type of commitment to time-blocking? To what activity goals and metrics will you/the rep be accountable?
I don’t believe in excuses. And I do believe that almost every salesperson could tell you on day one what is likely to get in the way of achieving their goals for the year. So I like to ask for a list of known obstacles right up front so we can address and help remove them. Failure is not an option; let’s figure out how to overcome those obstacles or how we need to help that salesperson now! Obstacles take many forms: personal health, distractions, lack of training or knowledge, family issues, travel budgets, old technology, the anti-sales department. Just ask. Believe, they’ll have a list.
How do you want to grow this year? If we are not growing then we are dying. Salespeople need to invest in themselves. Ask how they will do that. Courses, training, peer-mentoring, outside coaching, sales books, blogs? Are there certain areas where they/you need to develop professionally in order to get to the next level? I also like to ask the salesperson to share some of their personal philosophies about sales and what they do to keep themselves motivated throughout the year. You get some really fun answers and can learn a lot about what drives your people.
I have never had a bad experience implementing this process with sales organizations. Salesperson business plans work and produce clarity.
Struggling to recruit, interview, and hire top salespeople? Then download our free Sales Hiring and Interview Guide.
Mike Weinberg, speaker, consultant, and coach, was the top-producing salesperson in three different companies…
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