When you look across the internet you see lots of sites showing business planning or sales planning templates, the one thing they have in common is that they all seem just to be collecting data and not creating fluid and interactive plans which is a problem. Anyone who has worked in sales knows that when a sales person sits down to write a plan it is more often than not a one off event which allows them to satisfiate their manger, it seldom sees the light of day through the year and it is then dusted off once a year at the annual review. Why is this? probably because most sales plans are
- Written / developed for the wrong people and not the people who will benefit from using them ie management not the sales team
- Over complicated
- Not following any business methodology and hence just store data
- Often activity driven
I have been in sales for 16 years and it appears that when it comes to sales planning little has changed in 16 years. Well that's not entirely true, when I started out all the templates for sales plans (account plans, business plans, action plans – call them what you will) were on paper. Then we moved to excel, then to ETMS and now to all singing all dancing CRM's. Whilst I agree the move from paper to online is the right thing to do, we seem to have taken all the things that were wrong with the methodology 16 years ago and just incorporated it into new shiny tools. It could not be that the people who design CRM's have never been involved in sales could it?
Well that's the problem, whats the solution, in my humble opinion it's as follows:
- Get someone who has actually sold to help create the sales plan
- Ensure that it is built for the sole purpose of helping the sales person advance their sales (management reports are obviously good but the plan should not be a tracking device)
- Make sure it is simple and does not have information just for the sake of information
- Make sure that there is some sort of methodology built in that helps the sales person go through a thought process which helps them be a better sales person
So that said, lets now consider that we are writing the plan for the right reasons, what do the best sales plans need to have.
I have outlined below the key elements of any good sales plan
- Define your overall objective, what are you trying to achieve
- Develop an action plan, what steps need to be taken to achieve your overall goal
- Vision into actions, go and do what you have planned