Today's blog post is by Ron Snyder, President of Plan 2 Win Software, which provides apps that enable salespeople to create and manage territory and account plans in their Salesforce.com environment to dramatically improve sales results.
As you prepare for success in 2013, here are six common planning mistakes to avoid to ensure you achieve your goals. Those sales managers engaged in complex, value-based selling should be especially vigilant to avoid these fatal mistakes. You need a plan to win!
1. Not Having a Plan
Many salespeople feel that they don't need a plan, that they understand their market and how to sell to their customers; however, in a complex selling environment, there is so much to consider and keep track of that a plan is essential to success. Otherwise, the salesperson is strictly in reactive mode and is going to miss opportunities and spend more time on opportunities that will be unproductive.
2. Not Analyzing Your Target Market
Simply working through a list of target accounts, opportunities, and contact information is not sufficient to achieve sales goals in proactive, value-based selling. Analyzing your target market and customer profiles will determine the best sales approach. Without this analysis, the sales rep is likely to pursue accounts in a very opportunistic fashion, often creating the selling proposition on the fly. This leads to a very inconsistent approach and results. Your team must have clear criteria about the target prospects, their needs, and your value proposition. They must prioritize accounts and opportunities so they spend their time and limited resources wisely.
3. Not Connecting Strategy to Action
Territory and account plans must be based on the trends in the industry, geography, and/or vertical market. From here, strategies are generated to optimize results and form the framework for the action plan. Each strategy must be linked to a set of tactics and actions that will yield the results you intended. This must include plans for each critical sales call (i.e., call objectives, participants, and their roles; issues to be prepared to address; and the intended next step), focusing on letting sales actions drive the strategy.
4. Not Responding to Change
Every plan must be a living document, enabling the salesperson to adjust to changes in the environment. In order to do this, the plan must live in your CRM and be readily available to use and fine-tune as needed. To support this, there should be reports and dashboards that highlight progress on critical success factors and regular plan reviews that provide input from sales management and others on the team.
5. Not Using All Available Resources
In today's selling environment, one person cannot know everything that is going on in any account or territory. Effective and efficient use of all resources and tools will enable the sales team to compete and win. Confirm that your sales reps know what resources are available and how to use them most effectively in each stage of the sales cycle. These resources include extended team members, (i.e., from technical, marketing, and support) and partners. Using the most effective sales collateral available without having to create it from scratch will provide more selling time. Finally, there should be a coordinated effort to leverage references across the organization.
6. Not Making It Easy
It is important that the manager make it as easy as possible for the sales team to create and implement the plan. Provide training to make certain the team understands the key ingredients of a successful plan and is capable of creating one. Using a readily available template (i.e., a template that exists in your CRM system) can guide and shape the thinking that goes into creating an effective plan. Finally, there must be coaching, especially in the initial phases, to help people as soon as they get stuck.
Salespeople must see how planning improves their results. The manager must socialize how specific plans have contributed to sales results, having successful sales reps share their experiences with the team. This is critical to ensure that the planning process is adopted by the team.
Creating an environment in which salespeople generate plans that are consistently implemented and produce desired results is one of the key jobs of management. Avoid the mistakes listed here and win in 2013.