The top performers in any field have a plan. The plan need not be complex or lengthy. In fact, some of the best plans are very simple and easy make. The important step is writing the plan down.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” –Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Why is it that most people do not achieve their goals? Usually it is because they never took the time to write them down and think about them. This can be for a variety of reasons, often fear of failure is what causes people to not write their goals down.
In my experience, I have never missed a goal that I have written down. There have been many goals that I have failed to meet, and in every case they were the ones I did not take the time to write down.
Below is a very effective and simple closed loop planning system. It can be applied to any goal but I will show how it can be applied to sales planning.
Closed Loop Planning
Step One – Set a long term SMART Goal
- Set an overarching SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound) Goal for your business. (e.g. Increase sales within my account package from $1 Million to $1.5 Million in 2015) Note: I would suggest for any sales plan that this goal needs to be tied to revenue increase.
Step Two – Set short term SMART objectives
- These objectives should be in line with the overarching goal set in Step One. For example we have stated that we need to drive an additional $500K of business in 2015, one of the short-term SMART objectives would be to identify our individual conversion rate, in order to determine our weekly sales volume required.
Weekly Sales Volume = A x B x (C x 5)
A = Overall Average Order Value (Average order size or average gross margin)
B = Overall Average Success Rate (Average number of orders / Average number of visits or calls)
C = Daily Activity (Number of face to face visits or telephone calls)
- It is a mathematical fact that if any one of these components (A, B or C) increases, then your sales volume should increase proportionally.
Step Three – Set a weekly plan
- Studies show that most successful sales professionals set goals and make plans to reach their goals. As the saying goes, “Plan your work, work your plan.” If you are able to schedule all of your appointments for the following week in your calendar and prioritize them effectively, then you are more likely to succeed. This is especially powerful if you are able to combine your weekly calendar and prioritized task lists onto a single page. (Imagine using a four quadrant prioritizing system, that quantifies the urgency and importance of a task into one of two categories, High or Low)
- Plan time for administrative tasks and personal time.
Step Four – Evaluate your activity
- You should be continually evaluating your performance and asking yourself after each visit, “What went well and what could I have done better or differently?”
- You also need to schedule a time, over a longer interval, to determine how you are performing against the weekly or monthly plan. By recording your activity you will easily be able to evaluate how you are doing against your overall goal.
- This will ensure that there are no surprises when you reach your quarterly meeting with your manager, shareholders, etc.
Step Five – Reset objectives and upgrade the plan
- As you begin to use time more effectively you will be able to raise the bar and do even more, which may mean that you need to reset your objectives and upgrade the plan.
Remember to write down your goals and keep your plan with you at all times, hold yourself accountable.
By the way, this process can be used for ‘Social Selling Plans’.
Good Luck with your sales in 2015!