We have devoted several posts recently to the importance of sales planning, including: The Complete 2012 B2B Sales Planning Outline… And It's Only 359 Words and Proof That Sales Planning Increases Win Rates. Sales planning itself is such an important component of the sales process that we are hosting a webinar with CSO Insights on this topic this week (join if you can).
If you consider that the B2B sales plan sets the course for everything that goes into a successful sales year, the initial section of the sales plan, "Goals and Targets," establishes the course for the actual written plan. Let's take a closer look at this critical section and consider the required outcome of each key point.
The 5-Step B2B Sales Planning Handbook
Step 1: Sales Goals and Targets
- Setting your annual sales goals and revenue targets
- Prioritize challenges that could keep you from hitting your targets and create a defensive strategy for each
- Define changes and investments that must be made to achieve success
1. Setting Sales Goals and Revenue Targets
Although goals and targets are often used synonymously, they are in fact quite different. Compare their definitions*
Goals: Destinations or where we want the business to be and feel, for example:
Targets: Specific results we want the business to achieve, progress markers to attaining goals; for example:
– Market share
An example of how Goals and Targets work together in this opening section of your sales plan could look like this.
Goal: Establish two new relationships per quarter in the US Financial and Accounting Outsourcing practice. The targeted annual contract value of each new relationship is $2 million.
2. Prioritizing Challenges and Creating Defensive Strategies
Consider your last couple sales years and think about those things that kept you from achieving all your sales targets. Be as specific as possible while keeping it functionally focused – not personal. For example: Need more qualified output from marketing's lead generation programs (instead of actually naming the VP of Marketing as the problem).
Here's a simple but effective template for listing out challenges, their impact and priority, and assigning responsibility to minimizing them.
3. Defining Changes and Investments Needed to Achieve Success
You are likely in the same boat as most sales leaders heading into a new year: You're getting a quota increase. In the old days we might grumble a little, play around with territories and headcount then tell the CEO we need another seven incremental sales reps to meet the new number. Your best expectation would have been for one or two of the seven to make quota. The others become permanent "C" players or simply fail miserably.
More Effective Approaches to Investing in Sales Success
Yes, headcount is still a critical success factor for a sales team expected to make its number. However, studies of best-in-class sales teams clearly demonstrate many other vital approaches to improving effectiveness and revenue that simply make your existing A, B and even C performers better. (Fire the D's, but that's already in your plan, right?).
Here are five areas of your sales model that will benefit big time from focus and investment. They are proven to create permanent increases in both win-rates and quota attainment for B2B sales teams.
- Establishing a formalized sales process, including targeted account planning
- Sales manager effectiveness training and industry-specific rep training
- Lead segmentation and a marketing automation system
- Sales leaders dashboard
- Sales intelligence, prospect profiling and industry monitoring
There you have an example of Setting Sales Goals and Targets, the first section in creating your new sales plan. You can clearly see why getting this area down on paper establishes the foundation for everything else in your plan.
Tools, Templates and Help Writing Your Sales Plan
If you'd like some help getting started we have many tools and templates on our Sales Leaders Resources page. We also offer a complimentary Sales Optimization Review for CEOs and Sales Leaders who know they need to make some big changes but want some ideas before getting started. Let us know how we can help.
*From my well-worn version of Marketing Plans that Work – Targeting Growth and Profitability, copyright 2002.