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Sales Plan – Work Smarter Not Just Harder

To plan or not to plan? Time to answer that question again. As the New Year approaches Sales Manager Now has been working on client sales and business plans for next year. In our experience more than half of the businesses we encounter don’t have a current documented business plan. If they do, it’s usually not reviewed on a regular basis. Writing a business or sales plan is one thing, but having a plan that’s useful and used is a different story. Not all business plans work. Jim Horan, author of The One Page Business Plan lists the following reasons why business plans don’t work:

  • They end up on the shelf
  • They take too long to create
  • Many of us don’t know what we are supposed to write and have trouble getting our thoughts in writing
  • We fail to implement/execute

I’d add that sales plans aren’t developed or don’t work because:

  • Sales people are asked to focus on short-term goals rather than building the business.
  • Strategy is left up to ownership.
  • Plans aren’t reviewed or monitored
  • They become too complicated and contain fluff rather than substance

I’ve always been a goal setter and setting goals has served me well, but I’ve learned through The One Page Business Plan methodology that goal setting is only a portion of strategic business or sales planning.  If you want more from your sales people, ask more of them. But not just that they work harder, ask that they work smarter. Learning how to plan simply and effectively is a valuable skill and I believe The One Page Plan system has nailed it.

When we help salespeople build their sales plans we have them focus on the five areas listed below. What we’re doing by asking them to consider more than their monthly or annual sales volume is empowering them to make better decisions while selling. Decisions that will benefit them and the company long-term as well as support them working smarter and not just harder. If you want to build your sales plan around these five areas and want more detail, download our Salesperson Plan and Coaching Guide.

Five Components to Sales Planning

Long-term goals a target, volume of business, type of accounts or products the sales person is focusing on attaining in the plus two-year range.
Short-term goals – results and activities that can be graphed and monitored for the current year.
Sales and Marketing approach – specifics related to the ideal customer, marketing, differentiators, lead generation, systems, products and others.
Key Differentiator – why people buy from the sales person and the company that is different or better than competitors. Consider WIIFT, What’s In It For Them, the customer.
Improvement and Execution initiatives – projects, training, education or events that will help the sales person improve themselves or their chances of hitting their goals.

You’ve probably heard the saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. When you make business and sales planning a regular practice you give yourself the chance to choose to do things differently which sets you up to expect different results. Life and business can be hard enough, with a little bit of proactive planning you can work smarter, not just harder.


If you want to tackle planning this year here are two resources that can support your efforts.

1. Part-Time Sales Management is the recipe we use at Sales Manager Now. After conducting over 2500 sales meetings in ten years and managing 20-30 sales people each of those months I defined my systems in the book, Part-Time Sales Management. Manage your sales team in 10-20 hours a month in a manner that produces more sales.

2. The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur book by Jim Horan. The book is a workbook that will help you walk through the process of building your plan. Jim also includes a CD with budget, sales tools and scorecards to measure progress of your plan.

Rene is the President of Sales Manager Now, a company that provides fractional sales management services to small and family-run businesses. He has twenty-seven years of experience in sales leadership, coaching, and consulting. He is also the author of the Part-Time Sales Management handbook and is based in Auburn, California.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. You are so correct. My plan has been changing for some time now. I finally feel like I’ve narrowed everything down and have found my niche. I believe I can really begin implementing the tips that you give above. Thanks for sharing!

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