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Personal Sales Plans

Personal Sales Plans

By Brad Barker

Queue the eye roll. Why do we have to do sales plans? I have heard it all before. Well, let me tell you a small story and I will see if I can change your mind.

I recently went through one of our sales assessment debriefs with a National Account Manager with a medium-sized IT firm. He had an outstanding assessment and was well suited for his role. In fact, he is one of the better account managers I have come across.

He is slightly down on his numbers from last year, but not to the point of being concerned. He is well exceeding his financial target. He is not getting the most out of himself right now though and his manager knows it.

One thing came up in his assessment that really stood out though and that was that he had a belief that he did not need to have a personal sales plan.

Yes, he has revenue targets and KPI’s that his manager wants to achieve at each period, however he did not have a personal sales plan. I asked him why that was. I didn’t get the answer I was expecting.

He said that, 

“Because I am an Account Manager, my role is reactive and to be responsive. It is not incumbent upon me to go out and push for new business with my clients. There is no plan in that.”

I asked him,

“If that is the case, how is it that you have been achieving and exceeding your targets? I know you don’t have small targets.” 

He stopped and thought about it. He then started saying that he regularly follows up with his clients in a routine fashion, he is in close communication with his technical team as to when things are not going well with any of his clients and also keeps a close eye on the client’s current technical situation.

I said to him,

“That sounds a lot like the basis of a sales plan to me. It has made you successful at what you have been doing at your company. What is about formalising a plan that bothers you?”

He said,

“If I were to put a plan down in writing and then not achieve it, I would feel guilty.”

I also asked him if he thought he was good at his job. I must premise that I figured he would say yes, but I was not sure which way this would go. He said yes, but I feel that I could do better. This also played in to why he was not doing a plan.

I thanked him for his honesty and then proceeded to unpack what it was that would make him feel guilty about not achieving his plan. As it turned out, he didn’t want to say he was going to do something and then not achieve it. He saw planning as a means to beat him self up, rather than something to assist him in achieving his goals.

His reluctance to do a sales plan was because he was comfortable in being mediocre; he was exceeding his targets, so there was no reason to go out of his way. Once he had acknowledged this, he became inspired to do more.

So, my friend found out why he was not inspired, what is your reason for not doing a plan? Your reason may be different from my friend’s reason, but once you answer that big question, maybe I can share with you why it is a great idea to write a sales plan.

Here are the benefits in why you should have an accountable, well-documented, personal sales plan:

  1. People who plan are more likely to achieve their goals

Goal setting can be different for everyone. Some people make New Year’s resolutions on a whim, some will share with their loved ones some lofty goals that they would love to achieve within their lifetime, some have very specific shorter-term goals. Having a goal is human nature, however what does not come natural to some people is to plan on how to achieve that goal. Should you set a goal, the next natural thing to do is to plan out how you are going to achieve this. Goals without plans are hollow, and they fall into the category of wishful thinking.

2. If you can’t measure something, you cannot improve it.

How do you know what to fix if you don’t know what has changed in your behaviour, or activity? If things are suddenly going pear shaped, or improving, would it help to be able to point to the activity, or the change in behaviour that has influenced the outcome?

3. Documenting a goal(s) holds you accountable.

Have you ever had what you considered to be an amazing idea and then when you told someone, it sounded ridiculous? Or, have you ever put out an idea and someone got excited about it, and gave you further inspiration on how to achieve that idea? Well, accountability can be like that. It can either inspire you to achieve something, or cause you to rethink your approach.

Putting a plan on paper, and sharing it with someone you respect, or with your manager can be intimidating, but think about what it is that scares you and ask yourself if you are getting the most out of yourself.

After my National Account Manager friend finished his plan. The great thing is that he realised he had stopped doing something that he was consistently doing last year, and this was impacting on his sales. This little bit of honesty went a long way for him and inspired him to shake off his mediocre ways.

Want to learn more about sales plans? Contact SG Partners, today!