By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
It’s the fourth quarter and if you’re like most salespeople, you’re examining your pipeline trying to determine which opportunities have a chance of closing this quarter; what needs to be done and when in order for them to close; and, which ones will have to be carried over into 2017. After all, you’re going to need something to work on come the first of the New Year. Still, other than those opportunities you bring with you, where will your 2017 business come from?
Step 1: Timing
Almost as important as where to begin is when to begin! If you were thinking you were going to rely on 2016 carryover, then it’s the end of January and nothing has closed, you are late to the party. The reality is, if you haven’t closed anything in January, you’re going to have to close twice as much in February just to make year-to-date quota! That’s a tall order even for the most accomplished sales person. This is the final quarter of 2016. The time to begin developing your Territory Sales Plan is now!
Step 2: Analysis
I think before you begin to lay out your plan, you first need to analyze:
- YTD Business – specifically who did you close; what did they buy; where did they come from; and what was the average dollar value of the sales/transaction?
- WIN Rate – what is your win rate when presented with a qualified opportunity?
- Are some months or quarters more prolific than others?
- Discounting – what has it cost you in 2016?
- Vertical Markets – are you having greater success in one vertical versus another?
- Existing Pipeline – who won’t close, that you will be carrying over into 2017?
- Products Offerings – existing products and/or services, new products and/or services and planned price changes?
- Existing Customers – what ‘haven’t’ they purchased; why would they need it; and who do you need to speak with in order to initiate a sales cycle?
- 2016 Compensation Plan – what will your sales revenue requirement be in 2017?
- Personal Income Requirement – what do you want to make in 2017?
Step 3: Set Goals
Based on the analysis of your customer base, prospects and 2017 revenue requirements, you need to establish goals for what you need to accomplish. Things to consider include:
- How many WINS do you need in order to make your revenue quota? A simple way of establishing that would be to take your 2017 annual revenue requirement divided by the average dollar value of the sales/transaction. That will provide you the number of estimated WINS you’ll need to close in 2017.
- How many of those WINS do you want to come from existing clients?
- How many WINS from new name business?
- How many WINS by each quarter?
- Based on your WIN Rate, how many leads will you need to generate your new name business goal?
Step 4: Strategies
How do you intend on reaching those goals? In addition to your individual lead generation efforts and responding to inbound inquiries, do you have any particular growth strategies for your territory?
- Identify the Top 10 prospects that you will carry over into 2017.
- Are there particular verticals/projects/situations where you have experienced greater success and you would like to build upon that success?
- Do you want to enhance your mix of business (new name account vs. existing accounts)?
- Are trends emerging in the marketplace that align with your offering?
- Were there ‘sales ready messages’ that resonated with your prospects that you want to exploit?
- Do you wish to increase account penetration with core products?
- Will you build your social network database and expand the use of referrals?
Step 5: Tactics
Top Ten Prospects Carried Over From 2016:
- Identify your top 5 opportunities.
- Prepare a tactical plan to convert each to ‘E’ status.
- Schedule refocus meetings to recap goals, reasons and the prospects’ solution.
- Attempt to measure the cost of doing business today and confirm the value to the prospects’ organization.
- Document the results via a Sales Process Control Letter.
- Share the results with your manager.
Prospecting/New Business Development:
- Minimum of 10-20% of your time; 4 to 8 hours a week.
- Build your pipeline to optimum strength to meet your revenue goal.
- Define the specific technologies that are available to you to enhance your productivity.
LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Hoovers, InsideView, ConstantContact, etc.
- Which specific existing accounts, and which specific new name accounts will you pursue based on your strategies?
- What specific method will you use to reach them; referrals, referrals via social networking, cold calls, emails, direct mail, Webinars, group sales calls, etc.?
- What specific ‘sales ready messages’ will you use to cause them to engage?
- In what order will you use the ‘sales ready messages’ and with what frequency?
- Use multiple methodologies in parallel.
Step 6: Plan Execution
- Create a tactical calendar complete with dates and steps to be accomplished.
- Give yourself ample time to execute each step in your plan.
- Establish success metrics and measure you and your plan’s performance.
- Monitor your own performance weekly!
- Evaluate your pipeline strength on a weekly and monthly basis; adjust your prospect activity based on that strength.
- Watch for new and unexpected opportunities; vertical markets, trends, issue, etc.
- If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change/modify your plan!
- Plan your work and work your plan!