The Three Biggest Sales Planning Issues

As the year comes to a close, sales leaders and salespeople gear up to shape their strategies for the upcoming year. You've likely heard the common target: a 15% growth in revenue. This number is a favorite among CEOs because it appears to magically double revenue in five years. However, setting this goal is just the beginning of the journey, and here's why it often falls short:

The Magic Plan - Making the Goal Tangible

Merely stating the goal of a 15% increase doesn't automatically trigger changes in sales behavior. Sales teams are already working hard to meet their current targets, and simply setting a higher goal won't change that. Achieving growth demands change. It could involve introducing new products or services, hiring more salespeople, landing significant projects, focusing on bigger deals, or improving the closing rate. This level of planning is often skipped, leading to disappointment.

The Spreadsheet Plan - Crunching Numbers Without Execution

Some take a more analytical approach and examine their accounts, market size, and potential for growth. They calculate how many new clients salespeople need to bring in to hit the target. The numbers seem to work out perfectly on the spreadsheet. However, this method overlooks essential factors. Who will manage existing accounts if salespeople are out looking for new ones? What changes are needed to close bigger deals or achieve a higher close rate? Often, these plans contain too many assumptions, over-optimistic projections, and fail to consider the time it takes for new hires to become productive. Moreover, they rarely account for the potential loss of team members, creating gaps in the plan.

The Boss Plan - Unattainable Goals

Salespeople might find themselves bewildered when confronted with lofty goals that seem detached from reality. If they see their targets as unachievable, they might not put in their best efforts. This can lead to sandbagging deals to start the next year strong, a counterproductive approach.

So, what's the solution? Here are some practical suggestions:

  1. Analyze Your Business: Evaluate where growth opportunities lie. What has worked well, and where have you faced challenges? Consider making adjustments and additions to focus, adding personnel, and improving close rates. Also, account for one-time events and customer attrition. A conservative approach is wise, and don't forget to share your analysis with your sales leader and remain open to feedback.
  2. Empower Your Sales Team: Provide your sales leader and team with guidance based on your analysis. Encourage them to construct their own plans. Let them brainstorm and get creative, which will boost their buy-in. Expect negotiations and discussions, as this is a collaborative process.
  3. Keep the Plan Alive: Review their plans at least once a month to monitor execution. If they're on track and it's working, that's fantastic. If not, help them get back on course. If execution isn't yielding results, be open to revising the plan. Use this as a tool to maintain team focus.

Pivotal Advisors specializes in helping companies navigate these challenges. If you'd like to learn more about effective strategies and tools to assist your team, feel free to reach out to us. We're here to lend a hand and help you achieve your sales planning goals.

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