The key to having a plan, is in the planning.

The act of planning is more important than having the plan itself. Planning prepares you for different outcomes. It makes you think about the future. Planning requires you to think and then decide how to act. Planning helps you to make the most of time. And we're all up against time.

At this time of year, as well as maximising all opportunities to finish strong in our current year, we turn our focus to the future. In this case, our plans for 2019. It seems hard to believe we’re at this point of the year already, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s questioning where the past 10 months of 2018 have gone, but whether we can remember them or not, they are in fact gone and we’re fast-approaching the year-end. 

And with the end of one year, quickly rolls on the start of a new one, which is why we spent a full day back in mid-October planning what we want to achieve in 2019.

I’m sure many of you have started to do the same. After all, if you don’t decide what your plan is for next year, then someone else will probably be deciding it for you. Whether that’s your customers, or your family members, or friends or colleagues, if you haven’t decided what you want to achieve next year and how you intend to spend your time to turn your plan into reality, then you’ll be at the mercy of everyone around you. Letting others dictate how you spend your time, as you react to their requests for help, their enquiries, and all of their demands on your time. 

In helping to prepare for our 2019 planning day back in October, I turned to a book called ‘Sales Management. Simplified.’ By Mike Weinberg, which was recommended to me by Jen Gordon, one of our Key Account Managers. It’s a great book for sales people – I highly recommend it and many of our sales team will find it on their ‘Christmas break holiday reading list’ this year! It suggests that every sales person write an ‘Individual Business Plan’ for themselves, to help them maximise their potential. It’s broken down into five areas;

 

1. Goals - What are you going to achieve?

Things to think about;

  • Total revenue?
  • Gross margin?
  • Number of new accounts or new business acquired
  • £'s sold to both existing and new accounts – be customer specific
  • Specific product mix goals
  • Name the monster account or dream client who you will secure this year

 

2. Strategies - How are you going to do it? Where is it going to come from?

Things to think about;

  • Market focus
  • Target account lists
  • Major cross-sell opportunities
  • Most grow-able and most at-risk accounts
  • What new approaches will get you in front of prospects? 
  • How will you better connect with current customers to improve relationships?
  • How can you be more intentional in segmenting accounts and covering your territory?

 

3. Actions - What are you going to do?

Things to think about;

  • Activity and metrics – What are the maths? How many calls, initial face to face meetings, presentations, etc. will you commit to make?
  • How will you block calendar time to prospect and pursue pure new business?
  • What key activities will you be held accountable for? Who will hold you accountable? 

 

4. Obstacles - What's in the way?

Things to think about;

  • Provide a list of known obstacles
  • Help us address or remove such obstacles by sharing what they are 
  • Examples of possible obstacles; lack of training or knowledge, prohibitive policies, travel budgets, old technology, the sales-prevention department, family issues, etc. 

 

5. Personal development growth & motivation - How do you want to grow this year and what will keep you motivated?

Things to think about;

  • Take responsibility for your own personal development - how do you intend to do it?
  • Are there courses or conferences you'd like to attend?
  • Will you seek a mentor or outside coaching?
  • Will you commit to reading certain sales books or blogs?
  • Are there areas where you need to develop professionally?
  • How will you keep yourself motivated throughout the year?

 

In working through these five areas, in both our sales teams and individually, we found ourselves thinking about our planned activities at a much deeper level than any of our previous years planning sessions. Especially in relation to the obstacles. You already know what obstacles are likely to exist that may get in the way of your plans next year, and it can be uncomfortable to address them and acknowledge them. But if you don’t do it now, they’ll only trip you up later. With some proper thinking time and group discussion, we found it’s possible to find ways to manage and remove such obstacles way before they even present themselves.

The reality is, of course, that these plans that we now have will likely change. As I said right at the start, plans change, and things rarely go to plan. But that’s OK, because the key is in the planning.

The act of planning is more important than having the plan itself. Planning prepares you for different outcomes. It makes you think about the future. Planning requires you to think and then decide how to act. Planning helps you to make the most of time. And we're all up against time. A fact that simply cannot be argued with, as you read this in the eleventh month of what appears to be one of the fastest years on the planet! Time isn’t slowing down for any of us, which is why we’ve planned how we’re going to use it. Have you? 

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