The Importance of a Plan
Recently I have been working with a couple of different companies on marketing and business plans. This morning, while preparing for a two day meeting with a security software company in Florida, it occurred to me how important it is for every sales person to have a plan in place if they aim to grow their business. Hopefully this will help you put some structure to your next two quarters as we finish out 2011.
You plan should contain some or all of the following:
1. You strategic aim or vision. This is where you are personally headed with your business – your long term goal should be to run an account team (including dedicated presales, inside sales, and admin). You may think this is impossible with the company you work for, however, it’s always a question of return on investment – your management thought you would quadruple sales, they would dedicate some people to you. Even if you are a hunter, you still want to be running a hunting team. To do otherwise is to set yourself up for starting at zero every quarter for the rest of your life.
2. Your niche – what will you be the adviser in. I have written much about this topic, but here you want to identify it. So stop and write something down, edit it later. Where is your focus, and where do you specialize?
3. Your people group – again, stop and write this down. Who do you love calling on, and where will you focus your growth. You may not have complete control over this right now, but put it down and work toward it.
4. Identify your key competition. Often when I ask, I hear, “We don’t really have any competition,” or “IT is out primary competition.” While that may be what seems right, it really isn’t. Know who is out there, and what they say is their value proposition.
5. Pricing – study and understand fee setting and write down some guidelines for yourself on how you will set fees, where you will discount, and under what circumstances. Also, have a plan to learn negotiating skills and work through it in the coming months.
6. Identify key partners; if you resell, include vendor sales people in your region that you can help, understanding that they will often bring you into deals and promote you as the go to channel partner once you establish loyalty. If you are on the product side, the same is true with channel partners. Plan to make this model work.
7. Plan out campaigns and events. Encourage your company and partners to join you in setting up events, speak at local business meetings, write articles, do press releases, and set up webinars. Have a marketing strategy to take this program forward. Also, get a strategy on how to leverage social media – everyone is doing, few understand how.
8. Put a plan in place to build your pipeline. This should include time with existing customers, past customers, and new prospects. Each should be approached differently, but a plan is needed to balance your time and think through your approach.
Print it, update it, use it.
© 2011, David Stelzl