Working with many different sales organisations, teams and managers I have found that most of the problems that they face on a regular basis are due to the lack of planning by the sales manager. As the old adage states, “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”. So why don’t sales managers plan?
Well over the years of training, my students have given me many reasons why they don’t plan and these are the most common:
- I don’t know how to plan;
- I don’t have the time to plan, I am way too busy;
- I prefer to be spontaneous and reactive and planning stops me from doing this;
- I spend so much time addressing problems, I don’t have time to plan; and
- It isn’t part of my job description so why should I do it.
Planning should not be a burden, as it will assist a sales manager become more effective and efficient. My experience has shown that when a sales manager does plan they solve a lot of issues that normally took up most of their time. So if you are failing to plan, here are a few tips that may help you begin or improve your planning. My students advocate these as the top 5 tips so I thought I should share them with you.
Tip One – Allocate time in your schedule to plan. Commit yourself and block out time in your diary or calendar to planning. This may be every day, week and/or month. Whichever the case you must write in down in the schedule you use for your appointments so you don’t use the time for something else.
Tip Two – Get your team involved in the planning. Your team should take part of some of your planning, as they may have to contribute to the goals you want to set. Get them involved as they will provide excellent ideas and they will take ownership of the plan ensuring its success.
Tip Three – Change the way you think about planning. Don’t consider planning as a task you must undertake as a sales manager. You should consider it as a chance to think about issues, opportunities, staff and other areas in a creative way. If you consider it to be a mandatory task your chances of successful planning will be limited.
Tip Four – Set yourself and/or team some goals. A plan is only as good as the goals you set. Make the goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timeframe), as it will give them more substance.
Tip Five – Break down your goals into action plans. I have found that a 90-day action plan is a great way to help people achieve their goals. It allows the sales manager to write down the tasks required to complete the goal but also specify the due dates. The action plans that I teach are broken down into 30, 60 and 90-day tasks. Each task also has its own due date and reason why they should be completed.
Planning will help you solve the problems of the future so don’t put it off. Give it try and let me know what happens. I am interested to hear your comments. Good luck.