You know you need to begin planning for next year now. VPs of Sales are asking the question “What have I done before?”. You start building from that point. This is flawed. Why? Market conditions 12 months ago were very different. If you take the easy approach, your plan will have incorrect assumptions.
VPs of Sales are asking questions like:
- Is our Sales Process good enough?
- How should we be using social media?
- How many heads do I need?
- Should I push my boss to change the comp plan?
- When should I replace my ‘C’ players?
- Are my Sales Managers good enough?
To have a sales strategy you can execute, it must follow a structured path. Sign up for SBI’s free onsite research session here. By doing so, you will receive:
- Detailed set of questions that guide you through developing your strategy.
- Guidance of what to do vs. what not to do. Over 125 sales executives participated in vetting this approach.
An Example—The visual is an example of a Sales Strategy Blueprint. There are 4 sections. The two most important things when building your sales strategy are prioritizing and order. You will choose initiatives this year to prioritize. Which ones? Secondly, you will want each initiative to build on each other. The order of your initiatives is critical. This is what makes a strategy go from theory to execution.
Phase 1 – Develop the Sales Strategy – This section aligns corporate strategy for the upcoming year with the sales strategy.
Why This Matters—The size of your addressable market has shifted. Key buying personas have changed how they buy. Generating demand inside these customers is different. Your reps utilizing social and mobile tools consistently was not in your ’13 plan. You sell to a more informed buyer.
Phase 2 – Develop Go To Market Plan – Many sales VPs don’t know the best route to market.
Why This Matters-The optimal routes to market have changed. You may need more partners. You may need to increase the size of inside sales. The need for distributors may have become more critical.
Phase 3 – Sales Force Design – How many reps and what type?
Why This Matters- Your region may need more hunters than last year. You need to add vertical specialists because your group struggled with the new product. Because of this, the number of reps you have is impacted. Too few, you leave money on the table. Too many, you erode profitability. You must match selling capacity with market demand.
Phase 4 – Sales Infrastructure – Create optimal performance conditions. Territory design, quotas and compensation plans. Talent Management and gamification sit in this area.
Why This Matters-These items will only be effective when tied to proper review of the first three. They are the enablers when the first three sections are done correctly.
Steve is a VP of The Americas of a large enterprise software company. Steve asked us to stress test his sales plan. Steve’s quantitative goals:
- Grow revenues 14%
- Improve new logo acquisition by 11%
- Launch a new product
- Reduce turnover from 33% to 20% (had an unfortunate spike this year)
Steve told us he was going to build 3 elements into his plan for Next Year.
- Change the compensation plan to incent new logo growth by adding an accelerator.
- Increase base pay by 7-9% across the board to help with retention.
- Sales training. Steve wanted to roll out an updated sales process for the new product. It was to be led by corporate trainers.
Steve’s plan was flawed. Why? He was out of order. Steve went with what he knows. These are the common tweaks companies deploy. Compensation plans come last not first. How does increasing base pay improve how his team engages with the changing buyer? Why are reps not being taught how to generate demand in the new prospects? Shouldn’t the front line sales managers be leading the training and it be buyer centric?
Steve’s new plan
- Account Segmentation—Steve had not defined the size of the market. He had not clearly defined the TAM for new logos or the new product
- Lead Generation—Steve had not built leads into his plan. How was he going to teach his team to generate appointments inside their target prospects? (Steve is going to use social selling to solve this)
- Sales Process—Steve’s was using a sales process from 2008. They had not built a new process aligned to how their customer buys.
What Sales Leaders Should Do Now
- Pull out last year’s sales strategy
- Review it with this example. This will help you complete your own gap analysis.
The ability to stress test your plan against others is a unique opportunity. You cannot make Next Year’s number running this Year’s plan and a few updates. Do not start your planning with “what have I done before?”.
The question you should ask is “what is possible?” This tool will help you come up with the answer.