2011 will bring many of the same challenges that we experienced in 2010, so we need to highlight our areas of success and plan around them moving forward as a sales organization.
It is important to stress that business should not operate in Silos, with marketing having their planning meetings, finance theirs and so on. A sound strategic sales plan is fully interdependent on the actions of every other employee in the company. If operations decide to change shipping procedures for example it may impact sales, finance clamping down on days outstanding will result in a more difficult selling experience and then we may have new product introductions or changes in marketing budgets that directly affect sales. An overarching plan must be in place that incorporates the individual ideas, plans and actions from every department.
Here are the top 5 areas to consider for your sales department heading into 2011.
5. The salesforce should meet to debrief about their experience during 2010. Special attention should be paid to what was done right, what made the sales process easier, what made clients more acceptable to their calls. It is those things that can be built on for the coming year. There will always be problem areas for sales in any organization, however focusing on the accomplishments creates a more driven and motivated sales representative. Who enjoys sitting in a meeting being reminded of negative sales trends, reduction of sales efforts, cut backs in marketing. These are your frontline people, keep them interested!
4. Review your past and current customer base to determine if it grew, where did any increase or decrease come from, and discuss any trends that might have contributed to the growth and/or areas for future growth.
3. Rationalize the activities of the salesforce, including any customer service effort, calls made by upper management with the reps, influence from the marketing tools that were made available, time available for face to face as opposed to face to screen, and the record keeping activities required by management.
2. Train your number one source of revenue generation, the salesforce. It doesn’t end with the salespeople as most companies think. Every person who has any potential opportunity to interact with a client is a sales vehicle. It doesn’t take much to train everyone in your organization some basic sales skills. Weight the cost of a lost sale (against the cost of a sales training workshop)
1. Analyze the sales potential that exists in every territory or region that you sell into. This is not an exercise for the faint of heart, or even for the experienced salesperson. The potential is made up of many variables including the competitive environment, trends, population growth, demographics and is closely affixed to marketing activities. I have been working with businesses for 20 years in looking at “real” versus “imagined” potential, and I can tell you a good understanding results in increased recognition of untapped potential.
Sales planning for the New Year is critical for growth and recognition of opportunities. The process needs to be underway now, not in the first quarter.
Have you started planning yet?