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Have You Asked Your Reps What Their Plan Is?

Title: The Power of Individual Business Plans for Salespeople

One head scratcher that I have seen in several dozen companies since I started my practice and even prior to starting M. Allen, it's surprising how few organizations ask their salespeople to draft annual business plans. However, the benefits of having every member of the sales team write and present their individual business plans are immense. In this article, I will explore why salespeople should write and present their own business plans, along with an essential plan template to help the Sales Leader/Head guide them.

Why Individual Business Plans Matter:

1. Goal Setting: Research consistently shows that individuals who write down their goals are more successful than those who don't. By documenting their goals, salespeople gain clarity and focus on what they want to achieve.

2. Ownership and Accountability: Writing a business plan encourages salespeople to take ownership of their territories, accounts, or books. It instills a sense of responsibility and empowers them to drive their own success.

3. Big-Picture Thinking: The process of creating a business plan promotes creative and strategic thinking. Salespeople can identify opportunities, develop new approaches, and align their actions with broader organizational goals.

4. Evaluation and Improvement: A business plan compels salespeople to evaluate what has worked and what hasn't. By reflecting on past experiences, they can avoid repeating mistakes and refine their strategies for better results.

5. Sharing Best Practices: Presenting individual business plans to the sales team facilitates knowledge sharing and collaboration. Each salesperson can learn from others' approaches, techniques, and successes, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

6. Insight into Sales Reps: Presenting their plans provides valuable insights into salespeople's abilities, thinking processes, passion, and fresh ideas. It helps identify individuals who excel in sales and showcases their skills in communication and presentation.

7. Accountability Tool: The act of presenting the business plan publicly creates a sense of accountability. Salespeople become more committed to their goals and are motivated to take the necessary actions to achieve them.

8. Roadmap for Success: A well-crafted business plan serves as a roadmap to keep salespeople on track throughout the year. It provides a clear direction and helps them stay focused on their priorities and objectives.

9. Valuable Resource for Sales Managers: Business plans become valuable resources for sales managers to guide coaching sessions, accountability meetings, and field visits. They enable managers to assess the salesperson's execution and provide targeted support.

Quick and Effective Template for an Individual Business Plan:

While there is flexibility in customizing a business plan template to suit specific business and sales roles, here are the essential components that should be included:

1. Goals: Clearly define the salesperson's objectives for the year, including revenue targets, new account acquisition, product-mix goals, and significant client targets.

2. Strategies: Outline the strategies and approaches the salesperson will employ to achieve their goals. This includes market focus, target account lists, cross-selling opportunities, innovative prospecting techniques, and customer penetration strategies.

3. Actions: Specify the activities and metrics that the salesperson will undertake to execute their strategies. This may include the number of calls, face-to-face meetings, time-blocking commitments, and other quantifiable metrics.

4. Obstacles: Identify potential obstacles that may hinder goal achievement. Encourage salespeople to be proactive by listing known obstacles and seeking solutions to overcome them.

5. Personal Development, Growth & Motivation: Emphasize the importance of continuous personal and professional growth. Encourage salespeople to invest in themselves through training, mentoring, reading sales literature, attending courses, or seeking external coaching. Additionally, ask them to share their personal philosophies about sales and how they stay motivated throughout the year.

Implementing individual business plans in sales organizations can yield tremendous benefits. By encouraging salespeople to write and present their own plans, organizations foster a culture of goal-oriented, accountable, and proactive sales teams. The provided template can guide salespeople in structuring their plans and help them stay focused, motivated, and on track towards achieving their goals.

Remember, keep it simple, keep it grounded in reality, keep it in front of all, and keep the planning process or cadence to at least quarterly....not just a 1x per year activity.


Matt Slonaker Founder & CEO of M. Allen

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