Bing or Google the phrase “dynamic sales plan” and many definitions come back so I thought I’d offer mine. A dynamic sales plan is a continuously edited tool, that keeps daily sales actions focused on the things that will most contribute to winning.
Sales-planning is too often an annual assignment. A winning sales plan is one that is referred to often and edited as needed to reflect progress or changes spawned from actions taken. Thus the term “dynamic sales plan” as opposed to the static plans created for show. To be dynamic the planning template has to be simple and easily accessible to both the sales person and the people helping to win the business.
There are many benefits from having a dynamic, constantly worked plan. I highlight the top five here:
Reality check – The sales plan documents the actions needed to win the business. When deciding on actions it’s necessary to determine if it’s reasonable for the company and team to carry out the actions. That’s an obvious statement but I’ve seen many examples of plans that were unrealistic given the resources available. I recently worked with a company that provided products and services delivered at their location. They included in their opportunity assessment, prospects located over 30 miles away even though their history showed that businesses wouldn’t travel more than 15 miles for this kind of offering. When we recalculated their market opportunity they realized they couldn’t afford to hire an additional sales person before adding another location.
Common language – In B2B, sales people always have to rely on others to close the sale and deliver the offering. This can be internal people or external partners. Having a common way to talk about the sales process is important to ensure everyone is acting with the same understanding. I spoke to a group of 20 technology consultants recently and I asked who had a direct relationship with the key decision maker on the projects they worked in the last year. All of them raised their hands. I then defined the decision maker as the person who owns the budget that paid for their work and then asked who had direct contact. Three raised their hands. If the question isn’t understood any answer is right. Likewise, if the action isn’t understood any action is right.
Contribution continuity – People naturally want to contribute to winning sales efforts. Because of this, the sales person must lead via clear plans and regular communication to avoid having well-meaning co-workers contribute in unproductive ways. We had a customer who was concerned that our solution was not viable because it was too complex. With a desire to help, one of my co-workers commented on how hard it was for us to develop the solution for the customer thinking that our hard work was the selling point. We later had to back track and demonstrate that our hard work made the solution simple for the customer.
Actions versus art – Sales plans need to be detailed enough that stakeholders understand why they’re being asked for help. A standard planning format is helpful so people don’t have to learn how to navigate the plan at the same time they’re digesting the content. It’s also my recommendation for both sales people and sales leaders that we create plans that invite critique. Building 50 page plans with 8 point font, and no white space, doesn’t invite people to read it let alone offer critique. Creating 10 pages of clearly stated issues and actions not only generates feedback but also invites participation.
Fluid not filed – The famous author Guy Kawasaki, recommends reviewing your writing on actual paper and correcting it with a red pen like teachers do in school. When I read this in his book, APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) How to Publish a Book, it reminded me of the best sales plans I had the opportunity to use or review. Without exception, the best plans were marked up with notes telling the user that an action was complete, amended or eliminated. It was being used as the fluid tool it was meant to be versus the annual assignment that gets put in the file folder until next year’s assignment.
A simple sales plan is both efficient and effective because stakeholders will review it. A marked up plan (digital or paper) is a winning plan because it’s catalyzing the winning actions.
©2013 Rick Wong – The Fie Abilities™, LLC