Sales Planning Basics

The key to effective sales planning is thinking and preparation. One of the keys to successful selling is having a written game plan. I won't say this is easy because it's not.

Because it's not easy to do it's easy to avoid doing - and that's a huge mistake.

If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, let's begin.

Who are your existing customers? Prioritize these customers two ways. First prioritize your customer list based on sales revenue. Then prioritize your customer list based on sales potential.

Who are your prospects? Prioritize your list of prospects based on sales potential.

Develop a sales call plan based on anticipated sales call frequency. Determine how many times a year you want to visit your best customers. Determine how many times a year you want to visit your second-tier, or medium-size customers. Then determine how many times a year you want to visit your small-size customers.

Do the same thing for your sales prospects. Determine how many times a year you want to visit your large sales prospects, medium-size and smaller sales prospects.

Once you've completed this exercise you can begin to map out a sales call plan based on geography and sales potential.

Prepare a basic sales strategy that includes a script for making appointments by telephone. Go here to learn everything you don’t know about selling on the telephone. You should also prepare a list of questions to qualify the sales prospects and customers you visit.

Don't overlook this because it's the essence of effective sales planning.

And for Pete's sake take good notes. Taking notes shows that you are taking an active interest in the person you're talking to. Taking notes is also an indication of who's doing most of the talking. The more notes you have the more listening you've done. Your ears will earn you more money than your mouth.

Set achievable sales goals. Make your sales goals challenging and attainable. For each goal prepare a list of specific action steps with timelines.

When you achieve your sales goals be sure to celebrate your selling success. Then establish new sales goals you can begin working on. There's no time to dawdle.

Develop a basic marketing plan for your sales territory. Do your best to contact all customers and sales prospects monthly. Now, don't fall off your chair. I'm not suggesting you visit all sales prospects and customers every month - just contact them.

You can call, fax, e-mail, send an article, send a newsletter, and even send a postcard. When you do this systematically and professionally it's called marketing.

Learn how to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Being different is the first step to becoming memorable. Find out what works in other industries that can be adapted to the business you're in.

Have fun while you're working and let your sales prospects and customers see you as an authentic person - the real McCoy.

Don't ever be too busy to get smart. Read sales articles, periodicals, and business books to expand your mind and improve your thinking about the art of selling. Load up on sales tips you can use to grow your business and outfox your competition.

One of the biggest mistakes a majority of salespeople make is to get all tangled up in their work and not set aside enough time for self improvement and self development.

The biggest key to effective sales planning is to make sure what's important is in writing. If it's not in writing it's not a plan and that's a fact.

You should recognize that most outgoing and extroverted salespeople prefer the people side of the business and not the planning side. You don’t have to like it to do it!

Success isn't an accident. Success comes quickest to those who are good at sales planning and focused on execution. When you combine planning with hard work and extra effort you'll soon find yourself in the top 1% of all professional salespeople.

It's been said that "the only time you'll find success before work is in the dictionary." Sometimes it takes 17 years to become an overnight success.

The best advice I ever got was to "Plan your work and then work your plan."

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