Strategic Tune Up

When was the last time you had a strategic tune up?

Almost three months down and nine months to go. What will you do differently during the second half of this year to improve your selling results? If you don't take time to think about what you'll change, you may end up like stale bread. It's the perfect time for a strategic tune up.

Now that’s okay if you're happy with your year-to-date selling results. If however you'd like to do a lot better during the next 9 months you'd better think about making some changes today. You should also consider a strategic tune up for your businss.

One of the keys to raising your personal bar is effective sales planning. For most of us selling is fun and planning is not. Remember that selling success doesn't come from doing what everyone else is doing.

The most successful salespeople do the things that few salespeople take an interest in doing. There are two requirements for planning.

First set aside some quiet time for creative thinking. Actions follow thoughts - that's why creative thinking is so important.

Second, be sure to put your thoughts on paper. It really does make a difference - especially when you're doing a strategic tune up.

At least once a year professional salespeople should dedicate a minimum of one day to strategically think about their businesses. Don't be too quick to say you're already doing it. You can't afford not to do an annual strategic tune up.

Here’s a good way to begin your strategic sales planning process. Start with these six critical questions. Direct these questions at your business, your territory, your accounts, your customers, and naturally your competitors.

These questions will raise more questions and you should consider this process a success if you end up with more questions than answers.

Here are the six questions you should ask when doing your strategic tune up:

1. Where are you are now? Where are you now relative to your sales results and selling skills? How's your performance? What's your relative rank within your region and within your company?

What kind of overall growth do you have in your territory and in your top-10 accounts? Where are your competitors making inroads in your accounts? How well are you managing your time in your territory? What are your biggest challenges and best opportunities for growth?

Hey – you could spend an entire day just thinking about these questions.

2. Where are you headed if you don't change anything? What's the implication for you if you don't acquire new skills? What happens to your overall performance next year if you don't make up the loss for those accounts who decided to go to the competition?

How will your customers react to a strategy that is really based on a "more of the same" concept, especially when your competitors are becoming more creative in their approach?

With more work and less time available, how are you planning to manage the rest of the year when your business is expected to grow across the board?

If you couldn’t handle the challenges and opportunities last year, how will you respond to the one’s you face this year?

3. Where should you be headed? Do you have specific personal and professional goals? Are these goals specific and clearly defined? Are they in writing? Do you have completion dates established?

For each of your top-10 accounts do you have specific written objectives for sales, margins, growth rates, product mix, etc?

Have you made a commitment to self-development? What kind of sales books are you reading? Do you read the Wall Street Journal? If not, why not?

4. How will you achieve your objectives? You really can't "do" a goal or an objective. What you can and must do is create an action plan detailing how specifically you plan to achieve the goals you outlined when considering question three.

For example, if your goal is to increase your sales by 4.7% in your largest account, how specifically will you do it? How many “How’s” will it take to achieve your goal? Keep building your list of "How's" until it provides you with an 80% probability of success.

Remember your goals define (what you want to achieve) and your strategies define (how specifically you’ll do it.) Without proper linkage between goals and strategies, your goals begin to look like dreams – and could even turn into nightmares for you.

5. What are the specific details involved? The details referred to are the who, what, where, why, when, which, and how as they relate to initiating and implementing your strategies.

Ben Franklin once said, "Small leaks can sink big ships." In sales, minor adjustments can often create big impacts for you.

6. What should you measure? Are you measuring what matters most in your business? One of my favorite old sayings is "What gets measured gets done."

To keep you focused on your written objectives, how are you planning to measure your progress? What key elements of success should you review monthly? This is important if you want to reap the benefits from your strategic tune up.

Personal growth and development are often the result of careful measurement and evaluation.

The difference between first place and second place is often a very narrow margin. How many horses have won the Kentucky Derby by a nose?

These questions can make a significant contribution to your selling results, but only if you invest the time to ask them. The favorite day of the week for procrastinators is someday.

Action-oriented and results-oriented salespeople, the real doers in life, recognize, if you focus your energy on today, tomorrow takes care of itself.

Your future is yours to live one-day at a time. The shape of your future depends on how you live your days, one-day at a time.

Are you planning your future today or waiting until tomorrow to do it?

Isn't it time for a strategic tune up? It's a clear choice and it's all yours.

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