When the New Year has passed, and the excitement of your new resolutions or goals is dwindling, it can be challenging to stay motivated. How do you stay on the right track and make your goals a reality?
Reignite your drive and excitement and give yourself an amazing gift -- something that keeps on giving, all year long.
This year, give yourself the gift of a business plan -- one that clearly spells out your goals, how you’ll pursue them, what you must do to get there, and what’s in your way. Not only will it help you meet and exceed your goals, but it might even help you get the promotion you've been striving for and advance your career.
You'll be back on the right track and have an action plan for success.
Here's a simple template with some of the key elements to get you started.
Sales Business Plan Layout
Obstacles to Success
I’ve found it easiest to start with the end in mind and work backward from there. Naturally, your goals will include your company’s expectations (i.e., quota), but why not go even further?
Be more specific: What do you want to achieve?
A promotion? A certain level of income? A certain number of conversions per month? X number of new clients acquired over the course of the year? How about increasing your average deal size? Whatever it is, put it down in writing and build a plan to get yourself there.
It’s powerful to write down our goals. Last year, I wrote five key goals on the whiteboard in my office. At year-end, I had hit four of them -- including finally buying the car I’ve had my eye on for 30 years.
Once you’ve articulated what you want to achieve, the next question is logical: How are you going to get there?
What new markets will you approach? What customers/prospects will you target? How you will frame the sales conversation or sharpen your sales story? What are the new things you will try on the phone, online, or face-to-face?
It’s also a great time to take a few minutes and ponder the strategies you pursued last year. Which worked well and make good sense to reincorporate again this year? And which didn’t work at all and either need to be adjusted or scrapped altogether?
This section is critical because sales is a verb (it may not be in the dictionary, but in my book it is.)
There are way too many salespeople who are great at talking about what they are going to do, but when push comes to shove, there’s no action. The most well-intentioned goals and the soundest strategies mean nothing if you don’t know what steps to take to achieve them or put metrics in place to monitor your progress.
So for this section of your plan, ask yourself, "What activities am I going to commit to?"
For example, you’ll have X number of face-to-face conversations per month or make this many prospecting calls per week. Whatever the activities are, they should drive what ends up on your calendar on a daily/weekly basis.
Let's say your goal is to make more sales in a shorter period of time. Include the resources and tools you'll use to achieve that goal in your business plan. In this case, one option would be to use a CRM database to help you keep track of your prospects, eliminate manual data entry (e.g., logging emails and calls), ultimately increasing your efficiency.
4. Obstacles to Success
This is a unique addition I haven’t seen in many plans, but I think it’s an important component. This is where you have a chance to lay out what could prevent you from reaching your goals and also highlight areas where you might need some help. The blunt truth is that you likely know right now what may get in the way of your success. So instead of using these obstacles as excuses later, point them out right at the beginning.
Think carefully: What obstacles will keep you from succeeding?
Do you need new tools or different technology? More flexibility? Better internal support? Put it down in writing now. That way, when you present your plan to your manager (and I strongly encourage you to present your plan to your manager and maybe even a few peers), you give them a chance to support you by removing the obstacle or, perhaps, tell you it can't be removed in the short-term and you'll need to work with it. Either way, it’s in your best interest to declare these potential pitfalls now so they’re not excuses down the road.
5. Personal/Professional Development
This is another important aspect of the business plan that's often overlooked. I regularly see salespeople fail because they’ve stopped learning and growing.
Many have become stale. Others are bored and ineffective from deploying the same techniques year after year. You wouldn’t go to a doctor that didn’t read medical journals and was treating patients with the same protocol he did 20 years ago, would you?
So commit to growing as a sales professional this year. Think, what are you going to do to grow in your career this year?
What conferences are you going to attend? Which books are you going to read? Which sales blogs will you follow?
Free Business Plan Template (Word)
This five-part business plan template can be your gift to yourself that keeps on giving. Use your plan like a living document. Review it weekly. And make tweaks as necessary along the way. Let it dictate what makes it onto your calendar and what doesn’t. At year-end, you will be amazed at what you accomplished and thankful you invested the time to do this now.