For many organizations running the January-to-December financial year, the 2nd half begins with first working day in July. And for those who do not run the January-December Financial year, we know that chances are that you are either closing the year or starting off a new one. Either way, this period is also crucial as a lot of other businesses that you deal with follow the standard annual calendar.
In Sales, the need to take particular care to stop and review progress each time we get to this point is what this piece is all about. Technically speaking, half time means different things to different folks. But one place we seem to have the same meaning for half time is in the sporting world, where, for instance in the world famous sports of soccer, half time is a time to-
- get some rest
- check how well you have fared against your opponent (in this case, with your game goals and objectives, vis-a-vis your plans)
- strategize, make changes and prepare for the 2nd and only remaining half.
The same applies to sales. This is a good time to pause and look at everything you set-out to do and see if you need to stay on course or correct course. And this is where having a Sales Plan ab initio helps. A Sales Plan is a plan of clarity for;
– Identifying clear objectives that you set out to achieve within the financial year (often rendered in quantitative terms like sales revenue, product shipment volumes, etc)
– Indicating how you intend to achieve those (gameplan)
– With a clear outline of the resources you will need to achieve those plans (investment plan)
– It also includes non-financial goals that, when achieved, accelerates your ability to achieve the quantitative objectives (development plan).
The strategic importance of having a sales plan cannot be overemphasized. A Sales plan removes ambiguity from your sales pursuits and is designed to let you know what you should be doing at any point on the financial year journey. It provides the big picture from which the quarter-by-quarter and month-to-month activities are driven. In my many years of selling, I have found 3 kinds of scenarios that you can find yourself in;
– A plan-less situation: Here no sales plan exists and the individual or team coasts about hoping to ‘make it’ on the tides of probability.
– Foisted Plan: Here the plan is made for you by someone else, usually head-office, your boss, or a group of top management people. Under this category, the ‘plan’ communicated to you is often the hard financial numbers, quotas or volume achievement targets and that’s it! The likelihood of the sales person or sales team being blindsided on a lot of performance influencing issues can be very high.
– Full Plan Situation: This is the best place to be. You have a plan that conforms to standards and which you are confident and ready to start implementing, or are already implementing.
For a sales plan to be considered as standard, it must answer a few questions, thus:
- Can the numbers (target/Quota) be made?
2a. If so, where can we make them from?
2b. If not, what numbers can we possibly make?
- How will the numbers be achieved and at what points during the financial year?
- What Skills, tools, etc do we need to achieve the numbers?
- If we achieve the numbers what happens next?
A good plan will provide answers to most, if not all, of these questions. So as you journey into the 2nd half of this year, one of the things we recommend you do is to have a sales plan document in place. If your numbers are good and you have great momentum, chances are that you have a plan and executing towards it…even if you don’t yet call it a sales plan. If you are having some challenges, manifested in missed monthly or quarterly targets, you may need to pause now and review if what you have meets the sales plan criteria.
Overall, finishing the financial year well means meeting all your goals and objectives. Having clarity of and maintaining a focus on these should never be a tiring exercise.