December 7, 2020

Before Your Write Your 2021 Business Plan, Ask These 3 Questions

‘Tis the Season for salespeople to draft their business/sales plans for the upcoming year.

There is so much good derived from the process of preparing, writing, and presenting annual plans that it’s hard to understand why it’s not mandatory! I won’t take up space here attempting to sell you on the powerful benefits, but if you are not sure whether it’s worth your effort, take two minutes to read my strong thoughts on the topic (and feel free to borrow the simple business plan template) in this very popular old post.

However, before you even begin drafting your 2021 plan, it’s helpful take time to reflect back on this past year, and probably even subsequent years since 2020 has been anything but typical. Along with asking yourself the obvious questions like “what worked?” that you should do more of in 2021, and “what didn’t work?” that needs to be altered or replaced, I would challenge you to dig deep into the three sets of questions below that cover some of the most basic and critical elements of sales:

  1.  How crystal clear were you about the prospective and/or existing customers you were proactively pursuing for new business in 2020?  Were you working a strategic, finite list of growable accounts and ideal profile prospects? Were you laser focused on creating new opportunities from that list? Did that finite list drive your calendar or did you spend most of your time in reactive mode?

  2.  How compelling was the messaging (your sales story) that you deployed this past year?  Did it get a prospect’s attention? Did it position you/your company/solution as you needed it to? Did your voicemails and emails get returned? Did your story justify your premium pricing and keep you from getting commoditized? Did it give you confidence to approach senior level contacts because you knew what you were saying communicated that you help people like them and/or businesses like theirs?

  3.   How much time did you really spend selling? I mean it. Sales is not about work; it’s about driving results. There are no prizes for effort, hours worked, or getting to inbox zero. Did you truly own your calendar last year? Were you able to spend the majority of your time working on the only three sales verbs that matter (create, advance, and close), or were you diverted and distracted by either personal issues or account management and customer service burdens? If we looked at your calendar from 2020, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a proactive, new business-focused salesperson?

Sales Friends, I’m always happy tackle bigger, deeper, more complex sales topics. And as I wrote above, I’m a huge proponent of writing annual business plans and think you absolutely should do that before heading into next year. But I’ve been around enough salespeople and sales teams to state with 100% confidence that if we don’t nail those three big basic sales categories, we are going to have a really, really hard time succeeding at bringing in new business. 


REMINDER:  SPECIAL SESSION JUST FOR SALES LEADERS

If your situation is anything like the majority of sales executives and managers I observe (especially during this crazy season), there’s a good chance you’re maxed-out. Many (even highly successful) managers are overwhelmed and exhausted, yet as hard as they’re working, they know they can be, and need to be, more productive.

Join me for this special session – either Tuesday or Wednesday. I will be sharing the secrets of today’s most effective and efficient sales leaders who have found ways to accomplish more sales management in less time.

Here’s my promise: After attending this free session, instead of feeling maxed-out you’ll leave energized to implement practical takeaways to maximize your productivity.