I had passed out the sales playbook and gave my sales team some basic instructions with a completion date. So far so good. Yeah… not really.
The first salesperson walks in my office. “How do you want this filled out?” I responded. “I want you to fill it out on what you think it’s going to take for you to be successful this year. Not what I think but what you think. It’s your plan.” Still looking a little confused he left. This was repeated by most of my team with a few exceptions. One salesperson actually got so frustrated with that answer that she “f-bombed” me.
You see even though they were all experienced sales pros no one had asked them to really think through what it would take for them to be successful. They had been spoon-fed what management wanted from them. In my experience the micro-management approach simply doesn’t work. Let me give you an example.
I have designed a sales plan (playbook) that I have given away for years. The new company I was working for wanted to start the year out with one and I offered mine. Surprisingly my boss wanted to be in the one on ones as I gave these out to my sales team. No problem or so I thought. As we began talking with the salespeople he started dictating what he thought they should do to be successful. In some cases it became quite contentious between him and the salesperson. A fairly negative experience over all. Ultimately they agreed, not really by choice, and went on their way.
I probably don’t need to tell you how successful these plans were after that. Pretty much a non-starter. The plans were not their plans. They had no real buy-off on the numbers and goals. It was not a tool for their progression and success. A disaster.
The right way to present a great sales plan or playbook?
If done right, a well prepared sales plan should be a way for sales professionals to focus on realistic goals and activity. It should be a work in progress guide that they refer to all year long. It should never be presented as a “stick” with mandatory guidelines. It needs to be a positive tool and ultimately they need to believe in it as such. They need to believe that if they follow their plan they will be successful.
“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” -Zig Ziglar
I can not emphasize this enough. Sales plans or playbooks need to be their plan. Suggestions are fine but it needs to represent how they see their success and goals. Keep in mind this is probably new and uncharted territory for them. They’ll have to put some real thought into their plan. Some will struggle. Patience is definitely a virtue here.
Sales professional insight. Manager enlightenment.
If followed this can be pretty enlightening to a sales manager. They get a chance to see what’s in their sales teams head. How they perceive success and activity. Not so amazingly, I have found they are typically spot on. Maybe a few tweaks are needed here and there but a good plan and direction typically was presented. Almost always, they were harder on themselves than I could have ever been.
I recommend a sales plan not only for sales teams but for managers as well. After reviewing the teams plans they can usually start to formulate a great plan for themselves that also makes sense to company goals if done right.
Managers need to keep their ego in check and present with a clear understanding of whose plans and playbooks these are. They need to review them periodically with their team members to keep them focused. Not in an accusatory “I told you so” style. Make this an important part of their sales success and results will follow.© 2006-2018 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF | Posted on