Beating the Market Starts with a Sales Plan

Beating the Market Starts with a Sales Plan:from 3forward 
In the book Sales Growth – Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders, the closing chapter offers an excellent summary on best practices in sales strategy and planning.  It also makes the following statement in regards to whether a company’s sales strategy will beat the market.   “As a rule, however, beating the market requires a sales plan, a go-to-market model, and sales operations and capabilities that, in total, are better than the competitions.”   This sentence alone captures so much of what’s missing at most companies it bears further inspection.
Sales Plan
How many CEOs can say they have a formal, written sales plan from their sales leader?  I’m guessing 1, maybe 2, out of ten.  There’s two reasons why this is so.

  1. First, it’s not easy for most sales leaders to find the time during their ‘day jobs of managing deals and reps’ to complete the research and analysis necessary to create a comprehensive sales plan.  Even with the tools we provide for free on our site it’s a lot of work to pull together a sales plan.
  2. Second, many CEOs reach their position via finance, operations or engineering – not sales.  Consequently, many haven’t seen a true written sales plan or know what to expect of one unless they it picked up during their MBA studies.
Go-To-Market Model
Go-to-market models are equally challenging, and today more dynamic than ever.   Increasingly, a successful go-to-market model will address the following:
  • Direct sales
  • Channels / Indirect sales
  • Digital and online sales
  • Emerging markets
  • Sales enabling technologies
Unfortunately again, we see too many CEOs and Sales Leaders argue that most of these options don’t apply to their company, believing that the ‘way they have always done it’ is how their customers’ will continue to buy in the future.   The truth is far different as buyers continue to exploit new technologies and different purchasing strategies.  Not having a strategy for each of these options risks your company being left behind if your traditional model is rendered obsolete by competition or other market forces.
Sales Operations
What is sales operations and why is it necessary to include this area in a discussion on ‘beating the market?’  First, it includes these elements – at a minimum:
  • Sales process (from lead qualification to closing)
  • Opportunity management
  • Market insight and trends
  • Data analysis
  • Sales dashboards
Why Sales Operations is important is because of how much the sales function has changed in recent years.  As the authors of Sales Growth make very clear, the role of sales in best-in-class companies has become a very technical, highly-processed and tightly measured activity.   It is as finely tuned and dynamic as any other business function.  Sales Operations is integral to the success of today’s high performing selling organizations as it allows sales leaders, front line sales managers and sales reps to focus on the right activities while it keeps company leaders highly informed on key performance measurements.
If you are head of sales or head of the whole company, there is much to learn by reading Sales Growth – Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders.  If you’re like many company and sales leaders, you’ll likely find it leaves you feeling very far behind the leading sales organizations – but maybe that’s a good feeling to have these days!
Ready to get started on your company’s 2013 sales plan, we have a complimentary handbook that will help you get started.  Download it here and let us know if we can help you by answering any questions once you get going.

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