WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN FOR 2021?

For the past few months, we have been working with our sales coaching, mentoring, and consulting clients on their strategic plan for 2021. With a year of varying business highs and lows behind them.  Many of the coaching conversations have come down to taking control of their businesses, creating predictable outcomes, and/or finalizing their pivots.

For some businesses it’s planning to support the growth they’ve seen, understanding what “the new normal” might look like, and often we are guiding people to recognize what results are repeatable and which results are not. This is a sensitive subject for many managers and owners.  Want a hard cold fact? You can’t always find another set of deals to replace your one massive blue bird sale last year. Building your strategic plan’s budgeting, staffing, and setting quotas on one time wins is to the team’s disadvantage and a great way to underachieve against the plan.

Other businesses have had a hard sales year. The reality is it’s still tough in many b2b markets. Customers are holding their cash, no decision has become a real competitive threat to winning new business and end users are sweating assets. Getting back on track revenue is important but how that has always looked and what it should look like takes a lot more deep inspection, planning, and thought.

If you have not spent the time as part of your go to market and sales strategy you should. When was the last time you sat down with customers (via a web conference of course) and had a conversation about their needs and their business challenges. Don’t plan in a vacuum, don’t take what’s in the news, trade publications, or analyst reports as absolute truth. Forget their narratives on how good or bad things are and learn and judge what is right for yourself from your own teams, suppliers, and most importantly customers.  

 As complicated as it can get we have been able to boil most strategic planning down into three categories. Planning, Follow Up and Follow Through. Does it sound too simple? Too good to be true that a strategic plan can be that easy? Simplicity works, the devil is ALWAYS in the details, and every plan is only as good as the effort put into the planning and execution.

Sales and Strategic Business Planning Priorities for 2021 1)Planning - Be strategic, tactical and operational 2) Follow Up - Know When How and the Expected Outcome 3) Follow Through - On time with added insight and value.

Strategic Planning – Building Your 2021 Plan

Planning which at the top level includes Sales, Marketing, and general Business Planning.  Too often sales leaders and business owners focus only on the financial planning portions. How much more can we sell? Do we have the capital to support it? What Expenses can we reduce? All of which are an important part of strategic planning for both businesses and individuals.

Where can we as well as strategic planning for their own books of business? Whether we are coaching an individual contributor, a sales leader, a founder, or a CEO implementation strategy needs to be part of the conversation. So often companies invest in consulting to solve issues big and small. They spend fortunes on research and recommendation then fall down on the implementation and execution.

Build Follow Up Into Your Strategic Plan

Planning which at the top level includes Sales, Marketing, and general Business Planning.  Too often sales leaders and business owners focus only on the financial planning portions. How much more can we sell? Do we have the capital to support it? What Expenses can we reduce? All of which are an important part of strategic planning for both businesses and individuals.

Where can we as well as strategic planning for their own books of business. Whether we are coaching an individual contributor, a sales leader, a founder, or a CEO implementation strategy needs to be part of the conversation. So often companies invest in consulting to solve issues big and small. They spend fortunes on research and recommendation then fall down on the implementation and execution.    

Follow up – or in corporate speak “executing corporate initiatives” needs to be built into the execution of every strategic plan. This includes clearly definitions of who is responsible for what and when. While the outcomes and results will be the ultimate measure of effectiveness. You shouldn’t leave the implementation unchecked and just wait to see what happens. There needs to be a tactical and operational element to this step. As a business leader your team should have been involved all along the way.

If you are a small business owner or individual contributor working on your personal sales plan follow-up is simple. Straight forward, and easy. Are you working on the plan you built? Are you consistently executing the strategy by staying on top of your own metrics? Calls, Quotes, follow up calls, email reminders, marketing, etc.

When you are self-employed, commission only, or highly leveraged it’s easy to simply look at the numbers when they are in line and celebrate your success.  

The best salespeople know that what is driving their sales today will likely change in the future and are always looking to not only maximize what they have today but also diversify for the future.  Part of that is the discipline to set aside the time to continue to execute their sales plan, which takes us to follow through.

Follow Through On Your Strategic Plan

Following up is not enough. Following through is what really makes the difference in a successful plan.  Like most things in life, it’s the simple things that truly make the difference. Volumes could be written but it really is 3 simple things to live up to what you set out in the plan.

Do what you said you would do when you said you would do it – Easy if you planned to have a quote out to the customer by 5 Tuesday do that. If you planned to add an additional warehouse staff member when shipments reached a certain level approve the requisition and find a good hire. Don’t play the game of stalling and taking the expense a quarter later for a few extra bucks in profit.   

Add Additional Insight – Executives have a view of the world. No matter what it’s never as good or pure as the team members who are customer facing day in and day out doing the job. It’s easy to go into a cycle where coaches don’t coach, and execs are out of touch with customer needs. Add additional value to your plan by adding additional perspective. Sure you need to filter it and balance the priority of needs and opportunities. Odds are you are already doing this as a top salesperson or business leader. Doing it with added insight is the value.

Understand the Value – Don’t believe your own B.S. Just because you believe something is great doesn’t mean the customer or market will. Work to understand the need, represent that in your strategic plan, know what it’s worth in terms of price, market share, and loyalty.  Then follow through and deliver on it.  

Have you built Your Strategic Plan?

It’s never too late to start planning. The only real variable is the timeline you give yourself to achieve the goals. As a sales coach and leader, the typical approach to planning is building an annual plan with a projected year 2 and 3 outlook. Then at the end of each quarter, we review what has happened in the business, measure it against the plan and adjust the strategy as needed. Business plans are and should be living breathing documents. Markets change, customers’ needs can be dynamic, to say the least.

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Tim Kubiak

Tim Kubiak is a Business Geek, Nomad, Aging Metal Head, Nerd, & Coffee Addict. Plus the only big guy at Hot Yoga. For over 25 years he's been building high-performance sales teams globally. With over 2 billion in lifetime sales in goods and services. Tim works as a coach mentor with Founders, Business Owners, Executives, and High Performing individuals to transform companies, bring new solutions to market and achieve their professional goals.

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