First Steps to Effective Sales Planning

By Dave Kahle ( Sales Coaching:The Kahle Way)

Most salespeople love to be active – out in their territories, seeing people, solving problems, putting deals together. This activity orientation is one of the necessary characteristics of a sales personality. A day sitting behind a desk is their idea of purgatory.

Unfortunately, this activity orientation is both a strength and weakness. Much of a salesperson’s ability to produce results finds its genesis in the energy generated by this activity orientation.

But it can be a major obstacle. Far too often, salespeople are guilty of going about their jobs directed by the credo of ” Ready, shoot… aim.” The luxury of this kind of unfocused activity is a casualty of the Information Age. In order to be effective, salespeople must be focused and thoughtful about everything they do. Activity without forethought and planning is a needless waste of time and energy.

And the most important part of the job to think about is the time they spend in front of their prospects and customers. Of all the different parts of their job, there is nothing more important to think about… nothing more important to plan… than that. images

For most salespeople, if they were to make a list of everything they do in the course of a day, and then considered each of the items on the list, they’d likely discover that almost everything they do can be done cheaper or better by someone else within their company. Someone else can call for appointments cheaper or better than the salesperson. Someone else can more easily check on back orders. Someone else can fill out a price quote, write a letter, or deliver a sample, cheaper or better than most salespeople. In fact, it’s likely that the only thing a salesperson can do that no one else in the company can do cheaper or better is interact with the customers. It’s the face-to-face interaction with customers that defines the value they typically bring to the company. If it weren’t for that, your company would have little use for salespeople.

So, the face-to-face interaction with the customer is the core value salespeople bring to the company. Yet, most studies indicate that the average outside salesperson only spends about 25 – 30 percent of his/her working week actually face-to-face with the customer.

In the light of that, doesn’t it make sense to spend some time planning and preparing to make that 25 – 30 percent of the week the highest quality you can possibly make it? Of course it does.

Planning Principles… 

Mastery of this practice is built upon several powerful principles. Here’s the first.