Now is a good time to rethink how you are managing your sales territory. No salesperson can afford to waste any time calling on the wrong customers or selling low payoff products and services. Customers, products, technology and competitors are constantly changing. Great performance starts with an outstanding territory sales plan.
Like any business plan, a sales plan provides a predicable road map of a goals and activities to ensure a successful year. Knowing whom you will call on, what sales activities are required and how much time and effort must be expended on each prospect is a critical step in making your goals. Establishing the most effective course of action to achieve sales objectives can be done using a simple planning process.
Many salespeople fail to adequately adjust when things go wrong. Those who don’t plan tend to repeat the same tactic and strategies regardless of whether they work or not. A territory sales plan should be prepared annually and updated quarterly.
Here are three good reasons to develop, update and review your sales plans, strategies and tactics:
- The print industry is transitioning quickly. Now, print provider organizations are difficult to categorize since more and more of them are offering a broader range of products and services to complement existing business models. The types of hardware utilized, output produced or types of customers served no longer easily distinguish our industry. Your competitors may be more vulnerable than ever.
- The industry is becoming more democratized. More and more print providers have adopted new technology and consequently added more services. In the past, customers would go to a specific type of printer, agency and creative to obtain specific solutions. Today they are becoming more comfortable with printers who are able to supply all of their communication and communication services needs. If you do not have the all the solutions, then partner with someone. This is a terrific opportunity for creative and aggressive sales people to generate new business.
- There has never been a better time in recent history to sell print. With so many changes, customers are looking for new and better ways to communicate. Any statement an organization can make can be expressed clearly and pervasively with a printed image. In this day of the myriad clutter of written, spoken and electronic messages, customers will appreciate the opportunity to have their message stand out. Customers are looking for salespeople who can present then with new ideas and ways to improve their business.
What Do You Need To Do?
As you might guess, an important part of a territory sales plan is determining what needs to be done and how long it will take to reach your goals. Your plan must be intelligent effort directed toward clearly defined goals. Be sure to analyze sales activity in terms of your important goals; your income and your quota.
Ask yourself, have I attained the income level that I expect and have I generated the sales levels that my company expects? What is going well and what is not working. Then ask the question how much income can I reasonably expect this year and specifically what do I need to do to make it happen. You will need to target specific companies and develop a calendar of activities. This will include how many prospecting phone calls, customer appointments, presentations, surveys and proposals; it will take to get your desired income. All of this will allow you to build a plan that includes specific sales activities.
Key Elements of a Territory Sales Plan
Here are some suggestions for assessing, planning and implementing a territory plan.
- Establish income and business goals. How much money do you expect to earn and what sales performance do you need to obtain to get there? Plan out your income by quarter, then map the required sales necessary. Ask, are these goals reasonable and achievable and what must happen for me to reach them?
- Profile your top customers and prospects. Spend ample time planning and researching. Research the marketplace you are selling in. Map the types of customers and markets to the kinds of products and service you can offer. Target your sales based on potential. List all your top prospects and describe what their pain points are. Review what makes them successful and what their perception is of your company.
- Build a sales forecast for each customer and prospect. Start with your existing customers. You know them well. Identify the printing solutions that are linked to the overall success of each customer and what they will be perceive as high value. High value solutions will generate more revenue and profit. Know what makes your customer’s successful. If gaps exist between what you are forecasting and your income plan, then you must immediately put plans in place to increase your prospecting to target new and existing accounts. Don’t wait.
- Prioritize and schedule your strategies, tactics and activities. What specifically will you do and in what time frames will they be done to close the business? Develop a calendar and list the actions you will take in each account such as generating proposals, developing pilots or creating proofs of concepts. For prospecting, specifically describe your planned actions such as networking, cold calling, holding a customer event, etc. Think like an agency or marketing communications firm. If you can’t offer all the services required to support a profitable business then find partners.
- Create a monthly sales and income forecast. Based on your forecast for closing specific customers and prospects, build a spreadsheet of the monthly schedule of sales and income that you will generate. This is the tract that you need to make your overall sales and income objectives. Keep this spreadsheet up to date and use it as a reporting system to guage your success.
Joe Rickard is a sales training leader and consultant who works with printing and technology companies in the graphic arts to improve their sales effectiveness. He is the founder of Intellective Solutions, a provider of customized sales and sales management training material and services. Contact Rickard at (845) 753-6156, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.intellectivesolutions.com.