I heard an expression once that went something like this:
Every boxer walks into the ring with confidence until he get punched in the face the first time.
And so it is with the new year when sales teams, led by courageous sales leaders like you, submit sales plans, business plans, financial budgets or revenue projections. Everyone starts the year exuding confidence that is either real or feigned. We have to or we wouldn't stay in the fight. It's our natural instinct, as sales leaders leading sales people or sales people leading themselves, to believe that this year will be different. This is the breakout year.
For those that experienced success, it will be a continuation of success. For those long into their careers with established revenue flow, it's a matter of "you can count on me to do my part." For those that struggled and worked hard but failed to succeed, you know that you've turned the corner just as the page of the calendar has been turned. Regardless of the state of mind exiting the previous year, the new year brings an air of revitalization, re-commitment and certainty that success will be achieved.
The 1 thing I've been right about in regards to selling is that business plans, success formulas, budgets, revenue projections sales plans NEVER EVER work out as planned.
Beth Mooney, CEO and President of Key Bank, in a sales conference several years ago said something like she has never had a business plan work out exactly the way it is written; BUT, regardless of what happens, we will strive to meet the business plans objectives. Neither have I, neither have you, neither have your sales people.
Business plans, sales plans, success formulas are guesses. Somewhat educated guesses at times, but other times more like novels. They have no chance of being accurate because of two items:
- There isn't enough evidence (historical performance data) to support the projections, the ratios, the averages being assumed to generate the sales or revenue projections
- There isn't an activity plan or what I call a work plan submitted to support the business plan.
- There isn't EVER any follow-up to the plan relative to inspecting what is expected or projected.
- Build plans based on what you know - historical data that supports your projections. If you don't have the data, make the best educated guesses you can make and then.
- Inspect what you expect. Implement huddles so that you can collect real time data, gain insight from that data, and then provide real time coaching to change activity and or improve skills
- Review the actual performance of leading indicators (sales activities) against the activity projections used to build the plan. Look at the conversion ratios and critical numbers to see where the choke points are for each sales person you have.