Sales and Sales Management Blog

October 30, 2006

Helping Your Salespeople Develop a Real Marketing Plan–Part 5

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 2:12 pm

How will the sales rep project their coming year’s production with any certainty? The only reasonable method is to take their previous year’s production numbers for each channel and make projections based on their past numbers along with their prospecting commitments for each channel.

For example: If the reps closing ratio last year was 32% for a given channel and their prospecting produced 100 qualified prospects in that channel and they had to talk to 250 people to find 100 qualified prospects, then they must project based on those numbers. Based on these numbers, last year they talked to an average of 20.833 people per month to find an average of 8.33 qualified prospects resulting in an average of 2.67 sales per month for that channel. Let’s assume that they spent an average of 18 hours per week marketing to that channel. In addition, let’s assume that their objective for the coming year is to double their production from that particular channel. In order to do so they must project 36 hours per week dedicated to that channel, generating, on average, 41.76 people spoken to, with an average of 16.66 qualified prospects, making an average of 5.34 sales per month.

Now in addition to their doubling their time and effort in that particular channel, they should be taking proactive steps to 1) increase their closing ratio and 2) improving their prospecting abilities. By proactively taking steps to increase their close ratio such as, reading sales related books, listening to tapes, taking seminars and seeking help for managers and top producing peers, they will probably, over the course of the year, significantly increase their close ratio. But, since these skills have yet to be developed, they cannot assume an increase. Likewise, if they do the same to increase their prospecting abilities, they will probably realize another increase in close ratio. However, again, they cannot make that assumption. The bottom-line is they must be willing to commit the time and effort necessary to generate their desired production based on their historical numbers. If they do, in fact, improve over the course of the year, they have the option, once the improved numbers have been stable over a period of four to six months or readjusting their time commitment–or just making more money.

They will have to make these income and time projections for each channel they commit to. Depending on their willingness to commit, they may or may not have the ability to meet their desired income. For instance, if they want to double their income, but their projections show they would have to commit to working 78 hours per week, 52 weeks of the year in order to hit that mark, but are only willing to commit 60 hours per week, they cannot legitimately project a doubling of their income. Their projection would have to be based on their time commitment of 60 hours per week. They must then decide how those hours will be committed and make their projections based on that.

In addition, you, as their manager, must make a decision as to whether their time commitment is realistic or not. If one of your reps says they will commit 65 hours per week, 50 weeks out of the year and you, knowing the particular sales rep have serious doubts as to their willingness or ability to maintain that commitment, must be willing to help the rep readjust their projections to a more sustainable number. Maybe you believe 50 hours per week, 48 weeks out of the year is more realistic. Help your rep make these adjustments.

Both you and your rep want realistic, meet able numbers. Not easy to reach numbers, by any means, but reachable. If the rep is not willing to make the commitment to meet at least your minimum standards, then you must consider replacing that rep.

Now that the rep has made their projections, they must lay out in detailed format exactly how they are going to make those numbers work. Exactly what are they going to do to reach those numbers? They have to talk to 41.76 people per month. Exactly how are they going to find 41.76 people? Exactly what are they going to during those 36 hours per week? If they plan to send our mailers during the course of the year, exactly what are they going to send and when? If they are going to have a personal brochure, it needs to be designed now if it doesn’t already exist.

In our next segment, we’ll talk about creating a marketing calendar and creating the marketing plan.


October 24, 2006

Free Referral ebook and New Workbook at

Filed under: prospecting — Paul McCord @ 11:12 am

There is a new look at I have spit the website into two–the Business Research Database now contains the Research Center and the Sales Training Center. The old Referral Training Center has been moved to a website of it’s own in anticipation of the release of Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income. The new site–Power Referral–can be reached through a number of addresses:

All six of these addresses will take you to the new site.

Also on the site, as well as on Business Research Database and the McCord and Associates site, you can now subscribe to the POWER SELLING newsletter and receive a free 34 page ebook on Understanding Referral Generation. The ebook discusses the basic aspects of generating a large number of high quality referrals.

In addition, the Workbook companion to Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income is listed on the site and pre-sales will begin November 1, with the eworkbook avaiable for download on November 10. Special pre-release pricing will be avaiable to the first 500 eworkbook purchases at $9.95 instead of the standard $12.95–that’s a 25% savings for the first 500 purchasers. The workbook has dozens of referral letters, referral emails, and client letters seeking additional referrals that have proven to be very effictive, as well as a reproducable Referral Tree and other tools and referral training materials.

To get a free ebook, just go to any of my websites:,, or and sign up either directly for the ebook or for the POWER SELLING newsletter and we’ll get a pdf copy of the book in your hands.

October 13, 2006

Helping Your Sales People Create a Real Marketing Plan–Part 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 2:20 pm

Before a salesrep can begin planning for the future, they have to know where they’ve been and how they got to the place where their at. Most salespeople, this will be one of the most time consuming aspects of the creation of a marketing plan. Most salespeople have not kept track of their past year’s activities in a format that will allow them to quickly and easily generate their past year’s numbers.

Consequently, their first job is to put together, using everything they can dig up, a comprehensive history of the past year–both for sales they made and for their prospecting and marketing efforts. This is a big job–and can discourage many people from completing the task. This is one of the reasons that the plan must be something the salesperson is committed to doing. If they aren’t committed, what they’ll produce is nothing other than guesses, or worse, made up numbers that haven’t the slightest correlation to reality.

To begin the process, the salesperson must reconstruct each sale they consummated during the course of the year. The information they want is:

how many sales gross for each month
gross volume for each month
gross commissions for each month
a list of each individual sale for each month, including customer name, sale size, and price
exactly how they found each customer they sold
commission for each individual sale
any other industry specific or company specific relevant information

Some of this information is obvious–of course, they must know on a month-to-month basis what their sales volume was, how many sales they made, and what their commission was. All of this can be acquired easily from their pipeline reports. What isn’t so easy to come by is where and how they acquired each sale. But in some respects, that is the most important information. Which sales came from referrals and who, exactly, referred them? Which came from direct mail and which direct mail piece produced the prospect? Which came from company supplied leads? Salesperson purchased leads? Advertising? Which ad? Who was a walk-in or call-in?

The easiest way for a salesperson to complete this task is to create a table that lists each individual sale and each specific piece of information–volume, commission, price, how acquired, etc. In addition, there might be industry or company specific information that would be extremely helpful for planning purposes. Maybe multiple products or services are offered. Knowing what they sold could help define a specific niche they could concentrate in. Knowing if they sold only or a majority of “sale” items or services vs. full price. My geography is important–say they sell in three states. Where are the sales? If 80% is in one state and the other 15% divided between the other two states that will be important information later in developing the marketing plan.

The sold information gathering can be gleaned from a number of sources. Of course, their pipeline would be the primary source for their numbers, but the source of where the sale came from would more than likely require them to rely on memory, notes, their daytimer, and other sources. Since few salespeople are prepared for this exercise, this tends to be the most difficult part of the actual sold table. The one rule is that if they aren’t sure where a sale came from, they must mark it as “don’t know” or “don’t remember.” Guessing isn’t allowed as guesses can lead to some serious errors as we get further into the process.

Once they have completed the “sold” portion of information gathering, they must tackle the “prospecting” portion. This section is very similar to the first: they create a table that month-by-month goes through every single prospecting and marketing activity they engaged in. Exactly whom, by name, did they call on? How did they get that prospect? What happened? Why was a sale not made? Obviously, this table can become huge (hopefully). How much was spent on each prospecting method the salesperson engaged in?

After gathering all of this information, the salesperson should be able to create their past year’s numbers:

closing ratio
average volume–both per sale and monthly
average commission–both per sale and monthly
where did the clients come from?
what prospecting methods worked and which didn’t (and why)
where was the salesperson’s time spent wisely? unwisely? just plain wasted?
what was the cost to obtain a client for each prospecting method?
what products or services sell well? poorly? why?
what was the average workweek for the salesperson in terms of hours?

The information gathered can be broken down to answer dozens and dozens of questions about the salesperson’s activities. The more detailed they can get, the more specific questions they can answer, the better their next year’s marketing plan will be.

This section of the marketing plan, because it is so critical to what happens when constructing next year’s plan must be addressed with seriousness and commitment to being as detailed and exact as possible. This portion of the planning stage will probably take the average salesperson 10-20 hours to complete. A huge investment of time and energy that will pay off tremendously as they make next year’s plans.

Next time: evaluating marketing segments

October 10, 2006

Helping Your Salespeople Create a Real Marketing Plan–Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 6:50 pm

So, if what salespeople have traditionally presented to their sales managers as a “Marketing Plan” isn’t, in fact, a real marketing plan, what is? Before we get into discussing in detail how to write a personal marketing plan, we need to know what the eight rules of creating a marketing plan are:

1. A marketing plan must be initiated and owned by the salesperson. Uh, oh. The reality is that if your salespeople don’t want to create a real marketing plan, you can’t force them. If you try to force someone to write a true marketing plan, you’ll get junk disguised as a marketing plan. Consequently, the salesperson must want to develop the plan.
2. The plan must be realistic. No pie-in-the sky wishful thinking. If a salesperson’s current closing ratio is say 30%, a marketing plan based on a projected closing ratio of 50% is worthless. If a salesperson is currently only devoting 45 hours a week to their job, a sales plan based on a 60 hour work week is worthless.
3. The plan must be based on history. In order for the plan to have a basis for projections, the salesperson must be able to evaluate their past history–both in terms of sales and closings and in terms of prospecting.
4. The plan must be specific. The marketing plan must have specific goals, objectives and projections.
5. The plan must be objective. The goals, objectives and projections must be items that can be measured. If it can’t be measured or verified, it isn’t a goal, objective or projection, it’s a hope or wish.
6. The plan must be written. The plan must be a fully developed, written document.
7. The plan must have evaluation guides and specific evaluation dates. Within the plan there must be scheduled specific dates during the course of the year for evaluation and refining.
8. The plan must be published. At least one other interested party must have read and be willing to help evaluate the plan during the year.

So, there they are. The rules. In order for us to create a marketing plan it must be a written document created by a salesperson committed to creating and implementing a document that will change their career based on past history, with realistic, verifiable, objective goals, objectives and projections, with specific dates scheduled to re-evaluate and retool the process, and must be read by a minimum of one other interested party.

This is actually a pretty tall order as we will see in our next installment. For the typical salesperson to research and write a marketing plan it will probably take them somewhere between three to six weeks. The final plan will probably be a document of 50 to 150 pages. It will contain charts, tables, marketing materials, deadlines and timetables. It will cover a full year, describe exactly the activities the salesperson will engage in, and specify exactly how the salesperson’s success or failure will be judged. Quite a document. Quite a task.

Next time we’ll start looking at the specifics.

October 6, 2006

Helping Your Salespeople Create a Real Marketing Plan–Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:07 pm

As we begin the last quarter of the year, it’s time to begin thinking about planning for next year. As happens every year about this time, thousands of sales managers and salespeople will take a short look back on 2006 and wonder how they can make 2007 results significantly different from 2006’s results. Over the next three or four entries, I’m going to take some time to address this issue, which is actually the subject of my next book which is to be released late next summer.

Before we really get into the process of how to create a marketing plan for your team and how each team member can create a personal marketing plan, let’s spend some time thinking about how this process is traditionally done—and what the results of the traditional process typically are.

Every year thousands of sales managers require their salespeople to write “marketing plans” for the coming year. Millions of salespeople spend time and energy (admittedly, very little time and energy, but, still, time and energy) creating these plans. Having read literally thousands of these “marketing plans” (sometimes called business or sales plans—the terms are all used interchangeably), the most obvious thing about almost every single one is that they are totally worthless. Not even worth the paper they are written on. Worse, once the task is completed, both the salesperson and their manager know the plans are worthless, but each is willing to ignore that fact in order to be able to say that the task has been completed. The sales manager can take pride in the thought that he or she has made their sales team “think and plan for” the coming year, and the salesperson can feel good about getting another project off their desk. Both salesperson and manager knows the plans will be put in a drawer and never looked at again.

Why are the “plans” worthless? For the most part, because neither the salesperson nor their manager know how to create a real marketing plan. The how and why of creating a personal marketing plan has not been taught. There are literally hundreds of books on the market to show companies how to create a marketing plan. There are hundreds of companies that help other companies create marketing plans and that hold seminars to train companies how to create marketing plans. But there is virtually nothing in the marketplace to teach individuals how to create their personal marketing plan. Of course, there are books that claim to do this, but in reality, all they do is discuss some ways to market—not how to develop a comprehensive plan.

Most salespeople find it difficult and frustrating to try to take the concepts and techniques of corporate planning and convert them into personal planning. Most corporate marketing planning books make assumptions that make it difficult for individuals to convert the material into a useful format for themselves. For instance, most books assume there is a team working on the plan—a division of labor with input from a number of departments. Consequently, the amount of data “required” is overwhelming, and most individuals don’t want to drill down to find out what is really important for them to research. In addition, most corporate books assume a fairly significant budget—in terms of personnel and dollars. Again, most individuals don’t want to take the time to try to convert this information down to a workable format for an individual to use. Finally, many of the books use terminology that is foreign to many salespeople. Therefore, even the concepts can be confusing (though most are fairly simple if converted to everyday language).

Consequently, most “marketing plans” created by salespeople are nothing more than a few platitudes combined with a wish list of things they might do and outcomes they hope will happen.

Seldom will you find a marketing plan that carefully examines the past year’s production and prospecting numbers; that examines the results from each marketing segment the salesperson has been involved with in the past year; that researches each potential marketing segment and makes calculated decisions about where to spend time, money and energy during the coming year and exactly what results should be anticipated from these efforts; that sets out in detail with timelines and deadlines the exact steps and activities the salesperson will engage in; that fully develops each prospecting format the individual will use; that creates upfront the marketing materials and marketing schedule for the coming year; and builds in monitoring checkpoints during the course of the year.

Yet any “marketing plan” that doesn’t have the above ingredients isn’t a marketing plan. It’s nothing more than a wish list.

Over the next three or four entries, we’ll discuss the most basic aspects of how to create such a plan. Of course, the discussion will not be complete—otherwise I’d have to post all 300+ pages of my book. However, we can discuss the most basic requirements and give some ideas of how these can be implemented immediately.

The next entry will discuss the eight must requirements for an individual marketing plan.

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