Sales and Sales Management Blog

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

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