How to create a more effective sales plan for 2020

With 2020 upon us, now is the time when many sales leaders start planning for the year ahead. It’s also the time of year when those who’ve struggled will jump ship, so either you are scrambling to find someone new, or have a search already under way.

On top of that, you are probably working to get deals closed, and make sure the pipeline is looking strong to hit the ground running in January. But at the back of your mind, there are the targets already in place for 2020.

In most cases, no matter how well a sales team does one year, senior leaders always want them to exceed previous years. Growth must continue. If you are wondering how to achieve those 2020 sales goals, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

When planning for a new year, it helps to actually have a plan.

Why sales teams need a plan?

As an activity, sales often falls into one of two categories: frantically do everything and hope for the best. Or, have a plan, stick to it, test it, and keep improving on it.

Guess which one is more effective?

Forward-thinking sales leaders are increasingly taking a data-driven approach. When you are consistently measuring activity, such as outbound calls made, sales meetings done, and demos on CrankWheel, you can improve the outcomes.

Sales plans are living documents, because they evolve. Sales plans are designed to lay out objectives, targets, outline personas and target markets, and the steps sales teams need to achieve the objectives. A plan is shaped by a number of factors.

An outbound, office-based (inside sales) is going to need a different sort of plan than a field sales team. Whereas, account managers or inbound sales teams won’t benefit from the same tactics and approaches as an outbound team. How your company approaches or divides up the sales process impacts a sales plan as much as the target market.

Effective sales plans need to include the following:

  • High-level sales and/or revenue goals;
  • Outlining the reasons behind the targets is also a great way to encourage buy-in and make a team more invested and committed to achieving them (plus earning commission or bonuses);
  • Give your team strategic direction;
  • Who’s responsible for what, and reporting structure (especially if there has been any changes, unless already clear in job descriptions and other team documents);
  • An outline of the KPIs, measuring, reporting and feedback process.

How to write a 2020 sales plan?

#1: Start with a reflective exercise

Go back over 2019 performance:

  • Did you hit target? Whether you did or not, a forward-thinking sales leader should examine the same question: Why? Why did you hit or miss?
  • Next, think about what could be done differently?
  • Are more resources needed?
  • Was one of the team letting the side down?
  • How could you improve next year?
  • Are there any sector/vertical-specific challenges going against you (or wider economic challenges)?

Aim to be as realistic and practical as possible. Focus on positives as well as negatives. Look at ways you can replicate and scale ways wins were achieved. If one of the team is consistently smashing targets: How can you make the whole team play at the same level?

In many ways, this reflective exercise is the most important part of creating a sales plan for a new year. Unless you reflect on wins and losses, you are at risk of making some of the same mistakes and failing to capitalize on the wins next year.

#2: Sales goals background

When sales teams are handed down goals without any explanation, there’s no buy-in.

If goals are too high, there can be pushback. Sales team members know they can’t achieve them, so they don’t even try. To achieve buy-in, a sales team should have some input at the goal setting stage and a sales leader should provide more background as to why targets have been set, and the impact on the wider business.

#3: Target market clearly defined

When you look back at 2019, has your sales team been brining in the right clients?

In B2B sales, one of the challenges is figuring out the most effective fit between a provider and clients. Spoiler alert: Not every client is the right client!

Not every client has enough of a budget. Not every client has the same values, and where some clients are going to understand the value of what you are providing, some of them aren’t going to understand.

Using a CRM, you can look back over at client wins. With this data, you should be able to quantify an ideal client. Budget, size, and a range of other factors should make this easier to identify.

Alongside quantitive factors, you have to think about the service delivery side. Question those who work with the client, and the account manager, to make sure they’re a good firm to continue looking after. Clients who look good on paper, but are a nightmare to work with or consistently pay late are often not worth the trouble.

#4: Where are these target clients, and how to reach them?

Now you have a clearer idea of what has worked this year, and what hasn’t, and you know who are your ideal target clients, it’s time to search for them. Where are they and how can your team find more of them?

With this information in hand, you should be able to put together a clear and concise sales plan for next year. This whole exercise shouldn’t take too long. Make good use of the data, of asking your team and others in your company the right questions and you should have a living document that has a positive influence on 2020.