Measuring the pulse of business - the secrets of fulfilling a sales plan in IT and not only

Author: Andrey Mayboroda, CEO GreenBusiness

Imagine how much the implementation of a sales plan means for a consulting company that helps build sales? So here. We will be frank. In the first year on the market, we, a consulting company, worked without a sales plan, and in the second, we did not always fulfill it.

I think we know much more about the topic of fulfilling a sales plan, about its subtleties, tricks and nuances, than the average company in the market. And that is precisely why we will talk about this topic, which is often bashfully hushed up by most companies in our country. And especially consulting companies.

This note will be of interest primarily to managers. We expect negativity from lazy managers and people who are used to looking for 100% recipes. Although they will find a “cookie” at the very end of this material.

Who is the sales plan? Why a sales plan?

A sales plan is about discipline. A sales plan is about consistency. A sales plan (let's call it sometimes abbreviated as PP) is about transforming the world's natural chaos into order through the willful effort of a business captain and the actions of his team.

It is useful to recall the classics. “The main function of the sales plan is to prevent cash gaps and ensure the stable development of the enterprise,” something in this spirit can be read in textbooks on the economy of the enterprise.

It is important to understand that a sales plan is not a fetish, not an end in itself, and not an instrument of moral superiority over colleagues and competitors. Its function in another is to ensure the stable development of the enterprise.

The stable development of the enterprise is not only a common place in textbooks and not only the dream of 90% of Russian businessmen - it is also a PP function, for the sake of which it is worthwhile to plan sales. Proven by practice: if you work according to a sales plan and find your balanced plan, your business will grow predictably and stably.

How not to plan sales. Bad advice

Hundreds of articles have been written about planning methods, and ordinary entrepreneurs still live “the old fashioned way”, without a plan, explaining this either by “not understanding how to do it” or by “trying, it didn’t work out”.

Sales planning is primarily a process that only then brings results. Let's see which planning methods are the most ineffective and meaningless.

Bad advice 1. Plan from the ceiling. Take any figure, ideally, higher than that of your nearest colleagues by 20%.
How to do it right:count and seven times count how much your company can produce to the maximum and set a plan of 50% -70% of its specific monetary power. If your business is easily scalable, conduct a study of market capacity and determine the real share in its worst forecast that you can take this year.

Bad advice 2. When the sales plan is not fulfilled, discard the sales plan.
How to do it right: analyze the reasons for the failure of transactions and change the approach to your work with clients, order processing, and your sales method. Sometimes you are mistaken in the height of the bar. Feel free to lower it if you do not reach PP and close - especially when you do not know the market and / or when the market is immature. It is important to adjust the PP and most importantly - try to achieve it against all odds.

Bad advice 3. Introduce an ambitious sales plan and motivation scheme "a small salary plus a small limited percentage." Wait for the superstars that will burst into your sales team.

How to do it right: if you have a “leader” sales plan, take the average salary of the seller in your industry, add 20%, envisage an increasing percentage when fulfilling, a little overfulfillment and a huge overfulfillment of the sales plan, plus bonuses for many calls and meetings, provide for an extra weekend for the initiative of the seller and attracting cool potential customers, add a cozy office - and your company has a chance to create a truly stellar sales department.

Do you keep your finger on the pulse?

Whether we like it or not, the implementation of the sales plan is a much more flexible and complex process than we would like the managers. Our monthly figures on the excel plate rarely differ in leaps and bounds, the amount is slowly growing every month, or it remains unchanged for a quarter, or even six months.

But real revenues are always more like the expression "now thick, now empty."

The secret of the sales departments that work on software is that the mediocre departments are really "sometimes thick, now empty", and for the steep ones - "it's thicker, now more."

However, fluctuations in real revenue are always there, and they are normal. Our task is to bring the amplitude of fluctuations into the zone “above the sales plan” or at least minimize the depth of “lowlands of unattainment”.

Implementation of the sales plan requires constant keeping abreast. That is why the business process of sales in your company must not be managed regularly, but continuously, by a person, and not by snapshots, competently, and not how it goes, without discounts and excuses.

A common problem that is often diagnosed during an audit of a GreenBusiness sales system is precisely the irregularity and non-systematic management of the sales process. Yes, that’s what they also call the “business kamikaze route.”

The main and well-known tool to minimize revenue fluctuations is the notorious “push” and “slow down” commands. We see that the plan in May is not fulfilled = the “push up” command in June + a positive additional bonus for overfulfillment + an additional depressing component for sabotage or work “through the sleeves”.

We see that this month the plan has already been completed - we give an additional holiday-day off to managers and informally recommend “holding” separate transactions for the next month so that the manager receives an increased percentage again and the company desires stability.

This tactic allows you to more or less accurately fulfill sales plans with an error of plus or minus a month.
A strategically important way to fulfill the sales plan is to provide a sufficiently wide neck of your sales funnel, that is, to ensure sufficient activity of managers, a sufficient number of applications and generally a level of demand that would exceed your offer.

This is a completely different story, more complex, more sad, and to marketers.

Yes, not at the pulse - the surrounding business!

An interesting point in the situation of non-fulfillment of the sales plan: we really did everything that depended on us, but we still did not fulfill the plan.

Everyone who has ever worked on a sales plan will confirm that such a story happens quite often.

We call it the pulse of the business. Moreover, this is not about the pulse of your business, but about the pulse of the surrounding business.

It’s not so scary when in one month your sales plan is 70% complete, and the next 130%. It is scary when your plan is a million money a month, you earn a maximum of one hundred thousand and therefore abandoned the sales plan and organizational conclusions.

The pulse of business is the business environment environment, on which we do not have direct leverage.

The implementation of the sales plan is directly dependent on the pulse of your business environment. Therefore, it is very important to know what factors influence this pulse.

The three most common reasons for the disruption of the sales plan '2015

There is one reason. Accounts receivable in a crisis. She's the disguised dishonesty of your customers. It’s rare when a company doesn’t have any money at all, more often than not, it is reluctant to give money to you, or right now. Customer dishonesty is a reflection of your marketing filter. If you want to improve the quality of your customers, ask yourself the question: through which channels and in what ways should I attract more trustworthy customers?

There are two reasons.Underestimation of risks and overly optimistic assessment of the closing date of transactions by managers. All the risks that can play - play, the first axiom. Everything that can be postponed will be postponed, the second axiom. People are busy, forgetful and sometimes clogged, axiom third. Our manager often does not see or does not want to see all this, and we, if we are an inexperienced sales manager, believe in any optimistic forecast - if only he would please our hearing. Introduce a sober and rigorous risk analysis of transactions. We at GreenBusiness use SMART for this, and by the way, it’s very convenient.

Reason three.Lack of activity of managers for any equally unimportant reasons. The clinical picture: few calls and many reasons why there was no time for them, few meetings and many words about the complexity of cold sales, few working days this month and many promises. There is only one cure: remember that the main and holy function of a manager is to directly engage in sales. @ AndreiMai can do the rest with a secretary, a marketer, an engineer, an accountant, even a director if necessary.

At least 70% of the day a sales manager should go directly to sales - the main axiom of sales.

The "magic hare" method and other secrets of fulfilling a sales plan

Eugene Kaspersky in one excellent interview said that if you start working in the market, you can choose one of two strategies - either hide under a Christmas tree or run fast. And if you hide under the Christmas tree, then sooner or later they will find you, and if you run fast, they will either catch up with you, or you will find someone under the Christmas tree.

The most recent illustration on this page shows the only one hundred percent secret we know of fulfilling a sales plan in any business and in any economic situation.

All the other secrets to the success of your business are in your head.

Always keep that in mind.

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