Your future opportunities begin with your ability to perform in your current role and your keen focus on where you want to go. As a seller, making a plan for your accounts is equally critical. Every year, and every quarter, you need to revisit your professional plan and your plan with your prospects and accounts.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail - Benjamin Franklin
Tune in to the rhythm of business
The rhythm or cadence of a business operation refers to the regular, recurring patterns of activity within an organization. This includes sales cycles, budget cycles, production schedules, and other routine activities. The pace, timing, and frequency of these activities can vary depending on the type of business and the specific operations being performed.
For example, a retail business may have a monthly sales cycle that is closely tied to the end of the month or the end of a quarter, while a manufacturing business may have a weekly production schedule that is closely tied to the availability of raw materials.
Tuning in and aligning to your company’s rhythm or cadence is important for several reasons:
- It helps to ensure that key activities are performed regularly and deadlines are met.
- It allows for better planning and forecasting, which can help improve operations’ efficiency and effectiveness.
- It can help identify areas where improvements can be made, such as by looking for sales or production data patterns.
- It enables the business to be more predictable and reliable to customers, suppliers, and partners by committing to delivering on time, forecasting and planning accordingly.
- It can also help to improve collaboration and communication within the organization, as team members are aware of the regular rhythms and cycles of the business.
Take stock of your professional focus
- What role are you in now?
- What level of sales position are you in?
- What are the top performers’ most essential knowledge, skills, and abilities?
- What is your X-year career goal from a role perspective?
- What is the job description for that role?
- What experience is needed?
- What education is needed?
- What knowledge is needed?
- What of the above do you not have right now that can be validated in your resume (and LinkedIn profile) or performance that does not need to be communicated by you for someone to know?
- What is your unique value-add in your role? What are your strengths and experiences that make you memorable to our customers?
- What has been your performance or action in your current role?
- What is the next step in your current role?
- Do you have a mentor? How proactive are you in engaging them?
- What projects have/do you led/lead that improved knowledge and skill, and which ones?
- What is your next step?
- Are you filling out the gaps in your awareness of the above?
- Which gaps specifically?
- Are you documenting your goals and areas for improvement?
Focus on the customer with a sales plan
Focused analysis and research require an in-depth understanding of the client, including industry and market trends, customers, and competitors.
Best practices for sales planning
- Prioritization: Prioritize your top 5 clients based on the criteria listed in the playbook
- Utilize CRM reports (SFDC, Hubspot, Pipedrive, etc) for volume and opportunities
- For the Top 5 clients, complete a Customer Development Plan (CDP) for each
- Client Development Plan is available within CRM (SFDC, Hubspot, Pipedrive, etc), including a full report by AE Sales
- AEs develop themselves as Industry Data Consultant by educating themselves on the client’s latest industry trends and dynamics and data point of view
- Leverage Zoominfo, external analysts, industry insights, training applications, external conferences, earnings calls, biannual operational updates, SharePoint, etc.
- Leverage peers & best practice sharing
- Understand the client’s decision-making process document in the “Relationship Landscape” section in your Client Development Plan
- Document key contacts & decision-makers as known
- Proactively lead and engage relevant SDRs, AEs, and SAs, in the strategic planning process early, as appropriate.
- Leverage Voice of Customer opportunities
- AEs present CDPs to SA and Customer Success team members on a recurring cadence.
- Request SMEs to join business reviews and relevant customer discussions
- Develop an insightful Value Hypothesis aligned with the customer’s Why Change? Why Now? And Why Us?
Put your plans into action
- Write your plans down!
- Review both your professional and your sales plans with your manager and ask for help
- Identify areas for ongoing learning (books, trade rags, events, blogs, vlogs …)
- Build out your industry acumen for the industry you are in
- Understand the markets your customers and prospects are in
- How can your manager and peers help? Have you asked?