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Correct sales plan: how to create a year, quarter, month

“How to create the right sales plan: for the year, quarter, month?”this is a multi-faceted issue. Why? Because it is important not only to create the right sales plan, but also to fulfill it. Alexander Cherny, author of courses on strategic business development, business practitioner, offers his own approach to forming the correct sales plan and shares examples from his own professional experience
The best strategic plan is useless if it can’t be executed tactically. erwin rommel

Creating the right sales plan for the year (as well as the quarter and month) is a non-trivial task.And the first question that arises is: “Which sales plan is correct?»

I will give my logic based on practice, using the example of companies that perform large and technically complex projects.
If the sales plan is really overstated, then it is really impossible with all the consequences that follow. Example: the technical Department, according to an inflated plan, increased the resource for project implementation. The projects did not take place, and the company incurred serious costs. Sellers, realizing that the sales plan is not feasible, that is, they will not earn bonuses, just took and quit. Badly.
If the sales plan is really low, then the company simply will not grow as it could. Also bad.
There remains a “Golden mean” – a sales plan that is not overstated or understated.
For me, the “Golden mean” is a fairly complex, but really achievable sales plan.

Limitations and assumptions

This article does not cover exotic cases. The profile of companies that are used as an example to create a sales plan has approximately the following parameters:
The product line is in demand by the market. In other words, there is no situation when the market no longer needs any goods or services and the market no longer consumes them.
Sales are “big”.
There is an extensive sales Department consisting of a commercial Director, sales managers, and sellers under them.
Under the sales plan is understood as the achievement of required sales volumes, margins and profits.
There is a developed sales funnel for the next year-sales forecast.
And so on.
Creating a sales plan-an element of business planning

How to create this “Golden mean” – the right sales plan?

To do this, you can use the well-known method of S. M. A. R. T. as one of the tools for forming this “Golden mean”. But more on that later. I want to say two more words about formal sales planning and business planning in General.

I’ll start with the main thing. Business planning is the planning of business development, and it is the planning of company growth, and business planning (including specific actions).

That is, business planning, if you approach this issue without unnecessary complexity, is planning actions to achieve specific goals.

Creating a sales plan is an element of business planning. Therefore, this means only one thing: in order to form a proper sales plan, specific action plans must be developed to achieve specific sales goals. At the same time, it is obvious that the feasibility of specific action plans should be evaluated / verified by expert means (at times!) easier than the feasibility of a “bare” sales plan figure.

However, for many years, and often now, companies have been carrying out not so much business planning as ” light “(not to use the word” formal “or” superficial”) planning — most of it sales and budget. What is “easy” sales planning?

“Easy” (formal) sales planning

“Easy” planning is a sales plan in numbers, in the list of customers and projects, together with the absence of not only action plans to achieve the goals — making deals, but also a General understanding of how to implement this sales plan.

When this “planning” is finished, the goals (not the tasks!) all managers are assigned, managers are “sent to their jobs” to think about how to implement all this now. That is, they only at this point begin to really plan their activities in order to achieve their goals. Sometimes, as a result, it becomes clear that sales plans are unattainable and it would be good to review them. But! It’s too late! The train left.

The further result is the failure of the sales plan, huge expenditures on technological resources, and so on. With all the consequences that follow.

How do I create the right sales plan?

Here is an algorithm for creating a real sales plan, which I used myself. So:

1. Sellers prepare their sales forecast for the next year. Based on its sales funnel, which takes into account the stages of the sales cycle with probabilities for each stage taken in the company. Then, at meetings, they discuss and agree on their sales forecast with their managers.

It should be noted that if the sales funnel forecast figure for the next year turns out to be 10 million rubles, and the seller indicates 50 million rubles, his Manager will immediately have a question: “Why suddenly?”However, sales funnels of sellers are usually constantly monitored by their managers, so this option can be excluded. Except for the case when the seller can justify the opportunities he has and convince the Manager of this.

What does “discuss and agree”mean?

Sellers justify their sales forecasts, give plans for specific actions for their customers, formulate requests, where and what kind of help they expect from their managers, as well as from top management.

Managers, in turn, try to understand the reality of implementing these specific action plans, and also use their experience to understand whether and, most importantly, how to sell more. At this point (and in everyday work), they pass their knowledge to the sellers, together with them work out action plans, suggesting and suggesting how to do more correctly.

Or Vice versa, they understand that the presented forecast is not feasible, and together with the sellers adjust their forecasts. Further down the chain.

2. The heads of departments prepare a summary of sales forecasts for the following year for the commercial Director (CD). Then the algorithm of discussion and approval is repeated. At this point, the CD passes its knowledge to the heads of directions. It is clear that at this stage, sales forecasts for areas can be adjusted.

This adjustment can be made at any point in the discussion and approval of sales plans.

3. The commercial Director prepares a sales forecast for the company for the CEO (or business owner) – the company’s first person (PLC).

A PLC usually has the desired sales plan figure for the next year in its head. At the meeting with the CD, the PLC compares the figure presented by the CD with its understanding of the sales plan, and together with the CD checks the reality of achieving the sales plan on a large scale.

If the figure presented by the CD is much smaller than the one that the PLC “sees”, a meaningful dialogue begins about how to increase the sales plan, whether it is possible and what needs to be done.

If the PLC and CD came to the conclusion that the sales plan can be increased (solutions found: how?), then the CD returns to meetings with its managers in order to reach a reasoned agreement on a larger sales plan. As a result, the managers of the directions can say that Yes, the proposals “how to increase?”- reasonable, but they need to increase sellers or increase support staff (telesales or assistants), or they have additional requirements for this, for example, the need for a better presale, and so on.

Of course, the company’s technological capacity is also evaluated. Therefore, the technical Director and his or her managers are required to participate in the formation of the sales plan.

4. Then everything in the chain goes back up to the PLC. If everything “came together”, the sales plan is approved. If it doesn’t “come together” again, you need to hold selective meetings with the individual strongest sellers with the participation of senior management. At this point, everything that is needed” POPs up ” — what needs to be improved in order for the required sales plan to be fulfilled. Or it becomes clear that the sales plan required by the PLC is not really feasible. Or it becomes clear that sellers are simply boycotting the increase in the sales plan, although it is quite real.

However, there is no big problem. Sellers always want to take a smaller sales plan and exceed it. This is normal. The essence of this process is not that the sales managers either approve their action plans or do not. The bottom line is that there is training, exchange of information and experience as part of an important stage — planning sales for the next year. That is, synergy is achieved, sellers become more competent and skilled, and the management better understands what and how sellers think and plan, as well as how best to form a new sales funnel and what forces.

Actually, at each level, there is usually a “battle” (in a good sense of the word), in which one side tries to increase the sales plan, and the other-to reduce. But!

This process removes many more problems than it may seem at first glance. Because as a result of such meaningful meetings, the motivation of sellers can be modified, the organizational structure of the sales Department can be improved, and so on. The activities of all divisions of the company with their advantages and disadvantages will also be affected.

As a result, the PLC can make informed and informed decisions based on:
reasonable analysis and submitted invoice;
analysis of the opinions and positions of their managers and managers that were heard during the discussion and approval of the sales plan;
and, of course, your strategy “in your head”, which is always there, and your deeper understanding of your company’s business.

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