Sales Reps Need A Plan

Selling requires a solid plan of attack. Most sales reps are not very good at developing and remaining focused on a plan that guides them through their sales year. An effective way to enhance the efforts of sales reps is to require an annual sales plan that focuses on current and prospective customers and how the rep will strengthen existing relationships and foster new ones.

Specifically, the plan should include the rep’s sales and gross profit goals for the year along with a detailed listing of current customers and a plan for penetrating those accounts more deeply. In addition to current customers, it is imperative that such a plan address prospects as well. Again, the plan should list specific target accounts along with a specific plan of action for fostering a relationship with them. Also, sales reps are often their own worst enemies in terms of time management. A weekly time management plan should be a part of the overall plan and should include an allocation of the rep’s time to the various activities required. It can even be as specific as allocating administrative, face-to-face sales, telephone appointment setting and proposal writing to certain times of certain days. But keep in mind that it is difficult to stay on this schedule exactly and the rep will need to adjust accordingly. However, the point in developing such a plan is to force the rep to become more disciplined in his/her approach to selling.

If the rep is in a territory making calls, it is often helpful to create a routing plan that directs the rep through the territory on specific days and weeks. Again, there will be deviations from this plan, but it can help significantly in getting reps out of the office and into the field.

Without a plan, sales reps tend to wander aimlessly at times. With a good plan that has some discipline built into it by the rep, the chances for success increase dramatically. Sales reps are notorious for burning time in the office or in a car or airplane. Haphazard routing and poor time management contribute to this significantly.

As a manager of sales personnel, it is important to instill a level of discipline in their daily rituals that will contribute positively to selling efficiency. Most organizations work a lot on product training, selling techniques and overcoming objections, but tend to ignore or spend little time on instilling a disciplined approach to account, territory and administrative management. Requiring sales reps to develop an annual sales plan that is jointly reviewed and approved by management is a good first step in instilling that discipline. The plan should be revisited at least quarterly and modified as necessary.

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I have always been a shopaholic. A lot of times my questions went unanswered when it came to retail questions, so I started Talk Radio News. - Caitlyn Johnson

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