Building Your Sales Activity Plan

This post is part three of The No Excuses Guide to Selling Without a Sales Manager (part one). Read part two Choosing Your Sales Goals and Accountabilities first.

You know what you need to accomplish and by when it must be accomplished. You have your long-term goals, as well as the short-term goals that will act as milestones along the way. You are mentally prepared to hold yourself accountable to those goals.

Now you need to consider and commit to the activities that will result in your reaching those goals.

Defining the Activities that Produce the Outcomes?

The outcome you need from this part of your plan to succeed without a sales manager is to define the activities that will produce the outcomes that help you reach your goals. A good sales manager will help you define the activities you need to take, ensuring that these activities will produce the necessary outcomes (as well as holding you accountable for taking the actions necessary).

You are going to have to plan all kinds of activities that will ensure that you to reach your goals.

The best way to approach activity is to create a model sales week. It will include blocking time for prospecting, blocking time for face-to-face sales calls, blocking time to nurture your dream clients, blocking time for sales call preparation, blocking time for follow up activities, blocking time to respond to voice mail and email, blocking time for updating your sales force automation, and making some time to work on improving yourself and your sales skills.

Your model sales week is going to look different than another salesperson’s model sales week. You may have additional activities that you need to take that help you produce your results.

If I had to choose one single activity that does more to help produce sales results than any other but is overlooked in the impact it makes, I would choose prospecting. Prospecting is how we open relationships that open opportunities. Reaching both your short and your long-term goals, regardless of what they may be, will require that you create enough opportunities.

How many prospects do you need to engage with to create an opportunity? How many opportunities do you need to win a single deal?

You don’t have to get your model week perfectly correct from day one. When we take stock at the end of this week, I’ll share some questions you can ask to see what you need to change?

Reverse-Engineering Your Sales Process

Activity for activity’s sakes isn’t an effective plan. Each of the activities you defined above need to be taken within an additional context: how you win deals.

Activities cannot be divorced from how you win opportunities. When thinking about what a model week should look like, you must consider what your sales process requires of you.

If you’ve done the prospecting and opened a relationship, what comes next? Do you need to schedule appointments with stakeholders throughout the organization? Is your sales complex enough that you need to gain commitments for meetings to gather additional information in order to be able to help create a solution that will help your dream client achieve the outcomes they need? Or, can you learn enough to present your product, service, or solution on a single needs-analysis sales call?

The question you need to answer is “How do I win opportunities?”

I am sales process agnostic. I am also methodology agnostic. All have much to recommend them, and all provide great insights. They are all, in some ways, also lacking. But any process or methodology is far better than winging it and not understanding how you win, how you stack the deck heavily in your favor. I am routinely, shocked, appalled, and disappointed to discover companies that provide no sales process for their salespeople.

Salespeople need to know how to win.

If you don’t have a sales process and you have been in your position long enough to have sold and won opportunities, you can begin by reverse-engineering your own sales process.

You can ask the questions about what a target looks like. You can decide what makes a prospect qualified. You can write a questionnaire that helps you to do the discovery work that allows you diagnose correctly and build the right solution. You can decide what to present and how to present it in a meaningful way.

Each of these activities makes up part of a sales process, a path from target to close. The sales process is part of a lot of decisions that you will be making about how you spend your time. It will also help to ensure that the activities you take are the activities that move deals through your pipeline.

These activities are also activities that will become part of your model sales week. You can plan to move opportunities through the sales process, knowing that an opportunity opened in a given week is going to require future time commitments in additional sales calls, time following up with your prospects, time creating a solution and a presentation, and time for all of the little activities that must be taken in order to win.

Again, this doesn’t have to be perfect. You can and will make adjustments.

Ask the Difficult Question

The difficult question isn’t “What do I have to do?” The difficult question is “What do I have to do to produce the outcome that I need?”

When looking at your model week and your sales process, you have to ask yourself how that activity is going to contribute to bringing you closer to your goals. A good sales manager would keep you from rationalizing. They would keep you honest and prevent you from putting more emphasis on activities that you like over activities that actually generate the right outcomes.

Be honest with yourself. Don’t rationalize. If you believe you may be a little too easy on yourself by choosing activities that are comfortable, find someone you trust and ask them for their opinion.

Look for part four tomorrow.

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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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