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The Importance of Sales Planning

By Kimberly Clark on March, 17 2021

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Kimberly Clark

Kimberly oversees global sales and strategic marketing planning.

Every plan is born to die…

As a leader for a sales team, it can feel like “the buck stops here” when an executive leader asks, “Why are we not hitting our sales goals?” This can be very stressful, but when the sales leader stops to think about it, the executive leader is just as stressed!

All leaders are stressed about the success or, rather, the potential failure of the business.

These sales expectations represent what is needed to:

  • cover expenses,
  • put cash back into the business for future growth, and
  • provide opportunity for all employees.

When you look at it that way, as most business leaders do, running a business can feel like quite the burden to bear!

So how can the leader of the sales team and the executive leadership team become better aligned?

The answer is twofold.

1. First – each must recognize the other for their skillsets.

The sales leader can quickly become defensive because, “of course,” they must know how to bring in sales better than anyone.

Executive leaders can quickly become defensive because, “of course,” they know the business better than anyone, and the sales leader does not appreciate what is at stake here.

These competing mindsets do not provide any room for creativity, innovative response, or agility.

The sales leader and the executive leaders must mutually respect each other's perspective and be willing to work together as a team for the benefit of the overall company.

2. Second – both need to realize that every plan is born to die.

There is no such thing as a perfect plan. The unknowns always creep in, and, sometimes, those unknowns can even completely derail what seemed to be the best approach to attaining new business or retaining existing business.

It’s important to stay ahead of the curve.

Understand that unknowns creep in, actively keep an eye out for potential unknowns before they become too large, and, finally, be willing to adjust your plan as needed.

Ultimately, the best sales plan is really not a singular plan at all! It is a combination of multiple plans that account for multiple scenarios. In the military, they call this “battle planning.” You always have a desired outcome, but you have more than one way to get to said outcome. It is the same with sales planning. This gives you, as a business, agility in an ever-changing environment while still enabling you to reach your ultimate goals.

 

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