Football and Financial Planning
Football and Financial Planning
Writing a financial plan to guide your sales/business approach is one of the single most important things you can do as a driver of business. Best practices for the creation of an annual sales plan are true and consistent across the board for anyone needing to write a plan, which includes CROs, regional managers, and even those who manage a “patch” (what they call a territory list across the pond).
All that goes into writing a plan can’t be covered in this post, yet you can get started with a few helpful guidelines.
1. Review and assess last year’s plan. Measuring where you succeeded and fell short this past year will help you think about the upcoming year. Ideally you are visiting your sales plan each quarter, but in case you have not, open it back up and see what you were thinking a year ago. Assess what has changed and how that might affect your thinking for ’16.
2. Meet with non-sales leadership. Listen carefully to what those folks are thinking for the new year. Those who lead Product, Engineering, Fulfillment, Client Services, etc., are all going to have their marching orders and you need to compare notes with them. Don’t forget to explore how systems and protocol can be improved so that more efficiency can result in higher productivity. Make sure their thoughts and actions are in line with how you view market needs.
3. Check in with all your constituents. It is crucial you hear what your constituents (line managers, support team) are thinking about the upcoming year. It’ll help you understand product and process gaps that might make the difference between not hitting and hitting your numbers. If you’re a rep, sit with your account management and client services team and hear what they are thinking; acknowledge your obligation to filter and forward what you learn up the chain.
4. Create two scenarios: best and worst case. It is human nature to think either conservatively or aggressively depending upon who you are and where your bias lies…this is not a bad thing, it’s just a thing. After completing your first draft, analyze which plan you have written first (best or worst), and then write the other plan.
5. Justify your thinking. The columns and rows in your spreadsheet should map to assumptions that need to be documented, and, defended eventually when you meet with the higher-ups. Why are you expecting 45% growth in one territory when another gets only a 10% bump in their quota? Create space on the sheet to list as many assumptions as you need. Your assumptions reinforce your strategic thinking, which will be needed for thoughtful conversations you’ll be having with the CXOs.
6. Manage your time wisely. If this article does nothing else, it will prompt you to start scheduling time to work on this project. To do it right, this entire plan should probably take you a couple months. The most crucial part of the process is the time away from the plan that gives you space to think and consider. Roughly speaking, September should be dedicated to constructing a few early versions of your plan, and October is for revisions during which data from your conversations with others in the company will be integrated. Plan on talking to your CFO in late October about your early conclusions knowing that his/her input will push you back to the work table for more calculating. By mid to late November you should have a finished product serving as the tool to base quotas and commissions.
I realize there are numerous details left out of the above, for example: how does the plan affect how you think about compensation adjustments? What amendments are needed to the master commission plan? How does the plan make you think about your performance management process? How much hiring (or firing) do you need to do? The list is rather long because the process is rather complex. (Which is why you need to start working on it now.)
If you need help, I know someone at Core 6 Management Advisors (me), who has written a few sales plans…give him a call (again: me. Call me.)
Strong and effective management only happens when you have a strong sales plan that is thoughtfully constructed and can be followed. Good luck. Go SF Niners and Giants!
Johnny Can't Sell...Fire His A$$
Over the last few months, I have surveyed 48 managers with a questionnaire covering a myriad number of management and leadership issues; one aspect of their responses stands out. Consider the following question that measures success in how managers reform and coach colleagues on to a more successful path:
Of the people you have personally placed on a PIP, how many of those “turned around” and transformed into higher producing workers? Of 48 responders who have put at least 7 persons on a PIP in their career, 94% (45) have reformed “0-3 individuals”.
This is obviously an Achilles heel amongst managers needing our immediate attention. With hiring costs that feel limitless, we need to examine the root problem so we can address the issue of how PIPs can be used better and more effectively. The bottom line is we have to be better at developing talent or the companies at which we work will fail.
Here’s a wake-up call on the real issues…and what we can do about them:
1. We are not diagnosing development issues fast enough. By the time we administer the PIP, it’s often too late. Recommendation: establish metrics that measure productivity and desired behaviors accurately and frequently. Performance management protocol does not have to be complex and hard to execute.
2. We are not hiring smartly. Those we hire are often not appropriate for the roles – thus, those we hire are not set up for success. Recommendation: perfect the recruitment process at your company; think broadly about how workloads can be disbursed and think long-term about how hiring can help drive growth and not disrupt momentum. Also, don’t rush to put a warm body in a spot and hope it turns out…it rarely does.
3. PIPs scare people and are alienating. Because we are not diagnosing problems early, being put on a PIP often means an employment death sentence for the recipient. Recommendation: when an employee begins, introduce your performance management protocol that includes the potential for a PIP. This will make PIPs less scary, which of course means the company will work hard to truly assist in the employee’s advancement.
4. Managers don’t know how to help someone who has been placed on a PIP. Many of the respondents to my appraisal admit to having little experience managing the PIP process, thus resulting in the problems we’re experiencing. Recommendation: call me. 917-207-5183. I can help.