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WINNING, Incorporated | Boston, Massachusetts

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Strategic planning is something many companies undertake, but not as many are successful in implementing them. Goals are divvied up to the appropriate team members with the expectation to fulfill them, sometimes without an action plan to do so.

Sales goals often include:

  • Expanding into new territories
  • Increasing market share in existing territories
  • Increasing sales volume and/or profitability in product lines
  • Expanding the product mix for a certain customer base
  • Introducing new product lines
  • Improving the profitability of one or more customer categories

Employees are assigned to work together to achieve these targets. Sometimes, they accept the assignment with little protest; other times, there is significant grumbling. Either way, they get to work on selling.

It's a best practice to review the goals and progress quarterly. Unfortunately, often the review results in managers discovering that though the sales team might be on track with overall numbers, they might not have made progress on some or all of the specific goals. Sales teams are then given reminders and encouragement (or reprimanded), and sent into the next quarter with direction to really focus on those particular goals while still hitting their number targets.

At the next quarterly review...likely nothing has changed. Numbers look OK, but individual goals have not been met. In fact, the annual goals might look as if no one has paid much attention to them at all.

While your managers and staff might have the best intentions, your company needs to commit time to developing specific action plans to accomplish the sales goals.

One way to improve your measured progress is to include your sales team in the action plan process, and take their opinions into account. For many sales people, their commitment is to generating sales and earning a commission, not to corporate initiatives. And if there is no existing plan with specific steps to implement, they'll likely take the path of least resistance. In the mind of a salesperson, even if he or she is falling short of their strategic goals, but still above quota with regular sales, they think they are hitting their numbers.

If you are responsible for translating corporate initiatives into specific department goals, make sure you invest the time to developing a detailed plan to accompany the goals you assign. Having your team participate in developing the action steps gives them ownership, and increases their commitment to them, along with the overall sales numbers.

If you spend time working through an implementation plan and include your sales members in that process, your next quarter results will likely see a significant increase in meeting your strategic targets.


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