Prospecting Plan – Failing to plan is planning to fail

Timetoplan

“Failing to plan is planning to fail!”

Whether you are a junior inside sales rep, a heavy hitting field sales executive or an account manager with a finite list of named accounts you are going to need to do your own prospecting to ensure that achieve your goals for 2015. Marketing and your lead generation support rep may provide some help but the buck stops with you.

So, where do you start? Where you always do, the end goal. From there reverse engineer what is required to achieve that goal, this takes a few steps. I have created an example spreadsheet you can use to help you work out your prospecting metrics which you can download here.  130 selling days left in 2015 (364 downloads)

To build out this plan you are going to need to review 3 key areas that will help you build a prospecting plan that will help you succeed – Prospecting activity, closing metrics and available selling time.

  1.  Prospecting activity
    • You need to get a realistic baseline of actions/activities that you need to complete in order to create opportunities. These activities are going to vary dependent on your role or product and normally cascading. For example, when an inside sales rep dials leads to connections > scheduled meetings > demonstrations opportunity creation. Each stage has its own ratio of conversion that you need to understand.

2. Closing metrics

    • Once you have generated need and qualified an opportunity there are many metrics that could be measured, the three that I see measured regularly are;
      • Win Rate (WR%) – the rate at which you will win the opportunities you open

 Capture

      • Average Order Size (AOS) – the average dollar amount for each of your sales

AOS

      • Time to Close (TC) – the average number of selling days it takes you to win each opportunity

Time to Close

  1. Available selling time
    • An area I regularly see forgotten in a prospecting plan is the available selling time. Everyone starts the year with 52 weeks and most people plan to work 5 days a week. What about your holidays? Public holidays? Cultural or religious events? You need to take these into account to ensure that you are not left looking for new opportunities when it is already too late!

The data for your Prospecting activity and closing metrics are normally found in your CRM, you can review performance from last year, use the data from your company’s top performer or speak to other people in the industry, failing that your manager should be able to help you. The ‘available selling time’ you will need to look at the holidays and events that affect both your working days and your customers. If you have customers in different cities, states or countries they may recognise different holidays which could have a massive impact on your selling time, the European & Australian summers, American thanksgiving and Chinese New Year are just a couple of examples.

Once you have entered in your key metrics and reviewed the active selling days the annual numbers can look quite large, almost insurmountable. As per the White Stripes song, Little Acorns, says, the key with any goal is to break it down into manageable chunks. The spreadsheet helps break that daily number down from annual, to monthly then to achievable daily goals. If those goals are still unrealistic in terms of activity you have 3 options;

  1. A) work smarter. E.g. Convert more meetings, improve your WR% or increase your AOS
  2. B) work harder
  3. C) do both.

I know which one I would prefer to do and I will help you with some tips from successful sales reps who work smarter over the next few posts.

Good luck building out your prospecting plan and remember, failing to plan is planning to fail!

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