The Story of Paul and Planning

Paul was a super seller.  A true Rock Star. He was a savant in so many ways.  He could read the extremely large product catalog and know not only the product numbers, but also the page they were on in the several hundred pages of the catalog.  He had little fear when we walked into a customer’s place of business.  He could solve problems.  He was the kind of seller that every sales manager wanted.  He made his goals.  With one exception.

When I met Paul, he was coming off a phenomenal year.  He had made President’s club and had earned the ring, the trip, and the large merit increase along with a terrific bonus.  I was the bad guy in this story.  After two months of the new year, Paul was tracking at 20% below his prior year.  Not 20% below his goal.  Even worse, below prior year.  I called him into my office and asked what was going on.  He shared that he had a $200k order he was working against and he wasn’t going to be able to overcome that large order.  

We worked through the details and figured out that the order he had identified wasn’t going to hit his numbers until June.  He had not even seen the effects of it yet.  In essence, he had given up on the year based on something that hadn’t happened yet.  

I have been working in sales for a long time.  I understand the push to end a year and make a number.  After that push, I have felt the need to catch my breath and take it a little easier for a week or two.  I knew Paul was needing a break, but I was a new manager for him.  He was a valuable seller, a good person with a strong work ethic and attitude.  Something was missing. That something was a plan.  An understanding of how to reach his goal, other than just working harder.

I love the start of a new year.  Everything seems fresh and everything seems possible. I asked Paul to work with me on planning his year and identifying how he could overcome the large, one-time order.  

  1. Identify your gap between what the number he finished the previous year with, and what his goal is
  2. Look for non-repeating business.  One-time orders, and business lost.  Add those to your gap.  Now you have a true gap.
  3. Define what your close rate it.  If it’s 50%, then you need to double your pipeline to reach your goals
  4. Identify targeted products or services for targeted customers.  Total that dollar amount and define your timeline for winning the business.
  5. Break it down into actionable steps to win business with the 20% of your customers that make up most of your business, plus your targeted prospects (companies and products).

Now Paul and I had a roadmap to his success.  Paul worked hard to make it a reality and he not only made up the deficit but exceeded his goal for the year by 5%.  

I spent several years working for a large manufacturing company, and several years working for a large distribution company before I started my consulting practice.  I was fortunate to work for two great companies with great people that helped me build a base of knowledge.  I learned a great deal from working with Paul and for that, I’m grateful.  

Can your sales team identify how they will make their goals in 2020?

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