Building A Realistic Plan

As we finish a less than ideal year for many sales professionals the temptation to create a grandiose career saving plan for the new year is strong. However, there is danger in this type of plan because it often results in unrealistic expectations, goals that are not achievable, and pressure on ourselves that leads to an unbalanced life. Our challenge is to create a plan that addresses our current reality while at the same time stretches us personally and professionally. As I confronted this challenge in my own business I developed three different scenarios based on my current reality. I list out these three scenarios below and encourage you to use a similar approach when writing out your plan and goals for 2010.

1. Best Case - This scenario says it all in the name. Best case essentially lays out the goals and production numbers you will attain in a world where your plan is executed perfectly and all external factors impact you as predicted and with positive results. This perfect world would include you being able to make up the losses from the previous year and gain market share in the year ahead. This is the plan we usually all enjoy thinking about and striving for. In my experience it is also the only plan, to their detriment, that most professionals make.

2. Break Even - This plan outlines a strategy that you believe will allow you break even and keep your head just above water. The break even plan is not the most exciting plan to write or read. It is an important plan to have because it outlines the baseline numbers that you must hit each month, whether you use this as your primary business plan or not.

3. Most Likely - This scenario is the plan that you believe most likely will be executed by you and your team. Hopefully, this plan will land somewhere in between the other two plans and close to the Best Case scenario. However, there are times where our Most Likely will actually be below our break even plan. Facing this reality, while difficult, is important for us as professionals and leaders. If your market research and analysis of your previous year's profit and loss statement shows that it will be difficult under your current model to reach a profit or even break even, you have some big decisions to make. You may be able to ride out another year without profit or you may have to change your entire business model to position yourself for better results. You may make the decision that its just not worth it and its time to get out of the business.

Tracking Your Results

As you design your plan be sure to have the systems in place to track your results. This should be done every 90 days, with new objectives being written to help you reach your goals for the upcoming business quarter. If you are hitting your benchmarks and your pipeline is full keep pressing forward and look at how you can stretch yourself beyond the benchmarks. Remember, you can adjust your plan. It should be a living document, especially in a challenging and fast moving market where external factors are changing your approach to conducting your business frequently.

Have you written out your plan for 2010? If so, have you confronted your reality and written a realistic plan?

If I can be of help, please let me know. I'm happy to review your plan and provide you with planning tools to make your 2010 a great year!

Make it a great day!

Coach Dan