When you're working in sales -- or really any business capacity -- a to-do list is not always the best way to get things done. Instead of a list that's constantly evolving, it pays to get even more strategic by creating a sales action plan. Think of it as a long-format to-do list that lays out all the steps you need to take and the tasks you need to complete over the next several weeks or months.
Define Your Goals
Before you can create a plan, you have to know what you want. On your own or with the rest of your sales team, come up with a set of goals you want to accomplish during a set period of time. Ideally, don't set more than three major goals for every three-month period, suggests John Doerr, co-president of the Rain Group sales consultancy.
Flesh Out the Goal
Your goals might be to gain a certain number of new clients, to sell a certain number of units or to increase sales by a certain percent -- but whatever they are, use the "SMART" goal-setting model to flesh them out: set "specific" goals that don't include vague statements; make sure they're "measurable" -- which if you're tracking sales figures, can be easy to do; also make sure that your goals are "attainable" and "realistic" given your circumstances. Finally, name a date by which you want each goal achieved, thus paying heed to the "time-bound" element of SMART goal setting.
Add Steps to the Calendar
Now comes the real meat of the action planning. With the goals defined, add tasks to your calendar that will help you meet those goals. If you want to earn a certain amount of revenue by a specific date, for example, break that revenue into weekly and monthly targets. Each week of the calendar, add tasks that you'll need to complete to meet those targets. If, on the other hand, your goal is to increase your leads by a certain number, once again break that number into a daily, weekly or monthly amount, and add the targets to your calendar. On top of writing down the necessary steps, also note the sales team members responsible for each task, as well as any materials or financial resources you'll need to complete each step.
Review During and After
At the start of every week, review what's up next in the action plan so you can gather materials, get petty cash or get your finest suit pressed in preparation for a big meeting with clients. Also conduct a review as each goal period comes to a close. Ask yourself -- and your team -- what worked well, and what parts of the plan fell short and how people's time could have been better used, so that you can devise an even better sales action plan for the next goal period.