The following blog post was first published in 2015 by the late Steve Marx, founder of The Center for Sales Strategy, and has been one of the most popular posts in the blog’s history. Even though the text is updated, the message has never been more relevant. To learn more about Steve Marx, click here.
Most of us don’t head to the supermarket without a list in hand, and without knowing exactly what we intend to come home with. I needn’t explain why.
Likewise, most of us wouldn’t start driving to an unfamiliar destination without first finding it on our GPS and clicking for directions. Doing so gets us to our goal with the least hassle and the most efficiency.
In a prior post, we shared the story of the Harvard Class of 1953, and the powerful lesson they told us twenty years later, in 1973, about the importance of, not just having goals, but writing them down. The act of committing them to paper gives them heft, significance, and attention. And they give you focus. (Yes, even in our paperless-trending world, something as important as your goals probably deserve to be printed out.)
Your goals mean more when they’re backed by a plan, they become real when converted into a plan. Having a written plan gives you the focus of a shopping list and the efficiency and productivity of a GPS routing. Annual and quarterly plans have value, but weekly plans are where winning salespeople get it done, where they declare to themselves exactly what business they’d like to come home with—or make real progress on—over the next seven days.
Here at The Center for Sales Strategy, we’ve been perfecting the Weekly Sales Plan for decades. Download your free copy now and play along as I describe how best to use it.
The Weekly Sales Plan should be completed late in the prior week, so you can relax and enjoy your weekend, comfortable in the knowledge that you’re prepared to be successful starting at sun-up Monday morning.
How to Use the Weekly Sales Plan
- Always start with the Plan you created for the week just ending. Inevitably, some tasks or objectives were not completed, and they may or may not need to be transferred to the upcoming week’s Plan.
- Complete the lower portion first (it’s on page 2, or the back if you’re printing this), showing the specific business you’re expecting to book during the week ahead. Whatever actions you need to take to ensure that those orders actually happen should then be placed on one of the lines in the sections above.
- The sections above are broken out by Targets, Keys, and Secondary/Extra accounts, reflecting our recommended account list management system. Regardless of the category, you’ll see the same essential information requested for every client or prospect contact you intend to make: What’s your agenda for the meeting? What action do you want them to take by the end of that meeting? And, considering the answers to the first two questions, why should they want to take the time to meet with you (or speak by phone)?
- Before adding more information on these lines, look ahead to your revenue projections for the next 30 to 60 days (or whatever is the appropriate time span in your business), and check your tickler file, for client and prospect contacts that should be made now.
- Then complete each section, starting with your Targets (they’re your most important business development opportunities right now), your Keys (those are your biggest clients, usually the ones that account for 75% of your revenue), and finally your Secondarys (your smaller clients) and possibly some Extras (this last category is best used for prospects who you are currently evaluating for their suitability to be a Target account).
- Completing the Weekly Sales Plan form in this fashion makes vividly clear how to accomplish your goals for the upcoming week. You may need more space than this PDF allows (good for you!). We suggest you take our PDF form as a model, and design your own template in Word, Goggle doc, or HTML, to give yourself the space you need.
- Once you know exactly what you need to accomplish in the following week, you’ve got the sales equivalent of that shopping list you take to the grocery store. Now transfer those tasks to your calendar, and you have the equivalent of the turn-by-turn directions of a GPS routing.
- We suggest over-filling your Weekly Sales Plan a bit. Keep a side list of the slightly less important tasks or calls that you can’t find a spot for on your work-week calendar. The best plans face a sudden change when they encounter reality, so if you find yourself with an unexpected free hour, you can promptly go to that side list and make progress on the next highest priority.
It’s all common sense, isn’t it? The best ideas usually are. The magic isn’t in the system, actually; the magic happens when you use it methodically, when you prepare the next week’s plan every Friday afternoon or Saturday morning or whenever it works for you. Success happens when you’re diligent and consistent—planning the following week, and then following the weekly plan!
Do one more thing to ensure success. Tell someone about your plan. Slip a copy under their door, attach it to an email, or send a link if the plan lives online. Tell your boss, for sure. But how about a mentor or your spouse? How about trading Weekly Sales Plans with a colleague who cares about you? It’s all about accountability. The more people to whom you promise to do these things, the more likely it is that you will, in fact, do these things.