Improve Your Sales Planning Discipline: Remember the Rocks

Improve Your Sales Planning Discipline: Remember the Rocks

Categories: Sales Planning


When our clients come to us to improve their sales planning processes, they often have a misdirected focus. As a result, they’re dealing with a waterfall of problems:

  • Reps frequently missing quota goals
  • Inaccurate revenue forecasting
  • High percentage of deals closing late in the quarter
  • Inadequate territory & account penetration

Their sales teams are spending too much time working around the opportunities. There is a lack of bigger focus on territory planning. Sales managers are drowning in forecast plans. All of these activities steal valuable time away from the core function of your organization - selling.

The key to alleviating this problem is to focus your managers around an identified set of priorities. Stephen Covey's “Big Rocks” concept is an effective metaphor for identifying areas of focus. Let’s break the concept down into three major points:

  • There's a common set of “Big Rock” (critical) activities we know we need to execute each day
  • Often the small rocks, activities that are important but not critical, eat away at our time
  • There is no time left over for the Big Rocks

To successfully execute your key responsibilities as a sales leader, you must ensure that the “big rocks” come first. When it comes to sales planning, some of your managers are very good at distinguishing these critical activities. However for many managers, sales planning processes are done ad-hoc at best. They may understand what they need to do, but often are not given the how. Standardizing your sales planning processes can drive consistency and success across your organization and alleviate many of the problems mentioned above.

Management Operating Rhythm®

The key to successful sales planning is to provide your team with standardization without sacrificing sales consumability. Process should never trump common sense. It’s not about creating a new set of forms and fields for your sales managers to fill out in your CRM, it’s about instilling a management discipline that process and tools can help execute. We call this discipline a Management Operating Rhythm®. Here are five things that a successful MOR does for your sales managers and your organization:

  1. Defines the critical few management activities that the leadership team wants first-line sales managers to focus on
  2. Provides the tools that assist managers in successfully completing these activities
  3. Simplifies the sales planning process by making it “sales consumable” and streamlining administrative burdens
  4. Sets clear expectations of managerial job responsibilities with senior leadership
  5. Provides clear line-of-sight into your sales team’s performance, based on what drives success in the sales role

Overall, an MOR makes it easy to “do the right things at the right time” when you’re managing your teams. If you’re struggling in your sales planning areas, you need a method that drives consistency and repeatability. You likely have pockets of excellence within your organization, but you’re lacking a consistent operating rhythm that will ensure success for all.

Watch how a Management Operating Rhythm drove success at athenahealth.


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