Sales management and planning is not about what you will sell, might sell, or could sell.

It’s about what you sold, period.

Here at Kitchen Table Consultants, one of the most important things we want our clients to take away is that you can only get ready for so long—eventually, you have to take action and generate the sales.

So many business owners hit a wall because they are too focused on perfection and afraid of rejection. This is why it is vital to set yourself and your sales team up for success with a straightforward selling process.

Below, check out our eight simple rules for establishing a sound sales planning strategy.

8 Simple Rules for Effective Sales Management & Planning

1. Focus on converting conversations to cash.

In many companies, salespeople are often consumed with keeping their jobs. They focus too heavily on “selling” to their boss that they are doing something productive. Unfortunately, they lose sight of the fact that they need to convert conversations with prospects to cash.

This also rings true for owners who play the role of salespeople. As an owner in this situation, you must be careful not to spend too much time convincing yourself that sales are going to happen. Keep a critical eye on your own work and effort. What needle-moving steps are you taking to close deals? 

Make sure your sales team understands this and remains focused on selling to prospective customers. Let them know that they don’t need to sell the boss on their hard work by showing them that you are confident in their abilities.

2. Create a simple pipeline management system.

Put a plan in place to work and convert sales opportunities. Your pipeline management process should outline:

  • Number of follow-ups
  • Method of follow-ups (i.e., emails, phone calls, letters, visits, etc.)
  • Follow-up schedule

Don’t wait around hoping that an opportunity will turn into a sale. All prospects should have an expiration date, so use it or toss it. Pipeline management can be simple and effective. Have a defined system, so your sales team knows when to either close the sale or walk away.

Track leads using a template spreadsheet (again, this can be very simple) or CRM software. This will ensure nothing languishes or falls through the cracks while giving your team an easy way to stick to the process.

Remember, sales happen because someone needs something right now. If you’re not in front of them, you will miss out on the opportunity. Have something and/or someone in place to create accountability for execution.

Did you miss a week of checking in with potential customers? Who do you answer to for that? What is the reward or penalty for completing or not completing tasks? These are the type of expectations that your pipeline process should set for salespeople.

3. Budget your time—including how long you’ll take to get ready.

Too often, we see business owners spending so much time preparing to sell. They keep trying to perfect their business cards, website, sales pitch, and other marketing materials—and miss opportunities in the meantime.

Instead of staying stuck in preparation mode, budget your time. No more than 25% of your time should be spent getting ready to get ready in any given week. Get out there and do something, whether that’s calling, emailing, sending snail mail to, or visiting prospects. 

When we see clients dwelling in the prep stages, we ask what they’re afraid of. This forces them to consider the worst-case scenario and imagine how they would react in that situation. The exercise always works to diffuse the fear.

4. Spend your time on the MOST important opportunities.

Speaking of time: Truly running your business means converting opportunities into sales. You need to spend your time on the most important opportunities—not necessarily the most prominent projects, but those that are revenue-generating.

Of course, you need to know which are the best opportunities. Have a process in place to determine this, and know when and how to delegate. You may need to entrust certain tasks to your marketing team and outsource others. Free up your time so you can focus on sales and nurture that pipeline.

As an owner, you should not (and cannot, if you want to make money) be in the weeds. Learn to delegate, empower your team, and let go.

5. Get ready, but keep selling.

Believe it or not, you can do both at the same time. Keep selling even if everything isn’t “perfect” and you don’t feel ready. Get out in front of people; if you don’t, the answer is always no.

After all, getting ready is a lifelong process! Perfection is the enemy of progress. Don’t get stuck in the muck because you can’t accept “good enough” as a starting point. LAUNCH IT.

Just be sure to remember the budget as you do.

6. Track your sales process.

An essential part of sales management is understanding your role and the role of your sales team. In a business with both a CEO and Sales Manager, it’s essential to recognize the role of each to ensure they are doing their part to drive profits.

A vital component of this is knowing how to support your sales staff. How can you help them convert—particularly on a sale that’s dragging along? There are three crucial steps to this:

  1. Have a communication routine, so employees know when to ask for support.
  2. Qualify your leads and teach your salespeople to do the same.
  3. Track the sales process to determine your effectiveness and efficiency.

Activities must ultimately lead to sales. Equip yourself and your salespeople accordingly.

7. Know your unique value proposition inside and out.

If the most common customer objection is that your product is too expensive and you can’t back it up or build value around it, you won’t make the sale.

However, when you know your unique value proposition WELL, you will not struggle to be a genuine, successful salesperson. Train yourself and your sales team on your UVP by:

  • Having a clear vision and mission. 
  • Practicing talking about your products regarding why you KNOW they are better.
  • Understanding who you are best at selling to (then focus and launch!).
  • Making sure your UVP serves your customers by conducting a group SWOT analysis and surveying your customers.
  • Analyzing your competitors and determining what you offer that they don’t.

8. Treat your salespeople as the vital players that they are.

Your salespeople keep the lifeblood of your business flowing, so treat them accordingly. Cost them correctly and budget for reasonable sales goals.

Salespeople should be paid for their efforts, meaning they should receive base pay plus a commission for success. This structure ensures both the owner and salesperson are equally invested.

An owner who only pays commission isn’t invested in making sure the salesperson is successful because they figure it doesn’t cost them anything if it doesn’t work out. Contrary to common belief, this approach costs businesses a great deal and can jeopardize the company.

Navigating Sales Management & Planning

Follow these rules and take action. The only way to sell is to get out there in front of your audience timely. Don’t allow your fears or need for perfection to stop you from making progress.

To help you get started, we are sharing our simple sales forecasting spreadsheet along with a quick instructional video on how to use it. Get your free template delivered right to your inbox!