Feeling Overwhelmed By Your Lack of a Sales Plan?

I don’t think there is a single sales professional out there that hasn’t at some point in their career felt that awful paralyzing response of being overwhelmed.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you are either in denial or I need to hire you as my personal coach.   However,  you probably know what I’m talking about…that gut-wrenching feeling that there is so much to do with no idea where to begin. I’ve been in sales for almost 12 years in some capacity, and every now and then I get hit with the stupid stick and revert back to the panic. It hit me in early October this year. Business has been going pretty darn good for us this year, but as I mentioned in my last post about gratitude…I am known to be just a wee bit of a driver. I’m never satisfied. So in October panic set in. I realized that as a company we were going in a million different directions with our sales, and our focus was blurry at best. We had several plans, and none of them were moving fast enough!  We were flying by the seat of our pants, and that always makes me uncomfortable.  I mean really…what was I thinking?  I know this stuff.  I just wasn’t practicing what I preach to my hotel sales partners everyday.  It felt awful.  It feels awful just confessing that this is where I was just a few short months ago.  Luckily I know better, and made some changes quickly before it affected us negatively.  It’s not rocket science… we set a plan and now we’re following it with conviction.

Here were my issues and perhaps you can relate:
1. I didn’t feel our message was reaching enough decision-makers
2. I questioned the quality and quantity of our pipeline
3. I had a list of over 500 decision-makers and influencers, but spotty intelligence on a handful
4. I wanted to get my message out NOW. No patience (is this a requirement to be a business owner?)
So, what do we do when this gray cloud starts to loom over us? How do we break free from the paralysis that sets in from being overwhelmed and do something about it?

Well…here is what we’ve done so far:
1. I took a step back to figure out WHY I was feeling this way
2. I realized that I was running myself and my team in too many directions which was leading to our lack of focus and therefore hurting our execution
3. We identified our sales cycle and all the steps included
4. We created a toolbox to help us with each step of the sales cycle
5. We widdled our list of 500 down to 10 (Yes 10) to start
6. We recreated our timelines and goals based on the above
7. MOST IMPORTANT: This is all documented on paper so we can touch, feel, tweak, review. If it’s not documented then it’s not a real plan…it’s just a dream.
Now we are working the plan to uncover intelligence on each of the 10 companies to discover their needs and where we fit within those needs.

I am breathing now…I have a plan and I know it is going to take patience (which is a work in progress). There are days when I want to crawl out of my skin because clients just don’t move as fast as I’d like, decisions aren’t made easily, or a hurdle pops up. But, the plan is in place, moving forward, and by golly it is working! Just setting the sales plan has created what I like to call “sales karma.”  Our 4th quarter sales are higher than they have ever been in our company’s history!
My team is doing something and that something is organized and methodical. So, I urge you to take a deep breath and step back, identify your weak points, and put a plan in place to strengthen them. Whether it is building your sales pipeline through lead generation and sales tele prospecting, building business intelligence on your target sales accounts, or creating a toolbox to make your sales cycle more efficient…it will feel good both emotionally and financially to work a sales plan.