Developing Your Sales Plan For 2001

What are your selling plans for the year 2001?

I raise that question to hopefully capture your attention. The fact is that, too often, the honest answer I hear is, "We haven't given it a thought."

I believe it's always important to have a future sales goal firmly in your mind, and to have a definitive plan on how you and your com-pany are going to achieve that goal.

Most Kitchen & Bath Design News readers would probably agree that the old phrase, "If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you always got" is no longer true in the kitchen and bath industry.

In contrast, with today's fast-paced life, if you continue to do the "same old things" with respect to sales, you'll quickly be passed by those competitors with a real plan for selling success.

Let's look at some different ways you can plan for sales success in 2001, and beyond.

First, make sure you're comfortable with the company you work for and that you're enthusiastic about both your job and the desire to elevate your skills and improve your productivity.

Next, take time out from your daily workload and dream creating in your mind the optimum professional goal, or goals, for next year. Since we work primarily for money, and money is the measuring stick of our success as sales professionals, creating goals based on personal income earned, and corporate profits achieved, seems appropriate.

Should you choose to earn more money next year than you're earning this year (and I certainly hope you make that choice), it's important that you consider your willingness to do three things:

1. Invest money toward obtaining new skills and knowledge.
2. Set aside time to develop new selling skills or hone your current skills.
3. Have an unwavering discipline toward achieving the goals you establish.

Some specifics
Let's look at each of these three areas in closer detail:

  • Investing money. It's highly unusual that you can obtain something of value without making a monetary investment. For example, going to the annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) can carry a pretty hefty price tag. Unless the location is within drive time, airfare, room, food, registration and related costs can come to a couple of grand pretty easily.

    However, ask yourself how many more sales dollars you will need to add to cover the costs of show attendance. Ask yourself if you'll learn to sell more effectively and profitably by attending the show. Ask yourself if you'll learn how to do your work more efficiently, giving you more time to sell and more time to relax.

    Those answers should govern your decision.

    My experience with our staff has been that we've often gotten our money's worth within days of our investment in a learning experience at a show like K/BIS. This doesn't mean you'll always feel that your financial investment is worth it but, if you're not involved and take no risks, you'll certainly never grow.
  • Finding the time to train. I recently was a banquet speaker and sales trainer for a cabinet manufacturer. The training involved a week-long experience for attendees. Not only were dealer salespeople part of the session, but also customer service people, sales representatives and corporate'

    Part of the learning process had nothing to do with cabinets and design, but rather dealt with bonding with other people who are involved in creating a successful support system for profitable sales. If I were asked to put a price tag on the value of that training, I couldn't.

    To some people, I'm sure, it wasn't worth their time or investment but for others, I believe it was a life-changing event that will make them better designers and better salespeople. It will also enable them to work more efficiently, be more accurate . . . and make more money.

    My point is that, for good training, there's a price both in terms of money and time.
    And the price is worth it!

    How about you attending such a sales training session, or setting time aside each week to learn on your own?
    Our company has a sales meeting every Tuesday starting at 8 a.m. These meetings vary from one to two hours in length. To remain operational while we're meeting, half of our sales/design staff attends an early session and the others attend a duplicate session immediately following.

    We do a lot of the hands-on training ourselves, but we also invite representatives to be'
    part of these sessions. We train on systems designed for good communications and customer'
    service. We train on gaining product and industry knowledge. We also train on improving our'
    selling skills.'

    With these regular sessions, we're able to get in 50 to 100 hours of training every year. Many people don't see how we can afford the time to do it. However, I can't imagine how we could continue in business without the training.
    How much time does your company devote to sales training?

    It's not always easy, but there are great rewards to gain from setting aside the time to learn.
  • Having the discipline. Actually investing money and time in your success difficult as that may seem at times is actually far easier than developing the discipline required to make the investment.

    It's not easy, for instance, for our company to have successful Tuesday sales meetings. Nor is it easy for us to get the right people to K/BIS . . . or to have people out of our office training with a manufacturer . . . or to cough up the money to invest in good training.

    Sticking to your commitment to improve is often extremely difficult. There are many distractions. There are many important things on your desk pulling at your time. But, as the Nike motto sums it up, "Just do it!"

    For many of you, what I've shared in this month's K&BDN will be a "yawner" that seems aimed at people other than yourself. But some of you, I hope, will seriously examine your future and do something about it.
    You'll soon discover that having a sales plan for tomorrow will start paying dividends as early as today.