A Comprehensive Annual Planning Retreat Improves Sales
“Ready, shoot, aim.”
Unfortunately, that’s the approach many salespeople take to task of determining how to best invest their sales time. It leads to squandered sales time, unproductive days, and results which are far less than they could be.
The best salespeople, the top guns, take a different approach. They understand that time management is one of their greatest challenges and greatest opportunities, and gear up to do it well. They engage in certain planning disciplines which help them make good decisions about the investment of their sales time, and help them to stay focused on the most important use of their time.
One of those key planning disciplines is the annual planning retreat. The best companies build this into their routines as a standard part of how they do sales, and the best salespeople dedicate time to this process annually.
Here’s how they do it:
- Set aside two or three days to immerse yourself in the planning process. That means that you block off a dedicated chunk of time. You limit interruptions; don’t schedule any sales calls during this time, avoid phone calls, and don’t make commitments for things to be done other than this. Then, gather all your files and seclude yourself some place where you can focus on thinking deeply about these issues.
- Start with a review of the previous year. On a page or two, record the major victories you enjoyed, the successes you engineered, and the lessons you learned.
- Then, move on to creating personal goals for yourself. Think deeply about all the things you could accomplish this year, and then identify the three to five things that are most important. Describe them as specifically as possible.
- Now, focus on your job, and create goals for the results you want. What do you want to achieve this year? How much in sales, new customers, etc? Once again, describe them as specifically as possible.
- Next, work on your customers and prospects. Methodically analyze each one for the potential this year, and rank them into A, B and C categories. Be objective and methodical. Use your files to carefully analyze each.
- Rework your travel routines, building loops around the A customers, and limiting your time with the C’s.
- Finally, revamp your file system — both electronic and hard copy. Throw out or delete all the old and irrelevant information. Re-organize your files so that you have useful information readily at hand. Focus on information for your customers, your products, and your internal resources.
If you methodically and objectively attend to each of these issues, you’ll find that it takes you a couple of days. That’s OK. This is time well spent.
You’ll emerge from this time energized and focused. You’ll know exactly what you want to accomplish this year and how you are going to do it. You’ll be organized, focused and eager to get at it.
That’s why this is a best practice of the best salespeople.