How often do you sit down and really plan ahead? Every day? Every week? Sometimes?
Your answer will give a vivid picture of how you develop your sales accounts and how you increase your plans for the future.
Planning ahead can really set you apart from other salespeople as it offers a glimpse of a created future. But there’s a way of planning that you may not have focused on before, and it will get you great results.
Most people tend to focus on planning forwards; that is, they make a to-do list of actions they need to take to reach their goals. However, seldom does this allow you to have a structured route, with items in the right order at the right time – and it always focuses on actions.
Planning backwards, on the other hand, provides the structure you need to help you get things done in the right order and the right time, as it focuses on results.
Steven Covey, of Seven Habits fame, speaks of ‘beginning with the end in mind’. That’s what planning backwards allows you to do.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a specific goal to hit a target within one month.
Instead of looking forward at what you need to accomplish this week, the week after and so on, start with the target in mind and work backwards, dividing it into smaller goals.
Set milestones at strategic points in the month so that you know you’re on target. These are your goals that you are focusing on.
When you’ve achieved these results, you can concentrate on going forward with specific actions. It helps you see the big picture, and the map you are using develops your motivation because you can see what you are needing to achieve before you set off on the route.
Let’s see this in an example.
Imagine you have a target to hit by the end of next month. Let’s say it’s hitting a target of £50,000 revenue.
If you start planning now, you can think of what actions you need to take to achieve that figure. However, if you reverse the process, you see yourself hitting the figure and then working backwards the current situation.
With one week to go, you may decide you need to be at £42,000. By the end of the previous week, you allocate the figure as £30,000. The week before, £20,000
This means you have to plan to be at £20,000 revenue with three weeks to go. Your action plans will ascertain the specific areas you need to work on to achieve these weekly goals. You’ll notice you have set a higher target for the first time period of the month, and you can plan what has to occur for you to achieve that figure.
It creates a forward momentum towards results, allowing you to choose your actions and adapt if things aren’t going to plan. That navigation system in your mind will keep you on track as you concentrate on results rather than just actions.