Most companies embark on a new fiscal in April. Keep your hand on your heart, and tell me if you have a solid plan as you move into the new fiscal? By the way, how will you know if you have a good plan? Allow me to share 5 ways you could assess if you have a good plan:
Your plan retires market potential: Most annual plans look back on your current fiscal performance and take a conservative growth number on top – this is lazy planning. The first aspect of any plan is to assess the full market potential for all of your offerings. In fact, in addition to all the whitespace that you can address, it should also adopt a Blue Ocean approach to identify all areas where your competition is not present. Your fiscal planning measure should be a % of the market potential that you are planning to retire next fiscal – without an indexation to market potential, your fiscal plan becomes an impotent extension of your previous fiscal.
Your plan aligns to how you are different: If you are not different in the eyes of your customer/ consumer, you deserve to be commoditized. As part of your fiscal planning process, please spend time with your best customers and consumers to understand how they articulate how you are different from your competition – it is just not articulating how you are different, the key factor to understand is how much your customers are willing to pay you more, for how you are different. In a way, your differentiator is your “value wedge”. When you focus on your fiscal planning, do think about how you are able to monetize your value wedge. The question for you to answer is “How are my differences showing up in my customer’s P&L? Or how are my differences accelerating my ability to capture market share?
Value addition across virtual teams and channels is clear: A plan is only as good as its alignment across teams and channels. In large B2B sales organizations, there are sales teams and virtual teams – your fiscal plan should be landed on every persons’ commitments, with complete clarity on how much each person puts their shoulder to the wheel. It still surprises me how many organizations have obfuscated accountabilities with no orchestration guidelines on how people will work together and how they will be measured on end results. Beware of the plan where there are several people riding on the National quota, and not on individual contributions.
In the case of B2C organizations, we need to think about the value-addition at every stage of the channel to the consumer, and a measurement of each distributor/retailer’s retirement of their territory potential. Another element to factor in, is the contribution of insights from Marketing to focus your sales efforts.
You have a robust 4 quarter rolling pipeline: The net result of a good plan is a solid pipeline. The reason I say Q0 planning, is to give us the headroom to identify potential, and also qualify these opportunities in Q0 (1 quarter prior to Q1). This pipeline prevents organizations to “fall off the cliff” at the end of every fiscal and endure poor seasonality of business in Q1. Some innovative organizations have also pushed out their fiscal calendar by a month, so that their quarter-ends end 1 month into the next quarter (Q1 = May to July and so on)
Your sales plan aligns to your business strategy: The sales function exists to serve the organizational strategy and care should be taken to ensure that the two of them align. Some of the questions to address here are: How are my salespeople able to articulate our corporate strategy in a simple way? How does my compensation align to what we need to achieve in the market? How are your business’s strategic levers translating into account and territory plans? How do we hire and develop talent that helps us retire market potential faster?
I hope that the above pointers help you think deeper into the importance of Q0 planning. While this is not a comprehensive treatise on fiscal planning, I have sought to highlight some of hygiene factors that will help you prioritize your efforts. These pointers come from almost three decades of Sales Leadership and Field Experience, and I am only happy to have the opportunity to share my learnings and learn from yours. We are only as good as our network!!