Kenny Chapman: How sales skills solve your biggest challenges
Developing a plan helps your vision and provides structure and purpose for your team.
As we move into a new decade, most of us are focused on how to continue to grow our companies, implement new strategies and ideas, and stay ahead in an ever-changing world of technology and innovation.
Here’s the issue, though: A lot of entrepreneurs have tons of great ideas but are guilty of implementing them too quickly without having a real plan in place.
Take a moment to reflect on the last 10 years. Think about how many meetings and conferences you attended, leaving with great ideas and newfound motivation. You bring these ideas and concepts back to your team and say, “Let’s do this,” without a real long-term execution plan.
In fact, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, your team members dread your return from a conference because that means all kinds of new things will be thrown at them (often without a structured implementation strategy). Next, think about the most successful ideas you implemented in the last 10 years. What made them successful? Chances are there was a great plan involved, not just a quick idea that you put into action and hoped it would stick.
Let’s be clear: I’m not suggesting that you should overthink every decision or idea you’d like to implement, but it’s worth the extra time to do your research, reach out to your peers who have done similar things and then document strategies, ideal outcomes and timelines.
Developing a plan not only helps your vision, it also provides more structure and purpose for your team members to get behind. We all know that you can’t execute ideas and plans by yourself, so having that buy-in is crucial.
When you have a goal (like I’m assuming you do for 2020 and beyond), or you want things to improve in your company, you can have ideas about how to get there, but what’s the plan? If you want to improve your sales conversion rate, what are you going to do differently?
I’ll give you a big hint: It involves effective training, accountability and systems. I’ll give you another hint: One of the biggest components of making your ideas and goals into a real plan is who is going to execute different aspects of the plan. You also need to be careful that you aren’t trying to fit a round peg into square hole regarding project and staff management. Look at your entire team and evaluate if they are in the right positions.
In the early days of owning my PHC company, I learned the hard way that just because someone was good at their role didn’t mean they should manage people who do that job. They might think they want to, but there is so much more to leadership skills than knowing how to succeed in a position. It’s even possible they take a role because they simply don’t want to disappoint you, so it’s part of your leadership responsibility to dig deeper into whether they are really capable of managing people, tasks and plans.
In addition to having the correct people in place to support your ideas-turned-plans, here are a few more tips to help you move in the right direction in 2020:
- As your ideas turn into plans and goals, get out of your own way as these plans are coming together. Don’t get too attached to the fact it’s your idea; make sure to get other people involved in the planning and listen to their ideas as well. Have planning meetings and don’t be afraid to make changes and alterations if things aren’t going in the right direction.
- Define how your idea fits into your larger vision. Think of ideas like “mini visions” that are part of your bigger vision for the company. If they don’t really fit into your larger vision, they probably shouldn’t get past the idea phase into the planning stage. Your business vision is supported by defined plans, so your ideas should be too.
- Get your numbers right. It’s amazing when our clients plug their numbers into our budgeting tool, how many times the final budget number isn’t correct, so we go back through and find that something small but critical was off.
- Have a coach (or someone who is familiar with budgeting specifically in our industry) take a look. Many ideas fail, not just because they didn’t have a solid plan behind them, but because tracking, budgeting and numbers were off. It seems elementary, but it happens all the time. Don’t let your plan fail because some financial aspect wasn’t being tracked correctly.
- Know when you get there. Even though having financial benchmarks are important to your plans and goals, know that reaching a goal isn’t always a number. Sometimes it’s what that number represents, and it’s also about who you and your company become in the process. What happens when you achieve a goal? Part of your bigger vision involves what’s next (after you reach that goal). Know when it’s time to revisit a plan or goal.
- Tell people about your plans and goals for accountability. It’s easy to get excited about a new idea, and it’s also easy to give up on it too quickly if you don’t have a plan and accountability behind it. It’s been proven that people are much more likely to see projects through until the end if there are other people involved and counting on them.