Implementing a new sales process or any type of change in your sales organization can be wrought with problems without a clear plan to drive accountability and timely completion of key deliverables. Therefore, establishing a 90-day plan is essential to focus and stay on track. But too often, that plan turns into a complicated, ineffective use of time and effort – and becomes a major impediment to ensuring successful execution. This case study explains why it’s crucial to simplify your 90-day implementation plan.
I have been working with a client over the last few months to implement the customized sales process we created for their sales team. In addition to a new sales process, we also devised one-on-one and group meeting agendas and some high-level coaching tips. In order to implement these changes, the managers were asked to prepare a 90-day implementation plan for their teams.
No templates were provided since I like to see what they come up with on their own. Typically when no template is provided, they construct complex plans with many activities and tasks, each with an associated completion date.
In our first coaching session, I reviewed the activities and tasks they had provided and invariably, many of the activities and tasks were not completed.
Unfortunately, this is typical. I did not provide the template. I did not provide the activities. I did not provide the dates. And yet, they said the 90-day plan was too hard to follow. Or they had assigned themselves too many activities and could not complete them with everything else they had on their plates.
So I called them on it. I said that when I asked for a 90-day plan, it was up to them to construct a plan they could easily use and follow. I also never dictated dates and asked them to assign tasks and dates they could meet KNOWING their own schedules and deliverables. So why did they make it so complicated?
The 90-day plan they constructed looked professional enough, but it was too complicated to keep updated. They put in dates they thought would meet management’s expectations. They said that in the past, they had prepared plans, had them reviewed once with senior management and then put them in a drawer never to see the light of day again. And, they did the same for their direct reports. Asked for 90-day plans. Reviewed them once and never looked at them again. What a waste.
Then a funny thing happened. I showed them a simple 90-day plan and had them group the activities not by individual dates or by groups of activities, but by what they could accomplish in 30 day, 60 day and 90 day windows. I then reviewed the 30-day activities and had them update each activity in red (not done), yellow (in progress) and green (completed) depending on what they had or had not accomplished. As soon as sales and sales management saw the revised simple plan, they quickly saw that this was easier and clearly allowed them to see what they had to accomplish. I met with them on a regular basis to hold them accountable to their action items and dates.
And, guess what? Over the 90-day period, they succeeded in implementing the new sales process, meeting agendas and coaching skills using a new approach that did not boil the ocean. Go figure.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter
Isn’t it interesting that, when left to our own devices, we’ll often create complexity until someone gives us permission to simplify? I do it often. This was a great reminder of stepping back to simplify.
The power of the red, yellow, green indicators is amazing. I’ve started implementing it into everything I do because it’s universally understood and shows progress at just a glance.
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