Each quarter my clients meet with me for a sales review and planning meeting. One of the challenges consultants have with sales is remaining focused on business development, whilst also delivering work.
Our discussions at the quarterly meeting meander around what’s been happening since we last met: positive achievements; strategy, learning from failures; working on sales techniques; long-term goal cultivation; targets; and a plan for next quarters business development activities.
It’s the last component that’s most valuable.
Setting strong business development targets and commitment to action is vitally important. Nobody in a fulltime sales role gets away without having a sales target – usually dispensed from on high.
But, when I speak to consultants who are tasked with selling about adopting this approach I’m usually met with distain. Let’s face it most consultants prefer delivery to sales, and encumbering them with this type of sales discipline doesn’t help with that.
So I persuade them to try it on for size, just for a quarter. Have a target number for the revenue they will generate. Break that down into specific deals. Then focus on working those deal through to a close during the next 90-days, while nurturing longer-term relationships beyond that.
You might be reading this thinking … makes sense, seems like a pretty simple way to plan. And it is. Here’s the exact approach we use. We record the details in a simple spreadsheet.
Part 1: Who are your top 10 prospects for the next quarter?
Here we write down deals that remain unclosed from the last quarter. We add to these new projects we’ve identified and qualified using BANT. Against each project we estimate the revenue value and a close date. Then we write down what we want to achieve next with the prospect, to move the deal forward, and a specific action to take. That’s it.
This is our baseline list of prospects for the quarter. We might add to this, but the baseline remains – because it’s these prospects that form the basis of the forecast that goes into our business plan. Any additional ‘quick-win’ prospects added are bunce.
Part 2: Who are your top 10 suspects for the next quarter?
Suspects are relationships you are developing with the expectation that they will lead to an identified project sometime in the longer-term. Which in our planning horizon means opportunities beyond 90-days. In the next quarter, or quarter after that, or some way distant place.
These relationships are sales relationships, not marketing relationships. The difference being that the person identified with either influence, or has authority for, defining a project.
Against each suspect we write down the specific result we want, quite often this is something we’ll need the person to agree to. And an action we’ll take, usually something that adds value in advance of seeking that agreement.
Working with a suspect means nurturing ideas based on the Point of View (PoV) you bring to the table. The ultimate outcome is for them to identify the potential value of a project where you might work together, at which point they become prospects
Suspects are not the same people you network with, or centres of influence etc. There is a more deliberate agenda when you meet with a suspect.
Part 3: What is your marketing calendar for the next quarter?
This is where we write down campaigns to pursue in the next quarter. It’s also where we note quarterly meetings and contacts we plan to have with the major influencers within our network etc.
Campaigns includes outreach emails and calls and digital and non-digital marketing. Anything aimed at generating a sales lead, or a suspect opportunity to nurture.
Why top 10?
When I first started working with clients on quarterly plans we would generate desirable, but unrealistic and unmanageably long lists.
Recognising that consultants are delivering work as well as doing business development part-time I learnt to reduce these lists down to the top 10 as a maximum. It’s just a target number, on average we write down around 7 in each category, for each business developer.
During the quarter we use the targets recorded as the basis for monitoring and measuring sales activity, progress, and results.
If you find this useful please let me know. Thanks for reading and sharing: