Why Working Smarter and Harder Won’t Work


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Most Sales Leaders still haven’t received their number for next year. Still many SVPs I’ve spoken with express confidence that they can achieve this unknown target.  “I’ll hit the number next year, because I’ve done it this year.” This is a mistake.  Here are three things that you can count on if you’ve had a good year: 


  1. Next year’s target will get bigger.
  2. Your competition has noticed.
  3. “Working Smarter and Harder” will probably not be sufficient next year.

So what happens after you knock the cover off the ball? The biggest mistake Sales Leaders make is “rinse and repeat.” The strategy is the same.  Disruption and change are seen as threats to the organization. Best to ride the train until the wheels fall off.  

Create your plan to increase your chances of a successful year.  Download a copy of our report, “How to Make Your Number in 2015.” 

The star SVP thinks differently.  They embrace a term known to give task-oriented Sales Leaders fits:  Planning.  Planning is commonly seen by “B” Sales Leaders as inaction.  Who can blame them?  They’ve got a quarterly number to hit.  Every second is precious. Even if they saw an opportunity ten moves ahead, the chessboard would change.  But great leaders focus on strategic planning.  Here are the three planning components:

Revenue Planning: Define how you are going to achieve your revenue goal relative to your competitors.

Budget Planning: Determine the budget needed and how to allocate it to achieve your goals.

Data Planning: Define the data required to drive sales decisions.

Here is how “C” Sales Leaders approach each one.

Revenue Planning: Take the amount the market is growing. Peanut butter spread the expected revenue across the entire organization. If a new market is targeted, throw in a conservative estimate and avoid overinvestment.

Budget Planning: Take the entire budget allocated and apply it all to more heads.  Worse, invest in the latest technology. Assume that the productivity increase will get you to the finish line.

Data Planning: Use CRM for lagging indicators like revenue.  Schedule weekly pipeline calls for a hazy look into the future revenue.

Now let’s review how star SVPs do each one:

Revenue: Look at how to achieve greater revenue through a variety of different lenses.  Build Product, Industry, and Geographic models. Set Revenue targets for each segment.  Use this data to create a core strategy.

Budget Planning:  Build a budget to execute the core strategy.  Calculated costs associated with executing the plan.  Create an ROI model to determine where capital can achieve the highest return.  Augment the core strategy if needed. Construct spending plans to ensure that initiatives stay within budget.

Data Planning: Leading and lagging KPIs are determined to ensure the strategy is followed.  Metric calculations are clearly defined.  Gaps in current data collection are determined prior to the new year.  These are addressed with a system architecture plan.  Owners are assigned to ensure each piece of data is accurate, clean, and timely.

In sports, the game is often decided before the teams step on the field.  Those with the better game plan are at distinct advantage.  New planning won’t ensure a victory every time.  But using the same one over and over again will eventually end in disappointment.  Ensure that your team has one.  Stop your day to day activities for a week and start planning.  “Working Smarter and Harder” only goes so far.  Download our report and get started.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Drew Zarges
Drew Zarges serves as a Senior Consultant at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI). Drew helps sales and marketing leaders hit their number through extensive work within these disciplines: Lead Management, Demand Generation and Campaign Planning, Compensation Planning and Specialties.


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