07/24/2014 05:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Plan to Win in Today's Sales Game


REAL WINNERS create and follow a clear sales plan. This is the difference between a mediocre sales year and an astronomical one.

There are two types of sales professionals out there; those who fly by the seat of their pants, making up sales strategies as they go and hoping for the best and then there are those who are the real winners.

As any good sales professional knows, having a thorough understanding of your customer is absolutely vital, and this is where a well constructed sales plan can make the difference. Think of your sales plan as your roadmap to success. It will include the strategies and tactics you will use to discover your customer's needs and requirements so that you can connect with their vision of a successful interaction, and thus ultimately win the client over and make the sale.

Because the very nature of sales involves competing against others for business, if we are to be successful, then we must plan to win. We must plan how we will discover what matters most to our customers, how we will prove that we are the best fit for their needs, and how we will blow their expectations out of the water. Then we must execute this plan.

Customers can often tell the difference between a salesperson who is following a sales plan and one who isn't. They might not know why, but the customer will pick up on the fact that the person who has planned to win has done something extra; their actions are focused, their customer follow-up is effective and timely, and the purchase process is smoother. They are more confident, more understanding, more organized.

If at this point you are thinking to yourself, "is this something I should be doing?," then I would encourage you to consider the advantageous position that having a sales plan can put you in over simply repeating the same old 'day-to-day', 'taking it as it comes' selling.

As Baseball Hall of Fame Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else". So with that in mind, where is it that you want to go? On to developing a winning sales plan that will guide you to a record sales year, or someplace else?

7 Ways To Find Out if you are in the Game:

1. Research -- Do you know your client's profile and your competition?
2. Confirmation -- Do you understand your client's business pain points and their decision-making process?
3. Trust -- Does your client trust you? How would you rate the relationship out of 1 to 10, 1 being the lowest?
4. Knowledge on your craft -- how would you rate yourself out of 10?
5. Self-Belief -- Do you believe in yourself with confidence?
6. Sales Plan -- Do you have a sales plan with clear goals and actions to achieve your milestones?
7. Motivation -- Do you love what you do and do you feel motivated to act?

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