August 14, 2022 | Sales Tips

7 Sales Planning Tips You Should Know for 2022

It’s another new year—do you have a medical sales plan for maximizing your results yet? Making a plan can be a tedious task, but it’s a necessary one of you’re going to outperform the competition and meet your organization’s key goals.

Without a solid plan in place, it’s hard to ensure that your sales team is working in the right way. Reps might focus on the wrong initiatives, leaders may reward the wrong actions,

Let’s take a look at medical sales planning—what it is, how it works, and what you can do to improve it.

What Is Sales Planning?

Sales planning is the practice of setting strategies to achieve your organization’s sales goals. It involves tracking your company’s sales metrics, past sales data, and available resources in addition to picking the optimal tools to help your team fulfill the plans that you make.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to define sales and operations planning. Some consider it a way to slice up your target market and align your sales team to fit the “slices.” Others would define it more as the “who/what/when/why/how” questions that help guide your organization toward meeting its goals.

Ultimately, sales planning is a tool that is meant to help you prioritize and achieve your sales goals both now and in the future—regardless of the specific definition and methodology you choose to follow.

7 Medical Sales Planning Tips You Should Know

When you’re making a plan for your medical sales team, how do you ensure that the plan is as comprehensive and effective as possible to maximize your results for the new year? Here are a few tips to help you out:

1. Start by Collecting and Analyzing Your Past Sales Data to Forecast Your Future Results

In any kind of strategic planning, it’s important to know what you can accomplish. Before you can start setting goals, it’s important to review your past sales data to try to identify any patterns that may be important.

This can help you manage your expectations and create a more realistic plan for the future.

2. Set SMART Goals

There are many different goal-setting frameworks that you can use to help you create goals for your strategic sales planning. One of the more common frameworks is the SMART framework. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific. Goals in your sales plan should be specific as to what should be done, how it should be accomplished, and by whom. This is important for helping ensure accountability.
  • Measurable. Goals should have a specific, measurable value that you can track progress against. For example, selling a certain number of specific products, reaching a set dollar value in total transactions, or generating a certain amount of monthly recurring revenue.
  • Attainable. How realistic are the goals you’re setting, based on past performance? If you can normally sell $100k per month per sales rep, then upping the goal to $1 million/month per rep might be unrealistic, but nudging goals to $110k/month per rep may be reasonable.
  • Relevant. Goals need to be relevant to your company’s overall strategy in some fashion. If the goal doesn’t help your company get results, does it really need to be part of your sales planning?
  • Timely/Time-Bound. Goals should have a set schedule to be met to motivate people and prevent procrastination. In fact, it can help to, during your sales planning, break up larger end-of-year goals into several smaller short-term goals for sales reps to meet throughout the course of the year.

When crafting your sales planning goals, be sure to check each goal you make against the above criteria. If the goal is lacking in any of these SMART criteria, it may need to be reworked until it fits.

What does a SMART goal look like? A basic example would be something like “Each sales rep needs to sell $110k revenue each month” for a company that normally achieves an average of $100k revenue in sales per rep each month.

The goal is specific to sales, has easily-measured criteria, is achievable based on past sales data, is clearly relevant to the company’s growth, and has a set time limit to motivate sales reps.

3. Define Your Target Audience/Customer Base

Who are you selling your medical devices, pharmaceutical products, or services to? Marketing is a key aspect of any sales process—helping to drive qualified leads for your sales team to act on. So, it’s important to not only account for your marketing efforts in your sales planning, but to ensure that those efforts are targeted to the right audience.

Defining your target audience based on who your ideal customers are and creating a kind of fictitious profile for them can help better prepare your marketing and sales teams to approach those customers—a practice sometimes called creating a buyer persona.

When armed with specific knowledge about who your target audience is, what their pain points are, and how your products and services can help them, you can craft a better sales plan that will help your company succeed.

Of course, as someone in the medical/pharmaceutical industry, you already have a set niche—which makes defining and investigating your target audience a bit easier!

4. Define Your Sales Pipeline/Customer Journey

How will you attract the right audience to your products and services? What will you do to smoothly move prospects along the sales process as they transition from being strangers to leads, qualified sales prospects, and then customers?

In your sales planning, it’s important to define each of the steps or milestones your customers follow to become customers—and the steps that you will take after they become customers as well!

For example, how do you establish initial contact with a prospective customer? Do you rely on advertising to generate interest, send sales reps out in person to make the initial connection, or do a combination of sales prospecting and advertising?

Once contact is made, what are the next steps? More importantly, who is responsible for each step of the process? How do you ensure that your plans are followed? What will you do to help your sales reps keep on track?

Define a process or workflow for each step of your sales process, assign roles and responsibilities, and then create plans for enforcing adherence to your overall strategy. This can include creating employee training programs to instill the right skills, conducting frequent performance reviews, and asking for sales rep feedback about how your strategy is working.

5. Be Prepared to Make Changes

In a perfect world, you’d have all the information and tools you need to ensure that your sales plan is a success from day one. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Even the best-laid plans will require some adjustments after being launched—whether it’s because of a change in your sales team, disruptions in the market (like new regulations being launched), or because some important detail was missed during the initial planning session.

So, it’s important to leave some room in your sales planning for making changes as needed. Take out some time each month after launching the plan to review your progress towards your goals, try to identify any major obstacles to meeting your goals, and try to come up with ideas for overcoming those obstacles.

Here, having one-on-one sessions with sales reps and asking for their input on what their major challenges are can help. Additionally, consider setting up an anonymous feedback system where reps can submit their comments and concerns without fear of reprisal—a lot of people may refuse to voice their concerns in a face-to-face meeting where they can be identified easily.

6. Create Room for Sales Rep Training in Your Plan

Training is crucial for ensuring that your sales reps are able to follow your sales and operations planning. Engaging in semi-frequent training helps employees learn (and retain) important skills, gives you a chance to communicate your expectations (including how sales reps can meet them), and even provides an opportunity to “course correct” with sales reps who may be lagging behind on their results.

Training is also a key measure for mitigating your risk of regulatory violations. A trained sales force with up-to-date knowledge of industry regulations is much less likely to accidentally violate them—and demonstrating that you do specifically train reps to avoid violations can be important if an issue ever does arise.

If you have a sales rep that is performing well above average, consider having them mentor the rest of the team on their sales tactics. Set up a training session or meeting where they have time to walk others through how they work to meet their goals, identify the best ways to approach prospects, or overcome common objections.

7. Document Your Sales Plan and Make It Available to Your Whole Team

When creating your sales plan, be sure to document as much of it as possible so that you can share it with your entire team. This can help you ensure that your whole team is aligned with your goals, strategies, and processes from start to finish.

When you make updates or changes to your sales and operations plan, be sure to update the document to reflect those alterations—and communicate them with your sales reps. This can be vital for preventing confusion and maximizing your results.

Need Help to Enable Your Sales Plan?

The above tips are just a few of the things to keep in mind when creating a sales plan for your medical or pharmaceutical business. Do you need help putting your sales plans into action? A contract sales organization (CSO) might be able to help!

An experienced CSO that specializes in medical and pharmaceutical sales can provide you with quick access to highly-qualified and motivated talent—giving you the human resources you need to make your more ambitious sales strategies a reality.

If you need help putting the strategies from your sales planning into motion, reach out to Axxelus today! We have years of experience in partnering companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device sales industries with qualified talent that drives long-term success.

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