What should you do if you cannot seem to come up with enough sales opportunities to hit the revenue target for next year?
This scenario sometimes comes up during an annual planning session. You've built a sales and revenue plan for the year based on assumptions and this year's historical performance, and it does not add up to achieve the revenue target that you have set for the next year. And now you are staring at a gap. How do we fill this gap? I would suggest that you do a "20 ways to..." exercise to come up with ideas to fill this gap.
20 ways to... 7 step process:
- Step 1: Objective: what do we need to achieve? What are we generating ideas for?
- Step 2: Facts: what do we already know? Just the facts please!
- Step 3: Brainstorm ideas.
- First, ideas only, save all concerns for later. It is important not to break the flow of ideas. Often, a great idea comes on the back of a weak idea, and if you stop the flow with a "no" or a "but," momentum is broken, and the great idea will not be birthed.
- Start with some independent work. Give everyone in the room 5 minutes to come up with 2-3 ideas individually.
- Begin putting the ideas on the board. Write down the idea and the revenue opportunity the person believes it has. Do not argue or discuss the numbers, just get a number down. We can discuss in the next part of this process.
- Keep going, encourage the team, keep the energy level high.
- Don't stop until you have at least 20 ideas on the board.
- Step 4: Argue against: Now's the time for the team to push back and argue against any ideas that are not worthy.
- Too hard to do?
- Too expensive?
- Not enough revenue for the effort? Push back on the revenue value on the board?
- Step 5: Sell it to the team.
- Are there any ideas that anyone feels particularly strongly about? Your intuition tells you that it is a great idea? Allow people to pitch any idea that they feel passionate about.
- Step 6: Organize and vote.
- Number the ideas on the board.
- Give each member 5 or less votes to vote for the best ideas.
- Have them write down their votes on paper, and wait to hear the votes until everyone has written down their vote.
- Tally up the votes.
- Step 7: Commit and Agree.
- Discuss the ideas with the highest votes.
- Often times these are the best ideas to implement. But, not always.
- Allow a final discussion on the top ideas, and prioritize which ones are going to get done.
- Ask the person who will be implementing these ideas for the final thoughts. Be careful not to assign the idea to a team member who is not committed or does not believe in the value that this idea will bring.
Our coaches have led clients through this ideation process hundreds of times. It is amazing how there always seems to be more than enough ideas on the wall or board to fill or surpass the gap. The ideas and revenues are sitting in the brains of your team. Facilitate it out of their heads, and have a great next year.
Have a wonderful annual planning session. Email me or put your comments on the blog and let me know how you are doing. I would love to hear about how this technique helped you achieve your plans.