In simple terms, strategic planning refers to the way a business positions itself to achieve the greatest possible success. Performed correctly, strategic planning should inspire company leadership to work together towards a common plan and help to guide critical management decisions. It’s common for companies to hold strategic planning sessions at least once a year, especially at the start of a new calendar year, fiscal year, or quarter.
Unfortunately, the plans that leadership crafted so carefully often fall apart shortly afterwards. One reason for this is that those responsible for creating a strategic plan often view it as a one-time event rather than a legitimate annual process. Because of this, some plans never see implementation at all while leaders utilize others far too little.
Another reason for lack of following a strategic plan is that different areas of the company have competing priorities, a problem that often leads to reacting rather than preventing problems.
The Sales Industry and the Quarterly Business Review
Holding a quarterly business review (QBR) is the most common type of strategic planning in the sales industry. The purpose of this meeting is to understand events that transpired over the past three months, figure out what worked and didn’t work, and plan for the next quarter. To make the most of these meetings, sales managers should inform their teams of what they would like them to bring. This will typically include progress reports on current accounts for sales reps and presentation materials for managers.
Inviting people to the QBR who normally don’t attend can add some much-needed variation to the conversation. For example, marketing, product, sales, and customer service team leads can bring additional insights that would not have come up otherwise. Creating an agenda in advance and politely keeping people on target is the best way to ensure a productive QBR that creates a noticeable improvement on performance.
This isn’t the time to single people out for having problems or not meeting goals. Instead, it’s the ideal opportunity to offer support and potential resolutions for issues that prevent better performance. However, it’s fine to ask anyone currently struggling to meet target to come to the meeting with a prepared action plan to address issues and request feedback from others.
How to Win More Deals Moving Forward
It’s easy for sales representatives to place less importance on pipeline health the closer they come to the end of the quarter. The QBR is an excellent time to review the following:
- Pipeline coverage for the next quarter
- Whether the needs of prospects currently sitting in the pipeline match the company’s sales channels and value proposition
- Whether the pipeline contains the right mixture of deals
- If it’s possible to move deals in future forecasts into the present
- Identify any pipeline deals stuck at a certain phase
After analyzing these factors, the meeting participants should move on to discuss specific actions that can result in more closed deals. This process should include plans for quickly replacing deals that fall through with new ones. A sales manager can declare the QBR a success if salespeople trust him or her to offer better and more targeted guidance and the manager trusts sales reps to use their tools to win more deals next quarter.