How does your organization develop the annual sales plan?  I’m always interested in how different companies develop their sales plan.  I’ve drawn up  a couple of simple charts below to illustrate how sales plans are sometimes developed.  The top down method is straightforward and  fairly easy to develop.  The problem with this method is that you don’t get true buy in at the divisional level.  I also believe that the probability of success (i.e., hitting the plan) is low.

On the other hand the bottoms up method is quite different. While I believe the bottoms up method delivers better results, it is much more time consuming to develop.  No pain, no gain?  With the bottoms up plan, much more useful information is developed and can be used across the organization.  Outputs include:

  • A detailed sales plan by product line and sales person.  With a detailed plan, that is developed by the sales person, you have much more buy in and accountability.  Of course you have to make sure the sales person develops a plan that is challenging.  There is always a concern that someone might turn in an artificially low plan.  One has to be vigilant with the bottoms up plan.  When developed in a robust and transparent manner, the bottoms up plan has much better chance of success.  In cases where the bottoms up plan does not match the corporate growth directive, the divisional GM will have solid data to support their plan.  In these cases, the GM can negotiate from a position of strength – a detailed bottoms up plan.
  • Detailed data by product line, which then can be used to drive both capacity planning and materials planning.  Don’t underestimate the importance of capacity planning.  With detailed data you have  the needed support to determine if you should add people, machines, warehouse space, etc.  From a material planning perspective, you now have data that will allow you to better negotiate terms and delivery schedules with your vendors.

I am a fan of the bottoms up plan.  What method do you prefer?  What method does your company use?

Rindge Leaphart

Sales Process

 

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