7 Integral Questions to Ask About Sales Planning

by BHG Sales Executive Paul Bates


Blue Horizons Group is an end-to-end service provider and consultancy for your revenue operations strategies and systems.

In a recent discussion that I had with my longtime friend and mentor Ian Farmer of IF Associates, we noticed how people in today’s world are failing to plan properly, especially in the sales environment. We felt that many are missing the mark in how they look at the way they do their business. In our discussion, Ian and I spoke about several tactics we felt would benefit today’s businesses and sales organizations, that was important to share. Here are 7 questions we asked ourselves to discover sales planning best practices.

  1. Are you using your team appropriately?

Which of your salespeople are farmers and which are hunters? Some people are storytellers, some are analytics, and some are drivers. Each can serve best in certain roles. Can you identify the different skill sets on your team and correctly apply them? Are you using the right coaching and incentives to draw out their potential? Using the collective skills of your team appropriately can be just as important as any incentive.

  1. Are you driving the correct behaviors?

In sales, a common pitfall is to focus on the result and not how it is achieved. Incentives, territories, and quotas should be focused on driving behaviors that meet the overall objectives of your business. If you reward just the sale itself, you may be enabling any seller with an easy territory or friendly client. Identifying correct sales behaviors and then incentivizing them appropriately allows for a team that performs under a variety of circumstances. It also limits adverse behaviors such as gaming incentive plans.

  1. Are you creating a dependency culture?

Businesses tend to stick with “what works” such as products that sell and customers who buy. It is better to have more long-term vision. Don’t rely on one or two big accounts, if the huge account with all your effort invested doesn’t go through, you could be left high and dry. While you are waiting for that quarter-making deal to close, hunt for other, smaller and varied deals to manage your risks.

  1. Are you giving your prospects a good reason to meet you?

Potential clients need a compelling reason to give you their precious time. Buyers are motivated by their own reasons and not the sellers. Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes, and always ask the question “What’s in it for them?” If you can help them see that answer, you raise your chances of a successful meeting.

  1. Do you position your offering as a necessity rather than a nice to have?

Can you position your product as a need to have? Does it cure a buyer’s pain points and will it make their life better? Can your salespeople clearly articulate what the potential buyer will lose by not procuring your product or services? It should not be just about buying it for your client, but about the consequences of not having the product. Creating a clear need in the buyer’s mind increases your chances of a sale once your foot is in the door.

  1. Are you talking to all the right people?

It’s not always enough for sales teams to go straight for top level executives or focus on the champion they’ve found. A classic saying in sales is “This deal’s great, but we’ve got a one-legged stool.” You can’t speak to just one person, you need a champion behind the deal, a decision influencer, and a decision-maker. The authority on approving a deal is often a panel of different levels. Selling to the entire panel gives a greater chance of success.

  1. Why are you succeeding, or failing?

When a salesperson rings that bell and makes a sale, can you confidently explain the reason? Was it the skills of the individual, the role they are placed in, or the combination of both? If a seller is struggling to attain their quota, why do they struggle? Are your plans coincidence-proof? You must have a win/loss assessment after every success or failure and bring it down to a science so it can be easily replicated. Understanding and documenting the areas in your sales process that foster success and prevent failure reduces the margin of error in your win/loss predictions.


Ian and I raised these concerns about modern sales organizations to discover what makes sales planning work and what doesn’t. We argue that any business which regularly asks themselves these questions is primed for success.

To find out whether your sales plans are at their maximum effectiveness, reach out to or visit our website at so we can help you gain greater insight into your sales performance.



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