As the first half concludes, it is important for sales leadership and professionals to reflect upon how they are executing against year beginning direction. Were geography and account plans developed for the current year? If not, now is the time to ensure everyone has specific goals in place to maintain focus and drive execution for the remainder of the year. If plans are in place, the next step is to explore the positive movement or momentum in executing against these plans.

Whether there is a formal business review process or not, it is important to dedicate time for robust and transparent discussions. Sales leaders should consider the following best practices and lessons learned when reviewing plan effectiveness.

1.  Business Plan Quality and Focus

As a general rule, business plan execution begins with good planning. It is important for early discussions to focus on if the sales professional has leveraged strategic thinking and general business acumen when putting together their plan.

  • Clarifying expectations, guiding principles, and what “good” looks like related to business planning.
  • Review existing business or account plan to ensure goals and actions have been clearly stated.
  • Ensure plans are aligned with broader organizational, brand, or therapeutic area goals and priorities.
  • Check all plans for compliant documentation practices.

2.  Review Discussions

Discussions between the sales leader and direct report should be viewed as an opportunity for learning and exchange. The goal is not to put direct reports on the defensive, but to encourage open dialogue. Together, it is important to reach agreements on next steps and areas of focus for both the short-term and longer-term.

  • Continue to evaluate how the changing healthcare ecosystem evolution is impacting the local market and plans.
  • Explore the rationale for the objectives set; were the right priorities identified? Do the objectives and subsequent actions align with broader organizational or brand goals?
  • Revisit and prioritize activities to ensure quick wins can be achieved.
  • Leverage existing business analytics and reports to assess if you are on track for goal attainment.
  • Look for important trends and other key insights in an evidence-based manner.
  • Review methods to enhance field coordination with other customer-facing field colleagues in service of the customer and to achieve performance goals.
  • Take time to recognize and celebrate successes together.

3.  Plan Recalibration

After a business review discussion has taken place and agreements reached on next steps, the sales professional should modify their plan as appropriate.

  • Use this time to identify any potential early warning signals or barriers with regard to achieving performance goals.
  • Partner to find solutions moving forward and agree to next steps.
  • Evaluate resource allocation decisions and make adjustments as needed.
  • Specify how and when collaboration is needed to achieve goals; determine any appropriate communications required.

WLH has many success stories where the implementation of a more consistent business planning and review process led to higher goal attainment. If your organization needs support with business planning and review processes to coach field teams, please feel free to contact us to find out how we can help.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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