In my opinion, if you sell, lead people or run a business and you’re doing it without a written plan it’s a little like casting yourself out on the open ocean in a small rowboat without power or a GPS device. It’s disorienting when you’re simply floating, using all your effort to negotiate the surging seas, straining to see what’s ahead. And there are times when business and life feels like that, right? …Not certain what direction to go and what’s ahead. It’s possible that you’re under some financial pressure, stressed to get some dollars in the bank or get to the next level. I know from personal experience that it’s easy to lose heart at a time like this. It is tempting to cross your fingers and start rowing hard in some direction you hope leads you to dry land. I’ve done this too. When you’re bobbing up and down in the murky waters you need a boat with power and a GPS system. A written marketing plan is that power and the GPS device! A written business and marketing plan is the antidote for feeling frustrated and disoriented. It blocks the impulse to rely on pure momentum without a clear direction. A good plan will bring you the clarity you need to decide where you’re going and how to get there. Here are 7 reasons why ALL top salespeople, entrepreneurs and leaders invest the time to draft a written business and marketing plan:
- When you write something down it takes on a LIFE
When you write thoughts down and stare at them for a while (and hopefully share them with a coach or mentor) they begin to manifest themselves into actions. (This is almost unavoidable) Those actions will lead to other paradigms, intentions and activities. All of a sudden your enterprise has a life and the written plan becomes the beating heart.
- It identifies your CURRENT location
The plan is your GPS! When you are in that rowboat in the surging waves, you can’t see land. You might have a sense of where to go, but it’s hard to know for certain. We can’t see over all our conflicting obligations and commitments. But a plan boosts you above the turmoil, you can see where you are in relation to the dry land and you can measure what it will take to get there. You can also objectively assess the demands and decide how to handle them.
- It enables you to decide on your DESTINATION
Once you’ve got an accurate perspective on where you are at, you can begin making decisions about your desired destination. You can start to ask some great questions as you draft a plan:
- What do I want my business and life to look like? (Vision/Mission)
- How can I build my plan around this?
- Who is my target client?
- How do I locate them in volume?
- What problems are they facing that my products solve?
- What is my value proposition for them?
- Having a plan ensures INTENTION
When you have no plan—no GPS device, everything is a bit of a guess. You are working—you may even be killing yourself, but there is no clear intent. You are not heading in a focused direction. By accident, you may be doing some of the right things, but who the heck wants to gamble away their precious time and resources on guesstimates? What sense does that make when you could take a few minutes each day and begin to draft a plan?
- You draft INITIATIVES that create OWNERSHIP
If you draft your own plan you will find that a pride of ownership develops. There was one fiscal year when the company I represented handed me a boiler plate PowerPoint template plan and told me that it was the plan I’d be “following and executing”—that I’d just need to “plug in” a few projections. I HATED that! I did what they asked me to do—completed their plan, but then I also took the time to draft my OWN plan in addition. I wanted to OWN my plan and the initiatives and strategies that were exciting to me.
- You choose MEASURABLES that are meaningful to you
When you take the time to ask yourself all the right questions, you arrive at things to measure what really matters to you. If you simply accept goals and objectives that are suggested by your manager, then you aren’t going deep enough. When YOU draft a plan, you can engineer benchmarks that completely align with the direction you want to go personally. When professional and personal goals align, it’s a beautiful thing and it’s meaningful. LASTLY…
- A written plan gives you POWER
In business, power comes from having a definite focus. A written plan forces you to focus on where you are AT, where you want to GO, how you can expeditiously get there and what resources you’ll need to make the journey easier. Power and energy also come from the inspiration the plan supplies. A well-written and executed plan actually inspires you to start working toward your objectives right away. Think about your measurable benchmarks as ‘buoys’ on your swim to dry land. A written plan encourages your choices with powerful motivation. The energy needed for getting through choppy waters will increase. Why is this? Because when you have real clarity about where you want to end up, you can tap your inner reservoir of yearning. The more desirable your destination, the more energy you’ll find to reach it. I have been writing annual plans since 1979. My first plans were crude and rough, but they contained many of the raw elements that created a more focused path for me. I got a little bit better at drafting these plans each year and that’s the goal—to start writing a plan, regardless of how crappy you may think it is, and then improve your skills each year. So for the last thirty-seven years, I have begun with a plan. There were times when I felt rudderless, even in the middle of a year, so I’d take out my plan and use it to re-orient myself.
|Okay…so I promised you that I’d tell you what usually happens to those who don’t take the time to put a plan down on paper. I’ll admit that there are some outliers that don’t put anything down on paper and seem to float through life on a cloud. These few lucky souls could fall into a pile of dog turds and come out smelling like daisies. These unicorns exist, but I’m not one of them. The vast majority of people that don’t put their plans on paper (even if the plan is crude) either fail to reach their highest potential, or worse, they run out of gas and drown. 100% of them! Without a plan we drift. With a written plan we can move towards our goals with great energy and achieve more than we ever thought possible!|
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©. Please visit Joe at: http://www.CAPequation.com