Planning is the primary function of management. It focuses on the future course of action. It specifies the objectives to be achieved in future and selects the alternative course of action to reach defined objectives. It also involves many activities like analyzing and decision making about technical, personnel, financial, and other elements essential to implement predetermined course of action.
Thus, planning is mental and paper activities which look ahead for drawing the future course of action. In other words, planning is intellectual process which is concerned with deciding in advance what, when, why, how, and who shall do the work. Generally, manager defines goals and takes necessary steps to ensure that these goals can be achieved in efficient manner. Planning reflects vision, foresight and wisdom. Thus, it is the blue print of action and operation. Planning gives a sense of purpose and direction to subsequent activities,by:
- setting objectives
- identifying priorities
- recognizing key result areas
- Developing strategies and tactics
- monitoring results.
Key result areas are those aspects of the business that impact on the outcome of a plan,but which might not always appear in the shortlist of primary objectives. Typical key result areas within the selling organization can include:
- use of professional selling skills and techniques
- product knowledge
- sales call rates (average number of customer calls being made by salespersons)
- customer coverage (customers on the database receiving scheduled visits at prescribed intervals)
- conversion ratio of sales to calls
- product distribution
- the effective use of point of sales material
- obtaining display sitting in the most visible and accessible position in an outlet.
- accessing the end user of a product within an organization (usually a different person from the buyer)
- effective networking with influencers in customer organizations
- the selection of key exhibitions to target specific user groups.
In any form of selling activity, critical key result areas include the level and use of professional selling skills, and product knowledge,and these are core training topics for initial and ongoing training. The sales manager should take a little time to identify and list those key result areas that demonstrably impact on his or her performance and ability to achieve market objectives in order that appropriate are developed to improve performance in the key result areas.