By John Monroe

The title of this article is a line from the movie The Untouchables. In the movie, Sean Connery plays the part of Jim Malone, a Chicago police officer who has not succumbed to dishonesty and greed like his fellow officers by hooking up with the Chicago Mob. Kevin Costner plays the role of Elliot Ness, the famous federal agent determined to bring down Al Capone and the rest of the Chicago Mob.

When Malone agrees to help and is talking to Ness about how Capone will fight back, twice he asks him, “What are you prepared to do?”

It’s time to begin preparing your sales plan for next year. As you’re thinking about your plan, ask yourself, “What am I prepared to do next year to get better results from my sales efforts?” Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So, what are you prepared to do differently?

I’m going to give you three simple ideas to help you create a sales plan that will grow your sales opportunities next year. The key is stay agile in your approaches with each target market as each has a different buying need.

1 | Offer solutions in a unique format.

One of the challenges salespeople face that has become more difficult in the past few years is setting up a meeting with the prospect… or even getting a simple response back from an email or voice message. To overcome this challenge, you need to set yourself apart from your competition. You need to become less of a salesperson and more of a consultant.

Do a deep dive into the market you are targeting. Get to know their issues, concerns, competition, and regulations as well as or better than they know them. Then offer a solution that the prospect might not know about or have considered. And offer the information in a unique format.

I have become a raving fan of personalized videos using a platform such as Loom or Vidyard. This method of communicating allows you to send a short, recorded video to a client or prospect—one of you talking to them while offering a solution to their need on your computer screen. This could be a demonstration of your product or just a simple slide presentation explaining how you can help. I would suggest keeping the video to less than two minutes. When finished, you will send the video link in an email, but there’s no need to craft a long, detailed message to go along with it. The message is in the video itself!

A video allows the viewer to see your facial expressions and hear your voice inflection while you suggest a course of action and display a powerful demonstration on the computer screen. Make the video so compelling that they call you as soon as they finish watching it. This works because it’s a personalized and simplified message that’s easy for the viewer to absorb during their busy day.

2 | Help prospects compare the risk versus reward between you and your competitor.

The next challenge is to convince the prospect to make a change from what or who they are currently using. This isn’t easy to do as many people find change a dangerous interruption to maintaining their current level of performance.

With internet search engines being readily available, prospects can now do their own legwork to compare products and services. To compensate, today’s salesperson needs to become an industry consultant and develop a strong value proposition, supported by your company’s positioning, by using differentiators targeted to each business.

The two possible methods to gain an understanding of the prospect’s needs and the market’s competitive environment would be to perform a SWOT analysis of their business and to use the Porter’s Five Forces tool to identify who holds the balance of power in their market. Take these tools and use them to help prospects compare their risk versus reward between your solutions and what your competitor is offering.

3 | Take care of your existing clients.

The final challenge for salespeople is to manage the clients you already have and influence them to continue to trust you with their business.

Your sales plan is focused on growth for the coming year. Too often, salespeople consider their existing client base a sure stream of income, so they spend more time focusing on the clients they don’t have.

Great salespeople understand that they need to strike a balance between growing sales to existing clients and cultivating new ones. Great salespeople never walk into an office or meeting with vague objectives like “get closer to the client” or “learn more about them personally.” Vagueness is the enemy of success. Every meeting with a new prospect or existing client must have a specific, measurable objective.

As you create the approaches and action steps to grow an established target market, think about new ways to keep your presentations and value-add handouts fresh and engaging to your existing clients.

When creating a sales plan for the coming year, you want to grow your business. So, what I’m asking you is, “What are you prepared to do?”

John Monroe is a Business Development Advisor for Violand Management Associates (VMA), a highly-respected consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Monroe is a leading expert in marketing, sales and sales management for the restoration and cleaning industries with over 30 years of experience in those fields. Through Violand, Monroe works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit or call 800-360-3513.