Sales Plan Success: How to Spot Trouble Early and Motivate Your Team

In the latest episode of What I Wish I Knew, I sat down with Sacha Bakht to discuss how to manage your sales plan throughout the year while navigating a turbulent market.

Listen to the full episode on Spotify.

In this blog, we will cover 3 key topics from the episode:

Fiscal Year Prep: How to Evaluate the Health of Your Sales Plan

Although we’re in an unusual state of market volatility across the globe, in business there has always been a level of uncertainty when building a go-to-market plan. The lack of confidence in the strategic plan is worsened by navigating change throughout the year. 

How can you leverage your sales compensation plan to be agile in a chaotic market? Check out the blog: Why Your Sales Compensation Strategy is Key in Battling Revenue Volatility. As you prepare for a new fiscal year, or if you’re a new sales leader on the team, I asked Sacha what kind of questions you would ask to understand just how healthy your sales plan is. Watch the clip to hear his response.


Sacha emphasizes the need to understand how a plan is made before you make changes. To gain better understanding, he advises the following steps:


  1. Define the key players and look at it holistically. Include, marketing, sales, sales ops, partners. Ensure everyone understands their role.
  2. Ask if the sales plan is realistic. Does sales comp tie to company goals, or does it use dreaded peanut butter spread to calculate quota increase? What data was used to construct territories; win rates and deal size vary based on industry, existing customer, size of customer.
  3. Consider seller variables: Sellers who are tenured in the industry likely have higher close rates and shorter sales cycles than new hires. It takes new reps time to ramp up. Make sure your plans allocate time for them to acclimate.
  4. Evaluate the culture. A win-together mentality encourages honesty and collaboration whereas rose-coloured forecasting could lead to trouble.

What is a Sales Tremor? Why Does it Matter?

Once we covered what how to assess the health of your sales plan at the beginning of the fiscal year, we moved on to what red flags to watch for as you hit the middle of the year.

These indicators are a little more obvious, including:

  • Progress towards target
  • Alignment with business goals
  • Average time to win deals
  • Is a deal’s close date and time-to-win stage aligned?
  • Meetings booked
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
  • Inbound volume

Read Sales Operations KPIs that Indicate Volatility Get Ahead of Uncertainty to learn more about KPIs that indicate trouble is ahead.

But what about a sales tremor? It’s a term that Sacha and I used to refer to subtle data and behavioral shifts that indicate trouble is ahead. The key is to watch out for these tremors before they become a full-blown quake.

Watch for Sacha’s example of a sales tremor:

For more tremors to monitor, check out the full episode.

Win-Win with an Open Sales Culture

It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the people and the energy they bring to the process. Never underestimate the importance of an open sales culture built on trust and collaboration. The pressure to meet targets and maintain momentum can sometimes discourage honesty and transparency.


Avoid the no-fail culture. Sasha shared his experience with working in a culture that promotes the “We win together” mentality. With this in mind, Sacha emphasized the importance of recognizing the contributions of all team members, not just individual top performers.

Recognize all team members, not just top performers. When individual salespeople succeed, the whole organization wins too. And Sacha points out, that non-monetary rewards are effective too.

How data is used by the sales operations team also plays a role. Sales operations shouldn’t be perceived as the data police. Rather than using data as a ‘Gotcha’ tactic, use it as a tool to motivate and coach better sales performance.


Explore how sales data can be motivating in this recent blog: Sales Data Analysis: 7 Ways to Motivate Sellers.

Consider speeding up commission payments. Naturally, the more quickly someone is rewarded, the more incentivized they are to perform.

Watch this clip for more insight from Sacha on how NOT to use data.


Key Your Eye on the Data and Build a Strong Sales Culture

The key takeaway is to continuously evaluate your sales plans and the sales culture you’re creating. Get ahead of those sales tremors. Ultimately, building a successful strategic plan is like building a well-balanced 3-legged stool, with finance, sales, and sales operations as the legs. Disrupt one, and you risk toppling the whole. Remember, keep your balance and keep an eye on the data.

Lastly, I’d like to share one of my favorite parts of the episode – Quick Questions. Pay attention to what Sacha wishes he knew more about, it’s a topic that may just come up in our next episode.