Planning is the Key: Practical notions on how to go about it

This article was generously provided by Denis Dionne, Director of Sales, Financial Horizons Group, Quebec Region.


Further to my first article on the importance of planning, Planning is the Key: The art of considering the issues and scheduling before taking action, this next commentary more specifically describes – in practical terms – how to properly plan, the steps to follow and the questions to ask. If you still harbour doubts as to the need to consider and plan your projects and business development, please reread my article and keep in mind the following statistic: 85% of errors occur as a result of poor planning.


What are the main steps involved in the planning process?

Essentially, the planning process involves these five steps:

  1. Consideration of the issues
  2. Development of objectives and strategies
  3. Operational planning
  4. Implementation
  5. Follow-up

What often happens is that steps 1 (consideration of the issues) and 3 (operational planning) are avoided, despite being the main pillars of the process.


What are the basic questions to ask?

  1. Where do I stand in the marketplace?
  2. What is my added value?
  3. What is working well?
  4. What isn’t working well?
  5. What challenges am I facing in my field?
  6. Who are my competitors?
  7. What is my main goal?
  8. Do I have to change a few of my procedures?
  9. Do I have to develop new practices?

Various approaches and strategies are available, depending on the type of growth you hope to achieve. They are well explained by my colleague Mélanie Turcotte, Business Development Manager, Quebec Region, in her article Optimizing your practice through internal or external growth.


How do I go about increasing my sales?

The solution to increasing your sales is to develop a business plan – an action plan – that will serve as your top priority.


Steps to follow

1. Clearly define your wishes and your goals using the SMART method:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Realistic

T = Time-bound

2. Think of all the resources and activities you need to put in place to achieve these goals;

3. Allow for the required time to implement each of these activities and rank them in order of importance against your goals (it will be helpful if, in the end, you must prioritize one over another, for lack of time);4

4. Write your observations in a notebook;

5. Document the specific field activities required to achieve your goals;

6. Identify your target market;

7. Identify your prospects;

8. Set a start date for achieving each goal;

9. Schedule a work period for each step of the planning process in your calendar to follow up on your plan and make adjustments, as needed.


How do I organize my plan over time?

  1. Draw up a list of daily or weekly tasks. Your plan will be more likely to produce results if you divide the tasks up into smaller ones!
  2. Ensure that you have an overview of each month and each quarter in advance and of where you should be in implementing your action plan;
  3. Take the time to analyze and evaluate what you have actually accomplished as well as the daily or weekly results you are getting.

Although the process of tracking your results can be tedious, doing so is essential as it allows you to objectively monitor your development, thereby keeping you motivated and focused on your goals!

These are but a few of the available planning principles; many others stemming from different approaches are also useful. The important thing is to choose the method that suits you and, especially, to follow it and fine-tune it to meet your needs. Even more important is getting into the habit of “self-planning” to achieve your goals and your dreams. That’s where it all starts. I wish you happy planning!