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When I think of a day in the life of a top seller, there’s a common theme. They invest their time in the right prospects, the right clients, and the right sales activities. In professional services, this focus becomes even more important, because many times they are balancing business development and sales along with client delivery. How can you know what steps will move you forward faster, help you build strategic relationships, and accelerate sales results? Having the right sales plan for professional services will help you get there.

Key Goals and Milestones

Start your sales plan by developing a list of your key goals and milestones. Some specific categories can help keep you focused on what you want to accomplish in 2020 and beyond, including:

  • Vision
  • Revenue
  • Profit
  • New Client Growth
  • Current Client Growth
  • Game Changer Goal

Think about what you want to accomplish for the year and write it down in three or four sentences. What does your book of business or territory look like at the end of the year? What are a few of the things that you want to accomplish? What are your revenue goals in these key verticals, service lines, and product categories?

And then lastly, what’s your game changer goal? A stretch goal that can make a huge difference in your book of business or in your territory for this year.

Putting all this on paper will provide the strategic snapshot of what you want your book of business or territory to look like at year end.


Next, target strategic verticals.

Selecting focus verticals can help accelerate the growth of your book of business. Think of it as selecting a major and then some minors. Verticalization offers significant benefits, even if you have a predefined territory, a predefined book of business, or a predefined service line. The requirements of business development and client service can be better balanced, especially for those of us that are selling or developing business as we’re doing delivery, if we can hone in on a major and a minor vertical. Just getting traction in one vertical could be your runway to spin off into other verticals if you choose.

Some questions to consider when targeting your verticals:

  • In looking at your client set today, where do you see vertical majors and minors? (Example: healthcare may be your major; home health or nursing facilities may be your minors.)
  • In which verticals have you already established expertise?
  • What verticals do you have a passion for or an interest in going deeper into?
  • What verticals will have the greatest opportunities over the next 1 – 3 years?

Target Accounts

What are the top 20 accounts or clients per vertical that you want to build relationships in? Ideally, this is also tracked in your CRM.

Target accounts per major and minor. Using myself as an example, professional services is my major, and I have three minors– public accounting, insurance and technology.

Intelligence Verticals

Intelligence is the deep information that we gather through research on our top prospects and clients, and also within our verticals.

  • Trends
  • Leadership Vision
  • Challenges
  • Key Initiatives
  • Fiscal Year Goals

Think about your majors and minors. What are the trends that will be affecting them over the next year or the next three years that you need be pay attention to? What are some of the challenges that this vertical is going to come up against? How can you help your clients and prospects solve those problems with the services and solutions that you provide?

This list is something you can adapt at the account level to help you gather intelligence in a single place. It helps you think strategically and understand how you can help them move their business forward.

A modern seller or a modern business developer is someone who’s recognized as a differentiator in their prospects’ or clients’ business, and the value of what they sell isn’t recognized without them as part of the equation. You and your expertise are a significant part of the sales and business development. Investing time in these questions at the vertical level and then at the account level is going to help elevate you in the eyes of your prospects or clients.

Decision Maker Personas

For each major and minor, you may have unique decision-maker personas. The next step in building your business plan is to compile and analyze them. Consider:

  • What is the decision maker measured on?
  • What are the key challenges facing this decision maker?
  • What is happening inside his/her firm / company?
  • What will make change difficult?
  • What motivates this decision maker?
  • What does “great” look like?

Do you have captured in a single place the personas of all of your decision makers? I like to think of it as creative writing, but it is truth telling about what is on the mind of your key decision makers. It helps you envision them, empathize with them and ultimately align your expertise to the challenges they’re trying to solve.


Next up: partnerships and alliances. What are your key partnerships? What are the key alliances that you need to build to accelerate growth in each major or minor?

These may be through industry associations, business partners, centers of influence, research organizations, and more. The key is to determine the partnerships and alliances that are the best fit for your plan. Then ascertain where you can commit to an investment, whether that investment is financial or time or a combination of both.

Personal High-level Marketing Plan

Your firm or company may have a marketing strategy, but do you have a personal strategy that goes along with it? In my book, The Modern Seller, I talk quite a bit about ambassadors. One of the things that make ambassadors stand out is building longer term loyalty and lifetime value. To be able to rise above and have a personal brand that’s unique. Having your own personal leadership brand can tie to your verticals and help elevate how well known you are in the marketplace.

What I have here are key areas for you to consider in your personal marketing plan. Choose the ones that align best with your natural skills.

  • Social Media
  • Campaigns
  • Webinars
  • Events/Forums
  • Thought Leadership Content
  • Website Blogging & Guest Blogging
  • Guest Podcasting
  • Awards

For a deeper dive on how to build your sales plan for professional services and additional strategies to keep your plan alive, watch my webinar with The Sales Experts Channel. It’s available on demand. When you watch it, you’ll also receive a worksheet for your Planning Document and The Modern Seller Lifetime Value Inventory. Watch it now.

And that’s not all! Also be sure to register for my new show on The Sales Experts Channel. The Modern Seller Show debuts Monday, Jan. 18 at 3 pm EST. In this 30-minute show on The Sales Experts Channel, I’m interviewing an elite lineup of sales industry leaders, sales practitioners, and innovators. You can register at the link below for the show, and mark your calendar for the 3rd Monday of the month. My inaugural guest is a global sales leader you won’t want to miss! Register now.

The Strategic Selling for Professional Services online sales training program is here.

If you’re in professional services, or selling complex solutions into B2B environments, this program is ideal for both individuals and teams. The vision is to provide a platform and experience, where you can learn and apply these modern selling skills, anytime, anywhere.

It’s easy to get started, and you’ll have access to two free preview lessons. These lessons are teaching skills, they aren’t fluff introductions! You’ll take something away just in the preview that you can apply today.

Head out to to get more detail and your free previews.

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