GOSPA Planning: Manage Your SDR Team Their Way

Managers, how often have you heard SDRs or Sales Development Reps say, “I want a new territory!” Past employers and clients have often appointed my skills to transform Inside Sales and SDR teams that are underperforming. To date, I have completed successful SDR transformations at over 65 companies. Every situation displayed similar symptoms: sales development teams have a given set of objectives, and specifics on how to meet said objectives. Unfortunately, most of the team members had devoted no time towards how they would achieve the company’s stated objectives. In each of the situations, I saw poor morale and results. Ultimately, the problem was a lack of effective sales intelligence and management. The solution is GOSPA planning.

Director of Inside Sales

Here is a real example of my experience with this issue. As a Director of Inside Sales for a $100M Educational Software company, I needed to generate incremental revenue for the Inside Sales team. During the second week of my employment, a team member (Ms. B) had already sent in a request to leave her current territory due to lack of success in the region. Ms. B was a hardworking and competitive individual who burned out from her inability to fulfill her quota. She held her “bad” territory accountable for her lack of success.

When I examined the plan for Ms. B’s territory (which should have mapped out each district and key personnel) alongside a strategy on how to penetrate each territory, she claimed to have none. Thus, I collaborated with Ms. B to create a plan that would allow her to penetrate her existing territory. This was the end of the year and she had only two months to meet her objectives. I reassured her that if there was no growth within this timeframe, I would transfer her to a “better” territory.

GOSPA Methodology

I presented Ms. B with the GOSPA (Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities) planning methodology (GOSPA Planning Resource Here), and requested that she think of some basic details about her territory, such as the total number of districts; key personnel (Directors of Curriculum and Superintendents); etc.

After gathering such information, I guided her through the GOSPA methodology. I stressed the importance of keeping this plan short and simple to allow her to modify on a daily basis. Research shows that when teams review and update their GOSPA regularly, they are more successful.

We began by mapping out the strategy that would allow her to meet 110% of her quota, keeping her desired commission in mind. Each week, we would regroup and assess her placement according to her GOSPA plan. Over ‌four weeks, she began to recognize that her target objective of 110% of the plan was too high. Ms. B modified her plan to an objective of 105% of quota. By the end of the two-month period, she reached her quota of 105%, while remaining in the same territory. She also was in that year’s “President’s Club” for over-achievement of her quota.

GOSPA Planning for Success

“My way or the highway.”

However longstanding and embedded a statement, this is no longer an effective strategy to manage your SDR team; companies risk creating a rift between them and their employees. Youthful, budding employees will question the reasoning behind methods that restrict experimentation, while experienced employees will prefer to utilize their own proven methods with which they are most comfortable. In both situations, allowing the employee to become engaged and access the way that is most effective for them to achieve their quotas is more productive, and yields greater results when compared to following a rigid set of processes.

You, as the SDR manager and sales leader, have your own set of priorities and objectives that must be met within each quarter. It is your responsibility to enforce behaviors that will allow your team to achieve their objectives. Millennial and Gen Z employees (now the dominant force in the workplace) may believe their social media, internet, and technology skills are the best techniques to meet their objectives. Although it is your responsibility to assure the productivity and effectiveness of your teams, placing strict rules and requirements on HOW they meet their goals and tasks may make your employees feel constricted and lower morale.

The question remains: “How can my team meet their objectives without the implication of authoritarian management?”

The answer is GOSPA — Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities.

GOSPA is a longstanding tool that companies have utilized to meet their objectives. It is a short, 1-2-page planning tool that outlines specific tasks which allow each team member to meet their Key Performance Indicator (KPI). As each KPI is met, the probability of meeting each objective also increases. I was introduced to GOSPA in 1991, by the Chief Sales Officer for one of my employers, who required Field Sales and Inside Sales people to build a quarterly GOSPA plan. It was a highly effective tool, and I have been using this methodology throughout my career ever since.

An effective GOSPA plan aligns reps’ goals and objectives with the objectives and KPIs of the management team. It enables each employee to create a plan to meet their objectives, giving a sense of independence and value. In this way, GOSPA allows your team to contribute to the decision-making process.

Manage Your Team Their Way

The most effective way to manage your SDR team is to allow them to find their own technique for success. Building a GOSPA plan (which you, as manager, will review) will help employees find their mistakes and correct their actions, and remain accountable for monthly and quarterly results. As a manager, I require all of my teams to build a quarterly GOSPA. When SDRs and development reps know their Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities, you—the manager—can review their KPIs against the plan during your weekly meetings. Now it is their responsibility to meet and stand by their stated objectives. In short, with a GOSPA in place, employees show their Managers how they will meet their goals instead of Managers telling them what to do.

During the GOSPA planning sessions, I recommend that the manager and employee create an agreement for the consequence of not meeting stated objectives. For example, you may discuss the methods of additional coaching/support/performance improvements for a team member who is unable to reach their GOSPA. Advanced planning removes the element of “surprise” for the employee, giving them the push to reach for help and constructively criticize their own performance.

Team members often get enthusiastic about GOSPA for its ability to align to their personal goals (my recommendation). For example, let us propose that one of your team members needs a certain amount of commission to purchase a new car. If she aligns her GOSPA to this plan, she will become more motivated to work towards her plan and succeed in her objectives.

GOSPA—A Powerful Planning Tool

GOSPA planning is most effective when it used quarterly. Each plan should be short and simple, allowing your team to review and modify their plans daily. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that while GOSPA plans should align themselves with corporate goals, their practicality should not be overlooked. If objectives are set too high, there is a higher chance that goals will not be met. For example, a GOSPA plan has an objective to meet 150% of sales reps’ quotas; it may not be achievable due to the number of activities that will be required during the quarter. Therefore it is your job as the manager to examine the practicality of each team member’s GOSPA.

GOSPA is a powerful planning tool; when it is implemented and managed regularly, team members are given more control of their destinies and results. The payoff for managers results in successful, highly motivated sales teams.

Alicia’s Tip: Use GOSPA to help your team self-manage to corporate expectations. GOSPAs should be based on team member goals, such as the amount of commission they want to earn each quarter, or awards they want to achieve, such as SDR of the Quarter. Keep the GOSPAs simple and easy to review. Manage your team’s GOSPA’s to ensure that they are realistic and map to corporate goals.

Download the free GOSPA Planning tool here.

Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.