Imagine your team’s head coach sending his players onto the field without a playbook.

He tells them to play aggressively and outscore the competition. The players rush onto the field, get in the huddle, and the quarterback says, “We have no play … but let’s go get ’em!”

Predictably enough, chaos ensues and, because the defense for the opposing team actually has a playbook, the results for your team are a disaster.

Sounds ridiculous, right? It is—except that it occurs every day throughout our industry. Executives of LBM dealers, large and small, are surprisingly gifted at creating a playbook for the defense while omitting one for the offense.

The defensive playbook includes methods to itemize costs by controlling inventory, overtime labor, and more. The offensive playbook is usually an annual “sales budget” that is measured after the fact.

Annual goals create excuses for failure because they don’t produce a detailed playbook for success. The annual sales budget is broken down into quarterly and monthly goals. If the goal is met, executives and managers praise performance. If it isn’t met, then criticism and second guessing ensue and become the primary motivators. Eventually, the criticism rolls downhill and salespeople promise to do better by working harder … and smarter.

If you’re not hitting your sales objectives, then it’s time to build a playbook for success. The following action items should go into every plan at your LBM dealership.

Create a prospecting budget

To lose weight, you need to not only measure your weight but keep track of diet and exercise as well. If you want to hit your sales budget, stop measuring sales after the fact and start measuring the “exercise” required to hit your sales budget. Your prospecting budget is a key part of this plan. It should be a multiple of your sales goal and be based on past closing ratios.

Set monthly goals

If you wait to measure your prospecting budget annually, you’ll be too late. The only way to determine if you’re on pace to fulfill your game plan is to measure periodic progress. Break your annual prospecting budget into monthly benchmarks.

Use objective measurements

A prospect is not merely a target client with whom you want to do business; a prospect is someone who has expressed interest in your products and services. It could be a company with which you’ve never done business or an existing customer looking for a new product. The key to hitting your prospecting budget is counting only the real opportunities in your pipeline, not those that haven’t yet expressed interest.

The real sales challenge in business today is recognizing that sales results are beyond your control, much like the final score of the football game. The things that are under your control are the actions you take during the game. Measure the actions, and you’ll gain a new level of confidence in your offensive playbook.