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Doughnut Planning – When the Unexpected Happens

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all. Some to a greater degree than others. All the plans for business that we had, all the opportunities we expected to close, those orders just ready to sign have all been thrown into disarray. Welcome to the world of doughnut planning.

Doughnut Planning
Every salesperson has been in this position before maybe not to the same extent as the current situation, but nonetheless we have all been in this kind of situation. Your one big deal has crashed and you need to start looking elsewhere to make your target. It can be panic inducing. That’s when doughnut planning comes in. Put simply you need to look for a ring of opportunities around the hole that is now your sales pipeline, hence Doughnut. If you follow the steps below then you can turn disaster into triumph.

1. Take Stock
In the first instance look at all the other opportunities that you have. Write down a list or get a printout from your CRM system. Rank them in probability order. When ranking, consider the size of the opportunity, where the opportunity is upto in your sales cycle, how likely it is to close (a bit subjective I know) and what are the timescales. This will be your high priority list.

2. Blue Sky Thinking
In this stage you need to get the whiteboard out and start looking at opportunities you could create by being more creative with the products you have.

  • Can you re-purpose products for the current situation?
  • Can you create new services to help your existing customers through a crisis?
  • Could you run a sale?
  • Can you put your prices up to generate more revenue?

I am sure that you can think of many more.

Once you have this list, cross out the plain crazy ones and look to have a final list of two or three approaches that could generate opportunities.

3. Create an Action Plan
There will be two parts to the action plan. High priority tasks that will need to be carried out in the short term to close existing opportunities as you ranked them. Next llower priority but strategic tasks to support your blue sky approach. You will need to ensure that you mix in some of the more strategic tasks with the high priority tasks to give a good balance of opportunities into the medium term. Seems obvious but when you are desperate you often thrash around being very busy and getting nothing done. Creating a plan with clear tasks in a specific order will yield results.

4. Execute
Simple really. Get on with it! Don’t spend too much time polishing your plan. It will never be perfect. There will always be something else you need to think of or another approach that you might consider. This is all great stuff, but actions do speak louder than words.

Make sure you refer back to your plan and cross off each task as it is complete. Celebrate every opportunity that you close. Once you have run through all your tasks. Go back to step one and start again.

Doughnut planning is a short term approach that aims to recover from a situation where your pipeline has collapsed. Look at a horizon of only two or three months. This will give you the focus to get smaller opportunities over the line whilst rebuilding your long term pipeline. It’s a method that I have used successfully myself and with my teams over the years.