I work for a software company in California. Prior to that I spent time in the Army. I saw many similarities between leading troops in battle and leading them on a sales floor. I put this together for the sales people to use as a template and let them build their own. Do any of you find this helpful?

The OPORD or Operation Order is the single most important piece of mission planning. A directive issued by a commander to subordinate commanders for the purpose of affecting the coordinated execution of an operation. (Joint Pub 1-02)

The format has not changed much over the years because of it's effective nature. Every troop has experience with them and if you're in a leadership position you better know the format by memory. To hammer the subject home, the Army Rangers have a 10' 10' board at the entrance to the infamous Darby Queen obstacle course outlining the OPORD and stress the importance of reading it twice.

When used effectively, it is possible to gain complete clarity of mission goals and execution. These are created by Generals for the important task of maneuvering troops on the ground and for much smaller tasks of getting some ice in downtown Nasiriya.

Having this clarity on your obstacles, goals, and plan of execution hands troops the power of the outcome. Imagine going into battle and having your commanding officer say "Here you are, now go North and do something." What do you do? We'll save the discussion about being set up for failure later. Lets focus on the solutions for a while.

You NEED a plan and most of us unless we have had some exposure to mission/project planning in the past have zero clue on what to do next. As my Drill Sergeant used to say. "Without clarity, there is chaos." He left out that sometimes there is chaos anyways. But it's always better to have a plan.

The same is true in business. Since I am a sales guy, I'll use that as the example. I have created an OPORD for every one of my positions since I understood what they do. If you play semantics with me for a moment, I'll explain.

1. Situation (Whats going on?)

a. Enemy. (Who are my target companies)

(1)Weather. (Is the industry hot or cold?)
(2)Terrain. (Do they have an advantage because of market share, informed sales people?)
(3)Enemy Forces. (Who's the competition?)

b. Friendly. (Do you have partners to help with the goal?)
c. Attachments and detachments.

2. Mission.

This is an explanation of what you plan to accomplish. Not a short summary of what you want, put some thought into it and write out a couple paragraphs of 'what' you want and 'why' it NEEDS to happen.

My goal is to saturate my sales region with information about the NetSuite product learning the details of the businesses I come in contact with and understanding their needs. Working with them to solve their pain by implementing a solution that gives them business clarity and a means to create a positive cash flow.

By doing this I will gain new contacts in a growing industry by selling awesome products and gaining market share for my growing company insuring a long and profitable career in sales.

That's just an example.

3. Execution. (this is where the rubber meets the road.)

a. Concept of the Operation (Understanding line item 1 how are you going to position yourself?)
b. Specific tasks. ( How many calls are you going to have to make? How many hours are you going to put into it? Brainstorm on everything you can think of that will bring about the result you want.)
c. Coordinating instructions. (What marketing campaigns are being executed? What features are being released? Create a starting point.)

4. Service Support. (Who's going to help you?)

a. General. (Who's in your chain of command, managers peers?)
b. Material and Services. (What tools do you have available? White papers, demonstrations, communication tools?)
c. Medical evacuation and treatment. (When something goes wrong in the deal, who do you turn to?)
d. Personnel. (Do you have product marketing or engineers to back you up?)
e. Miscellaneous. (Every other support platform you can use.)

5. Command and Signal (Who do you report to and how do you close the deal?)

a. Command. (Usually your boss.)
b. Signal. (Ring the bell!!)

6. POC (Point of Contact) (Sign your name.)
This seems like sales 101, but I'd venture to say that 60% of the sales professionals I know do not have a clear written plan of what needs to be done and how they plan on achieving the task. and the other 30% never follow through. The 10% of high achievers in any company will have some variation of this report handy and revise it as needed.

For sales people, having a plan and executing it, is the difference between steak, lobster and a BMW or PB&J and a Yugo. Consistently hitting your numbers or worrying how you are going to pay the bills this month. Where do you fall in the mix?

Some sales methodologies use the same principles and they call them 'Blue Sheets' using Miller Heiman as an example. What ever you call it. You WILL get further in your career by having a plan to get there!


AManagerTool's picture

Wow, very detailed and very helpful.


sfsales's picture

Glad you liked it. I used to do them as fun just to get my work action plan on paper, now my boss has everyone in the group doing them too.

cowie165's picture

"Orders, orders, orders. No questions till end of orders." :)

Great post sfsales.

It's interesting that since listening to MT it seems that forcing guys to hold questions until the end of the o-group is a real mistake... "boss did you say hill 644 or hill 664?"

dmmeek's picture

Great Advice sfsales,

Looks like I am going to draft my first business OPORD this weekedn.



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