Its wintertime and all you are thinking is how do I fire up the sales machine. Some business owners go through an annual planning process. Some owners take a stab in the dark, guessing at how things will go in the upcoming year shying away from planning, assuming there is no way to control the future. Some owners are too tied up solving other pressing problems and can’t afford to take time out to plan. If there is a plan, often a quarter goes by, sometimes a whole year, before the plan is checked up on. Everyone gets busy. Things look good some months. Band-aides get applied to the slow ones. Maybe the target becomes reality, maybe not. The simple strategy is to charge your TEAM to set the goal, inform everyone in the company of the mission, and their role in helping to achieve that mission. Make sure that every department has a way to report on how they are doing relative to the overall company goal. Set up simple systems to track and manage operational and financial objectives.
Here are some tips for 2015
1. Start the dialog- For example, how do we have to act to produce and deliver to hit the annual goal? Does the operations department need additional equipment, staff, training? How many new customers does sales have to find? How many existing customers need to expand, by how much, and who is going to do that? Who is the best customer to target? How many leads do we need to produce to hot our closing ratio? As the company’s revenue grows, how many additional employees will be needed? Who is responsible for tracking and analyzing numbers? What reports does everyone need throughout the organization, so they can know if they are on track, or not.
2. Start to plan- By defining where you want to get to long term. Then work backwards. Want to double the business in 5 years? It’s easier than you think. Want to exit profitably with enough money to live well in retirement? Figure out know how much time you have, how much money you’ll need, and how many risks you can afford to take. You also need to remember while you have financial goals, so does your TEAM.
3. Growth- Decide how fast you want or need the company to grow. 10% – 15+% year over year growth rate is healthy. Line up the resources to do that. Also remember, ‘TOP-END’ growth need to translate to ‘bottom-line’ profits.
4. Stay ahead of Curve- Just like with any TEAM sport, the bane of the game is thinking strategically and implementing tactically. It is not so much about getting more revenue every month. You need to maintain the peak volume in the peak months. Fill in the holes of the down months. Constant revenue leads to constant profits. Set aside time to plan how to do that so no one has to react at the last minute.
5.Challenge your TEAM- Treat the sales process as a daily game. Hit yesterday is goal? Great. Now hit today’s. Missed today’s goal? Goals are great, exceeding them is even better. Ever wonder why sales goals increase when under financial pressure. Keep the pressure consistent and you will not need to play last quarter catch up or issue threats to meet the numbers!
6. Setting Goals- Ask people in sales to plan their time, their accounts, their sales, to match the company’s overall goals. Keep marketing efforts aligned with sales goals and objectives. Make sure operations and sales are working as one team to sell and deliver what they sold and make sure you exceed the customer’s expectations.
Remember a month can go by in the blink of an eye. Use weekly sales meetings or conference calls to share information. More frequent meetings vs. long drawn out meetings could be more productive.
Whatever your sales plan are, you need to keep your plan manageable. Set obtainable goals that your entire infrastructure can manage and support.
Your thoughts and opinions?
Looking for a good book on the subject, suggested reading;
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It Paperback – by Michael E. Gerber