- Posted by Mark Elliott
- On November 17, 2015
- 0 Comments
- Sales Plan
In the months preceding the new fiscal year is a prime time to start sales planning for the New Year. I think to be a successful business you need to collect data and make small modifications to your sales effort through-out the year, but I still think there is value to take a time for a big planning session.
There are a number of things to consider when creating a sales plan for the new year, including:
There are many data points that you can use as part of the sales planning cycle. There are of course, sales results based on customer, solution, and sales reps. There are other third party factors to consider including economics, competitors, partners, and even things like local laws or rules. One of the most important data points should be the feedback from your team. I think it is better to get the team involved in the planning process. Your team has more touch points with customers, prospects, local issues, and competitors than anyone else within the organization. Harness that knowledge for a better sales plan. The other benefit of including team members in the planning process is that they feel more invested in the numbers and the results of the planning.
A wise man once said, “In the absence of revenue, there can be no profit.” Without customers there really isn’t a business. Review major customers to determine their mood and if they are susceptible to competitors. For your large customers, I suggest that you do quarterly, semi-annual, or at least yearly reviews with them. Review results, what has gone right, what has gone wrong, what are their big issues, and anything else that may be important to them and your business. It is much easier to keep a good customer than to find a new one. There may also be an opportunity to pitch them a new service or solution. If you have SaaS customers with a lower value solution than having one on one reviews may not be feasible. I would still have the customer success team providing information on trends and client feedback.
Where are you planning to grow your business? If you have a longer or complex sales cycle that could mean identifying specific accounts. Your ongoing sales efforts can help with picking accounts that have the best possibility of changing. They could be finishing a contract or maybe they have allocated funds for an update. Targeting prospects could also mean looking at new verticals or geographies for your solution. This would be applicable to selling lower revenue value items as well.
Do you plan to launch something new for next year? Maybe feedback from the different stakeholders is providing new ideas for a news service or product. This could be a way to get more revenue from existing accounts or a entry point for a prospect. Use the information to determine if you should launch something new and then create a plan for launch. This section, like many of the others in this post could be a blog in itself.
I believe that a company’s employees are their most important resource. They will be the ones doing the selling, marketing, providing customer support, and interfacing with prospects and customers. Do you have the right people to be successful? Will you need to grow your B2B sales team? You may need to add a new type of sales person to the team. This will be one of the most complex aspects to the sales plan and it’s success. The other thing that you should be thinking about is professional development. There should be an aspect into learning through-out the year, not just at the start of the year or a sales kick-off.
Most of this post has been around collecting information, people, your solution, and customers. The information turns into numbers in the forecast. If you have recurring revenue clients, then you should have a good idea on what that group of customers should provide in revenue for the next year. The funnel with opportunities for the next year is the next place to look. This will give you an idea about the big and small opportunities that are present. Tracking successes through previous years of the funnel will take out the guess work and have to do. There is often then a leap of faith or some gap to make up. The number isn’t just about where you are going, but where you want to go. It should be reachable, but it should not be a lay-down. Push yourself and the team to the target.
Alignment with Marketing
The sales plan, should really be a sales and marketing plan. Make sure that the marketing and sales team are supporting each other to the ultimate goal. That doesn’t mean just having a great website, but that the team has worked together on value props, new product launches, lead generation, and sales training support.
Create the Plan and Set Goals
The output of the sales planning cycle should not just be a slick looking document, but a set of goals and targets. These targets should be quantifiable and most of them should be able to be broken down for the year. There definitely should be revenue goals, but don’t forget about the activity goals that can build towards the revenue goals. These goals should be cascaded down to the individual sales team members.
If you are looking for some more information on how to grow your sales team to support your sales plan check-out our white paper. It has lots of great ideas on recruiting, hiring, and on-boarding new sales team members.