Plan for Dynamic Sales Growth This Year
Are you planning to have an increase in sales in this year? Most likely you are. I doubt any of you are thinking about how you can purposefully decrease your sales.
This time of year, as the CEO of my company, I am planning with my team and determining the sales goals for this year. We have two days set aside for strategic planning. My team is evaluating how the sales are to this point and predicting how we will end the year.
You’re probably doing the same thing and evaluating sales among other things. If you are not on target to hit your sales goals, you are scrambling and putting the pressure on the sales team. If you have exceeded your goals so far and will end the year on a high note, you are looking at how you did it and if it can continue.
Pick a Number
You want to continue to grow your company’s sales and need to increase business with existing customers and continue to find new business. You are trying to figure out how much sales growth is possible. Many of you will apply percentages to the growth you are expecting based on what returns you or your investors are looking for and for many of you, it will be picking numbers out of thin air. Not the best way, but definitely the most common way I see leadership teams setting their sales goals. I’m not here to insult anyone, but it’s true. You want sales to grow, you need sales to grow to for the health of the company or to keep investors happy. The real question is; do you have a plan to get the increase in sales you need? Exactly how will you get the 100% growth you decided upon during your strategic planning?
You may be thinking about product development, new channels, strategic alliances, hiring more salespeople, providing training and programs to make next year better and more successful than last. And you may be thinking, “Those salespeople just need to get out and sell more.”
Unfortunately, this type of thinking is not enough. We all wish we had a crystal ball, but there’s a better way. You need a plan and the plan needs to start with realistic goals. Instead of deciding that you need 50% growth because that’s what the company leaders or investors expect, go to the sales team and figure out the capacity. Here are two questions to ask:
- With the current team how much of an increase is realistic?
- With the tools and processes, you provide what is possible?
Grow What Exists
Look at existing business first. Conduct a thorough review of your current customers.
- What do they buy?
- Are they satisfied?
- What else could they buy?
- What do they need?
- How can we help them meet their goals?
Figure out how much growth can come from existing customers. What is that number?
Next, determine if you can get that growth with your current infrastructure. Not just sales but all the support needed to deliver as well. If you will need additional resources figure out the cost, build the budget and the plan to get those things in place. Then figure out the plan to get additional business from those current clients.
Look at the potential. Where will the new business come from? What markets can you further penetrate? What new markets need to be explored? Do you have the marketing in place to get in front of these prospects? Do you have a lead generation process set up to capture these markets? Do you have the right message? Enough salespeople? Enough leads. The infrastructure to capture a percent of this business? What percent and what does that equate to in dollars?
Next, you need a plan. Here are two important questions:
- Can the current sales team grow the existing business and go after new business?
- If not, what is needed and what is the cost?
No More Numbers out of Thin Air
It’s dangerous to pull numbers out of thin air. Arbitrarily picking 50% growth cause it “sounded” like the right number could be limiting your team and stunting the growth of your company. You picked 50%, what if they could have done 100%? Asking the right questions and developing a plan enables you to pick a real growth percentage. It’s time to take the guessing out. Work with your sales team to figure out what is possible and then set a goal to get it done. Put the infrastructure in place to make your plan succeed. Putting pressure on sales to make unrealistic numbers is demoralizing. Everyone on the team will realize there is no way to make the number and even though they may try, morale will be low and that in itself will inhibit success. Given a realistic goal that sales helped determine based on the reality of your situation along with a solid plan on how to hit the goal is a winning combination.