We’re not going to get as much growth this year as we needed. The goal was a pretty conservative multiple of last year’s number. Our customers are mostly doing better this year than last, so I was pretty sure we’d be okay. And now it seems we’re not okay. Where did I go wrong?
Thoughts of the Day: Sales goals set at the beginning of the year – that’s only step one of a year-long campaign. Achieve your plan for the future by looking forward. Make sure everything lines up to support the plan. Stay ahead of the game by thinking strategically and implementing tactically. Constantly manage sales. Make adjustments throughout the year.
Some of 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. Some owners shy away from planning, assuming there’s no way to control the future. Some are too tied up solving immediate 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 gets 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.
Instead, 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’re doing relative to the overall company goal.
Start a dialog. For example, how many units does everyone in operations have 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’s going to do that? Who is most likely to fall away as a customer, who is most likely to come on board? 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’re on track, or not.
The time for discussion about what it will take to hit the sales target is before the year kicks off. And every department needs to participate in that discussion. Get questions answered, take reservations off the table, so your company hits the ground running.
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.
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.
Stay ahead of the game by thinking strategically and implementing tactically. It’s not so much about getting more revenue every month. 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 out how to do that so no one has to react at the last minute.
Treat sales management as a daily game. Hit yesterday’s goal? Great. Now hit today’s. Missed today’s goal? Ask sales to make an extra call on the way home tonight to ask for an extra order. Quickly correct small misses.
Ask people in sales to plan their time, their accounts, their sales, to match the company’s overall goals. Ask marketing to provide more support if things get behind, and to stay on it until things get caught up. Make sure operations and sales are working as 1 team to sell and deliver what they both can live with.
A month can go by in the blink of an eye. Use weekly meetings or conference calls to share information. Doesn’t have to take an hour. 15 minutes can help everyone to maintain focus and plan out where to go when they need help.
Treat the company’s sales goal as absolute. Think about making a trip. You probably wouldn’t be satisfied if you set out to on a trip, but had to stop half way because things went wrong. You’d probably keep checking on progress and solving problems until you got where you wanted to go. Deal with your sales plan the same way.
Looking for a good book? Selling Against the Goal: How Corporate Sales Professionals Generate The Sales They Need, by Kendra Lee.