Congratulations if you’re on track to meet or exceed your sales goals this year. Even if this year didn’t turn out the way you wanted, now is the perfect time to do sales planning so that next year you get better results.
Conduct a planning meeting.
Your customers are also planning their budgets for next year while you are developing your sales goals for next year. You can make your sales planning much easier by tapping into their knowledge. They should have more knowledge than you do about their competition, industry trends and strategy changes that impact their business. You must learn what they know.
Schedule a sales call with your customers. The type of planning work you need to do is best done face-to-face. Not only will you be learning about their business, you’ll also be trying to identify new sources of business for yourself.
Ask them, when you meet with your customers, if next year’s buying patterns of your products or services will change. Ask questions to uncover the reasons. What you learn might be useful when you meet with other customers.
It’s also a good idea when you meet to ask if there are other areas in their business for which you could be a supplier. You just might uncover new products that you can sell to existing customers.
Fill the gaps.
Develop a spreadsheet where you can put the proposed sales targets that you have identified for all your existing customers. Compare the numbers with the sales goals your management gives you. Your management may give you targets for profitability, particular groups of products, revenue goals or other goals to meet.
Will your forecast of your existing business be enough for you to reach next year’s goals? You have more work to do if it doesn’t. You must identify the prospects you will target so you do reach future sales goals.
Develop your sales plan.
Start by identifying the criteria of your ideal prospect. Ideal prospects are more likely to want and need your products and services. These criteria could include their annual revenue, number of employees, your product potential volumes, or other criteria you identify that helps you best target a prospect.
Next, for each criteria, define the limits for your A, B and C prospects. Your A prospects are your most important prospects. For example, if revenue is one of your criteria, your A prospect could have $20M+ annual revenue, a B prospect could have $10M to $19.9M and a C prospect could have $5M to $9.9M. Do you see that an account with less than $5M in revenue is not a prospect for you?
What you’re doing when you develop your prospect list is more than simply providing management with names of businesses who can buy from you. You are thoughtfully generating a list of prospects with true buying potential.
Conducting sales at year-end is often challenging because so many customers are distracted by the holidays. You must maintain your focus on your business and planning. That way you will have something to celebrate at year-end next year.