It’s the beginning of the 4th quarter and the perfect time to put your plan in place for 2015. It may seem early but it’s important to do this planning now based on what you’ve learned about successes and losses this past year.
As you reflect back on 2014, what worked for you and what didn’t work? Do you wish you had done better? In order to prepare yourself for an even more productive and successful 2015 there are a few key things you should be doing right now:
1. Set Your 2015 Sales Goals
2. Update and Recommit to your Funnel
3. Define/Redefine Your New Business Target Accounts
4. Develop Your Sales Strategy
5. Utilize Time Blocking
6. Build in Accountability
These are tested and proven plans that I have used as a sales rep and in my own business every year. This blog post will focus on the first three to get you ready. The next post will cover the last three ideas.
1. 2015 Sales Goals
Your sales goals (also known as your target, budget or quota) is not just one goal for the year; you will need to break the yearly goal down into these components:
• Quarterly sales targets
• First three months of Q1
First you need to calculate the repeat business you think you will receive next year or maybe you’re in a business where there is no “repeat” orders. Regardless you need to set an annual sales goal making sure that it is based on reality and not some “pie-in-the-sky” number you’d love to hit. It doesn’t mean that the goal is really easy for you; it’s just that it should be attainable so that you are motivated by it. In fact many sales people have a sales goal and a “stretch” sales goal; that is, a number that you’d really like to hit that makes you squirm just a little! The difference between your annual sales goal and your repeat business target will give you the amount of new business you will need to secure, if applicable.
You then need to break the total sales goal number into quarterly chunks taking into consideration any seasonality you have in your business. If your business is slower in the summer months then your sales target should reflect this. Look at your 2014 actual sales and compare the different quarters to get a feel for this.
Next you need to determine how much you will sell in each of the first three months of the year as this will get you off on the right foot in tracking your success. So break Q1 down further and always keep track of how you’re doing.
Finally you need to make sure you goals follow the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. As a reminder this means that each goal needs to be SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE/ACHIEVABLE, RESULTS-ORIENTED/RELEVANT, and TIME-BOUND.
2. Funnel Tracking System
Look at your funnel and update it – commit to using it in 2015. A current funnel (sometimes called a pipeline) tool is your best indicator of future success. It tells you in a quick glance all of the opportunities you are working on, where they are in the sales cycle and which are closest to closing. Review this pipeline with a colleague or your manager to strategize ways to move opportunities through to close.
3. New Business Target Accounts
Take out your client list and review your best clients (based on profit, sales and other measures important to your company) and create a profile of who you work with best. Determine which clients are easy and even fun to work with, which clients are painful and difficult to work with and take up a lot of your precious time. Then make a plan to focus on the best clients, sometimes called “ideal” or target clients. Be very specific as you create this definition as the clearer you are in your own mind the more laser-focused you will be on finding these companies and individuals. So specify:
• the industries (focus on only 2 or 3)
• size of company
• department within those companies
• needs you can fulfill or problems you can solve
• title of your decision maker
As a result of this analysis you will need to become a “student” of each of your chosen industries. By that I mean really learn the industry: the issues, challenges, markets, players, customers, suppliers and so much more. You can then position yourself as a valued resource to these clients and prospects.
In your 2015 planning start these first three steps now and stay tuned for more ideas in the next post.