Right about now most companies who rely heavily on their sales-forces to drive profits are preparing 2014 sales business plans, I’m currently working with a client who has started the process. I’m often amazed at how many companies I’ve worked with put in place the same exact strategy, tactics, and execution strategies from the prior year……especially if the prior year was a successful one. In the “Sales Business” it’s pretty much guaranteed that something is going to change in the marketplace that you did not expect and preparing for such a surprise can be difficult…..but NOT preparing for it can be devastating. There are of course a million ways to approach the following year in terms of sales business planning and I’ve always felt that such planning takes more than one or two people but an entire “Team”. Yes, you do have your “turf-battles”, “office politics”, and what I call “Fake Leadership” during the sales business planning process, however, this too is part of the process in determining the best path for the upcoming year…..it’s also a good way to find out who are your most competent people. One thing is clear a “cutting and pasting” prior year sales plan into your following sales year plan is a recipe for failed sales in that coming year.
There are basic principles that should be considered when starting the sales business planning for the following year:
I. Brand Strategies
a) What are the brand strategies going into the following year? Have they been “pressure checked” (e.g. market researched, ATU, corporately vetted etc)
b) Re-evaluating “core message” strategies, which message(s) resonate (e.g. market research)
c) A well establish “SWOT Analysis”, and “Strategic Imperatives” should be completed prior to building the final sales strategy.
II. Customer Segmentation Strategies
a) A re-visit of your customer base, is there a new customer base? Are the prior year’s customers base “Stale”? How do we create an “Uniqueness” with existing customer base?
b) “Granular Targeting”, do we pare down our customer base for more focused targeting? Which customers should we spend the most resources on? Which customers do we drop?
c) Do we conduct “VOC” market research? Or Customer ATU’s? This of course is especially critical for new product launches.
III. People Strategies
a) “Vacancy Rates” and “A-Players Attainment” strategies should be discussed
b) IC plans, bonus structures, and possible year “Spiff Programs” examined.
c) Personal/Career Development planning discussions. Development plans should be completed prior going into next year. Possible promotions and separations discussed.
d) “Evaluation of Training”, sales training schedule for following year should be reviewed.
IV. Forecasting Strategies
a) Establishing realistic but aspirational forecasts on promoted brand(s)
b) Forecast should always be based on potential “Market Demand”….and “PEOPLE”. Marketing resources and sales support should be considered as a priority, however, determining following year “market behavior” and “Sales People” should be considered 1st in forecast planning.
c) Importantly, Forecasting should ALWAYS line up with “Brand Strategies”, “Customer Segmentation Strategies”, and “People Strategies”….which is why it’s brought up in the rear after all other strategies have been completed.
These are just some basic preparation strategies you can use to help set up your 2014 sales business strategies!