You’ve probably got your plan in place for 2020. You’ve been looking at how you’re going to run your business in the year ahead, what your revenue strategies are, and everyone’s all excited. It’s a clean slate, a new year, and even a new decade. Here are a few tips to make sure you’ve got a solid sales plan in place that will set you up for a fabulous year ahead.
#1 Keep an eye on cash flow
This is something that business owners need to be reminded of regularly – watch what your cash flow and cash on hand is doing, so that you don’t run into issues later. Sometimes, a year-end holiday can cause your cash to dip. Other times, there are seasonal sales patterns throughout the year that may take a bite out of your cash reserves. Pay attention to how much cash you have on hand, and whether it’s likely to grow or shrink in the coming months. Because your cash flow impacts your ability to do the things you want to do in your business – whether it’s keep the lights on, or expand the business, or invest in improvements to your website or team. Some questions to keep in mind:
- What does our cash flow look like?
- How much do we really need each month to operate the business?
- How much do we really need to achieve our goals for this year?
#2 Know your sales numbers
Once you have a sense of cash flow, be sure you know your sales numbers. In general, most business owners would be wise to know the number of clients or customers you need to buy each of your products or services to hit your sales goals; the number of sales conversations your team needs to have in order to have one person say yes (this is also called your ‘conversion rate’); how many prospects are in your sales pipeline; and how much revenue is in your sales pipeline. It’s hard to hit a moving target. So be sure you stop and get clear about what your sales goals are for the year. Some other questions that may help you get that clarity:
- For each of your products and services, how long does it take to make a sale?
- Do you have a clearly defined sales process for each of your offers?
- Are there ways you could make your sales process faster, without sacrificing the quality of relationships with your leads?
#3 What are past trends?
What are some trends that you’ve seen in your line of work? For example, one business I work with has noted a sales slow down in the fourth quarter. It’s happened for several years in a row. While another consulting business I work with always sees a pickup in sales of short term project work in December, as their clientele look to lower their tax bill by paying expenses before the end of the year.
If there’s a time of year that you’ve noticed your sales take a dip in the past, you can use that information to anticipate and plan how you want to handle it this year. Similarly, you can do the same if there’s a time of year that leaves you with extra cash on hand. The main thing is to use what’s happened in the past to help you plan for what’s coming in the future. In the case of my client that has seen sales fall off at the end of the year, they realized they had two options: generate more revenue in the first nine months of the year to give them a cash cushion to weather the downturn, or do something different to try to ramp up end of year revenue. This, again, is why it’s important to start with an awareness of your cash flow and cash on hand. You can get creative and proactive when your eyes are open to the reality of how cash is moving through your business.
#4 How could future changes in the marketplace impact you?
The one constant is change. Maybe things are changing in your industry. Maybe it’s an election year in the U.S. Maybe it’s changing trade rules or the potential recession. Whether it’s locally in your area, in your state, across the country, or around the world – the way people are feeling, thinking, and spending money in your market is not a given. So pay attention to what those factors might be for your industry, and your business in particular.
- What are some of the shifts in your industry or market?
- How might these changes impact your business?
- What can you do to protect yourself and your business?
- How do you keep on top of marketplace changes — think trusted publications, trade groups, conversations with key colleagues?
- What are some of the things that maybe you’re seeing based on the data that you guys have collected over the year that no one else is talking about? So you can leverage that even in your own marketing, to be the one to bring these things up in your market and bring awareness to it in the marketplace.
These are just a few tips to help you get your sales year off to a strong and focused start. They really can change your results for the better. So set your goals high, put together a plan to achieve those goals, work hard, and trust that things will work out. You’ve got this!
Dr. Nadia Brown is the founder of The Doyenne Agency, a global sales and sales training firm serving boutique businesses. Find out more at www.TheDoyenneAgency.com.