2012 Is Here – Solidify Your Sales Plan!

I know that it seems premature to focus on 2012, yet it is upon us.  1st quarter 2012 is slightly more than a month away, and you are busy trying to close out the 4th quarter of 2011.

Shortly your manager will say: “What are you projecting for 2012?  I need your numbers!”  You need to be ready for that conversation, but more than that you should do the preparation as it tells you what type of a 2012 you can have.

Between now and the end of the year the management, of your organization, will engage in the following activities:

  • Plan 2012 new production metrics
  • Plan next year’s revenue from existing customers
  • Set your 2012 personal goals and metrics
  • Make decisions on manpower in the sales organization

Another reason to start your 2012 planning is that in many industries you do not want to  ‘miss’ the first quarter as this period is instrumental to reaching your annual goal.  Preparation for a strong first quarter cannot start in January 2012, as a matter of fact; it starts here in the 4th quarter.  Even more specifically, it starts now and should benefit you by giving you focus and clarity as to what you must do to be successful.

What you can do is to prepare your production scenarios so that your conversations with your manager are productive and based on fact and logic.  You will stand out from the rest.   It is time to give good thought to next year!

Putting Together a Plan

You should be able to project your 2012 successes within the realm of reasonability, and avoid the “stab in the air” that comes with having no basis for your calculations when asked.

Your plan should be to:

  • Project your 2012 success based on your knowledge of 2010 and 2011 in terms of hit ratio and total sales production.
  • List your major prospects by month and quarter, with recognition of your chances of success (by percentages).
  • Work your formula (Black Sales Journal 2/28/2011 – How Many Prospects Do You Really Need?) showing what you need to be successful and refine the numbers including statistics that are applicable to you and your situation.
  • You should estimate your retention of existing customers, and whether they will buy at the same levels

Armed with this information, you would be able to have much more educated estimates as to what your successes will be for first quarter, and for all of 2012.  Knowing your prospects, your basic success rates, and your average account or sale size will lead you to be able to do a lot of wise forecasting.

Your Business Plan

Once you put all of the variables together, you will have the basis to put together a business plan that will show what type of success that you should be having.  Remember that you are doing it for you.  You are taking this excellent opportunity to review your 2010, and construct from this a logical projection of your efforts for 2011.

Many organizations have assistance for you in the form of Salesforce.com, Gold Mine, or other tailored sales and customer relationship management (CRM) software.  Whether they exist or not, your exercise is for you, then you can use it to fill in the blanks for any company sponsored software plan.

Your Business Plan discussion with Your Manager

Every organization is different, so your organization may have a routine in place for your conversation with your manager regarding your ‘plan’.  Most organizations have a process, although timing is not always well devised.

Here is your chance to “put a stake in the ground” on numbers and your thoughts.  Chances are your manager will be looking for higher numbers, and that may mean stretching your numbers upward.  Your manager will be pleased with, and maybe even excited about, your diligence in putting together numbers as they have to give the same requisite thought to the prospects possibilities and abilities of the sales professionals that work in their particular unit.

Benefit “You” First

Some larger organizations have already begun that process.  Much depends on the complexity of the planning cycle.  In medium and smaller organizations, the time is now.

This process is for you.  It may tell you that you have a lot of work to do, or you’re your funnel is replete with strong prospects.  Take a moment to do this exercise for your own benefit, and you will also have fodder for your sales discussion.   Remember to be honest about the prospecting part as it does you no good to plan the prospects for next year while you know that some of the prospects are actually ‘suspects’ (prospects that you doubt can come to fruition).

Be prepared for that conversation, and for the year ahead.

Always be prepared.  Your comments are welcome.

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