Everything in business hinges on planning. Even when some positive development seems to be a stroke of luck, an analysis is bound to reveal the fortunate outcome as the result of previous planning that has brought things clicking into place.
A business starts growing when it finds the key to putting its revenue on a steady climb. With more money coming in, company leaders can make acquisitions, hire more staff, invest in marketing to attract new customers, and keep up with industry innovation. And revenue is basically money from sales made, so a business with ambitions for the future needs a rock-solid sales plan. Here are three essential steps in mapping out a strategy.
Do your market research
A successful company is one whose product or service fills a market gap or offers an improvement on existing solutions. Market research is critical when starting a business, but it’s equally important when laying the foundations for sales growth. Proper market research will help a company understand why its product is in demand or what prevents it from selling better. It will also highlight potential threats and opportunities, including those for the competition.
Market research will allow a business owner to succeed in the critical area of demand planning. Visibility is of paramount importance and precise forecasting is the key to it. The benefits of getting it right are enormous. Demand-driven forecasting allows maximizing efficiency by balancing inventory levels and enables companies to free up working capital. Forecasting is also essential for spotting risks and identifying opportunities.
It doesn’t matter whether the plan applies to monthly, quarterly, or annual sales: a company needs to have goals set down. Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect they will always be met. But there is a reason you always read about targets and the stock market reaction to news of a company exceeding or failing to meet its own.
One simple reason why sales targets are essential is the fact that they provide a benchmark. They show whether there’s progress and if the current strategy is working. Targets also make it easier for employees to keep sight of their responsibilities and their own progress.
However, randomly set targets will most likely do harm instead of good. It is therefore imperative to set goals that are specific and measurable. They also need to be realistic and tied to a clearly defined timeframe.
Work doesn’t end with the creation and implementation of the sales plan. No marketplace is static and various factors could lead to unexpected changes. This means the plan may need to be revised to take these changes into account. In addition, monitoring will show if the performance is living up to expectations and what tactics can be introduced when improvement is required.
Increasing sales is at the heart of every business growth strategy. However, it can’t be just a vague determination. Without a solid plan and clear-cut objectives management teams will flounder, employees will have no idea what they’re doing, and business growth will prove an elusive dream.