Everyone’s focus is on how the economy will affect sales. A very important fact to keep in mind is that, regardless of whether the economy is up or down, money doesn’t disappear. It simply moves to new places. How are you going to recognize where your best opportunities lie?
An important starting point is to truly quantify what your opportunities and sales consisted of over the past year. Without hard data you are left to rely on iffy impressions that make it difficult to see important patterns.
To begin strategic sales planning, you need to have specific numbers for items like:
- Where your leads came from
- The industries your prospects were in
- The types of products or services prospects requested and what the value was of a sale
- The geographic location of your prospects
- The total time it took from first contact to actually closing a sale (cycle time)
- If a sale generated repeat business or if it was a one-off
- Your cost per lead for each type of marketing or advertising that you did
- Your cost per sale for each type of marketing or advertising that you did
Next you need to take a look at the raw numbers you collected and do some analysis. Start looking for revealing patterns by asking questions like:
- Where did your most profitable sales come from (consider the advertising venue, the industry and the location of each sale)? How could you better target these areas in the future?
- Did some sales have more long-term value than others? Why?
- What process did you use to close on the leads that made up your sales? Did it vary depending upon the salesperson? What should you do consistently from now on and what should you stop doing?
- Some advertising venues may have generated more leads than others, but were they qualified leads that you actually closed on? Should you stop some forms of advertising altogether and put that money into areas that performed better?
- Who turned out to be a poor customer that either turned-over or were more trouble than they were worth? How would you recognize a poor fit in the future?
The most important part of your 2012 strategic sales planning is to make sure you are aiming your efforts in the right direction to begin with. You also need to continue to collect sales data and analyze it on a quarterly basis moving forward. You want to give yourself every opportunity to make smart course adjustments. That may mean cutting your losses on old targets that are no longer performing well and aggressively pursuing ones that show the most promise.
How are you going to take aim at the right targets in 2012?
This blog was written by Laurie Leonard, the President of SUITE 1000, a U.S. based national telephone answering service, inbound call center and outsourced call center service. Her company has specialized in handling legal intake, sales leads, email lead response, appointment scheduling, customer service and help desk calls for over 20 years.