For me, it truly is the happiest time of the year! Why? I am in the midst of Stealth Creative’s planning cycle for 2020! Wow! New year, new decade, new moleskine! New clients with new needs! Our tried-and-true clients are looking for new ideas! The new year is invigorating. And oh, yes… I love the holidays, and how they give me energy to launch into the new year with vigor!
Planning, though, is my first love. We do this for Stealth, as well as for our clients. Our process is unique in the way we look at the sales cycle of businesses, and how we forecast and staff for the future. We think it is crucial to look backward in order to leap forward. And, of course, we’re always asking ourselves: How does marketing impact this entire process?
Questions to ask as a starting point:
- What were the strategic goals?
- How did we do in achieving those goals?
- How is each salesperson performing?
- How much revenue can each salesperson sell in a calendar year?
- What is our predictable rate of customer retention?
- How can marketing help the process?
Planning: The Stealth Way
Step One: Know your target customer! Take some time to articulate the perfect customer. We usually build a persona for that customer and design a customer/buyer journey. This is going to help in a myriad of ways as you approach prospects and design your plan.
Step Two: Know your business metrics: These critical numbers have to do with how you need to sell to hit revenue targets. Let’s say I want to grow my business by 10% a year. How much do I have to sell to do that? Secondly, I know that I will lose a predictable percentage of business each year. How do I know how much? Historical averages are the answer.
Step Three: Create some sort of calculator that predicts customer loss and customer acquisition predictions. In most businesses, this is simple math, but as a business scales, it can quickly become more complicated.
Step Four: How much can each person sell? We need to be as specific as possible. Some salespeople sell more than others. Some verticals are vaster than others. Again, be realistic and understand that the performance of your salespeople will be scattered. We look at return on the revenue in the process, but we also look at development of markets as a longer-term goal. The bottom line could be influences that aren’t purely financial in the immediate term, but potentially promising in the future. Just remember, when the CFO asks why you’re asking to hire again, the financials will need to be there to back up your request!
Step five: Accountability—how do we track progress? This takes discipline and focus and sometimes hard conversations. As stated earlier, once you know your metrics, you can back into how many calls are needed by each team member to get the proper number of appointments, to arrive at the correct revenue by year-end. The road to get there is bumpy, meaning non-linear, but the journey is rewarding!
Step Six: How does marketing help the process? Once you have determined the buyer’s journey, you can create marketing tactics that match that journey. This step will make the salesperson’s job:
- More efficient: Shorten the sales cycle and move faster
- More impactful: Possibly sell more product to your identified prospects
- More effective: Maybe prospects will come into your funnel that your salespeople of not identified. Holey-Moley! This changes everything as you plot your target groups going forward.
How We Hit Our Goals
We find in our business that:
- If we have the right target…
- If we retain to predictable levels…
- If everyone contacts the agreed number of prospects…
Also, just following the plan makes the sales process easy and low-pressure, for prospects and employees alike. Keeping track of those goals on a daily/monthly/quarterly basis assures success.
The good news is the sales process can be predictable, fun and successful. All that is required is math and tracking! And maybe a bottle of champagne to celebrate success!