Before we get into the process of how you’re going to get your sales this year, we need to talk about something bigger: Goals.
Your sales plan template needs an end goal. You need a number—either sales or customers or whatever metric you choose—that will tell you whether or not what you’ve done has been a success. What it all comes down to is determining what realistically you can bring in based on the size of the market, your company goals, and the experience and resources available to your sales team.
Aside from that, there are 5 other pitfalls you should be aware of when setting your sales goals:
- Wishful thinking: You want your business to grow, so it’s understandable that you might be over-optimistic in developing your sales plan. Start by looking at last year’s forecast and results. Were you being realistic? For new businesses, avoid working out the level of sales you need to be viable and putting this as your figure. In psychology, we’d call this the confirmation bias, but it’s also just straight up bad business.
- Ignoring your own assumptions: Make sure your forecast is based on your assumptions about the market. If you assume the market’s going to decline and you’re going to lose some market share, it just doesn’t make sense to forecast increased sales.
- Moving goalposts: For the most part, you want your forecast to be finalized and agreed within your sales plan template on a set timeframe so you can get onto the business of, well, business. Avoid making adjustments to the goals outlined in your sales plan—even if you discover you’ve been overly optimistic or pessimistic in your sales planning. This document should be a benchmark to judge your success or failure.
- Not asking for consultation: Your sales team are in the trenches with you and probably have the best knowledge about your customers. So, why wouldn’t you ask their opinions, give them time to talk to their customers, and come to an agreement about the targets that go into your sales plan?
- Not setting aside time for feedback: Having set your sales goals, you need someone to come in and challenge it. Get an experienced person—an accountant, senior salesperson, or qualified friend—to review the entire document before taking it company wide and solidifying your sales plan.
Above all else, remember that when you’re developing your sales plan template for the very first time in your organization, it’s natural to be wrong in some of your assumptions—especially around goals and forecasting. But what’s important, is that you carefully document what needs updating when it’s time for a version two of your sales plan.