We are already only five weeks away from a new year! If you haven’t started working on your planning for 2022 you are almost too late! And since I have been in the industry since before dust, I know for a fact that most of you have not even thought about it yet, much less started your prep.
So as always, I’m trying to be helpful in any way that I can. Here is a short checklist of six things that you can do to have your planning for next year down by the end of the month!
The real secret is to just buckle down and get to it.
- Review this year. Ask what worked? What did not work? And do more of what worked. If nothing worked and you’ve had a terrible year, invest more time doing an “autopsy” on what went wrong and get to work fixing it. Remember that old saying, “those who do not learn from their mistakes will end up making them over and over again.”
- Review your customer acquisition strategy and results. How many new customers did you get this year? How did you get them? How did they find you, or you find them? Repeat what worked and rethink what did not and do something new and different.
- Review your customer retention: How many customers did you lose this year? Why did you lose them? Was it attrition or mergers? Moving their business to Asia? Pricing? Or the worst reason of all, your crummy performance? If it was your performance, then you’ve got bigger problems to fix before you start working on your marketing strategy. The light bulbs that don’t light up are that much harder (if not impossible) to sell.
- Check out your sophomores: How did last year’s new customers do? Did you manage to keep them this year? Did they stick around long enough to become real customers? Did they grow this year or did they stay at the same level? The most important part of true new customer retention is turning them into real long-time customers, as opposed to one hit wonders.
- Review your marketing, and please don’t tell me you don’t do any marketing. Because if you don’t then everything, and I mean everything, you are doing is a complete waste of time. Review your marketing and evaluate what worked, what did not, and what is working now. Come up with new marketing ideas that will incorporate some of the newer social media and search engine optimization techniques. Getting your name out into the marketplace is more important now than ever. The tools available to get your name out there are more dynamic than ever. Find out what is available and join in. If your team is made up of people who brag about not knowing what this “Twitter thing” is, or this “Linkeredin thing” is, fire them and hire the sixteen year old kid who mows your lawn. I guarantee you will be better off. And your marketing will be much more effective than it has ever been.
- Put together a forecast. Sorry, you have to have a forecast to run a business. I will warn you that when you approach your sales team about doing an account by account, month by month forecast, their response will vary from a blank stare to telling you “that we cannot forecast our business” to “my customers don’t even know what they are going to buy, how can I?” All the way to the tearing of clothes, and the gnashing of teeth, to maybe falling to the floor and throwing a tantrum. It doesn’t matter, ignore them. All they are really telling you is that they do not want to be ACCOUNTABLE! Many of them got into sales because they thought they could avoid that dreaded word. Sorry but every company needs a forecast, and frankly, if your sales people have been doing their job, they ought to be able to bang one out in an afternoon. First of all, we all know more about our customers than we think we do. Here are some simple rules for doing an accurate forecast:
- Review what your top customers (use the 80/20 rule here, it always works) have done for the past three years and make a decision of what they are going to do next year.
- Review your miscellaneous customers group (all the small ones) and produce one number for the entire group, raise that number by 10% (you have to set a goal sometime) and spread that number out over twelve months.
- Make a judgement call (based on talking to them), if their business is going to go up or down. Then add that percentage growth or loss for each of them. Also review how they placed their orders in the past…what was the trend? Use this information as a guide to your month by month forecast for them next year.
- List the new customers you are working on and forecast the ones you are going to win. Decide whether their available business fits you. How much you will get and when you will get it. Add these customers to your forecast.
Put all of these numbers into the mix. Review the entire year at a glance to make sure your monthly forecast makes sense when compared to one another. You don’t want a lot of high and low months (unless your business is all military) and complete your forecast and pass it in.
And one more, in the spirit of always under promise and over deliver:
- Develop Account plans: Please develop a short account plan for each of your major accounts. This should include: the type of business they are in; why that business fits your company and how much of that business is available to you, how much will you win and what is it going to take to win it.
This is the way I recommend you do your planning. It doesn’t take a lot of time; and as I said earlier, if your sales people have been doing their jobs, if they have been calling on customers, learning everything they need to about them, if they have been prospecting and working on their new customer acquisition, then they will be able to do everything I have listed here in an afternoon. If they have been doing their job that is…It’s only common sense.